20 June 2013

The Good Ship Rangers and a North American Voyage: The 1930 tour

Rangers take on Vancouver St. Andrews, 7 June 1930.
by Gary Havlin | @RangersFACTS

Before the dawn of the jet age, indeed before global air travel had even left the departure gate, the Rangers of the twenties and thirties had embarked on a tour of North America not once but on two occasions, in 1928 and 1930.

The club were by no means strangers to touring far off lands in the early twentieth century: Their first tour of the 'continent' came in 1904 with a trip to Vienna, which proved so successful it was extended so that the Tourists could cross into Prague for a couple of games. The hop across the North Sea, however, could not compare with the voyage of the Rangers in 1928 and 1930 as they sailed the wild Atlantic in their quest to advance the good name they had earned themselves on shores closer to home.

Newspaper report of the first Continental Tour, summer 1904.
The 1930 tour was the longest of both North American tours lasting four weeks; featured more matches to be played than in 1928 (14 as opposed to 10); formidable opponents in Canada and the Champions of the US lay in wait; and the schedule of domestic matches to be played before embarking for the journey westbound meant that they nearly didn't make it all.

This tour was a direct outcome of the success of the 1928 tour. Football authorities in Canada and the US were insistent that Rangers return, and the Rangers Directors felt it something of a duty to honour their request, particularly out of deference to 'our own people in Canada' who had showered such lavish hospitality on the team on the previous trip.

The Rangers arrive back at Southampton after their first North American tour, 1928.

A Clean Sweep

The 1929/30 Season saw Rangers make 'the World's Greatest Clean Sweep.' The League Title was won for the 19th time, the three domestic cups–the Scottish Cup, the Glasgow Cup and the Glasgow Merchants' Charity Cup–were in the bag, even the second XI won the reserve league. It was the Glasgow Merchants' Charity Cup Final versus Celtic that nearly caused the Rangers party to miss their date with the Andania.

The Charity Cup Final was played on Saturday, 10 May at Hampden Park. Celtic were the opponents and were all that stood between Rangers and the clean sweep. The Cup Final itself stood between Rangers and the liner Andania, which was anchored at Greenock awaiting their arrival to ferry them across to Canada.

Time was of the essence; extra time in the Cup Final was not! All-Square after 90 minutes meant an additional 30 minutes were required. No goals were scored, and with a replay being impractical as Rangers would be mid-Atlantic, the fate of the Cup would be decided by a toss of a coin. The Celtic captain chose Tails, the Kings Head faced the heavens, and the 'Grand Slam' was won.

'Heads We Win!' – The moment the Grand Slam was completed.
There was no time to waste if The Rangers were to catch their train to the 'Tail O' the Bank' to board the Andania, where the Captain was awaiting them for a celebratory dinner and speeches.

To the St. Enoch Hotel for a quick change into attire befitting of a travelling Rangers squad under Bill Struth, and then carriages to Greenock to embark on their Transatlantic trip. Five-hundred people congregated at the St. Enoch Hotel to wish the Rangers well on their travels, and the heroes were carried shoulder high along the platform to the awaiting train. At every station on the line to Prince's Pier it was a sight not to be forgotten. 'Hip Hip Hurrah!' and 'Good Old Rangers' were the cries that rang out along with waving hats and fluttering handkerchiefs. 

At Greenock, thousands of loyal Rangers fans ecstatic at the 'Clean Sweep' sang 'Follow Follow' as the ship set sail, the Rangers players hanging over the top deck taking up the chorus with the fans. John Allan wrote in 1934, "and the players said, 'We mustn't let these Loyalists down.'" Below is a fantastic first hand account of the departure, written by legendary sports journalist Willie Gallagher, 'Waverley,' for The Record:


Above: Team photo aboard the Andania.
Below: The Rangers' chariot across the Atlantic and the shipping line advert for the May 10 sailing.
The Andania now lies some 70 miles from Reykjavic after being torpedoed
by German submarine U-A on 16 June 1940.

Arrival in Canada

The destination of the Andania and The Rangers was Montreal. After eight days sailing, and I imagine a fair bit of revelry after the success the club enjoyed during the season, they arrived in the land of the Maple Leaf. The serious business was about to begin – after all, The Rangers on all of their previous foreign tours had never been beaten, a proud record and one which they were determined keep.

