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The Battle of the Clydeside

Tikka Mezzala

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As the Firth of Clyde meanders its way around the contours and isles of Scotland's western lowlands and approaches the narrowing stretch of the River Clyde, two towns stand overlooking the water: Greenock and Port Glasgow. Both of these towns have seen better days, particularly at the height of empire and industry. Many imports landed here and were processed before being sent off to Glasgow and further afield. Shipbuilding made up a significant chunk of the population's employment. But these days, most of the industry is gone, and this corner of the Inverclyde region is home to many low paid, precarious service sector jobs such as call centres. 


This stretch of coastline is the setting for The Battle of the Clydeside - an FMCU story about two rival football clubs trying to restore local pride. 

In terms of senior football, Greenock Morton represent the area within the SPFL structure, currently playing in Scotland's second tier, the Championship. But this story begins outside the purview of the SPFL, in the West of Scotland Football League structure. It is in the fourth tier of the WOSFL that we find our protagonists: Port Glasgow F.C. and Greenock Juniors F.C.. 


Formed in 1948, Port Glasgow F.C., nicknamed The Undertakers, represent the town bearing the same name. In terms of honours, the club's history reads as follows:

  • Central League A Division winners: 1978–79
  • Central League C Division winners: 1975–76
  • Central Division Two winners: 1999–2000
  • Glasgow Dryburgh Cup: 1957–58
  • Evening Times Cup Winners Cup: 1999–2000
  • Central League First Division winners : 2007–2008
  • Pompey Cup Winners 1967–68
  • Erskine hospital Cup winners: 1971, 1981, 1988
  • Kirkwood Shield winners 1967–68.

Presently, Port Glasgow find themselves playing in the West of Scotland Third Division, the fourth tier of the WOSFL structure. Their home ground is known as Parklea:


Leading Port Glasgow F.C. into the 2023/24 campaign is John Maxwell - a native of the town, and a long-term servant of the club as a central defender. Maxwell's time as a junior footballer was brought to an end by a recurring knee injury that he sustained when he was thirty-one years-old. Now thirty-four, and with some coaching qualifications behind him, he has been promoted from the coaching staff to the position of head coach. 


In terms of initial tactics, John Maxwell favours a fairly pragmatic approach to the game. As a defender by trade, he enjoyed having the protection of a DM in front of the back four. He, therefore, favours the 4-3-3 shape.


A cautious mentality reflects a psychological tendency within Maxwell - risk aversion. The general plan is to be hard to beat and to gain the upper hand in any physical contests in the middle of the park. A tight-knit midfield trio who tackle hard and stay close together should help achieve these tactical aims. 


Greenock Juniors F.C. have to compete for attention with SPFL side Greenock Morton; something that may become more significant should the club ever rise up into the SPFL structure themselves. The Nock's heyday came all the way back in 1960, when the club contested their first and only Scottish Junior Cup final against St Andrew's United at Hampden Park. A crowd of 34,603 turned out to watch St Andrew's triumph 3-1 on the day, giving Greenock their 'what if' moment. Despite their 1960 loss, the club have managed to bag a number of honours since their 1956 foundation:

  • Central League Championship winners: 1960–61, 1965–66
  • Central League Division Two winners: 1997–98
  • Central League Cup winners: 1960–61, 1965–66, 1966–67
  • Pompey Cup winners: 1965–66
  • Renfrewshire Junior Cup winners: 1959–60, 1960–61, 1962–63, 1963–64, 1966–67
  • Erskine Hospital Charity Cup winners: 1959–60
  • West Central League First Division winners: 2013

The club play their home matches at the old fashioned looking Ravenscraig Stadium:


Just like their bitter foes from just down the coast, Greenock Juniors will be contesting the West of Scotland Third Division in the 2023/24 season. 

Leading them into the campaign is Rab Kilpatrick, a one-time Greenock Morton youth player who found his level in junior football with Greenock F.C., where he was to play the rest of his career as a versatile midfielder. 


Rab Kilpatrick's versatility as a player has made him favour the classic 4-4-2 shape. Although the formation can easily move between positive and cautious iterations, Kilpatrick's favoured approach is to be on the front foot, getting balls into wide areas and feeding the two strikers. 


