Scottish Junior Football Association

Last updated
Scottish Junior Football Association
Logo sjfa.png
Founded1886(135 years ago) (1886)
Headquarters Hampden Park, Glasgow
Chief Operating OfficerAlex McDowall [1]

The Scottish Junior Football Association (SJFA) is an affiliated national association of the Scottish Football Association and is the governing body for the junior grade of football in Scotland. The term "junior" refers to the level of football played, not the age of the players. [2] [3] [4] The closest equivalent terminology would be non-League football in England, the difference being that junior football in Scotland is not similarly integrated into its football league system. Founded in 1886, the SJFA is responsible for disciplinary matters within the grade, certain player registration procedures and organising the annual Scottish Junior Cup. Other league and cup competitions are organised by three regional committees. The association headquarters are at Hampden Park, Glasgow, which is Scotland's national football stadium. There was an earlier Scottish Junior FA, which was founded in Glasgow in October 1880. This body also ran a Scottish Junior Cup competition during 1880–81 season but appears to have disbanded at the end of that season.



The first incarnation of the SJFA logo SJFA old.png
The first incarnation of the SJFA logo
The second incarnation of the SJFA logo Scottish Junior Football Association logo.gif
The second incarnation of the SJFA logo

The SJFA was formed in Glasgow on 2 October 1886 [5] and the first season's Junior Cup saw 39 clubs take part. [6] Junior football had existed since the early 1880s, initially as separate local associations across Scotland for clubs not in membership of the SFA. This new national association acted as an umbrella for these local junior associations, as well as establishing the Scottish Junior Cup, a national cup competition. The first three winners of the Scottish Junior Cup all joined the SFA and stepped up to senior level. [7] Gradually, a number of junior leagues grew in strength — particularly in Glasgow, where leading clubs drew large crowds. The Glasgow Junior FA, having seen a number of its proposals rejected at SJFA meetings, seceded from the SJFA in 1907 but returned a year later. [8] Further disputes occurred in 1922 over "poaching" clubs and, in 1927, the GJFA was instrumental in the Intermediate dispute which split the SJFA for four seasons. The record number of clubs to enter the Junior Cup was 412 in 1922–23. [9]

The local associations continued to run their leagues until 1968, when the SJFA instituted major reforms. This first phase of regionalisation removed the need for the many local associations, replacing them instead with six regional committees. These six regions — Ayrshire, Central, East, Fife, Tayside and North — still exist, to a certain extent, as divisions in the national league structure and as operators of certain cup competitions.

The last major league reform took place in 2002, with the six regions "merging" to create a three-pronged league setup (see "Organisation and regions").

From the 2007–08 season, four Junior sides have been able to qualify for the Scottish Cup. The four teams are the three Superleague winners (West, East and North) and the Scottish Junior Cup winners, all from the previous season. [10] In the 2015–16 season, Linlithgow Rose became the first junior team to reach the last 16 of the Scottish Cup after beating Forfar Athletic. [11] (see "Juniors in the Scottish Cup").

In 2011, the Scottish Football Association created two new operational boards, Professional and Non-Professional, to provide more focused governance in these differing areas of the game. Junior football is represented on the Non-Professional Game Board alongside other organisations such as the East of Scotland Football League, South of Scotland Football League and Scottish Amateur Football Association. [12]


The term "junior" does not relate to the age of players. Football for young players is generally known as "Youth" (up to Under-19) or "Juvenile" (which is to Under-21 level) football. In the late 19th century, membership of the SFA conferred "senior" status on a club and the junior grade developed outside the SFA framework. Today, the senior grade of football in Scotland is played in the Scottish Professional Football League (until 2013 divided into the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League), as well as the five senior non-leagues: the Highland Football League, the Lowland Football League, the East of Scotland Football League, the South of Scotland Football League and the West of Scotland Football League. Over time, as various local football associations and leagues — both junior and senior — have risen in strength, or in some cases disappeared completely, Scottish football developed its current pattern with either junior or senior non-leagues taking precedence in various parts of the country with some occasional overlap. Nowadays, membership of the SJFA automatically confers on a club registered membership of the SFA; however, junior and senior non-league clubs still play in separate competitions.