Football in Canada and the US in the 1920s and 30s was a popular sport not just in terms of participants. Healthy crowds followed their local teams who played in competitive leagues and competed for numerous cups. Europeans teams had been pitting their wits against their North American counterparts for a number of years. Kilmarnock were touring North America at the same time as Rangers in 1930; Preston North End toured in 1928; Real Madrid in 1927; Sparta Prague in 1926; and as far back as 1901 when the Corinthians from England toured the land of the free. The inaugural FIFA World Cup was being held in Uruguay one month after Rangers had departed eastbound, where the US team reached the semi-final, showing the pedigree of football being played in North America at the time.

In total, Rangers would play 14 games on the tour: eight in Canada and six in the United States. The traverse from East Coast to West Coast would be long and arduous, starting with their first match in Toronto, working their way east toward New York and New Bedford, Mass. before travelling the breadth of Canada from Montreal to Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary before heading eastbound again toward Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and once more New York. An exhaustive list just to read, never mind embark on by rail, sea and land!

The following map will give an idea as to the scale of travel involved by the Rangers party, staring in Toronto:

Rangers first Historian, John Allan, wrote of the epic journey:
Many thousands of miles were covered. The beauties of the Dominion enthralled the Tourists, and no place visited was left without a pang of regret. Far away in the West, Scots young and old travelled many miles merely to cast eyes on their countrymen who had brought the atmosphere of the Homeland to them. Tears were in their eyes as they hungrily stared into the faces of the Rangers party. A hand would go out to touch the arm of a player as if actual contact would indeed bring them nearer to the Old Country. Scenes like these had their touch of pathos, but they made the Rangers feel that they had rendered a service of greater value than the winning of matches.
Arguably the most notable of the Tests played by the tourists was the very first match against Ulster United in Toronto. Toronto had an active (and largely protestant) Scottish football-following community in the 20s and 30s, and locals Toronto Ulster United, also known as 'The Red Handers,' were a legendary Canadian side, having won numerous National Championships and cup competitions. They fancied themselves against a Rangers team who, having completed numerous social engagements upon their arrival including a golf tournament, a visit to the Cenotaph and a banquet in the days leading up to the game, had 'yet to find their land legs!'

The Ulstermen gave a good account of themselves, and were leading 3-2 with 15 minutes remaining when Jimmy Fleming popped up with two goals, the winner coming 3 minutes from the end. Particularly poignant footage is that of the young girl presenting Bill Struth with a 'Loving Cup' and subsequently the entire team. The Globe and Mail described the match as "One of the most exciting soccer matches ever witnessed in Toronto." Our own Sammy Cox emigrated to Canada and played with Ulster United in 1958 before they disbanded in 1963.

Bill Struth and Ex Baillie Graham with the Mayor and Aldermen of Toronto as The Rangers lay a wreath at the Cenotaph.
The second match took place in Hamilton against the Hamilton Thistles. This was a special occasion for the McDonald family: Bob 'Whitey' McDonald had been signed by Rangers after he impressed them in the 1928 tour whilst playing against them for the famed Bethlehem Steel. He duly signed and played with Rangers for 10 seasons making 185 appearances. His brother Red McDonald featured for Hamilton Thistle and they had the honour of captaining their respective teams on the day with Rangers running out 3-0 winners.

From Hamilton, the epic journey commenced. To New York to play the New York Nats at the Polo Grounds, home of the both the New York Giants Baseball and 'Football' Teams, to New Bedford to play the winners of the American Soccer League Treble, the Fall River Marksmen, before leaving the US for Montreal and destinations mentioned earlier.

The fans turned out in their thousands. As John Allan stated, many of them ex pats wanting a glimpse of the team they supported back in their homeland. A crowd 21,000 turned out at the Polo Ground to watch Rangers beat the New York Nats 5-4 with 20,000 fans attending the final game of the tour in New York in the return match versus those Fall River Marksmen. Rangers-The Complete Record shows that approximately 131,000 fans attended the 14 matches, an incredible number for a team from a far off land in 1930.

The Polo Grounds, New York City, where Rangers played
their third match of the tour against the New York Nats.
21,000 were in attendance on the day.