Having experienced the hustle and bustle of midfield battles in Scottish junior football, Kilpatrick wants his players to work hard and get stuck in when they don't have possession, and to get it forward quickly when they win the ball back. 



Welcome to the start of an FMCU story. This might seem like a little bit of an unusual format compared to most of the threads on here, so let me explain how it works. 

I have created both managers above and will manage the two teams. My only involvement in the running of the clubs will be selecting the tactics and choosing the players who will play each game. Anything above and beyond that, including transfers, staff hires, training, contracts etc., will be delegated to members of the backroom team. 

In order to make it a speedier process, I will be instant-resulting the games once the tactics and starting XIs have been chosen. 

The hope is that over time, the two clubs can rise up the leagues and become established SPFL sides, giving the professional Scottish game another big rivalry that can add to the likes of the Old Firm Derby, the Edinburgh Derby, and the Dundee Derby. 

Hopefully as the save progresses, an exciting and enjoyable narrative emerges as the clubs experience their respective journeys. Even better would be the inclusion of some memorable matches between the two clubs in cup finals or league/promotion deciders. But that's all for the future. 

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Oooh, interesting. I'm doing a lower league Scotland save here myself, so it will be interesting to compare notes. I even start off being unqualified and inexperienced, only allowed to pick the team and tactics until I earn my badges. What's even more crazy is my family are from Rothesay, just 'doon the watter'!

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2023 Summer Trading Period

In two small club committee rooms at the Ravenscraig Stadium and Parklea, Greenock F.C. and Port Glasgow unveiled their new managers before a couple of local journalists. Despite the uninspired surroundings and lack of fanfare, both managers spoke passionately about their respective projects. John Maxwell, the arch pragmatist, chose to focus on the here and now, saying that Port Glasgow would "go as far as our performances allow", and that the "building blocks" must be put in place before anyone can speak about things like promotion. Rab Kilpatrick, on the other hand, dared to dream about one day leading his club into the promised land of the SPFL. With the door now open to clubs from the old junior football pyramid, the Greenock manager insisted that it was imperative that the club assume the ambition of one day joining Greenock Morton in the professional structure. 

With their ambitions stated, both managers were hoping for a successful transfer window to bulk up their respective squads in terms of quantity as well as quality. With their fates in the hands of their clubs' transfer committees, it was a nervous few weeks for Maxwell and Kilpatrick as they hoped the holes in their teams could be adequately filled. By September 2nd and the closing of the window, it would be fair to say that both head coaches were left disappointed. 

In the case of Greenock F.C., four new arrivals were brought in, with three departing the club. Two of the new signings were goalkeepers, and neither looked particularly inspiring. In a wholly disappointing window, the best of the arrivals appeared to be centre-forward Liam Baillie, formerly of Montrose FC. 


Port Glasgow's transfer window brought three arrivals (two goalkeepers) and no departures. The only outfield player added to John Maxwell's squad was loan signing Dylan Kerr from Caley Braves. The winger has brought some much needed pace to Port Glasgow's right-flank, but as he is the only outfield arrival to an already thin squad, it isn't clear what sort of impact can reasonably be expected from the youngster. 


Both clubs were quite active in their attempts at bringing in greater numbers to their squads, but the story of the window proved to be one of frustration as clubs higher up the pyramid got in ahead of them to snatch up available talent. With a number of cup competitions clogging up the early schedule, it will be tough for the small squads at both clubs to cope with the physical demands of what could turn out to be a gruelling, injury strewn season. 

During the summer transfer period, both clubs played their preseason friendlies and their first competitive games of the 23/24 season. Here are the results of those games starting with Port Glasgow:



Port Glasgow's preseason campaign brought them three wins and a draw. These encouraging results were carried over into the competitive action that kicked off in August, as the Undertakers racked up seven straight wins across four competitions. Progression in the three cup competitions, while impressive, could pose some problems for the small squad at John Maxwell's disposal, but those are problems for down the line. The main takeaway from the first month of action is that Port Glasgow are looking like serious contenders under their new manager, and they'll be hoping to maintain this kind of form in the coming months. 