Despite the lesser media coverage the juniors get, many of the club sides are fairly popular, and some of the bigger games (such as the local derbies between Arthurlie and Pollok, and Cumnock Juniors vs. Auchinleck Talbot) can attract attendances in the thousands. Crowds were far bigger in the past (76,000 for the Junior Cup Final in 1951, with nearly 90,000 watching the semi finals (including a replay) compared to the level of support attracted now.

Organisation and regions

The main league structure is organised on a geographical basis, with the 63 member clubs being split into two regions: East Region (30 clubs) and North Region (33 clubs). 53 previous West Region clubs still keep memberships of SJFA, although compete at West of Scotland League.

Member clubs

East Region

Arbroath Victoria, Armadale Thistle, Bathgate Thistle, Blairgowrie, Bo'ness United, Brechin Victoria, Broughty Athletic, Carnoustie Panmure, Coupar Angus, Downfield, Dundee East Craigie, Dundee North End, Dundee Violet, Fauldhouse United, Forfar United, Forfar West End, Harthill Roya, Kirriemuir Thistle, Linlithgow Rose Community, Livingston United, Lochee Harp, Lochee United, Pumpherston, Sauchie Juniors Community, Scone Thistle, Stoneyburn, Syngenta, Tayport, West Calder United, Whitburn

North Region

Aberdeen East End, Aberdeen University, Banchory St Ternan, Banks o' Dee [SFA] , Bridge of Don Thistle, Buchanhaven Hearts, Buckie Rovers, Burghead Thistle, Colony Park, Cruden Bay, Culter, Deveronside, Dufftown, Dyce, Ellon United, Forres Thistle, Fraserburgh United, Glentanar, Hall Russell United, Hermes, Islavale, Longside, Maud, Montrose Roselea, Nairn St Ninian, New Elgin, Newmachar, Rothie Rovers, Spey Valley United, Stonehaven, Stoneywood Parkvale, Sunnybank, Whitehills

League structure

There are two regional junior league systems.

There was previously a West Region league system which contained 63 clubs at the end of the 2019–20 season, prior to its members leaving the Juniors to join a new West of Scotland Football League in the senior pyramid. [13] [14] 53 of those clubs kept their membership of the SJFA in order to enter the Scottish Junior Cup. A similar move had also greatly reduced the East Region's membership two years earlier, when 25 clubs joined the East of Scotland Football League, [15] with a further 10 clubs making the move over the next two years.

Pressure to create more competitive leagues and a higher number of "big games" caused a rationalisation to three main regions in 2002, replacing the previous setup of six smaller district leagues (Ayrshire, Central, East, Fife, North and Tayside).

North Region (NRJFA) East Region (ERSJFA)

( NRJFA West)

8 clubs playing 14 games

Banff and Buchan

( NRJFA Banff and Buchan)

8 clubs playing 14 games

Aberdeen North

( NRJFA Aberdeen North)

7 clubs playing 12 games

Aberdeen South

( NRJFA Aberdeen South)

7 clubs playing 12 games

East Super League North

( East Super League North)

17 clubs playing 16 games

East Super League South

( East Super League South)

13 clubs playing 24 games

Cup competitions

As well as the local leagues, there are a number of local cup competitions competed for; however, the biggest competition is the Scottish Junior Cup, which every junior club competes for annually, with the final generally held at the end of May. This cup was established in 1886. The final broadcast live on BBC Alba. The cup's sponsor for 18 years, until the start of the 2006–07 season, was OVD Demerara Rum, replaced at the semi final stage of the 2006–07 competition by Scottish coach operator Citylink. Emirates Airlines sponsored the tournament from 2009–2013 [16] and ETHX Energy was the sponsor for 2015–16. [17] The current tournament sponsor is Macron. [18]

Juniors in the Scottish Cup

The first attempt by the Scottish Football Association to allow Junior representation in the Scottish Cup was voted down in June 2005. [19] In June 2007 however, the SFA did approve changes to the way that all non-league clubs entered the Scottish Cup. The North and South Qualifying Cups for full and associate member clubs in non-league football, which had both sent their four semi-finalists into the main competition, were scrapped and all these clubs now qualified automatically for the first round. In addition, the winners of the East of Scotland Football League, South of Scotland Football League and top two clubs in the Highland Football League all received a bye to the second round, even if that club was only a registered member of the SFA.

