The Full History – Decade by Decade
1969/70 – 1978/79: in the Beginning
It all began way back in the 60s when Lothian Thistle Football Club started life in 1969 playing in the lower divisions of the Lothian Amateur League as the employee football team of Lloyds Finance. Lloyds & Scottish, as they were known, were run by Tom Allison, an employee of Lloyds, and were more of a social club than a football club with no real ambition except to enjoy their football.
After an uneventful first season, Tom Allison left the employ of Lloyds and the future of the team was put in serious jeopardy, with Tom gone there was no-one to run the football team. After much debating with both Lloyds and his players, Tom was refused permission to carry on his role as manager and decided to re- invent the Club, taking his players with him.
In the summer of 1970 an amalgamation of Lloyds & Scottish team with Wardie AFC occurred and so Lothian Thistle Football Club was introduced to the Edinburgh footballing scene. Good club players were attached to Lothian, such as Rab Stewart, Bruce Jeffrey, Ian Barrett, John Hobson and Terry Maloney. After spending several seasons in the lower divisions of the Lothian Amateur leagues, Lothian went through a change of sorts as they realised that they were capable of winning trophies. They won the Second and First division titles in 1973 and ’74 along with cup wins in the Willie Watt (‘73), Gylemuir (’74 and ’75) and Logan (’78) and began to attract a good quality of player.
Matches were played on various local Council pitches with no one pitch known as the home base. Training was much the same.
The predecessor of Lothian Thistle – Lloyds and Scottish 1968/69
1979/80 – 1988/89: A major step forward
As the club left the 70s no-one at Lothian would have predicted the step change in the club’s fortunes that 10 years later they would be a household name in Lothian and Scottish amateur football. Ten trophies would be won, including the Lothian Amateur Premier Division and East of Scotland Amateur cup and a number of players would go on to represent the Scottish Amateur select side.
The early 80s saw the team win the Douglas Archibald trophy 3 times in 4 years but it was the late 80s where the team really moved onto a new level of success. The signings of Willie Darroch, Allan Reid (both of who went on to represent the Scottish Amateur select side), Davie Taylor, Kevin O’Neill, Lawrie Tulloch and Dennis Kennedy strengthened the team and the prestigious Miller cup was won two years in a row. The team continued to strengthen and the capture of the East of Scotland Amateur Cup in a thrilling 5-4 victory over Bo’ness included winning goalscorer Stevie Anderson and future Scottish Amateur select side players Blair Birrell and Harry Bell.
In 1988/89 the club had its most successful season to date. The Lothian Amateur Premier Division was secured for the first time and an impressive run in the Scottish Amateur cup saw some memorable matches before a last 16 defeat ended the dream of playing at Hampden in the final.
Finding a proper home ground and decent training facilities for the club continued to present problems.
1989/90 – 1998/99: Goodbye Amateur, hello East of Scotland
If the last 10 years had taken everyone at the club by surprise, then the next 10 years was even more of a change. The club continued to push for honours and strengthened the squad with the signing of Colin Taylor, George Muir and Scottish Amateur representative player Euan Lindsay.
A Scottish Amateur Cup quarter-final defeat on an ash pitch to eventual winners Stanley in 89/90 was a disappointment, but not half as much as the disappointment of losing in the semi-finals the following year of the same competition to Blantyre Thistle to a very late goal at Tynecastle. Although the Lothian Amateur Premier Division and Blaikie cup were won, the sense of disappointment was very real. It was also at this point where Lothian Thistle made a big decision and decided that in order to progress as an Amateur club they would join the prestigious Caledonian League for season 1991/92, competing against other top Amateur clubs from across Central Scotland.
And was it not just ironic that the first fixture of the new season pitted losing semi-finalists Lothian against Scottish Amateur Cup winners Bannockburn. In a blood and thunder two legged league cup tie two of Scotland’s top amateur clubs competed for bragging rights and Lothian ran out winners. The season was a success with the 2nd Division trophy secured in the last game of the season and victory in the Challenge Cup against 1st Division league winners Dalziel.