The first three games of Greenock's preseason campaign brought three straight 3-0 victories. The defeat at Maybole in the final preparation game was no cause for alarm, especially as Rab Kilpatrick's men would go on to beat Glasgow United in their opening Third Division game. But an early South Challenge Cup exit at the hands of Larkhall Thistle, and a mauling at the hands of Bellshill in the league has placed some doubt into he minds of The Nock's fans. While their form is within keeping with their mid-table expectations, the injuries that they have sustained already, and the fact that they were beaten so heavily by another mid-table outfit, has some predicting a tough year ahead for the Greenock club. 


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31 minutes ago, phnompenhandy said:

Oooh, interesting. I'm doing a lower league Scotland save here myself, so it will be interesting to compare notes. I even start off being unqualified and inexperienced, only allowed to pick the team and tactics until I earn my badges. What's even more crazy is my family are from Rothesay, just 'doon the watter'!

Yeah, I seen you had a database with amateur clubs included. I know that Mozza, who usually makes the Scottish pyramid database I use, is planning on adding amateur leagues in the next few weeks. So I might join you in those divisions in the future, as I quite enjoy football at those levels, where you have high turnovers of players, and changing dynamics every year in terms of who is good and who is bad. 

Best of luck with the save. I'll keep my eye on it. 

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3 minutes ago, Tikka Mezzala said:

Yeah, I seen you had a database with amateur clubs included. I know that Mozza, who usually makes the Scottish pyramid database I use, is planning on adding amateur leagues in the next few weeks. So I might join you in those divisions in the future, as I quite enjoy football at those levels, where you have high turnovers of players, and changing dynamics every year in terms of who is good and who is bad. 

Best of luck with the save. I'll keep my eye on it. 

Oh really! I always went with Mozza's databases and follow his real-life Tullibody adventure, but I gotta have my Highlands & islands fix, my spiritual home. If he adds those, I'll be straight back!

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2023: Sep-Oct-Nov

The three Autumnal months brought goals, penalty shootouts, cup upsets, and a thrilling Clydeside Derby at Parklea. This period also brought to the fore the differing personalities of the respective managers of Port Glasgow and Greenock F.C.

Rab Kilpatrick's early exchanges with the local press have painted a picture of an optimist and an idealist. Always looking for the positives, even in defeat, Kilpatrick has tended to put his arm around his players when they are struggling, and big them up during the good times. This approach has carried over into his personal interactions with the players, especially on the training ground. Convinced that positive reinforcement is the best motivational approach, the Greenock manager tends to avoid exchanging harsh words with those deemed to be performing below the expected standards. His aim is simple: to create a positive environment within the dressing room so that the morale of the players stays high. 

John Maxwell, in contrast, is a much more stern figure. His exacting standards leads to plenty of criticism when it is warranted, and in an attempt to fend off comfort and complacency, he is wary of allowing his players to think he is happy with how they are doing. A good performer at training will only be aware of his merits by the fact that no words have been said to him. Those underperforming, however, will not be spared words from their manager. With a strict discipline regime in place at the club, no one relishes getting on the wrong side of Maxwell. 



Greenock's start to the season was marred by injuries and a damaging 5-1 defeat away at Bellshill. But football is about how you respond to disappointments, and if September's form is anything to go by, Rab Kilpatrick's men deserve a lot of credit for their resilience. Three straight league wins and a WoS League Cup triumph made it the perfect month for the Nock. Thirteen goals scored across the four games demonstrated the attacking philosophy emphasised by their new head coach. 

October proved to be more of a mixed month for Greenock, with three wins, two defeats, and a draw across six games. The biggest positive of the month was a shock penalty shootout victory over Kilsyth Rangers of the WoS Second Division. This result showed that Greenock could mix it with the teams from the division above. The biggest negative of October was undoubtedly the derby defeat away at Port Glasgow. While Greenock went into the game as slight underdogs, their performance probably merited at least a draw. The game was highly even in the stats, with both teams creating lots of good chances. Port Glasgow went down to ten men with around ten minutes remaining, but they held on for the win in a thrilling contest.

The Nock's WoS League Cup campaign came to an end in November after Gartcairn Academy knocked them out on penalties. But two wins out of three in the league, including an outstanding 6-0 win at home to Ardeer Thistle, made it a decent month for Kilpatrick's men. 