Further to this move, allowing registered member clubs to qualify for the Scottish Cup for the first time, it was announced that the winners of the Scottish Junior Cup, North Superleague, East Superleague and West of Scotland Super League Premier Division would qualify for the first round. [20] This process has continued with the winners of the Scottish Amateur Cup qualifying for the first round from 2015 onwards. [21] Girvan still qualified for the Scottish Cup from 2007 as a result of their historic full membership of the SFA. In 2014, they were joined as annual entrants to the competition by Banks O' Dee and Linlithgow Rose who achieved the SFA National Club Licensing criteria.[ citation needed ] Girvan themselves were awarded a National Club License in June 2016. [22]

If a Junior club does a "double" by winning their respective Superleague championship and the Junior Cup, runners-up do not qualify and the Juniors are only represented by three qualifying entrants. This occurred in the 2007–08 Scottish Cup which was the first competition since the changes as Linlithgow Rose had won both league and cup. Rose performed the best of all three Junior qualifiers in this inaugural season, reaching the fourth round before losing to eventual finalists, Queen of the South. Of the other early entrants, Pollok defeated St Cuthbert Wanderers before taking Montrose to a replay in Glasgow, watched by 1,873 spectators. North champions Culter defeated two East of Scotland League clubs before losing to Highland League side Huntly in the third round.

In the 2008–09 competition, Banks O' Dee achieved the first double figure scoreline by a Junior club, with a 10–0 defeat of Highland League Fort William. [23] This was bettered in the 2016–17 cup by Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic, whose 14–0 defeat of Burntisland Shipyard remains the largest margin of victory by a Junior side in the competition. [24]

Irvine Meadow became the first Junior side to knock out Scottish Football League opposition in 2009, defeating Arbroath in the third round and became the first side to face Premier League opposition when they drew Hibernian in the next round. [25] Linlithgow Rose's defeat of Forfar Athletic in the 2015–16 competition saw them become the first Junior side to reach the fifth round. [26] In 2016-17 Bonnyrigg defeated Scottish Championship side Dumbarton away from home in the third Round.

In the intervening years, Junior clubs have had reasonable success with several clubs defeating Scottish Football League opposition. These results are listed below:

28 November 2009 Irvine Meadow 1−0 Arbroath Irvine
Barr Soccerball shade.svg 36' Report Stadium: Meadow Park
Attendance: 1,150
23 October 2010 Albion Rovers 0−1 Sunnybank Coatbridge
15:00 Report Soccerball shade.svg 10' GordonStadium: Cliftonhill Stadium
Attendance: 357
23 October 2010 Bo'ness United 2−1 Queen's Park Bo'ness
Fleming Soccerball shade.svg 45' (pen.)
Shields Soccerball shade.svg 75'
Report Soccerball shade.svg 9' BroughStadium: Newtown Park
Attendance: 1,271
8 November 2014 Bo'ness United 5−4 Elgin City Bo'ness
Gribben Soccerball shade.svg 4', 31'
Snowdon Soccerball shade.svg 17'
Campbell Soccerball shade.svg 65'
Walker Soccerball shade.svg 77'
Report Soccerball shade.svg 11' (pen.), 42' Sutherland
Soccerball shade.svg 72' Nicolson
Soccerball shade.svg 88' Andrews
Stadium: Newtown Park
Attendance: 1,280
26 January 2016 Forfar Athletic 0−1 (a.e.t.) Linlithgow Rose Forfar
Report Soccerball shade.svg 115' Kelbie Stadium: Station Park
Attendance: 1,168
6 December 2016 Dumbarton 0–1 Bonnyrigg Rose Dumbarton
19:45 Nelson Soccerball shade.svg 86'Stadium: Dumbarton Football Stadium
Attendance: 632
19 January 2019 Auchinleck Talbot 1–0 Ayr United Auchinleck
12:15McCracken Soccerball shade.svg 78' Report Stadium: Beechwood Park
Attendance: 3,100
Referee: Euan Anderson
19 October 2019 Auchinleck Talbot 1–0 Cove Rangers Auchinleck
14:30Hyslop Soccerball shade.svg 88' [27] Stadium: Beechwood Park
Attendance: 750
Referee: Kevin Graham

