Lanemark Football Club

  • Founded: 1875
  • Folded: 1921
  • Connel Park, New Cumnock

Origins and Early Years

Robert Brown, a mining engineer from Ayr, had opened Craigie No. 1 pit , Ayr in 1855 and opened five more over the next six years. Soon after he turned his attention to the New Cumnock Coalfield to manage pits in the lands of South Boig at Connel Park.

Meanwhile in 1863 John Hunter from Waterside, Dalmellington took a lease to work the minerals in the nearby lands of Lanemark and along with John Paton, a builder from Ayr approached Robert Brown with a view to making use of his renowned engineering skills. Instead the three decided to join forces and in 1865 the Lanemark Coal Company was formed.

Lanemark Farm with one the Lanemark Colliery (Rigfoot No. 1 ) nearby

The following year a lease was taken of the Afton Minerals which operated near Straid on the New Cumnock to Dalmellington Road.  Brown constructed a branch railway line to South Boig from the earlier Creoch line and extended this to the Afton No. 1 Pit which was sunk in 1871. Two years later Afton No. 2 Pit was opened as the Lanemark Coal Company continued to expand the development of the coalfield [1]

The New Cumnock Coalfield by J.L. Carvel

Homes were built for the miners and their families in a traditional style that became known simply as miners’ rows. For example close to Afton No. 1 pit the Burnfoot Row was built on the south side of the New Cumnock-Dalmellington road.

Burnfoot Row and Lanemark Colliery (Afton No. 1 or Burnfoot Pit)

The greatest density of rows were built at Connel Park at the junction of the Boig Road (back road to Cumnock) and the New Cumnock-Dalmellington road. A few hundred yards along the Boig Road stood Ardnith House which was built for Robert Brown, now the designated coalmaster of the Lanemark Coal Company.

Miners rows at Connel Park, South Boig, Football Pitch and Ardnith House

Formation of Lanemark Football Club

In the period of the formation of the Scottish Football Association (1873) and the Ayrshire Football Association (1877) the popular summer sporting pastimes in the parish of New Cumnock were bowling and quoiting. Growing in popularity was cricket with the  names of Bank Cottages Cricket Club, Afton Cricket Club, New Cumnock Cricket Club and Lanemark Cricket Club all appearing in the ‘sports pages’ at that time , and some lasting well beyond that time.

Football was very much a winter-sport and the athleticism of this new game attracted many of those that played cricket, to keep them active during the winter months. In some instances both sports were organised under a single club most notably in Ayrshire for instance the Kilmarnock Cricket and Football Club whereas as in the case of near neighbours Cumnock in November 1874 ‘a number of gentlemen from the Cumnock Cricket club formed a Football Club’ [ASH1].

Lanemark Coal Company were keen that the workforce made the most of the little leisure time they had an operated both cricket and football clubs, probably in line with the Cumnock model above, where some of the cricketers of the summer evolved into footballers in the winter.  Having said that the date of the formation of the cricket club has proved elusive while that of the football club after some research has not, thanks to a report in the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald.


The Herald has proved a fantastic resource for looking back on Ayrshire’s past and in particular its sporting past, clearly of great interest to its readership. It was fortunate that Lanemark had a devoted local correspondent. It was from one of their “Notes on Lanemark” reports  of 1894 looking back on the club’s beginnings, almost 20 years before, that we learn of Lanemark’s first game under the rules of The Football Association [ASH2]

  • Lanemark 0 Cumnock 2
  • Friendly
  • Connel Park, New Cumnock
  • Saturday 28th August 1875
  • Source: Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald, Nov 9, 1894

Lanemark was one of the first football clubs instituted in Ayrshire and as football was then in its infancy, the knowledge of the game possessed in by those who engaged in it was very meagre. Most of the members were, as they are now, were miners , and not having had the privilege of witnessing many matches, they could not be blamed for the form which they exhibited in these early days.