Off the field in season 1992/93 witnessed Lothian’s move to their new home of Campbell Park and a comfortable mid table finish in the 1st division. But as happens with many clubs that have successful eras, Lothian started to suffer from the loss of some key players to retirement and struggled to sign suitable quality replacements willing to travel throughout Central Scotland for games. Although the Challenge cup was won in 93/94, a series of injuries to key players in the early season left Lothian struggling in the league and the club were relegated from the first division. This was a shock to everyone associated with the club and, with it, some big decisions were made on the future for Lothian Thistle.
Behind the scenes the two Toms (Allison and Gillan) had decided that the only way for the club to continue was to move to the East of Scotland league, sever the club’s ties with amateur football and identify a manager who could provide the time to recruit new players, coach and manage the team. With this in mind the club recruited its first manager. Ex-player Willie Darroch took over the new manager’s role in the club’s final season of Caledonian football and re-built Lothian with a focus on growing the team with younger players: Euan Hoy, Craig Ford and Colin Leslie joining as part of the re-building exercise.
Season 1995/96 saw the club open up its first East of Scotland match against xx in a 4-0 defeat, but lessons were quickly learned and a 3rd position in league and defeat in the final of the Alex Jack cup showed that the club were on the correct tracks.
The signing of forwards Phil Hobbins and Phil O’Neill, who went on to play for the Scottish semi-pro team, at the start of season 1996/97 was the boost the club needed to be crowned Division 1 Champions by a then record points total, scoring 120 goals. Also adding to a very successful season was winning prestigious East of Scotland ‘Image Printers’ Qualifying Cup, defeating Premier Division champions Whitehill Welfare 2- 1 in the final. It was the second time Lothian had defeated Whitehill Welfare that year.
Finalists in the 1996/97 East of Scotland Qualifying Cup enter the following season’s 1997/98 City Cup with Berwick Rangers and Livingston. The semi-final draw put Lothian up against Livingston in their first ever competitive game against Scottish League opposition and, despite being reduced to 10 men after 20 minutes, acquitted themselves well in a 2-0 defeat at Almondvale.
At the end of the season after 4 years managing the club Willie Darroch stepped down as manager and George Bowmaker, supported by Gordon Scott and Rab Chapman as coaches, took over the manager’s position for the start of season 1998/99.
CALEDONIAN DIVISION 2 WINNERS 1991/92
IMAGE PRINTERS CUP WINNERS 1996/97
1999/2000 – 2008/09: Punching Above our Weight
One of the advantages in joining East of Scotland football is the opportunity to gain membership of the SFA and play in the Scottish Cup. With that opportunity in mind the club moved to Saughton Enclosure at the start of season 1999/2000 and invested a lot of money to upgrade the facilities to one of the best in East football. Unfortunately hopes of gaining membership of the SFA were dashed season after season as the SFA sidetracked any applications by advising that new criteria for membership was being drawn up. A position the club still finds itself in today. Meanwhile the majority of the clubs in the Premier Division had SFA membership and the attaching financial benefits associated with progression in the Scottish Cup. Every season through the decade Lothian were competing in a two tier league of richer SFA clubs and poorer non SFA clubs. Despite the financial limitations placed on Lothian performances on the pitch continued to provide satisfaction.
Season 1998/99 saw Lothian once more get to the final of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup, unfortunately losing to Whitehill Welfare. This meant 1999/2000 started off with Lothian once more qualifying for the City cup. The semi-final draw paired Lothian against Berwick Rangers and Lothian claimed their first ever league scalp as they progressed through to the final on penalties after a 1-1 draw before, once more, losing to Whitehill Welfare in the final.