Gers on Parade

From east to west, state to state, province to province, Rangers wowed the crowds, enjoyed their football and made good impressions with the locals. However, during the matches with Fall River Marksmen, one local lad made a good impression on Rangers.

Bob McAuley was a Wishaw boy who moved to Montreal as a young man. Having played for various clubs in Canada, he ended up at Fall River Marksmen and played against Rangers in both matches. He obviously impressed Bill Struth as he was signed for the start of the 1930/31 season. He became a Scotland Internationalist, and a year later, Rangers created quite a stir when they sold him to Chelsea.

Bob McAuley. Spotted by Rangers during the 1930 tour and described as one of the best backs
in the country, he was sold to Chelsea in 1932.
The last match of the tour was played in New York at the insistence of Rangers as it was from there they were to set sail for home. The return match against Fall River Marksmen was expected to be a battle to end. The match was fittingly kicked off by London boxer and World Junior Welterweight Champion Jack 'Kid' Berg, the Whitechapel Windmill who had an affair with Mae West.

The Marksmen had strengthened their team for a final 'shot' at Rangers undefeated record on foreign soil. With a month of travelling, playing and reveling behind them, it was expected the 'champs' would fall. The Rangers were 'Aye Ready' however, and nursed themselves for this last test. In a 6-1 victory, Jimmy Smith scored four goals in front of 20,000 fans. The Marskmen had missed, and by some distance. They were to fold a year later.

The Tour was ultimately described as a great success: 14 matches played, 14 won meant the Rangers would return home with their unbeaten record on foreign shores intact. A total of 68 goals were scored for the loss of 20 with Jimmy Smith scoring a spectacular 18 goals. That only 16 players made the epic trip, accompanied by Director Ex Baillie Duncan Graham, Bill Struth and the trainer James Kerr and remained unbeaten is remarkable.

John Allan said it best: "It need not be doubted that these tours by Rangers have been a factor in the advancement of the standard of play wherever they have gone. This has been attested over and over again by the good sporting people of the Continents in which we have played." 

Fred Crumblehume, the president of the Alberta Football Association, was full of compliments for the Scottish Champions and claimed Rangers were the best soccer club to have played in Canada.

Two days after their last match, Rangers set sail for home on 24 June. Their good name intact they could enjoy the eastbound voyage, arriving back in Britain at the beginning of the July. As has been the Rangers way since the days of the founding fathers, the team had no time to bask in the glory of a famous victory: the first match of the next league season was just over three weeks away. 

Those fans who had cheered them off at St. Enoch and Greenock a month previous would be expecting nothing less than the delivery of another League Title. Guess what? The Rangers delivered!

The Rangers of 1929/30: Dominant in Scotland, unbeaten on foreign shores.


Rangers players who made the trip in 1930

Alex “Sandy” Archibald; G. Brown; John Buchanan; Tommy Craig; Jimmy Fleming; Dougie Gray; Tommy Hamilton; J. Marshall; Robert McDonald; Bob McPhail; Davie Meiklejohn; Alan Morton; Tommy Muirhead; W.G. Nicholson; Jimmy Simpson; J. Smith.

Results and match locations

May 21 Toronto Ulster United 3: Rangers 4 in Toronto, Ontario

May 24 Hamilton Thistles 0: Rangers 3 in Hamilton, Ontario

May 25 New York Nationals 4: Rangers 5 in New York, N.Y.

May 30 Fall River Marksmen 2: Rangers 3 in New Bedford, Massachusetts

May 31 Montreal Carsteel 2: Rangers 5 in Montreal, Quebec

June 3 Winnipeg Fort Rouge 2: Rangers 4 in Winnipeg, Manitoba

June 5 Edmonton All-Stars 0: Rangers 5 in Edmonton, Alberta

June 7 Vancouver St. Andrews 1: Rangers 7 in Vancouver, British Columbia

June 9 Victoria West 1: Rangers 8 in Victoria, British Columbia

June 11 Calgary United 1: Rangers 8 in Calgary, Alberta

June 15 Chicago Sparta 1: Rangers 4 in Chicago, Illinois

June 18 Detroit All-Stars 1: Rangers 3 in Detroit, Michigan

June 20 Cleveland Bruells 1: Rangers 3 in Cleveland, Ohio

June 22 Fall River Marksmen 1: Rangers 6 in New York, N.Y.