The club’s first start was in a field notable for its “hills and knowes;” and one of the players one night, thinking he had played long enough pulled out one of the goalposts and marched triumphantly off the field with it. The goalpost however, had never been missed until the goalkeeper landed up to the neck in a ditch. He had followed the players down the field , and when they were making tracks for his goal, he, running backwards, met with the rude awakening  as stated which ended the night’s practise.

It was a puzzle to many of the players to know the use of the lace attached to the ball, but it at least served one purpose, namely, for throwing the ball down the field when it went over the line, which was done every time the sphere went past – a free-kick to the goalkeeper being, in the opinion of the players, being out of the question.

After having had a week or two of practice, they considered themselves a good team, and a match they would have.  A polite challenge was sent to their neighbours at Old Cumnock, and on the last Saturday of August, in the year of 1875, they played their first match – looking a formidable lot clad in their Royal blue jerseys and white knickers.

The names of the Lanemark team at that time were  – Goal, R.Brown; backs, G.Graham and T. Leckie; half-backs, J. Graham and W.Brown; forwards, T. Proudfoot, R. Brown, W.Cullen, F. Clark, D.Currie and J. Millar.

It will be noticed that they played six forwards in that games, as well as in a few other matches which followed. As the game was about to commence the Lanemark players lined up in front of their own goal, and the captain of the opposing team had to persuade the Lanemark captain to send one of his team to kick off – giving as his reason that they knew their own business, and the Cumnock men were to mind theirs.

The Opponents

The Cumnock team was probably the team that had been formed from the Cumnock Cricket Club the previous year who played at Greenmill Holm [ASH1].

The Football Field

It is not clear if the reference in the report of Lanemark’s first game to a “field notable for its hills and knowes” is a reference to what quickly became the established football field at Connel Park. The field at Connel Park (see map above) lay between the mineral railway line to the east and Boig Road to the west; where South Boig farm stood.

Site of Connel Park football field with South Boig farm in the distance. (Robert Guthrie)

The Players

  • R. Brown:
    • Brown was a common surname in New Cumnock. This may be Robert Brown Jnr, son of Robert Brown, coalmaster, who was active in the cricket club, although in 1875 he would have been 32 years old. He lived at Auchingee Cottage, Pathhead
  • G.Graham: George Graham, coal miner, 9 Connel Park and 
    • elder brother of John Graham (below)
  • T. Leckie:
  • J. Graham: John Graham, coal miner, 9 Connel Park
    • and younger brother of George Graham above. He would go one to greater things.
  • W. Brown:
  • T. Proudfoot: John Proudfoot, 17-year-old, farmers’ son, Lanemark
    • [The Proudfoot family farmed Lanemark for decades and although there was a Thomas Proudfoot born 1856 he disappears from view. Perhaps the T. is a misprint of a J. for there was a John Proudfoot born 1858 that would take over the running of the farm from his father.]
  • R. Brown:
  • W.Cullen: William Cullen, 22-year-old, colliery clerk, captain of the football and cricket club
  • F. Clark: Francis Clark. 23-year-old,  coal miner, Connel Park
    • [married Grace Brown, dairymaid, Benston, New Cumnock]
  • D. Currie: David Currie, 16-year-old, coalminer, Annbank
    • [the family later moved to Afton Place, New Cumnock where his father worked as a fish dealer]
  • J. Millar:

The next game Lanemark played was at Catrine, and the players had by the time gained a little more knowledge, but one thing they couldn’t understand was the offside rule. The game ended in a draw, no goals scored. [ASH2]

No doubt Lanemark played other friendly matches as football took root in Ayrshire and the following year the first steps were taken to organise the game in county.

