This is historical information gleaned from old copies of various publications relating to the formation of Arbroath F.C. and the early pre Scottish League days.
Getting off the ground. 1878/91.
The early history of the club, from the formation to the first entry into league football. There is also mention of the Forfarshire Cup, which was instituted in 1883 by the Forfarshire Football Association, with 18 club members, 12 from Dundee, 2 from Arbroath, 1 from Broughty Ferry, Lochee, Coupar Angus and Montrose. It was a more prestigious tournament than it is nowadays, ranking almost as important as the Scottish cup, due to the difficulties of travelling long distances in these days, and the honour of being the top team in the area.
Northern League and Scottish Qualifying Cup. 1891/1909.
Arbroath's first involvement in league football began when they joined the newly formed Northern League in 1891/92. The league consisted of eight teams initially increasing to 14 teams at one stage, and with 12 in the final season of Arbroath's principal involvement. After joining the Central League in 1909, Arbroath continued to compete infrequently in the Northern League at the same time.
By 1892, the huge amount of entrants for the Scottish Cup, led to the introduction of the Scottish Qualifying Cup. This preliminary competition reduced the numbers of entrants to 16 clubs, who joined the bigger clubs, exempted from pre qualifying. It was played on a regional basis in the early rounds, and the successful clubs then competed with clubs from other regions. It was a popular competition up to World War I, providing an opportunity for smaller clubs to win a national trophy.
Central League and Scottish Qualifying Cup. 1909/14.
After season 1908/09, Arbroath left the Northern League, which with the secession of the Fife clubs and St Johnstone, had shrunk considerably, and joined the newly formed Central League. This was expected to present more of a challenge to the club, and would bring some new clubs to Gayfield, who would become regular visitors in the future.
Eastern League 1919/20, Scottish Alliance League 1920/21, and Scottish Qualifying Cup.
After the four years of World War I, during which the club closed down, Arbroath F.C. restarted in March 1919 with a friendly against a Dundee eleven, organised by Mr. Dainty, a former player of the Dens Park club, appropriately called Dainty's XI. The match ended in a 3-3 draw.
League football didn't resume until August, when Arbroath competed in the Eastern League for one season, and then the Scottish Alliance for the next before joining the Scottish League, in the newly formed 2nd Division in 1921/22 season.
The Scottish League.
A milestone in the club's history, when they joined the Scottish League. In the early seasons, Arbroath achieved very little, being in mid table in most seasons, and bottom in one. A 3rd place in 1928/29 suggested a promotion push was in the offing, but it didn't materialise until after another 3rd place in 1933/34 was followed by promotion to the 1st Division in 34/35. With the club well on the way to establishing itself in the top division, the intervention of World War II saw the suspension of league football, and stopped the club in it's tracks.
With the resumption of football in 1945/46, Arbroath were placed in the 2nd Division, and again made little impression until after again finishing in 3rd in 1957/58, the following season saw Arbroath again step upstairs. This was a short stay of only one season, with relegation back to the lower division until the familiar pattern of the 3rd place in 1966/67, was followed by promotion the following season. Relegation again for the club after one season, and in 70/71 the 3rd place achieved was followed once again with the following season's promotion. The club stayed in the 1st Division this time until league reconstruction, with the three league sat up in 75/76, saw Arbroath placed in the new 1st Division.
This set up didn't seem to be advantageous to the club, as after five seasons the club dropped into the 2nd division, and stayed there until another reconstruction brought about four divisions, with Arbroath in the 3rd Division. Tradition was broken when after finishing bottom of the league in 1996/97, the club were promoted the following season to the 2nd Division, and in 2000/01 to the 1st Division again after an absence of 30 years in the lower divisions.
Getting off the ground Northern League Central League Eastern & Alliance Leagues Scottish League
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