The Early Years




The Early Years

Glenafton Athletic Junior Football Club formerly came into existence on August 2nd 1930 taking their name from the picturesque Glen Afton in the parish of New Cumnock. Also known as the Glens or the Afton, the team were based a mile or so from the town centre in the miners rows of Connel Park.

Entry into the small South Ayrshire League in season 1930/31 resulted in immediate success with the Glens lifting the championship ahead of the famous Glenbuck Cherrypickers.

In 1933-34 a number of the 'southern' teams were finally allowed entry into the prestigious Western Junior League to play with the 'northern' big boys. A season later the Glens were League Champions and also captured the Western League Cup for a memorable double. Top four finishes were delivered in the seasons leading up the War Years.

League reconstruction followed and the Western League was divided into North and South Sections, with the winners of each section contesting the Western League Championship in a one-off league decider. The Glens were next crowned Western League Champions in season 1958-1959 again adding the Western League Cup and the Vernon Trophy as the icing on the treble!


 A New Home and Ayrshire Domination

In 1960, the moved to a new home in the town centre close to where the Afton Water flows into the River Nith. The boggy land formed for the remnants of a prehistoric loch that once covered much of the lowland part of the parish and was drained and the Glens park was aptly named Loch Park. Ian St. John, star of Motherwell and Scotland kicked-off the first game at the new ground.

The omens for a great new beginning were good with two goals from the legendary Danny McCulloch and one from Eddie Brennan sealing a 3-2 victory over local rivals Cumnock Juniors. The Glens would go on to win 20 of the 23 league games, scoring 99 goals in the campaign to clinch the Southern Section. It would be another year in their new home before they would go all the way and win the Western League Championship in season 1961-62. That year they also contested the Scottish Junior Cup semi-final for the first time in their history, sadly losing out 1-0 to Kirkintilloch Rob Roy at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock.

The Western League Championship stayed at Loch Park in 1962-63 and the Glens went a step further in the Scottish Cup reaching the Final of the most sought after trophy in Junior Football. The game at Hampden Park, Glasgow was to end in disappointment with North Ayrshire rivals Irvine Meadow XI scoring a late goal to claim a 2-1 victory.

Richard 'Nodder' Kilpatrick scored a club record 65 goals in season 1963-64 as the Glens completed a unique Western League Championship treble . In these three seasons the Glens played 70 league games plus 3 league deciders winning 62 games, drawing 6 and losing 5 and scoring 338 goals in the process!

They won the Southern Section of the Western League for the last time in season 1965-66. The Western League North and South Sections were replaced with the Ayrshire League North and South Sections in 1968. From its inception in 1931, 'southern' teams were only to be crowned Western League champions of ten occasions, with Glenafton Athletic accounting for five these victories 1934/35, 1958/59, 1961/62, 1962/63 and 1963/64.


The Lean Years with Signs of Recovery

The Glens stranglehold on Ayrshire football began to fade and flags and silverware were becoming distant memories and players like Danny McCulloch and Nodder Kilpatrick entered into New Cumnock footballing folk-lore.

It was the late 70's before other local heroes like Ian 'Scoosh' McEwan and Jim 'Meeshy' Marshall lifted local spirits with some encouraging Scottish Cup runs including a semi-final appearance in 1978/79. Defeat at the hands of local rivals Cumnock Juniors at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock was a bitter spill to swallow. However, victories in the Jackie Scarlett Cup and the Macrae Cup in 1980 softened the blow. The Ayrshire League North and South Sections had been transformed into 1st and 2nd Divisions and under the leadership of Davie Wells, another local man the Glens were crowned Ayrshire champions in season 1982-83.


The Talbot Years

The Glens renaissance had started as Auchinleck Talbot served notice of their intention to dominate Scottish Junior Football. Winners of the Whyte & Mackay Cup (formerly the West of Scotland Cup and second only in prestige to the Scottish Junior Cup for the competing clubs) in seasons 1979/80, 1980/81 and 1981/82. They took a rest year and contested the next 5 finals, winning 4 of these taking their total haul to 7 in 9 seasons. This included a 3-2 victory over the Glens at Townhead Park in season 1984/1985 despite the Glens taking the lead on two occasions. Astonishingly during this period the Talbot were also to complete a hat-trick of Scottish Junior Cup victories through seasons 1985/86, 1986/87 and 1987/88.


The Rough Times and the Great Times

Glenafton's response to this domination was to bring celebrity status to the club. In 1990 the former Partick Thistle and Scotland goalkeeper, Alan Rough joined the club as player / manager. A policy of reinstating ex-seniors ensued, a strategy followed by many of the top Junior clubs in Scotland. The impact was almost instantaneous and the Glens were to reach the Scottish Junior Cup semi-final in season 1990/91 only to lose to Newtongrange Star 3-1 at Fir Park, Motherwell. Ominously, the Talbot disposed of the Star in the final. Another semi-final followed for the Glens in 1991/1992 and a fantastic 4-1 extra-time victory over a very strong Beith team at Somerset Park, Ayr rewarded them with their first Cup Final appearance since the great days of the 1960's. Ominously the mighty Talbot lay in wait and the Glens froze at Firhill Stadium, Glasgow and the Talbot run out easy 4-0 winners.