August brought perfection for Port Glasgow, and but for a defeat against EoS First Division outfit Whitehill Welfare in the South Challenge Cup, September would also have brought perfection. Three league wins and an impressive cup upset against WoS Premier Division side Kirkintilloch Rob Roy kept the feel good factor going at Parklea. This form carried over into the early weeks of October as Glasgow United fell to a 4-0 defeat in Port Glasgow, and Forth Wanderers of the WoS Second Division marked another cup upset for the Undertakers. 

The only blotch on October's record was a heavy defeat at home to Threave Rovers, the preseason favourites for the Third Division title. Any worries that this would knock Maxwell's side off track ahead of the first derby meeting of the season were soon expelled after Port Glasgow triumphed in a highly entertaining win over Greenock F.C. The derby win was followed up with a couple of impressive away victories at Kello Rovers and Kilsyth. 

Greenock's tormentors Bellshill were next in line for Port Glasgow's wrath, as the North Lanarkshire club succumbed to a 0-3 home defeat. This was one of three league victories in November as Lanark United and Lesmahagow were also put to the sword by John Maxwell's league leaders. The only negative in November was Port Glasgow joining Greenock in the list of teams dumped out of the WoS League Cup. Just like their bitter rivals, the Undertakers were also on the end of a penalty shootout heartbreak, this time to Whitletts Vics of the First Division. 



As winter drew upon Scotland, Port Glasgow led the way in the West of Scotland Third Division. An almost flawless record, along with the best defence and second best attack made people stand up and take notice of the impressive work John Maxwell was doing in his new role. Greenock were also punching above their preseason expectations, and there was a real sense of hope in the camp that they could compete for one of the top three promotion places. But with twenty-five goals conceded in fifteen games, it was clear where the problems lay for Rab Kilpatrick's men. Their gung-ho football was great to watch, but it could also be highly porous at the back. 

Edited by Tikka Mezzala
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Winter 23/24: Dec-Jan-Feb

Heading into the winter, both Greenock and Port Glasgow could be content with the work they had put in up until this point. The Undertakers were sitting pretty at the top of the table, but Greenock were also within touching distance of the promotion places. As pitches started to harden in the seasonal frost, the stakes were being raised with every passing game. The period from December through February is always a crucial time in separating the serious contenders from the pretenders. The teams left standing in the promotion push come March would be justified in feeling this could very well be their season. 



Greenock F.C. enjoyed a strong start to the festive period with three straight wins, two of them in the league. Among them was a revenge mission against Bellshill. Having lost 5-1 in the reverse fixture in North Lanarkshire, there was some added satisfaction in their 2-0 home win against The Hill. A nine goal thriller followed that victory, as sorry Glasgow United suffered at the hands of a rampant Greenock side intent on racking up the goals. But Rab Kilpatrick's side were to suffer a huge blow in their promotion push as they came unstuck away at Threave Rovers a couple of days before Christmas. The final game of 2023 saw more points dropped as Lanark United added to Greenock's woes by claiming a 2-2 draw at Ravenscraig Stadium. 

With only two games in January, the New Year started much better than the old one ended. A couple of 4-2 wins against Lesmahagow and Kilsyth renewed the hope of The Nock supporters. The positive momentum carried over into February, as Greenock claimed a priceless 1-2 win away at one of their rivals Vale of Leven. But two damaging defeats were to follow the run of three straight wins: first, St. Anthony's denied The Nock a place in the Strathclyde Demolition Cup semi-final against Port Glasgow thanks to a penalty shootout win. Secondly, and even more damaging, Ravenscraig Park played host to a derby annihilation as Port Glasgow ran out 1-4 winners in Greenock. From the feelgood factor of three wins in a row, to the feeling that their season was quickly unravelling, Rab Kilpatrick had it all to do if he wanted to salvage Greenock's hopes of achieving something this season. 



December started with a bang for John Maxwell and his men. A thumping 5-0 victory against Second Division Maryhill F.C. had confidence soaring at Parklea. Their 4-2 win at home to West Park added to their feeling of invincibility, but they'd soon be brought back down to earth with a shock 2-1 defeat away at Vale of Leven. The pre-Christmas fixture at home to Finnart brought them an unconvincing three points, before a nervy 2-2 draw away at title rivals Irvine Vics just about kept them top. 

