Penicuik Athletic Football Club have been proudly celebrating their 125th anniversary in 2013 with dinners and friendly matches, as well as the switching on of their new floodlights at their Penicuik Park home.
The club have enjoyed highs in both the Senior and Junior football set-ups, with arguably their most successful period coming in the 60s and 70s, playing in front of 30,000 at Hampden Park in the Scottish Junior Cup final the pinnacle of that era.
However they have also suffered lows since they were founded in 1888, spending most of the 1990s out of existence after their Eastfield Park home was sold and the club had nowhere to go.
During their 125 years many great players have donned the blue and white of Penicuik including Charlie Dickson, Billy Mercer and Falkirk striker Lee Bullen – who was ‘capped’ by Hong Kong in a 1996 match against Gazza’s England side.
The origins of organised football in Penicuik can be traced back to 1882, when several clubs operated in the area.
Penicuik Athletic were formed in 1888 at a meeting in the Royal Hotel in Penicuik and established a pitch at Hays Park at the back of the Royal Hotel adjacent to Hays Garage. The B&M supermarket and car park, the main road and Penicuik Health Centre now stand on the site.
Club president John Fraser (67), revealed more about these early days including their first Midlothian derby.
He said: “It would appear that the club had quite humble beginnings.
“Association football in Penicuik prior to 1888 football had sprung up in various forms in the village, as it wasn’t quite a town at that stage.
“There was football played and attempts made to form clubs as such and I think eventually Penicuik Athletic came out of these early attempts to put a football club together.
“The Britannic Star Football Club formed in 1883 and they seemed to carry right through until March 1888 when they became Penicuik Athletic.
“It was very much a participation sport for local boys. Slowly it eventually grew, as in other communities, with fixtures against teams from other areas, and at that stage national associations were being formed.
“There was a derby game between us and Bonnyrigg Rose in 1888, I think that was our first local game.”
In the late 19th century football was increasing in popularity throughout Scotland and in 1893 the East of Scotland League was formed and Penicuik Athletic joined, becoming a Senior club.
In 1904, the club adopted Junior status and the club name was changed to Penicuik Juniors.
A high point came in 1910 when they reached the semi-final of the Scottish Junior Cup only to lose narrowly to Kilwinning Rangers. Three of Penicuik’s players were capped for the Scottish Junior International team that year.
The 1930s saw the club revert to the Seniors’ East of Scotland League and Scottish Cup ties were played in Penicuik against Heart of Midlothian and St Mirren. Penicuik Athletic were East of Scotland League champions for season 1931/32 and King Cup winners in season 1935/36.
Read the rest of this feature in the December 26 edition of the Midlothian Advertiser.