Match briefs

May 21, 1930, at Ulster Stadium in Toronto, Ontario

Toronto Ulster United 3 (Mathieson, Graham, Moir)

Rangers 4 (Fleming 2, Morton, o.g.)

HT: 1–1 Att: 9000 Ref: W. Wilson

Ulster: Bobby Kirk – Dave Eadie, Dick Pryor – Billy Stewart, Matt Wilson, Jimmy Hagan – John Paxton, Allan Mathieson, George Graham, Jimmy Galloway, Jimmy Moir.

Rangers: T. Hamilton – Gray, R. Hamilton – McDonald, Simpson, Craig – Archibald, Brown, Fleming, Muirhead, Morton.

May 24, 1930, in Hamilton, Ontario

Hamilton Thistles 0

Rangers 3 (Nicholson, Fleming 2)

HT: 0–3 Att: 8000 Ref: A. McCulloch

Hamilton: Jimmy Wallace – Bobby Lodge, Billy Dunlop – George Munroe, Jock Crawford, Marshall – Jimmy Tennant, Charlie McMillan, Jennings, Tommy McKean, Red McDonald.

Rangers: T. Hamilton – Gray, R. Hamilton – Bob McDonald, Meiklejohn, Craig – Archibald, Brown, Fleming, Muirhead, Nicholson.

May 25, 1930, at the Polo Grounds in New York, N.Y.

New York Nationals 4 (Nelson, Eisenhoffer, Carlson 2)

Rangers 5 (McPhail 2, Smith 2, Morton)

HT: 3–1 Att: 20 000 Ref: Charles E. Creighton

Nationals: Jimmy Douglas – Jimmy Warden, Alec Donald – Harry Chatton, Johnny Slaven, James Martyn – Jimmy Gallagher, Herbert Carlson, Johnny Nelson, Josef Eisenhoffer, Bart McGhee,

Rangers: T. Hamilton – Gray, R,. Hamilton – McDonald, Meiklejohn, Craig – Archibald, Marshall, Smith, McPhail, Morton.

May 30, 1930, at Battery Park in New Bedford, Mass.

Fall River Marksmen 2 (Gonsalves, Nilsen)

Rangers 3 (Brown, Meiklejohn, Smith)

HT: 0–3 Att: 8000 Ref:

Marksmen: Johnny Reder – Charlie McGill, Bob McAuley – Bill McPherson, Dave Priestley, Bobby Ballantyne – Alex McNab, Billy Gonsalves, Werner Nilsen, Jimmy McAuley, Tec White.

Rangers: T. Hamilton – Gray, R. Hamilton – McDonald, Meiklejohn, Craig – Archibald, Brown, Smith, Marshall, Nicholson.

May 31, 1930, in Montreal, Quebec

Montreal Carsteel 2 (Lorimer, McLaine)

Rangers 5 (Brown 2, Smith 2, McPhail)

HT: 1–3 Att: Ref: W.J. Cannon

Carsteel: Sharp – Bob Calder, Butler – Wallace, Bill Finlayson, Lorimer – Sam Chedgzoy, James Mellon, Ed McLaine, Bill McKean, Dave McEachran.

June 3, 1930, at Carruthers Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Winnipeg Fort Rouge 2 (Lang, McKay)

Rangers 4 (Archibald, Fleming 2, McPhail)

HT: 1–2 Att: 5000 Ref: “Red” Lloyd

Winnipeg: Albert Bogden – Penman, McQueen – Courafie, McIntosh, Monsen – Callaghan, McKay, Johnny Johnson, Lang, Smith.

Rangers: T. Hamilton – Gray, Buchanan – Brown, Meiklejohn, Muirhead – Archibald, J. Marshall, Fleming, McPhail, Morton.

June 5, 1930, at Renfrew Park in Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton All-Stars 0

Rangers 5 (Marshall, Smith 3, Archibald)

HT: 0–3 Att: 4000 Ref: Bill Thompson

Edmonton: Wallis – Jack Savage, Teddy Geldert – Jimmy Winters, Joe Thompson, Lidgett – Jimmy Ross, Jock Davidson, Bill Findler, Freddie Hall, Tommy Minchen.