There was a definite feeling that performances had started to wobble somewhat towards the end of December, and although they comfortably dispatched of Dalry Thistle at home in a 4-1 win, there were more dropped points in Girvan thanks to a 1-1 draw. The Strathclyde Demolition Cup brought some relief in the form of a 6-0 win over Lugar BT, but a week later Ardeer Thistle were to leave Parklea with a share of the points, allowing Irvine Vics to pull level with Port Glasgow in the Third Division table. 

Port Glasgow went into the Clydeside Derby needing to win at the home of their fiercest rivals. It was a game that would have ramifications for their title chances as well as Greenock's promotion hopes. It's fair to say that the 1-4 scoreline flattered the away side, but it was a highly valuable three points for John Maxwell's men, who completed a league double over their bitter foes:




As Spring approached, it looked as though the promotion places were all but sealed by the top three. It would take quite a collapse from any of the top sides to allow Greenock back into the mix. All that was yet to be decided at the top of the Third Division was the destination of the title itself. Three consistent teams, with strong attacking and defensive records looked to battle it out over the course of March, April, and May. 

For Rab Kilpatrick and Greenock, it was important to keep the pressure on should anyone drop points. But it felt as though the chance had gone, and the rest of the season was merely about trying to dabble with the tactical side of things and find a stronger formula for next season's promotion push. 

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Spring 2024: Mar-Apr-May

The business end of the season would confirm two things at the top end of the table: who would go up to the Second Division, and who would win the Third Division title. The latter was much more of an open question than the former. With eight points separating Threave Rovers and Greenock F.C., the possibility of anyone other than the current top three going up was remote. 

Port Glasgow had led the way in the league for most of the campaign, and with the end firmly in sight, John Maxwell's men were determined not only to secure their place in next year's Second Division, but to head up to the higher level as champions. To date, Irvine Vics had matched their every step, while Threave Rovers lay in wait for any slip ups from the top two. It was all about who could keep their heads and get over the line in the final three months of the campaign. 



If it wasn't clear already that Greenock F.C. would be spending another year in the West of Scotland Third Division, March well and truly confirmed it. A 3-3 draw in Glasgow against Finnart was damaging enough, but the 0-4 home defeat against Irvine Vics, a result that confirmed the visitors' and Port Glasgow's promotion, was the final nail in the coffin. 

The good news for Greenock and their manager was the end to the campaign. Four straight wins after a change of tactics provided fresh optimism for the coming season. Having retained their 442 shape for most of the 23/24 season, Rab Kilpatrick opted to move to a 4231 with a double pivot. The results speak for themselves. Four wins and twelve goals rounded off a very good league campaign for a side that many predicted to be sitting in mid-table come the end of the season. 'The best of the rest' tag might feel like a slap in the face when one of 'the best' happens to be Port Glasgow, but in the grand scheme of things, Greenock F.C. have come on leaps and bounds under the tutelage of Rab Kilpatrick. Few would bet against a promotion push next season. 



March may have contained a semi-final defeat in the Strathclyde Demolition Cup, but the crucial league games across the month were handled with aplomb. Three wins out of three, and twelve goals bagged made it a very good month for John Maxwell's side. 

April's crunch clash away at Threave Rovers, however, proved to be a pivotal moment in the 23/24 season. In a game that they largely dominated, Port Glasgow ended up on the losing side of a 2-1 scoreline, allowing Rovers to close the gap on them at the top, and letting Irvine Vics pull three points clear with three games left to play. A solid response was needed to the defeat at Threave, and that's what was delivered in the next game at home to Lanark United. 7-0 was the final score in a day where the Port Glasgow forwards ran rampant. 

John Maxwell's side knew they had to win their final two games in May and hope for a favour from elsewhere. They kept up their end of the bargain thanks to a 2-4 win against relegated Lesmahagow and a 3-0 home win on the final day against Kilsyth, but they were done no favours from the other sides in the league. Irvine Vics had kept their nerve and won their final three games, clinching the title on the final day with a win against Girvan. 



While both Port Glasgow and Greenock F.C. have cause to be proud of their efforts across the season, there will no doubt be regrets in the minds of both managers. Greenock were in with a shout of promotion up until the Spring, but their inconsistency and lack of big game mentality kept them at arm's length from the teams above. 