Organised Football

In May 1877 the Ayrshire Football Association was formed and by October it had commissioned the Ayrshire Football Association Cup [ASH3]

The committee of this association have agreed to the design sent by Messrs. John Cameron & Son, jewellers, of Kilmarnock for a solid silver vase, 30 inches high and valued at £100. The cup, or vase, is to be played for annually, and the winning team to be presented with gold badges or medal.  At the base of a figure representing victory are two shields bearing Ayr and Kilmarnock coats of arms, and underneath two figures in football costume, with a portrait of Robert Burns between. The centre of the vase represents the game in progress. Below there are the arms of the Earl of Eglinton, the honorary president of the association, and at the base of the cup two lions rampant, one supporting the arms of Robert the Bruce the others those of Scotland. Twenty seven clubs have joined the association and entered to compete for the vase . The first tie is set to be played off on or before the 8th December. The following is the draw for the tie –

  • Kilmarnock Cricket and Football Club v Kilmarnock Portland
  • Beith v Beith Thistle
  • Maybole Ladywell v Cumnock
  • Kilbirnie v Ayr Academicals
  • Catrine v Largs Western
    • Rankinston Mountaineers v Lanemark (New Cumnock)
  • Kilmarnock Hawthorn v Kilmarnock Dean
  • Kilmaurs Floors v Irvine
  • Maybole Carrick v Tarbolton
  • Stewarton v Kilmarnock Star
  • Dalry Rangers v Kilmarnock
  • Mauchline v Burnfoothill Ramblers (by Ayr)
  • Vale of Irvine (Galston) v Girvan
  • Hurlford  – a bye

On the last Saturday of August of that year Lanemark Coal Company hosted their annual athletic games, a common practice across the county [ASH4].

As the prizes were large , competitors came forward in large numbers, and from long distances. The spectators were also numerous, and, as the day was fine, numbers of the resident gentry were present in their carriages‘.

Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald, September 1, 1877 Copyright The British Library Board All Rights Reserved

The list of prize-winners included Lanemark footballers John Graham, New Cumnock and D. Currie, Annbank – first and second respectively in the Half-mile handicap race; while the surname Leckie also appears on the list. John Graham would go on to make a name for himself over half-mile and mile races. ‘ A good many other prizes were given, which were confined to the Lanemark Works and the Cricket and Football Clubs’.

Season 1877/1878

In preparation for the participation in the Ayrshire Cup Lanemark 1st eleven hosted Catrine 1st eleven at New Cumnock on Saturday 20th October 1877 with the visitors taking the honours after a 4-0 win. ‘The gate money was devoted to a charitable cause.” [ASH5]

Ayrshire Cup: Lanemark’s first game in the Ayrshire Cup ended in stalemate at Rankinston Mountaineers before winning the replay 2-0 at Connel Park. At the same ground Kilmaurs Floors were beaten by the only  goal of the game before Lanemark’s run came to an end with a 3-1defeat away to Kilmarnock Hawthorn.  Mauchline had the honour of winning the first ever Ayrshire Cup defeating Kilmarnock Portland 4-3 in the final.

Season 1878/79

Cricket: In the summer of 1878 the Lanemark Cricket Club defeated Kilmarnock 2nd XI at Connel Park.  In the cricketers ranks were the Lanemark footballers William Cullen (captain), John Graham, David Currie, Francis Clark, R. Brown and W. Brown.  Telfer is probably William Telfer who would later sit as Lanemark’s delegate on the committee of the Ayrshire Football Association [ASH6].

Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald, June 29, 1879 Copyright The British Library Board All Rights Reserved

Scottish Cup: Back on the football front and with Lanemark now members of the Scottish Football Association their name with those of 127 other clubs were in the hat for the 1st round of the Scottish Cup in the sixth season of the national competition. The New Cumnock side were drawn at home to Kilmarnock Athletic and after a 2-2 draw they lost 4-0 in the replay.

Ayrshire Cup: The Laneys created the opportunity of avenging the loss to the Kilmarnock side in the Scottish Cup when they were drawn to face them in the Ayrshire Cup semi-final at Connel Park after disposing of Overton (5-0), Hurlford Rovers (4-1) an Kilmarnock Hawthorn (3-2) .  “Their captain, Mr Cullen, had all the players at tea the night before the game, and warned each of them to watch his man. So well did they obey the command that the Athletic threatened to get them put out the Association”. The players took fright and seldom tackled their opponent after the warning and the Kilmarnock side went on to win 2-0 and  beat Kilmarnock Portland in the final [ASH2].

