John Lawson

It was in the very early 1890s that Major John (Jack) Shields (Pictured left), then aged in his mid-thirties so perhaps a player when younger, having started his own spinning business at least a decade earlier, bought a 25% share in a newly-opened Gothenburg lace-mill, the Svenska Gardinfabriken. The mill, literally the Swedish Curtain Factory, was to produce specifically net curtains on machines of a Nottingham design, Shield's partner was a Nottingham man, a known football enthusiast, and in 1891 they sent over some of their employees, thought to be about ten in all, from Newmilns and its environs to Sweden to teach the locals the required techniques. 


And so it was Scots lads were one day having an ad-hoc football game close to the back of the factory in a field called Balders Hage, when members of a local sports club, Orgrtye, were passing and intrigued by what they saw. They wanted to learn more. The Scots were happy to oblige, the Swedes would join in and the result was the rapid formation of an Association Football section within the Orgrtye club. 

The first game, the first official Association football game in Sweden, followed swiftly, played on the 22nd May 1892  in the Heden district of the city a short distance from the factory. It was against IS Lyckans Soldater, the “Soldiers of Fortune”, another local club, previously playing Swedish-rules, Sweden having its own indigenous football-type game. The result was 1:0 to Orgrtye with a team playing 2.3.5, consisting of both Scots and locals. 

Matthew Connell was in goal, there was a mainly Swedish defence plus William Jamie and a completely Scottish forward-line of William McKinnon, Alexander Boswell Thomson, John Lawson, John Paterson and William Scott. The fixture was repeated the following year and Orgrtye were to win again; this time 6:0.  

It was John Lawson who was said to be the leading organiser of the games. He is described as a textile engineer and that he might have been but his start in the trade had been much more humble and in Sweden his role might have been engineering and more. He, like Jack Shields, was also what might be called a Loudoun local boy, born in 1865 up the valley from Newmilns in Darvel, his father, a lace weaver, from the former, his mother from the latter. At five he was living between Newmilns and Galston, and in 1881 at fifteen already a lace weaver. However, he was not there in 1891, although his parents were. It has to be assumed that he was already in Sweden as in October that year in Gothenburg's Episcopalian Church, fittingly St. Andrew's, he married, not a Swedish girl but Elizabeth Wilson from Galston. He is described as a Manager of a Lace Curtain Factory. In other words he was the boss but from the same background and with the same penchant for football as his workers, a boss who a decade later would be back in Newmilns with an eight-year-old daughter, Jeanie, born in 1893 in Sweden, be living there still in 1911 with a second daughter, Scottish-born, and there again in 1921. In fact after his Swedish excursion he would live out the rest of his life in his Ayrshire valley, dying there in Newmilns in 1924 now a cotton agent and a widower, aged just 58.

Birth Locator:

70, East Main St., Darvel


Residence Locations:

1871 - 11, High St., Newmilns

1881 - Laid Side (Ladeside), Newmilns

1901 - Loudoun Road South View, Newmilns

1911 - Brookfield, Loudoun Rd., Newmilns

1921 - Brookfield, Loudoun Rd., Newmilns


Death Locator:

1924 - 57, Jeffrey Place (Top of Shields Rd.), Newmilns


Burial Locator:



Other Locations:

(Wiki) Orgryte I.S.


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