Rangers: T. Hamilton – Gray, Buchanan – Brown, Simpson, Craig – Archibald, Marshall, Smith, McPhail, Nicholson.

June 7, 1930, in Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver St. Andrews 1 (Kulai)

Rangers 7 (Marshall 2, Morton, Muirhead, Fleming 2, Archibald)

HT: 1–3 Att: 7000 Ref:

St. Andrews: Harold Singleton – Ernie Edmunds, Andy Watson – Murray West, Les Rimmer, Knight – Ashten, David Turner, Dan Kulai, Surtees, George Stephen.

Rangers: T. Hamilton – Gray, Buchanan – McDonald, Meiklejohn, Craig – Archibald, Marshall, Fleming, Muirhead, Morton.

June 9, 1930, at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria, British Columbia

Victoria West 1 (Phillips)

Rangers 8 (McPhail, Smith 3, Nicholson, Marshall 2, Morton)

HT: 1–4 Att: 3000 Ref:

Victoria: Farquhar – Margeson, Frank Tupman – McBay, John Peden, Smith –

Phillips, Peers, John Watt, Robinson, Mulcahy.

Rangers: T. Hamilton – Buchanan, R. Hamilton – McDonald, Simpson, Brown – Morton, Marshall, Smith, McPhail, Nicholson.

June 11, 1930, at Hillhurst Park in Calgary, Alberta

Calgary United 1 (Blair)

Rangers 8 (Brown 2, Fleming 2, Archibald 4)

HT: 1–3 Att: 5000 Ref:

Calgary: Andy Stobie – George Stewart, Bobby Stephen – Jimmy Gibb, Alex Pate, Bernie Cartwright – A. Mathieson, T. Akenclose, Freddy Foster, S. Blair, George Marsden.

Rangers: T. Hamilton – Gray, R. Hamilton – McDonald, Meiklejohn, Craig – Archibald, Brown, Fleming, Marshall, Nicholson.

June 15, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Sparta 1 (Kratochvil)

Rangers 4 (Morton, McPhail, Fleming, Marshall)

HT: 1–1 Att: 6000 Ref:

Sparta: Julius Hjulian – Frenci, Gardiner – Turck, Adams, Mruka – Jackson, Willie McLean, Kratochvil, Clem Cuthbert, Tomek

Rangers: T. Hamilton – Gray, R. Hamilton – McDonald, Meiklejohn, Craig – Archibald, Marshall, Fleming, McPhail, Morton.

June 18, 1930, at Hamtramak Stadium in Detroit, Michigan

Detroit 1 (Sutherland)

Rangers 3 (McPhail, Nicholson, Brown)

HT: Att: 8000 Ref: H. Pithie

Detroit: Edwards – Diffell, Stewart – J. Neilson, Harris, Dougan – Svenson, Jackson, Sutherland, Smith, A. Neilson.

Rangers: T. Hamilton – Gray, Buchanan – McDonald, Meiklejohn, Simpson – Archibald, Brown, Fleming, McPhail. Nicholson.

June 20, 1930, in Cleveland, Ohio (Floodlights)

Cleveland Bruells 1 (Robertson)

Rangers 3 (Smith 2, Nicholson)

HT: Att: Ref:

Bruells: Sprott – Fair, Darcy McElligott – Stanley Scott, Jimmy Montgomerie, Jimmy Russell (Robertson) – William Phillips, George Caraffi, Watson, McDade, Ralph Caraffi.

Rangers: T. Hamilton – R. Hamilton, Buchanan – McDonald, Simpson, Craig – Muirhead, Brown, Smith, McPhail, Nicholson.

June 22, 1930, at the Polo Grounds in New York

Fall River Marksmen 1 (Stark)

Rangers 6 (Smith 4, Fleming 2)

HT: 0–1 Att: 12 000 Ref: E.J. Donaghy

Marksmen: Bill Harper – Charlie McGill, Bob McAuley – Bill McPherson, Dave Priestley, Bobby Ballantyne – Alex McNab, Werner Nilsen, Archie Stark, Ted White, Jerry Best.

Rangers: T. Hamilton – Gray, Buchanan – McDonald, Meiklejohn, Craig – Fleming, Brown, Smith, McPhail, Morton (Nicholson).