Scotland Junior international team

Scotland Juniors
Head coachKeith Burgess
Captain Craig Pettigrew
Most caps Bert McNab (12)
Top scorer George Wilson (7)
Dennis Gray (7)
Kit left arm.svg
Kit body.svg
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks long.svg
First colours
First international
Flag of Scotland.svg Scotland 10–1 England Flag of England.svg
(Hamilton, Scotland; 11 May 1889)
Biggest win
Flag of Scotland.svg Scotland 11–0 Ireland Saint Patrick's Saltire.svg
(Glasgow, Scotland; 15 February 1890)
Biggest defeat
Flag of England.svg England 5–0 Scotland Flag of Scotland.svg
(Wolverhampton, England; 9 April 1927)

Juniors also play internationally, with the best players being picked to play for the Scottish Junior international team against other countries' non-league select teams. The Umbro-sponsored Junior International Quadrangular Tournament takes place every two years and is contested between teams from Scotland, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. [28] The tournament is hosted in turn by each country, with matches taking place at the larger junior grounds in the host country, such as Dunterlie Park, Pollok's Newlandsfield and Petershill Park when the tournament was held in Scotland in 2005. [29] The team's most capped player is Bert McNab, of Petershill, who won 12 caps between 1951 and 1955. [30] [31]

The team have been led since 2008 by former Glenrothes, Tayport and Kelty manager, Keith Burgess. [32] [33]

Team history

After the formation of the Scottish Junior Football Association in 1886, officials began to explore opportunities for representative international matches. On receipt of a £17 guarantee, the Lancashire Junior League in England agreed to raise a team, and on 11 May 1889 the first junior international was played at Douglas Park, Hamilton, with Scotland winning 10–1. A return fixture could not be arranged as the Lancashire league could not provide a sufficient guarantee. [34]

On 15 February 1890, Scotland played their first match against Ireland at Hibernian Park, Glasgow. [35] The 11–0 scoreline in the hosts' favour remains a record victory for the Scottish Junior international team. This fixture did become an annual event, and on 14 February 1891 the team travelled to Belfast for their first away match, a 1–1 draw at Ulsterville, the home of Linfield. [36]

In 1894, games against England resumed with a fixture against Birmingham & District Counties F.A. in Leamington. These games continued until World War II, then were revived for a short period in the 1970s. Scotland suffered a record 5–0 defeat in the 1927 fixture at Molineux, Wolverhampton. [37] Games against Wales began in 1912 with a fixture against a representative side of the North Wales Coast F.A, the first game taking place in Bangor on 13 April, Scotland winning 2–1. [38]

In 1920, the Scottish Junior international side created history by being the first representative football side from Scotland to undertake a foreign tour. In June, a party of 13 players and three officials visited Norway and played three games each in Stavanger and Bergen. [39] [40] The full Scottish national side did not play a match outwith the British Isles until 1929 when they also travelled to Norway.

A game against the Irish Free State was played on 9 March 1929 in Dublin with Scotland winning 2–1 but regular games against a Republic of Ireland side did not begin until 1947. The first game in this series was played at Dalymount Park, Dublin on 25 May, with Scotland winning 3–2. [41]

In September 1975, the team travelled to Osnabrück, West Germany, to play three matches against a BAOR Select side, winning two of the games. [42]

The number of games against the different home nations has varied in regularity over the years. From 1958 until 1967, Northern Ireland were Scotland's only opponents, while in the 1970s there was an eight-year gap between the two sides meeting. Currently, games against England and Wales are in abeyance, and the team contest the biannual Quadrangular Tournament with friendly and testimonial matches arranged intermittently in the intervening seasons.

