The Glasgow Junior Football Association was formed in 1884 and its flagship competition, the Glasgow Junior Cup, was first competed for in 1884/85, two years before the start of the Scottish Junior Cup. Indeed, for many years, Glasgow clubs considered it equally, if not more, important than the national conpetition.
GJFA membership was usually limited to clubs within the boundaries of the City of Glasgow, although there were some exceptions to the rule. Cambuslang Rangers (Lanarkshire) and Rutherglen Glencairn, (Burgh of Rutherglen) were included for historical and financial reasons. On the other hand, Yoker Athletic and Baillieston Juniors could not compete in this lucrative competition as they lay just beyond the city boundary (Yoker's Holm Park was distant by a matter of yards).
In 1907/08 and 1922/23, when the Glasgow Juniors were in dispute with the Scottish Junior Football Association, clubs from well outside the city were invited to take part, and in the latter season the eventual winners were Bellshill Athletic! These were shows of strength, designed to warn the SJFA that if the Glasgow clubs broke away, they would take the best clubs from the surrounding counties with them.
This actually happened in 1927, when the Scottish Intermediate FA was formed - St Anthony's included. During the Intermediate Dispute of 1927 to 1931 the rebel clubs had their own, expanded version of the competition, known as the Glasgow & District Intermediate Cup. The official Glasgow Junior Cup continued during these years, but virtually no clubs from Glasgow actually competed - just country clubs plus a handfull of minor city scabs.
In 1943/44 an attempt was made to poach two Renfrewshire JFA clubs, Arthurlie and Renfrew, and they were included in the first round draw. However, the SJFA vetoed this move, and the GJFA, unwilling to cause a split during wartime, backed down and re-drew the first round.
Attendances at Junior matches had peaked by about 1950, and in the following years the decline was swift. Previously the only real competition to football had been the cinema and the dogs, but in the 1950s television appeared. Other social changes included increasing car ownership, foreign holidays, central heating etc., all of which made a Saturday afternoon spent standing on cinder slopes in an icy blast seem old-fashioned and perverse. Glasgow's Juniors were harder-hit than clubs in other parts of Scotland. As the old slum tenements were demolished in the 1950s and 1960s, vast numbers of people were moved to housing schemes on the edge of the city, to new towns many miles distant, or even to places like Irvine or Arbroath. Attendances plummeted as communities were broken up.
Several famous names disappeared from the Glasgow Junior scene - Shawfield Juniors became defunct in 1960, followed by Bridgeton Waverley (1962), Parkhead (1963), Strathclyde Juniors (1965), Maryhill Harp (1967) and Dennistoun Waverley (1969).
But, by the time of Dennistoun's demise, the Glasgow Junior Cup no longer existed. In 1968 drastic re-organisation of the Junior game saw Scotland divided into six regions, with new associations, leagues and cup competitions. Apart from a handful of small charity tournaments, all the old city and county cups were swept away - and with them the good old Glasgow Junior Cup.
The first-ever competitive match played by St Anthony's was in the Glasgow Junior Cup of 1905/06. We did not appear in the published first round draw as we were not GJFA members when the ties were drawn. However, the competition had been left open and, as soon as our membership had been ratified, we - as "first entrants" - were paired with Postal & Telegraph Athletic.
Postal had choice of ground, but they did not have one of their own. Nor could the tie be played on St Anthony's nameless park, situated just south of the foot of Hamilton Street (now renamed Nethan Street). This was only a patch of waste ground without a barricade around it, or payboxes, or even a fenced pitch. In the end it was arranged to play the game on the Ibrox Practice Ground in Edmiston Drive, opposite the main Ibrox Park stand. So our first competitive match, on September 9th 1905, was played by permission of Rangers FC - or at least the secretary of their reserve team!
Another oddity which arose from this match was that the referee was Mr John McCaffer of Ibrox. He became a noted football administrator, and in 1923 the Ants won a testimonial tournament played in his honour.