Season 1879/80

A disappointing season saw Lanemark scratch from their 1st round Scottish Cup tie at Kilmarnock Portland and lose 3-2 away to Irvine in the Ayrshire Cup 1st round.

Three other New Cumnock sides entered the Ayrshire Cup namely Afton Lads, Ardnith and Bank. The latter was knocked out in the 1st round while the other two suffered heavy defeats in the 2nd round. (See Teams: Afton Lads, Ardnith, Bank)

On a brighter note for the club David Currie was selected for the Ayrshire side to face the Renfrewshire side on 7th February 1880 at Hamilton Park, home of Kilmarnock Portland. The Renfrewshire had come out on top in the corresponding fixture at Barrhead in December and were holding the Ayrshire to a goal-less draw at the break on their own ground. The deadlock was broken 10 minutes after the restart after the Ayrshire forwards combined well before ‘Currie sent the ball spinning between the post with a splendid shot‘ With the ice broken the Ayrshire side scored five more goals for a fine 6-0 victory [ASH7].

A fortnight later the Ayrshire side also played a ‘Scotch-Canadian’ select at Rugby Park and although no Lanemark players were in the side William Telfer was one of the umpires. Notably the game introduced ‘the English rule of throwing the ball in from touch in any direction’. The Scotch-Canadian team that was touring Scotland and England won 3-1 [ASH8].

David Currie was back in the Ayrshire side that faced the Edinburgh Association at Powderhall in late March, with the hosts edging it 4-3 [AAG1]

Season 1880/81

Another season of first round exits for Lanemark with a 3-0 defeat at Kilbirnie in the Scottish and a 4-3 defeat to Kilmarnock Caledonian in ‘a hard and well contested game’ at Rugby Park.

Season 1881/82

A season of contrasting fortunes for Lanemark beginning with another first round exit in the Scottish Cup after a 3-0 loss away to Lugar Boswell at Thomerston. However the Ayrshire Cup began in great fashion with a 19-0 leathering of Kilmarnock St. Crispin at Connel Park.   The trip to face Cronberry Eglinton in the 2nd round ended in a 3-3 draw before the Laney’s won 3-2 in the replay. Barkip were thrashed 12-1 in the 3rd round at Connel Park to set up a fourth round tie with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. In the first meeting between the two sides it was Killie that came on top following a 3-0 victory before receiving a bye into their first final appearance only to be pummelled 4-0 by Kilmarnock Portland.

In March 1882 Lanemark of Connel Park travelled to face Mauchline at their Connal Park ground in a not so friendly friendly the hosts winning by’4 goals to none and a disputed goal [ASH9].

The New Cumnock side were also invited to play in the Kilmarnock Merchants Charity Cup with the proceeds going to the Fever Hospital. The three ties were Kilmarnock v Lugar Boswell, Kilmarnock Athletic v Kilmarnock Portland and Lanemark v Ayr were scheduled to be played consecutively at Rugby Park [AAG1] . Although the Lanemark score against Ayr has proved elusive it was the New Cumnock side that progress to second where they faced Lugar Boswell in front of a large turnout at Rugby Park on a fine May day. McGhie gave Lugar the lead before the Laneys  fought back and gained a deserved equaliser before the break through John Reynolds. Lugar regained the lead through Goldie with twenty minutes and held off a determined Lanemark to progress to the final where they lost out to Ayrshire Cup winners Portland  [ASH10].

Back in January the Ayrshire Association side travelled to face a Belfast & District side in a challenge match at Cliftonville. Grier, a Lanemark forward, was listed in the original eleven but he did not feature in the game. David Currie did however, and the forward bagged a brace in a crushing 12-0 win over their hosts.

Although the Belfast hosts may have known little of Lanemark Football Club their homes may well have been heated by coal from the lands of Lanemark and South Boig!