Current squad

The following players were selected for the Junior International Quadrangular Tournament which was held in Glasgow, from 11–14 October 2017. [43]

GK Richie Barnard Linlithgow Rose
GK Andy Leishman Auchinleck Talbot
DF Jonathan Brown Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic
DF Nicky Docherty Beith Juniors
DF Andy Forbes Penicuik Athletic
DF Dean HoskinsBonnyrigg Rose Athletic
DF Colin Leiper (withdrew)Linlithgow Rose
DF Richie McKillen (withdrew) Hurlford United
DF Ewan MoyesBonnyrigg Rose Athletic
DF Craig Pettigrew Auchinleck Talbot
DF Mark Sideserf Pollok
MF Ross BrashPollok
MF Paul Burns Cumnock Juniors
MF Phil Johnston Clydebank
MF Lewis Mackenzie Dundonald Bluebell
MF Gary McCannPollok
MF Colin Spence Arthurlie
MF Bryan YoungPollok
FW Bryan Boylan Kilwinning Rangers
FW David McKenna Beith Juniors
FW Keir MillikenBeith Juniors
FW Graham WilsonAuchinleck Talbot

Notable players

The following list, with one exception, notes players who all went on to gain full international honours for Scotland after winning junior international caps, [44] the junior club with which they played at the time and the year of their junior cap. [45] [46]

Bob Foyers was a member of the team which played the first ever Scotland Junior international fixture in May 1889, and after joining St Bernard's the following year, became the first dual Junior/Senior international in 1893 when capped against Wales. [47]

Harry Rennie earned his Junior cap as a defender and signed for Morton as such, but became a goalkeeper aged 23 in 1897 and won ten Senior caps in his new position. [48]

The highest number of players from a Junior international match to go on to win Senior caps is four. In April 1896, Hugh Morgan, Willie Muir, Tommy Low and Bobby Walker, helped Scotland defeat England 4–0 at Aston Villa's Wellington Road ground. A further six players from the team also stepped up to Senior football.

The one exception noted on the list is Paul Wilson. The former Celtic forward was capped in 1980 after his Senior career while turning out for Blantyre Celtic, alongside another former Celt and dual international, Jimmy Johnstone. [49]

Two players also received full caps for other nations after playing for Scotland Juniors: Archie Blue for Australia and Tommy O'Hara for the United States.

Bob Foyers Burnbank Swifts 1889
Nicol Smith Darvel Juniors 1893
John Fyfe South Western1893
Harry Rennie [50] Greenock Volunteers1895
Hugh Morgan Longriggend Wanderers1896
Willie Muir Glenbuck Athletic 1896
Tommy Low Parkhead 1896
Bobby Walker Dalry Primrose1896
Bobby Templeton Kilmarnock Rugby XI1898
David Lindsay Rutherglen Glencairn 1899
Jimmy Raeside Parkhead 1899
Donald Colman Maryhill 1899–1903
George Key Parkhead 1899
Willie Lennie Maryhill 1901
Alec Bennett Rutherglen Glencairn 1902–1903
Andrew Richmond Parkhead 1903
Jimmy Lawrence Glasgow Perthshire 1904
Jimmy Croal Falkirk Juniors1905
Jimmy Brownlie Blantyre Victoria 1906
William Key Vale of Clyde 1899
Jimmy Gordon Renfrew Victoria1907
Andy Cunningham Newmilns1908
Peter Nellies Douglas Water Thistle 1908
Kenny Campbell Cambuslang Rangers 1911
Tommy McInally [51] St Anthony's 1919
John Gilchrist [51] St Anthony's 1919
Jimmy Dunn [51] St Anthony's 1920
James Hamilton Vale of Clyde 1922
Dougie Gray Mugiemoss 1925
Benny Yorston Mugiemoss 1925
Jimmy Connor Glasgow Perthshire 1926
Danny Liddle [52] Wallyford Bluebell1929
Scot Symon [53] Dundee Violet 1930
Matt Armstrong Port Glasgow Athletic 1931
Bobby Hogg Royal Albert 1931
Johnny Crum [54] Ashfield 1932
Bobby Beattie Kilwinning Rangers 1933
Frank Murphy Maryhill Hibernians 1933
Jock Brown Prestwick Glenburn Rovers /
1934 /
John Kelly Arthurlie 1939
Bobby Dougan Shawfield 1947
Johnny Anderson Arthurlie 1948
Dave Mackay Newtongrange Star 1953
George Mulhall [55] Kilsyth Rangers 1953
Alex Scott Bo'ness United 1953–1955
Andy Weir Arthurlie 1955
Pat Quinn Bridgeton Waverley 1956
Pat Crerand Duntocher Hibernian 1958
Stevie Chalmers Ashfield 1959
Jim Scott Bo'ness United 1959
Jimmy Johnstone Blantyre Celtic 1962
John "Dixie" Deans Neilston Juniors 1965
Drew Jarvie Kilsyth Rangers 1967
Willie Pettigrew East Kilbride Thistle 1973
Ian Wallace Yoker Athletic 1974
Paul Wilson [56] Blantyre Celtic 1980
Brian Martin [57] Shotts Bon Accord 1983