The 'Talbot Years' will surely never be beaten 5 Scottish Junior Cup victories and 7 West of Scotland Cup victories and countless other trophies between 1979 & 1992.Nevertheless, the Glens were about to embark on their own piece of Scottish Junior Cup history. A third consecutive semi-final followed and a 2-1 victory over Central League cracks, Lesmahagow gave the Glens the opportunity to redeem themselves at Firhill, the spiritual home of their manager Alan Rough. An inspired Archie Halley substitution and a late Johnny Millar goal sealed a historic victory over Tayport Juniors. The game was no spectacle but the scenes on the long journey back home were incredible. The celebrations as Rough and his team paraded the Junior Cup through the town on an opened deck bus are forever embedded in New Cumnock's history. After 30 years of hurt from the 1962/63 final the Glens had finally lifted the 'holy grail' on 23rd May 1993.

A few days later on a surreal Tuesday evening the Ayrshire League Championship was clinched with a effortless victory over Kilbirnie Ladeside. Victory over Cumnock Juniors on their own turf in the Ayrshire Cup Final capped the most successful season in Glenafton's 63 year history.

A fourth consecutive semi-final and the Glens had truly emerged from the Talbot's shadows. Arthurlie, for so long in the shadow of their own rivals Pollok were the formidable opposition, 2 miles from their own patch at the 'neutral' Love Street, Paisley. A 'Stormin' Norman Montgomery hat-trick sealed a famous 4-0 victory.

The Glens were now contesting their third consecutive Scottish Junior Cup Final, a marvellous achievement by anyone's standard. As holders they were hot favourites and the opposition was Largs Thistle from the Ayrshire 2nd Division. Largs however had a collection of notable scalps and the Glens' Ayrshire 'jinx' was to strike again. Largs run out worthy 1-0 winners and the Glens had suffered a hat-trick of Cup Final defeats against Ayrshire opposition. Sadly the game will be remembered for the wrong reasons, both teams having 2 players sent off. This played right into the hands of the 'Central League press' and their open loathing of Ayrshire domination of this trophy, a trophy that was on its way back to Ayrshire for the eighth time in the last nine years.

The quarter-final of season 1994/95 had presented Arthurlie with the opportunity for revenge at Loch Park, but once again they were no match for the Glens. A fifth consecutive semi-final, a record for the Scottish Junior Cup, saw the Glens return to Love Street, Paisley and a tough tie against Whitburn Juniors. The Glens were outplayed for much of the game, losing 3-1 and the dream of a record-breaking fourth consecutive appearance in the final of the Scottish Junior Cup was over.

Season 1995/96 and a sixth consecutive quarter-final appearance in the Scottish Junior Cup ended in a home defeat (after a 1-1 draw at Auchinelck) by the Talbot. Meanwhile in the Ayrshire League the Glens were to be runners up that season to Cumnock Juniors and runners up again in 1996/97 this time to Auchinleck Talbot.

Tom Brown, a Junior cup winning hero in 1993 ,had moved up to senior ranks with Kilmarnock in seasn 1993-1994, scoring on his debut against Dundee.  In 1997 he completed a remarkable double when Kilmarnock beat Falkirk 1-0 to lift the Scottish Cup.

In Season 1999/2000 and the Glens claimed an impressive 4-1 victory over holders Kilwinning Rangers in the Jackie Scarlett Cup Final. The Buffs were also Scottish Cup holders, Whyte & McKay Cup holders and Ayrshire champions! The Glens narrowly missed lifting the Whyte & MacKay Cup for the first time with Pollok Juniors scoring in the last minute to clinch a 2-1 victory. Third in the league the Glens went one better the following season 2000/2001 finishing runners-up to Kilwinning, despite thrashing the Buffs 5-1 on their own turf. The Glens also beat the Buffs 1-0 to lift the Ayrshire Cup.


The Last Champions of Ayrshire

Season 2001/2002 was to be the last in the history of the Ayrshire League. Major reconstruction beckoned with the top 6 of the Ayrshire League and the Central League to form a new Western Super League, in the following the season. With Tommy Bryce at the helm the Glens romped away with the League winning 15 and drawing 1 of their 18 games, finishing 10 points ahead of the nearest challengers Cumnock Juniors and a massive 22 points ahead of 4th placed Talbot. GLENAFTON ATHLETIC were the 'Last Champions of Ayrshire'


The Western Super League

The first season in the new Western Super League saw the Glens continuing to fly the Ayrshire flag and finish in a credible 3rd place, only 3 points behind Pollok who claimed the title on goal-difference over Neilston. The disappointment of 'so near but so far' in the league was eased with Cup success in the Whyte & McKay (West of Scotland Cup) and East Ayrshire Cup. The West of Scotland Cup had thus far alluded the Glens and the triumph was made all the sweeter with victories over Auchinleck , Kilwinning and Kilbirnie en route to thrashing Bellshill 4-2 in the final at Meadow Park, Irvine.



Glenafton's 75th Anniversary celebrations in Season 2005-06 began with a bang.  Now under the stewardship of Gerry Collins the Glens won the Ayrshire League Cup; a cup campaign that began with smacking Auchinleck's bot at Beechwood and finished with knocking the stuffing out of Cumnock in the final at Somerset Park.  The season ended with a bang too. The Glens won the West of Scotland Cup Final with a dramatic penalty kick shoot-out victory over Maryhill at Newlandsfield, Glasgow. 

New Cumnockians can truly be proud of the mark that Glenafton Athletic have left on the history of Scottish and Ayrshire Junior football since their formation way back in 1930 and can proudly sing of  'The Last Champions of Ayrshire ..........'



Dedicated to the memory of
my late father Bobby Guthrie
The Pride of dear New Cumnock



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