Port Glasgow will celebrate a promotion in a season they were expected to finish in the middle of the pack. But having led the way until three games from the end, there will be a serious sense of an opportunity lost at adding a bit of silverware to the club's trophy cabinet. 

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Funnily enough, in my save, in the 23/24 season Port Glasgow got promoted and Greenock didn't. I won't say how the 24/25 season ended!

I just secured a promotion as runner-up too, posting just an hour ago! That was my second season - I finished well below Midcable in my first.

Have fun in the close season - I find unexpected events tend to happen!

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Summer 2024

Port Glasgow were looking forward to a new division in the 24/25 season. Their player turnover suggested they were not convinced the class of 23/24 was up to the task of making the step up. Most of their starting XI would look different when they took to the field on the opening day of the season against Craigmark, but the big question was whether their new recruits actually improved the team.

Greenock Juniors also rolled the dice in the transfer window, although they were hampered by more players leaving than arriving. Rab Kilpatrick cut a forlorn figure when he returned to training to find an even smaller group of players than the previous season. With their backs against the wall, Greenock set out to catch Port Glasgow who were now a whole division above them. 




On the pitch, the Undertakers enjoyed a fantastic start to the new season. A solid preseason campaign, which included impressive wins against Hearts B and WoS Premier League side Auchinleck Talbot, was followed by an imperious start to the competitive action. A couple of 2-0 wins set the tone, but it was the eye catching scorelines of their wins over Wishaw and Maryhill that really got people talking about John Maxwell's team. 

At the end of August it was the promoted teams who set the pace in the West of Scotland Second Division. The early signs were that Threave, Irvine Vics and Port Glasgow had adjusted well to the higher level. 





Despite having one of the smallest squads in the WoS pyramid, Rab Kilpatrick was able to continue the impressive form that his side found towards the end of the previous season. Their preseason campaign suggested there would be no change in the ultra-attacking philosophy of the Nock, but defensive frailties continued to be on show. 

With six wins in a row across four competitions, the signs were highly positive for Greenock. But the Kilsyth draw at the end of August highlighted the dangers of leaving the door open at the back. Regardless of how the season would pan out, it was becoming obvious that Kikpatrick's men would be one of the most enjoyable teams to watch in Scottish non-league football. 


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Autumn 2024



Greenock's impressive start to the 24/25 season came to a screeching halt in September. The Nock lost four out of five fixtures across the month, a run that included two cup eliminations. It appeared as though Rab Kilpatrick's threadbare squad was finally getting found out. 

That is until October arrived. The Halloween season proved to be much less spooky for the Reds, as they recovered from September's trauma to win five from six. Despite conceding in every game across the month, there were signs that the defence was tightening up somewhat, and that carried over into November where Greenock managed to claim two clean sheets in four outings. 

The seven points picked up in November sent Rab Kilpatrick's men to the top of the Third Division heading into the winter months. It was a remarkable accomplishment for a side permanently on the verge of a personnel crisis.






John Maxwell called for his players to not get carried away after their impressive start to the new season, but Port Glasgow's form across the Autumn made it difficult to keep everyone's feet firmly fixed to the ground. 

A perfect league record that stretched into mid-November had the Undertakers soaring at the top of the Second Division. There was also progress in every cup competition. 

Among the raft of victories were wins away at Irvine Vics and Threave Rovers, last season's foes and the closest challengers to Port Glasgow in the league. 

With fourteen wins from fifteen in the league, and a goal difference of +35, it was difficult to look past John Maxwell's men for the title, even at this early stage. 



In an exciting piece of news from the Strathclyde Demolition Cup, there would be a battle of the Clydeside this season after all. With both teams in terrific form and scoring lots of goals, the game at the Ravenscraig Stadium in Greenock should prove to be a fascinating encounter.



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Winter 2024/25



Port Glasgow's exceptional form continued throughout the winter period. Eleven wins in fourteen games across December, January and February pretty much ensured that they'd be playing at a higher level next season. They also managed to set up three semi-finals across the various cup competitions thanks to their quarter final victories throughout February. 

The festive period brought two shock cup wins in the form of Port Glasgow's victories over East Stirlingshire and Auchinleck Talbot. These wins cemented the idea that John Maxwell's side were destined for greater things than the West of Scotland Second Division. Their quest to climb the divisions was helped by seven points out of nine in December, and eleven points from the next fifteen available across January and February. 