Tournament records

Quadrangular Tournament

YearHost nationRoundPositionGPWDLGSGA
1993–94 Republic of Ireland Final1st220031
1994–95 Scotland Final2nd210174
1995–96 Isle of Man 3rd place play-off3rd210141
1996–97 Northern Ireland Final1st220063
1997–98Republic of Ireland3rd place play-off3rd210142
1999–00Isle of ManFinal2nd210123
2000–011Northern Ireland2nd320152
2003–04Republic of Ireland1st312064
2007–08Isle of Man1st321086
2009–10Northern Ireland1st321063
2013Republic of Ireland2nd3201104

1 Round-robin tournament format used from 2000–01 onwards.


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Hall Russell United Football Club are a Scottish football club based in Bridge of Don, a suburb of Aberdeen. Members of the Scottish Junior Football Association, they currently play in the SJFA North Superleague. Founded in 1968 as an Amateur club, the club joined the SJFA in 1989. Their home ground is Denmore Park and club colours are navy blue.

The 2012–13 East Superleague was the 11th season of the East Superleague, the top tier of league competition for SJFA East Region member clubs.

The 2013–14 Scottish Cup was the 129th season of Scotland's most prestigious football knockout competition. The tournament will begin on 14 September and end on 17 May 2014. It is sponsored by bookmaker William Hill in the third season of a five-year partnership after a two-year extension was agreed, and is known as the William Hill Scottish Cup. The winner of the competition qualifies for the second qualifying round of the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League. This year will be the first time since the 1998 Scottish Cup Final that the final will be played at Celtic Park.

The Scotland national amateur football team was the amateur representative team for Scotland at football. It was formed in 1926 and continued until 1974.

The 2018–19 East Super League was the 17th season of the East Superleague, the top tier of league competition for SJFA East Region member clubs.

The Glasgow Junior Football League (GJL) was a football league competition operated under the Scottish Junior Football Association between 1895 and 1927. As its name suggests, it was primarily for teams in the Glasgow area, but did include teams from towns outside the city; conversely, other leagues existed concurrently and some teams based in Glasgow played in those.

The Central Junior Football League was a football league competition operated under the Scottish Junior Football Association between 1931 and 2002, with an expansion of its membership in 1968.

The West of Scotland Junior Challenge Cup is an annual Scottish football competition played in a one-leg knockout format, organised by the West Region of the Scottish Junior Football Association.

The North Junior Football League, also known as the North-East Junior League, was a football league competition operated in northern Scotland under the Scottish Junior Football Association which operated as the top league in the territory until 2001 when a new regional setup was established - although this was very similar to the previous setup.

The 2020–21 East Premiership was the 19th season of league competition for SJFA East Region member clubs. This was effectively a continuation of the East Superleague but with fewer member clubs in the East Region all teams were in a single tier with no promotion or relegation.