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Forfar Athletic

Forfar Athletic FC are a football club with membership of the Scottish Football League. They play at Station Park, in the north end of Forfar.

The club's present home colours are light blue with navy blue sleeves, and the club has two away shirts to choose from - a canary yellow shirt and an all over white shirt. The club are nicknamed the Loons, although the local media have had a habit of referring to the club as the "Sky Blues" and the matchday programme used to call the club the "athies". Other rival clubs in Angus include Arbroath, Brechin City, Montrose, as well as the larger clubs of Dundee FC, Dundee United, Aberdeen FC and St. Johnstone in the wider east of Scotland region. As well as taking part in the Scottish Football League (presently Divsion 2) the club also participate in the Scottish FA Cup, the CIS/League Cup, the Bells Challenge Cup and the Forfarshire Cup every season.

Table of contents
1 Origins of the Loons
2 Into the League
3 Post War Highs and Lows
4 The 1990s and beyond
5 Station Park
6 Honours
7 Loons Legends
8 External Links

Origins of the Loons

The club was founded in 1885 when the second team of an older club called Angus Athletic, who were the original Forfar team, broke away to form Forfar Athletic. One explaination for the origins of the "Loons" monkier is that this second string were younger than the first team - "Loons" being a similar term to "lads" in the local dialect - although given this it is equally likely that the name was simply derived over time from people saying "I'm off to watch the Loons". The early side showed its quality on September 1st 1888 when Lindertis, a side from nearby Kirriemuir were beaten 14-1, still the clubs largest victory. Originally the club played in a Navy and Black striped home strip.

Into the League

The club were admitted into the Scottish Football League in 1921, entering the new second division. The club mostly remained in this division until the league was suspended with the outbreak of World War Two in 1939. The club spent one season, 1925-6, in the ill fated third division but finished 3rd and gained promotion back to the second division. In this period Alex Troup was a key player for the club - he went on to play for Dundee FC and Everton. Unfortunately the club's biggest defeat also came in this peiod, on January 2 1930, when they lost 2-12 to King's Park.

Post War Highs and Lows

When the league resumed in 1946 the club found itself in the "C Division" of the league (the leagues seem to have been lettered a, b, and c from 1946 - 1956). The club won promotion to the B Division in 1949 and remained in the B division and its sucessor second division until finally winning the division championship in 1984 under manager Doug Houston. This was considerable progress from the 1973/4 season when the club finished bottom of the division. The late 1970s and the 1980s can probably be considered the club's most successful period - at the end of the 1985/6 season the club was just one point below promotion to the Premier Division.

This era also saw a succession of good cup runs, the club meeting Glasgow Rangers in the League Cup quater finals in 1978 (losing 5-2) and again in the SFA Cup semi finals at Hampden Park in 1982, forcing a 0-0 draw in the first game and earning a replay which ended 3-1 to Rangers. In 1987 the Loons came within a few seconds of knocking Dundee United, then flying high after famously beating Barcelona at the Nou Camp, out of the cup in the quater finals, but United scored to gain a replay, which they subsequently won.

An interesting fact is that the club had an excursion into a green home strip in the 1950s and early 1960s, later adopting the present lighter blue with varying navy. The nickname "The Sky Blues" was introduced in 1982 apparently as an aid to marketing the club, but as it is also the nickname of English club Coventry City the name has become unpopular with most supporters.

The 1990s and beyond

The club continued in the first division until 1992, when they finished bottom under the disasterous management of ex Dundee United player Paul Hegarty. Incredibly the side won just five matches and lost as many as twenty seven! When the league was re-organised in the 1994 close season the Loons found themselves in the newly created Division 3, although they won the inagural division 3 championship and promotion under the management of Tommy Campbell and the captaincy of the legendary Ian McPhee. In 1996 McPhee became player manager and remained manager until his resignation through fustration at the club's lack of progress in Novermber 2000, being replaced by Neil Cooper. Neil Cooper remained manager until January 2003 when he moved back to Aberdeen FC, where he previously worked, to become head youth coach. Cooper's only full season in charge, 2001/2, was a fairly successful season with the Loons finishing 3rd in Division 2 and reaching a televised cup quarter final against Rangers, which finished 0-6 but did give the club a considerable cash bonus.

Since January 2003 the club has been managed by former West Ham United defender Ray Stewart whose biggest achievement to date was probably knocking Motherwell out of the CIS Cup in October, leading to another big money tie with Rangers at Ibrox which finished 6-0 to the home side.

Station Park

Station Park is one of the few old fashioned football grounds left in the Scottish League. It presently has a capacity of 4,602, although this has previously been much higher, the record crowd being 10,780 against Rangers in 1970. The total has more recently been reduced for safety reasons. Present attendance averages perhaps around 500 a week but can increase to over 1,000 if a large club with a sizeable travelling support visits, such as Greenock Morton or Airdrie United.

The ground allows access to all four sides of the pitch with one large terrace behind one goal (at the so called "mert end", because a cattle mart is just over the wall!), a main partly covered stand built in the 1960s which includes some seating down the north side of the pitch and two smaller stands on the other sides. The stand on the south side of the pitch is covered. Catering at the ground is quite good and somewhat unique, with the local speciality, Forfar bridies, being popular with home and visiting fans alike, although the more usual pie is avialiable too. There is at present a plan to rebuild the main stand in a more modern style with improved facilities.

The ground, as the name suggests, was once close to the town's railway station, situated on the ex Caledonian Railway's main line from Aberdeen to Glasgow and London, but unfortunately this station was closed in 1968 as part of the Beeching cuts. As a result the ground is best reached by road.


C Division Champions: 1949
Second Division Champions: 1984
Third Division Champions: 1995
Third Division Runners Up: 1997
Scottish Cup Semi Finalists: 1981/82; quarter finalists: 1910/11, 1984/85, 1986/87, 2001/02
Scottish League Cup Semi Finalists: 1977/78; quarter finalists: 1981/82
Most Appearences: Ian McPhee (534, 1979 - 1998)
Most Goals: John Clark (127, 1978 - 91).

Loons Legends

Important personnel at the club have included:

Alex Troup (player, 1920s?)
Jim Black (was a player, club secretary, and chairman)
Stewart Kennedy (highly able keeper, 1980-91)
Ian McPhee (Left sided defender and later manager, 1979-87, 1991-2000)
Alex Brash (defender, 1974-86)
Bobby Mann (defender, 1992-99)
Craig Brewster (midfielder, 1985-91)
John Clark (quality striker, 1978-91)
Raymond Farningham (striker, 1979-86)
Alan Rattray (defender, 1996-present)
Kevin Byers (midfielder, 2001-present)
Paul Tosh (striker, 2001-present)
Doug Houston (manager, early-mid 1980s)
Tommy Campbell (manager, mid 1990s)
Neil Cooper (manager, 2001-03)
Sam Stewart (legendary chairman, 1980s and 90s)
David McGregor (Club secretary, former programme editor and current Chairman)
Martin Gray, (ball boy, groundsman and kit supervisor, 1983-present)

External Links

The Forfar Athletic Portal - leads to the official club site and "the Loonatic" fanzine
Loons Mad - Forfar Athletic news website and fanzine.