1909-1910 Beginnings

During the latter half of the 19th century, the City of Dundee became an international hub for the production and selling of jute manufactured products. Raw jute was imported from India by the British East India Company, and the mechanical process to spin raw jute fibre - which was first developed in Dundee - saw the jute mills of Dundee produce many indispensable items including sacks, ropes, carpets and sailcloths. The rise of the textile industry brought with it an expansion of supporting industries, with shipbuilding and whaling also becoming vital in making Dundee the jute capital of the then modern world.

At the height of the industry's success, Dundee supported over sixty jute mills employing some 50,000 workers, which brought unprecedented immigration - notably of Irish workers who came to settle in Dundee for work.

Dundee 1900

PAT REILLY and his family came to Dundee from Ireland in the late 1870s, to take up work in the jute mills of the city. After he left school, Reilly also worked in the mills for a short while, but by the age of 20 he had opened a shop selling spare parts for bicycles, and over the years he developed this into selling the models and even manufacturing them himself, expanding his business to a point where he was able to open branches in Edinburgh and Perth. It seems that, while establishing his business in the capital, he developed an interest in Hibernian FC and, given his active involvement in both the Roman Catholic church and the Irish business community in Dundee, he decided that his home city should have a football club with similar links.

Pat Reilly
Pat Reilly
Earlier attempts to provide a focus for the Dundee Irish had invariably failed, most notably Dundee Harp who were formed in 1879. Harp had a ground located at East Dock Street and had been playing in the Northern League until they were expelled by the SFA in 1894 for being unable to meet match guarantees. The club folded, but made a return under the new name of Dundee Hibernian before reverting back to Dundee Harp a year later. Harp disappeared forever in 1906.

Undaunted by previous failures, Pat Reilly got together with other local businessmen with Irish origins and decided to form Dundee's newest senior football club. Following the example set by the Roman Catholic communities in Edinburgh (1875) and Glasgow (1887) when Hibernian and Celtic were established, this new club was designed to provide a focus of sporting interest for the city's large Irish, Roman Catholic, community. Therefore, giving their club the name DUNDEE HIBERNIAN and adopting the colours of green and white was both logical and consistent.

Unlike the clubs in Edinburgh and Glasgow, or the original Irish clubs which had previously started up in Dundee, there was no Roman Catholic Church representation involved in the running of the club. The club was never sectarian in nature, and had no intention of excluding those from outside that community. Neither was the club ever intended as a vehicle for Irish nationalism. The Dundee Irish did however retain a keen sense of their identity, and a new football team was seen by the founders of Dundee Hibs as an adequate means of expressing it.

The group required some important assurances before proceeding to form this new club, and in March and April 1909, Reilly met officials of the Scottish Football Association, the Forfarshire Association and the Northern League, however all of these organisations deferred their decision as the club was not yet formerly in existence and did not have a registered ground.

Clepington Park

The first step was to find a home for the new club. As much of the local Irish population was concentrated in the Lochee district, it was assumed that the Hibs would seek to set up their new home in that area. Rather than wasting valuable time building a new ground from scratch, they made the decision to find a ready-made venue. Efforts were made to set up at a suitable ground in the west end of the city but the negotiations fell through, so in April 1909 secretary Pat Reilly took the controversial step of approaching the landlord of Clepington Park.

It was a surprising move, as Clepington Park was at the time the home to Northern League side Dundee Wanderers, who had been renting the area for the past 18 years, and also because the park was right across the road from Dens Park, home of leading local side Dundee FC. On behalf of the committee, Reilly made an offer to the landlords, which clearly exceeded what the Wanderers were paying, with the result that the established tenants were informed that their lease would not be renewed for the coming season, and instead was to be transferred to the Hibs at the end of May.

The extent of Wanderers' anger at this development is evident from their decision to effectively dismantle Clepington's fixtures and fittings before they left, with the grandstand, the wooden changing rooms, the fence which enclosed the ground and even the goal posts being stripped down and removed, leaving the new tenants with nothing more than an open field rather than the ready-made ground they had envisaged.

Nevertheless, the new club took over the lease, and a decision was taken to emphasise the new era by changing the name of the ground. They settled on TANNADICE PARK, adopting the name of the street on which the main entrance to the ground was to be situated, and got to work on rebuilding.