The Belfast News-Letter, January 6,1882 Copyright The British Library Board All Rights Reserved

In March Lanemark’s half-back  John Graham was selected for the Ayrshire Association’s match against the Edinburgh Association at Tynecastle where the hosts triumphed 5-3 in a well contested match [ASH11].

Season 1882/83

Lanemark’s name did not appear in the 1st round draw for the Scottish Cup. In the Ayrshire Cup they were drawn at home but appear to have scratched from the competition; in any case Mauchline progressed to the 2nd round.  Lugar Boswell beat Kilmarnock Athletic in the Ayrshire Cup final after a replay, both games in which W. Brown of Lanemark served as one of the umpires .

This is the period in which the Lanemark correspondent writing in the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald ‘ in November 1894 describes as the time “Lanemark commenced to go downhill” and when John Graham and John Reynolds went to Kilmarnock Portland. [ASH12].  Graham continued to catch the eye and now as a Portland player he represented the Ayrshire Association against Lanarkshire and the Scottish Counties against Lancashire during the season

Still living and working as a miner in New Cumnock John Graham no doubt attended the tea given in honour of Willie Cullen,  captain of the football and cricket teams and cashier clerk at the Lanemark Coal Company who had recently left New Cumnock to take up a similar job at a brewery in Glasgow.  On Boxing Day, 1882 he returned to New Cumnock to enjoy ‘a sumptuous and tastefully set tea‘ in the town’s Crown Inn with over of 50 of his former colleagues. Together they looked back on his eight years at the Lanemark Coal Company and recognised his considerable contribution to life in the coal community summed up by John Hunter, pitsheadman and chairman for the evening, with the fine words  ‘no man during the same period had done more to make the spare time of workmen more pleasant or profitable‘. Most notably he had formed a singing class, both junior and senior dramatic clubs and a penny savings bank helping to foster habits of thrift among the children. His interest in all kinds of out-door sports was well-known, and to him the football club owe their thanks for having obtained the use of their field and club-house from the Lanemark Coal Company. In closing William Cullen was presented with a beautifully inscribed gold watch [ASH13]

Season 1883/84

For the second consecutive season Lanemark did not enter the Scottish Cup and although they were drawn away to Kilmarnock Athletic in the Ayrshire Cup they scratched from the competition.

johngrahamMeanwhile John Graham was now playing with Annbank and in November 1883 he played for the Ayrshire side that defeated Lancashire 6-3 at Holm Quarry Kilmarnock [AAG3]. Greater things lay in store for the New Cumnock miner. On 26th January 1884 as an Annbank player he was capped for Scotland , playing at half-back in a 5-0 win over Ireland in Belfast.

Although the Laneys were in abeyance for a brief period the people of Connel Park still had cause for celebration. John Graham had arrived in New Cumnock with his parents as a 14 year-old. Four years later he played in the Lanemark side in the first ever game of football played under Association Rules in New Cumnock and now aged 27 years old he had represented his country in the beautiful game.

So closes the early chapter of Lanemark Football Club ……..

however they would return.

Robert Guthrie 13th, December 2017

© Robert Guthrie,


[1]  J. L. Carvel (1994), The New Cumnock Coalfield.

British Newspaper Archive /

Images Copyright The British Library Board. All Rights Reserved.

  • Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald
    • [ASH1] November 21, 1874
    • [ASH2]  November 9,  1894
    • [ASH3]   May 19, 1877
    • [ASH4]  September 1, 1877
    • [ASH5]  October 27, 1877
    • [ASH6] June 29,1878
    • [ASH7] February 14, 1880
    • [ASH8] February 28, 1880
    • [ASH9] March 4, 1882
    • [ASH10] May 13, 1882
    • [ASH11] March 18, 1882
    • [ASH12] November 16, 1894
    • [ASH13] December 26, 1882
  • The Ayr Advertiser, or West Country and Galloway Journal
    •  [AAG1] April 1, 1880
    • [AAG2] March 2, 1882
    • [AAG3] November 22, 1883
  • Belfast News-Letter
    • [BNL1] January, 1882

Ayrshire Cup Results

Scotland International Football Results

National Library of Scotland