The Leven Trails
In 1872 football came to Dunbartonshire's Vale of Leven and was embraced. Within months of the demonstration game Glasgow's Queen's Park club held at Alexandria's Park Neuk three clubs were formed, Vale of Leven in Alexandria itself, Renton, in the neighbouring village and Dumbarton, the county-town where the River Leven itself reaches the Clyde. Queen's Park had opposition. Moreover, within two seasons with just two games in its first Renton was in the Scottish Cup Final and within four Vale of Leven would Scottish Cup winners, repeating the win in the two following two years. In fact in the first two decades of the Scottish game a Leven Vale team by player or location, that is including Glasgow Rangers, founded shortly after by and fielding largely young men from the Gare Loch and surrounds, would feature in the final of the country's major trophy seventeen times and win it six.
And that same triangle of land from Loch Lomond to the Dumbarton Rock and from Dumbarton itself to Garelochhead would in the fifteen years from football's first embedding in the Scottish sporting landscape be the source, first, of Britain and World's first working-class teams and, in Vale of Leven, trophy winner, and, second, in Renton in essence the foundation of much of the way, in which the World's plays the beautiful game to this very day.
Moreover, in the early 1880s all three clubs but notably Dumbarton would prevent the monopoly of the game by Glasgow and its immediate suburbs, specifically by a then rejuvenated Queen's Park, and both blaze the trail for provincial teams elsewhere and consolidate it. This as the game over the next two decades extended its reach to all parts of our country.
Vale of Leven clubs were also, particularly in the first two decades of Scottish football, a major producer of our international players in an era, when Scottish teams, club and country, were generally triumphant. And beyond our borders they were also the source of many of the players, the so-called "Scotch Professors", who took the game, the distinctive and superior Scottish game into England, firstly as professionalism replaced amateurism and, secondly, as emphasis on Cup football was succeeded, at the instigation of a provincial Scot, by the far more demanding League version.
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