Dundee Hibernian FC

Dundee Hibernian were officially formed at a meeting held at the Crown Hotel on Shore Terrace - which was located where the south corner of the Caird Hall now stands - on the 24th May 1909, where the men who had been working tirlessly for the past few months to get the club up and running were officially voted into office. City Councillor and former Provost of Forfar Bailie Thomas Hannick was voted in as president, with Samuel Johnstone as Vice President, Pat Reilly as Secretary, Thomas Timmons as treasurer, and ordinary committee members Patrick Doyle, James Glover, Thomas Heraughty, John Kennedy, Thomas Malone and John Naulty.

A further two appointments were Patrick McCabe, a prominent member of Dundee Town Council, as Honorary President, and J. Hennessy, owner of four pawnbroking shops in the city, as Honorary Vice-President. These twelve men were determined that their club would prove more durable than its predecessors and they had certainly made quick progress in the first two months.
Reilly Timmons
Pat Reilly (left) became Secretary/Manager and Tom Timmons (right) became Treasurer/Player

Dundee Hibernian were accepted into the Scottish Football Association membership on 28th May 1909, and the following week were included in the Forfarshire FA. The new club had also taken the bold step of applying for membership of the Scottish League's Second Division for the start of the 1909/10 season, and Pat Reilly had sent letters to all Scottish League clubs seeking support for the club's application. However, this was unsuccessful at the League's AGM on the 31st May and the Hibs were denied a place in the Scottish League set up.

Thankfully, Reilly hadn't fully expected the Scottish League vote to go in Hibs' favour and had also applied elsewhere for membership, and on the 12th June the club were accepted into the Northern League.

Tom Boland
Secretary Pat Reilly took on the role of team manager from day one, and held those joint responsibilities for the majority of Dundee Hibs' existence. Even before Hibs had gained SFA membership, Reilly had been lining up players to bring to Tannadice. The club's first ever signing was half back TOM BOLAND who moved from local side St. Josephs at the end of May, and he became a regular in the side over the next 8 years, at a time when players rarely remained at a club for more than a season.

Boland was soon joined by Jamie Docherty and Tom McDermott from Forfar Athletic, former Celtic and Everton full back Joe Hannan, centre half James Ramsay from Brechin City, James Strachan from St Joseph's, Dundee Wanderers full back Christopher Gallacher, Tim Dailly and Tom Flood from Dundee 'A', outside right Henry Brown from Kirkcaldy, and Lochgelly United goalkeeper John Brady.

Also included in the squad was club treasurer Tom Timmons, who shared the goalkeeping duties with Brady, as well as playing in a few outfield positions throughout the season.

The Northern League

The Northern League was a senior, Non-League, regional competition which was formed in 1891 and was based around the counties of Forfarshire, Perthshire, Fife and the city of Aberdeen. At the end of the 1908-09 season, six of the twelve clubs involved broke away to reform the Central League, leaving the Northern League desperate for new members to add to the 6 that were left. Hibs won their vote by 4 to 2, and in their first ever season they were to compete with the likes of Brechin City, Forfar Athletic, Montrose and Dundee Wanderers, as well as Dundee and Aberdeen's reserve teams.

Four other local teams - Forthill Athletic, Carnoustie Panmure, Blairgowrie Our Boys and Lochee United - were invited to make up the numbers, but they felt that it was too close to the start of the season to be changing League's and declined, therefore the 1909-10 Northern League season was to kick off with only seven clubs.


To get Tannadice back to the standards required, the committee enclosed the ground again with a new fence, and the priority was then to provide changing accommodation. In those days, dressing rooms were not usually built under the grandstand, but were contained in a stand-alone building known as the pavilion - a common feature at Scottish football grounds at the time, particularly the smaller ones. A two-storey brick pavilion was built, which contained two large dressing rooms, two committee rooms, a press box and referee's room. Construction also began on a new stand along Tannadice Street that was to be the whole length of the field which could hold more than 1,000 people.

Although the stand was not completed for several months, earth and ash banking had been built at both ends and the natural slope from Sandeman Street had been similarly consolidated to form terracing. Added to the impressive new pavilion, which was situated at the corner of the ground where the players' tunnel is today, it represented remarkable progress in just three months and the Club was now ready for their first season.