Although the shortest month was marked by three cup quarter finals, it was perhaps the win over Irvine Vics on the first day of February that proved the most significant. Irvine have been applying pressure to the Undertakers throughout the campaign, and memories of last season's capitulation in the Third Division were still fresh in the mind. The 2-1 victory at Parklea gave Maxwell's men an eight point cushion heading into the spring. This would surely prove to be enough to bring home the title!






Although the autumn had started disastrously for Greenock Juniors, their form throughout October and November put them clear at the top of the Third Division. The threadbare squad at Rab Kilpatrick's disposal had been performing minor miracles, and there were no signs of them abating throughout December and January. 

Greenock had earned a reputation for throwing caution to the wind in their tactical style, and with results like 2-7, 5-5, 4-6, and 4-2, no one could really argue with it. The great entertainers of Division Three were clearly shooting for the stars, but February brought them crashing back down to earth. 

Despite a good start to the New Year, injuries and fatigue had started to set in by the second month of 2025 resulting in two league draws and a disastrous home defeat at the hands of Port Glasgow in the Strathclyde Demolition Cup. The game had been billed as one of the potential games of the season, with both sides enjoying tremendous league campaigns and scoring goals for fun. But by the time the fixture rolled around, Greenock were dead on their feet. Their bitter foes were unforgiving in their approach to the match and set out to humiliate Rab Kilpatrick's men. It was a third straight Clydeside derby win for Port Glasgow, the second in Greenock, and no one was left in any doubt as to who the top dogs were in this neck of the woods. 

While the mood in the Greenock camp was somewhat disturbed by the manner of their defeat against Port Glasgow, one look at the league table was enough to quickly snap them out of the gloom. Not only were Kilpatrick's side well clear of fourth place, ensuring them a promotion spot, but they enjoyed an eleven point advantage and a vastly superior goal difference in the title race. There would be no cups to contest in the spring, but winning the Third Division title, something Port Glasgow failed to do the previous season, would surely suffice for a successful 24/25 campaign at the Ravenscraig Stadium.



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Spring 2025



With only the league left to focus on, Greenock's thin squad could count on plenty of weekends off as they looked to tie up promotion along with the Third Division title. 

Everything started brightly with two high-scoring wins against Eglinton and Kello Rovers, but it was their draw with Bellshill that actually sealed their place in the Second Division next season. 

April's first game brought the title after Greenock beat second-place Ardeer Thistle 3-2 at the Ravenscraig Stadium. The celebrations from that game must have been good, because the hangover set them on a three game winless run to round off the campaign. Lanark United claimed a point from them at the end of April before back-to-back defeats against the Vale of Clyde and Dalry Thistle brought the season to a close. 

Despite their late collapse, it was a very good season for Greenock Juniors who sealed promotion and the title at the second attempt under Rab Kilpatrick. With a tiny squad to contend with throughout the campaign, it was nothing short of miraculous that the Nock came through the season with such a strong league record. With a higher level now beckoning, it was clear that the summer would be pivotal in determining whether Greenock could cope with life in the Second Division. 





It was the business end of the season, and Port Glasgow certainly showed that they mean business. Four victories and four clean sheets throughout March brought them the title, as well as a place in the Strathclyde Demolition Cup final. But the month ended on a sour note as the Undertakers succumbed to a shock 3-0 defeat away at Neilston. 

John Maxwell's men might not have a quadruple to chase after the Neilston loss, but their pursuit of a treble remained on course thanks to a 2-3 win in the capital against Edinburgh College. This was followed by a perfect end to their league season with four impressive wins against Renfrew, Larkhall Thistle, Bonnyton Thistle and Threave Rovers. 

It was their opponents on the final day of the Second Division season who would run out against them in the Strathclyde Cup final. The result was less convincing, but the outcome was ultimately the same as the next part of the treble chase was complete. Up next was Celtic B in the South Challenge Cup. The young Hoops were the current holders and clear favourites to win it again. But John Maxwell had built something special at Port Glasgow, and he and his players would go on to conquer Celtic and get their hands on the trophy, completing the treble and rounding off an incredible year in style.


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