When I started this blog I was looking forward to doing an article on these two great clubs, Bo’ness United and Linlithgow Rose. It’s always a pleasure to visit either of them, or maybe over the years I’ve just picked the big matches!
OK, Bo’ness (or Borrowstounness to give it its Sunday name) is no longer in West Lothian but historically that’s how many people would see it. The BUs and the Gallant Rosey Posey, their great rivals 3 miles or so up the road, are two of the biggest, best-supported non-League clubs in the East of Scotland and draw a healthy attendance from their respective towns.
Bo’ness and Linlithgow each have populations of around 15000 and are largely commuter towns for Edinburgh, Glasgow and Falkirk. A good few are employed at the nearby Grangemouth refinery.
Residents of Linlithgow are known as ‘black bitches’ as the town’s coat of arms shows a black bitch dog chained to an oak tree. If you are a stranger in town and looking for Prestonfield, you just turn off the High Street at the Black Bitch Tavern. Prestonfield itself has a very large social club which must help the club’s finances a lot.
I’ve never been inside the Chemical Workers Social Club across the road from Newtown Park but I hear it’s the place to go. Just up the road from the ground is the Newtown Bar, but I wouldn’t recommend taking your mum in there.
The BUs only came into being in 1945 due to a merger, although their ground, Newtown Park, has been used since 1880, and was the home of Bo’ness, a former Scottish League club. It is said to have room for 7500, although these days I would think the licensing wouldn’t let them have more than about 3-4000. The stand shown below has now been removed.
In a strange contrast, the Rose have been around since 1889 but Prestonfield, their ground, dates only to 1949. While their rivals have lost their famous old stand, the stand at Prestonfield is quite recent and holds 301. The ground record is 3600 for a match against Petershill.
The two photos above are from a Scottish Junior Cup quarter final in 2011 when Bonnyrigg were comprehensively beaten and their day was rounded off when Scott Devlin was sent off for a bad foul then a scuffle developed and he head butted a BUs player. Great entertainment…
Scottish Cup, November 2014. Bo’ness 5 Elgin City 4.
The BUs can count Donald Ford (Hearts and Falkirk), Alex Scott (Hibs, Falkirk, Rangers and Everton), and Jim Scott (Hibs and Newcastle) amongst their ex-players. I have to admit to being just old enough to have seen them all play near the end of their careers.
When it comes to bragging rights, the Rose may just have the edge in the modern era.
Bo’ness have won the Scottish Junior Cup on three occasions, in 1948, 1976 and 1984.
But the Rose have 4 wins: 1965, 2002, 2007 and 2010.
When it comes to league championships, each club has 3 wins out of the 13 seasons the East Superleague has been in existence. Bo’ness won it most recently in 2013-14 with Lithgae in second place.
Here’s some good derby highlights – a Fife & Lothians Cup Final from 2014 at Bo’ness.
To even things up, here’s a league game from last season.
Ian Gallacher, or ‘Gal’ is somebody I know well from work. He won the Scottish Junior Cup with Linlithgow in 2007, having previously lifted it with Kilwinning Rangers in 1999.
Since 2007, Junior clubs have been allowed to qualify for the ‘big Scottish’, the Scottish Cup which is sponsored by William Hill at present. This has added a bit of spice to the rivalry and both clubs have made their mark on the competition.
Bo’ness have appeared 3 times in the Scottish, their best performance being 2014-15 when they took a league scalp in Elgin City before going out to Arbroath in Round 4.
The Elgin tie was remarkable as the first match at Borough Briggs ended 4-4 before the BUs came out on top in a 9 goal thriller in the replay. The Elgin side included pros with SPL experience such as Marvin Andrews, Dennis Wyness and Shane Sutherland.
Bo’ness also beat Queen’s Park in 2010 before going out to Buckie Thistle in Round 3.
Linlithgow have taken one league scalp (Forfar) in their 5 campaigns in the Scottish Cup. That was this season when they did the Juniors proud by reaching Round 5 (last 16) before going out 4-2 to Ross County at Dingwall. Due to the wet winter and the luck of the draw, Rose clocked up a few miles: as well as Dingwall they had trips to Galashiels, Clachnacuddin (Inverness), Wick (twice, due to waterlogged pitch) and Forfar (twice, due to floodlight failure).
They also reached the 4th Round in 2007-8 before going down at Queen of the South.