Ariel view of Tannadice - Click to Enlarge
Tannadice looking from Arklay Street end - Click to Enlarge
Main Stand built in 1909 - Click to Enlarge


The club's first ever match was a friendly to mark the opening of Tannadice Park, in which the Hibs from Dundee faced the Hibs from Edinburgh on 18th August 1909. Dundee's Lord Provost Sir James Urqhuart performed the ceremonial kick-off and a sizeable crowd of 7,000 witnessed the non-League newbies draw 1-1 with their Division One guests, with Jamie Docherty having the honour of scoring the first ever goal for Dundee Hibernian, earning a gold medal in the process. Hibernian's goalscorer O'Hara also won a bicycle, donated by Pat Reilly to whoever scored the opening goal.

The team that day: Brady, Boland, Brown, Dailly, Docherty, Flood, Gallacher, Hannan, McDermott, Ramsay, Strachan.

Hibs v Hibs 1909
18th August 1909 - Dundee Hibernian v Hibernian FC
The players and directors of both team pictured in front of th enewly built pavillion at Tannadice Park before the clubs first ever match
The clubs inaugural season began three days later, where the teams first ever competitive match was held at Tannadice, ironically against the ground's previous tenants - Dundee Wanderers. They had yet to find a new ground to play at, and had been ordered to play all of their matches away from home. The Northern League match on the 21st August 1909 saw Joe Hannan score the club's first-ever penalty, and then missed the second as the Wanderers gained a bit of revenge over their evictors by winning the match 2-1. A week later Dundee Hibs took on Montrose and recorded their first ever win with a 1-0 victory in front of 6,000 at Tannadice.

Over the next few months 13 more players were registered at Tannadice. After further League victories over Forfar and Brechin at Tannadice, the team took the short walk across the road for their first ever visit to Dens Park, where a record Northern League crowd of 10,000 saw the Hibs lose 3-0 to the Dundee 'A' side - a big match at the time, but not quite the first proper Dundee derby. Scotland would have to wait a further 16 years for that to officially happen.

Over the previous few years, the Northern League had become a bit of a farce, with fixtures left unplayed and matches abandoned due to bad weather or even darkness. These fixtures were very often left unaccounted for by the end of the campaign, leaving the League table with a very unbalanced look. This was no different for the 1909-10 season, with 8 matches left unfinished, even with just the seven teams competing - Forfar Athletic being the only team to complete their fixtures. Hibs finished their first season in 3rd place after 11 matches in the Northern League, just 3 points behind winners Dundee 'A', who had played 3 games less.

Cup Competitions

The first cup competition Dundee Hibs played in was the Scottish Qualifying Cup in September 1909. The Qualifying Cup had been introduced in 1895 to make the number of entries into the main Scottish Cup more manageable, with Lower League and Non-League clubs taking part. Originally a national tournament, the four clubs that reached the semi-finals would qualify for the Scottish Cup. Dundee Hibs were drawn against Brechin City in their first Qualifying Cup match, and a large travelling support journeyed to Glebe Park via trains put on especially by the club, where Hibs were unlucky to lose 2-1.

The Consolation Cup was a short lived tournament that was introduced in 1907, and was for clubs that had been knocked out of the Qualifying Cup in the early rounds, with matches played in the latter half of the season. Ironically, Dundee Hibs first opponents were the side that had knocked them out of the Qualifying Cup, Brechin City. This time however, Hibs were easily defeated, losing 4-1 at Tannadice.

During the early days of Scottish Football, the county cup tournaments were regarded as major competitions, nearly as prestigious as the Scottish Cup. The Forfarshire Football Association, which covered Angus and Dundee, began the Forfarshire Cup competition in 1883, and in their first involvement Dundee Hibs were drawn against Dundee 'A' at Tannadice in February 1910, where the narrowly lost 2-1 to Dundee's reserve side.

The Carrie Cup

The Carrie Cup was another Forfarshire based Cup competition, but was run in a League format - also known as The Forfarshire County Football League. Operated between 1897 and 1911, the trophy was donated by wine merchant WW Carrie. In their first entry into the tournament, Hibs had recorded wins over Dundee Wanderers, Brechin City, Arbroath and Forfar, but like the Northern League there was difficulties in completing the fixtures and the competition was ended early. Dundee Hibernian were awarded the Cup as they were top of the table at the time, and the Club won their first ever silverware - a great achievement in their first year of existence.

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