Further honours came Lothian’s way with the Alex Jack Cup won for the first time in 2000/01, then the following season, after a series of impressive performances, Phil O’Neill became the first Lothian player to be capped for the Scotland semi-professional team, winning a total of six caps in season 2001/02 and 2002/03 plus winning the Evening News East of Scotland Player of the Year.
Mid-way through season 2003/04 saw Willie Darroch return for his second spell in charge, this time on a temporary basis until the end of the season, after George Bowmaker stepped down. By the end of the season the club had two trophies to parade, with the Alex Jack Cup won in a defeat of Edinburgh Athletic at Ferguson Park and the King Cup won for the first time in a defeat of Heriot-Watt University at the Civil Service sports ground.
Andy Haxton and Chris Brennan returned to the club, along with Ian Haxton, when the Lothian amateur team was formed in 2003/04. The Tommy Cairns Cup was won in 2005/06 and a series of near misses over three seasons saw the club miss out in play offs and final games of the season to win promotion to the top Amateur league. Unfortunately the team is no more as it disbanded at the end of season 2008/09.
Lothian’s highest league position of 3rd was achieved in 2004/05 under the new management team of Ricky and Malcolm Tulloch. The Tulloch’s moved for youth and brought in younger players, such as Wayne MacIntosh, Kevin Sievewright, Kevin Swain and Kevin Motion. In their two seasons in charge they added the Alex Jack Cup to Lothian’s honours in season 2005/06.
The Alex Jack Cup was won again in season 2007/08 and the following season saw Lothian finish in 3rd spot in the league once more.
KING CUP WINNERS 2003/04
2009/10 to date: Drifting, Hutchy and The Scottish
After 10 years of absolutely no progress in achieving membership of the SFA, and with no realistic chance of it happening: the SFA were ‘in a consultation period’ on club licencing; and Edinburgh Council had parked any improvements to the facilities, the club was drifting aimlessly. Decent players that an ambitous club would look to retain were signing for SFA member clubs and fundraising was increasingly difficult during the economic downturn.
Discussions commenced in 2010 with Hutchison Vale Boys club, based 100 yards from Saughton Enclosure, to work closer together and provide a pathway for their players from Under 19 or 21 to adult football, and for the start of season 2011/12 the new community club, named Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale (LTHV for short), competed for the first time in East of Scotland football. The pleasing aspect of the creation of the new community club was the ease by which both clubs wanted to work together and the retention of both club’s strong names in adult and youth football.
In season 2013/14 the SFA launched the Lowland League for SFA licensed clubs, LTHV found themselves remaining in the East of Scotland league. However, what this brought was a greater opportunity to win the East of Scotland league and gain entry the Scottish cup proper as the traditional stronger East of Scotland sides: Spartans, Whitehill Welfare; and Edinburgh City had moved to the Lowland league, so opening the door for LTHV who always finished well in East of Scotland leagues.
2013/14, the first season of the ‘new’ East of Scotland league saw Lothian crowned champions, and their reward was entry to the preliminary round of the 2014/15 Scottish cup, where they won 3-0 against fellow East of Scotland side Burntisland Shipyard. The 1st round saw Lothian lose 1-0 at home to Lowland league side East Kilbride.
The rest of 2014/15 season saw Lothian retain the league championship and win the East of Scotland Qualifying cup for the second time.
Season 2015/16 saw LTHV gain entry to the Scottish Cup for the second time and establish a lot of ‘firsts’ in their campaign.
Preliminary Round 2:
Lothian’s first ever competitive match played against a Junior side: a 2-2 draw a home to Girvan; winning the replay 5-2.
Lothian’s first ever 1st round victory in a 3-0 home victory over East Junior super-league champions Kelty Hearts.
Lothian’s first ever competitive home match against SPFL opponents in a 1-1 draw with Montrose; winning the replay 2-1 aet.
Lothian’s first ever competitive fixture against Highland League opponents in a 1-1 draw at Huntly, winning the replay 3-0 on a Monday night at Ainslie Park as Saughton Enclosure was unplayable due to being waterlogged.