Formed 1873. Wound up 1921.
Founder member of the Scottish League 1890. Suspended October 1890.
Reinstated 1891. Resigned 1897.
1876-1881 b d
1887-1900 a b c d
The small village of Renton lies midway between Dumbarton and Alexandria, homes of Dumbarton FC and Vale of Leven respectively. In the early years of organised football in Scotland, these three clubs were among the strongest in Scotland. Renton reached the semi-final stage of the first ever Scottish FA Cup in 1874 and the following season they were in the final: on both occasions they were beaten by Queen's Park. At some stage the club disbanded but there are different versions: Norman Nichol (Scottish Football League Former Members vol 4) states they shut down in 1875 and reformed in 1880, but Alex Graham (Complete Book of Scottish FA Cup Results) gives 1882 as the years they closed down, reforming the following season. Brian McColl's records, however, indicate that Renton were inactive between 1881 and 1882. Research by Rumwold Leigh suggests that Renton played in every Scottish Cup between 1874 and 1880 (invalidating Nichol's version) but scratched from the 1881-82 first round. Leigh suggests the club went out of business sometime after October 1880 when they were knocked out of the Scottish Cup but survived long enough to enter the following season's competition. The club appears to have been reformed sometime in 1881 or 1882. McColl suggests that it was not unusual in this period for clubs to temporarily disband while continuing to pay their subscriptions to the SFA in expectation of better days to come.
In 1885 Renton defeated neighbours Vale of Leven to win the Scottish FA Cup for the first time. They reached the final again the following season (beaten by Queen's Park) and won the cup for the second time in 1888, beating Cambuslang 6-0 in the final, still a record. Three months later they beat (English) FA Cup holders West Bromwich Albion at Hampden in a challenge match fancifully billed as being for "the Championship of the UK and the World." Two years later the so-called "World Champions" became founder members of the Scottish Football League.
A few weeks into the new season, Renton were suspended from all football by the Scottish FA after they played a friendly match against "Edinburgh Saints." This team was in fact St Bernard's, who had been suspended by the SFA for professionalism. The Scottish League had no choice but to expel Renton, whose record was expunged. After a legal challenge, their suspension was lifted and they rejoined the Scottish League in 1891.
Professionalism was belatedly recognised in 1893, a decision that would mark the beginning of Renton's decline. As a village side, Renton had no hope of competing with the financial muscle of the big city clubs. During the 1893-94 season, Renton won only a single game and were relegated to the Second Division in the end of season elections. The club continued to court trouble with the authorities and failed to turn up for a fixture with Dundee Wanderers in 1894-95 in favour of a lucrative friendly match with Queen's Park. The points were awarded to the Dundee side and Renton were perhaps fortunate to escape more serious punishment. Their last glimmer of success came with their fifth Scottish Cup final appearance where they lost 1-2 to St Bernard's.
The club performed well in the Scottish Second Division but faced increasing financial hardship. Even at the height of their success, the club could only attract a few hundred spectators to home games and at one stage they even considered relocating to Glasgow. With four games played in the 1897-98 season, Renton were unable to provide match guarantees (the minimum payment to visiting sides required by SFL rules) and resigned, their place being taken by Hamilton Academical.
For the following four seasons Renton played only cup and friendly games but in 1902 they joined the Scottish Combination. They survived in regional competition until 1920 when they resigned from the Western League and were wound up. Their ground, Tontine Park was sold for housing and the only remaining trace of the former "World Champions" is the centre circle, carefully preserved in one of the gardens.
In February 2008 the historic name was revived with the formation of Renton 1872 FC.
- (a) The Scottish League Clubs - Former Members IV (Norman Nichol 1994)
- (b) Alick Milne
- (c) Riccardo Bertani
- (d) Charles Alcock's Football Annuals 1869-1891 researched by Robin Horton