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Shotts Bon Accord FC is a Scottish semi-professional football club currently playing in the First Division of the West Region Superleague (de facto the second division). They joined the now-defunct Lanarkshire League in 1950 and were one of the most successful in it (winning the Scottish Junior Cup (SJC) in 1958 by beating Pumpherston in front of a 33,000 crowd at Hampden Park, Glasgow). This level of football in Scotland is often referred to as Juniors, a completely inappropriate and confusing term.
In 1950 the League comprised so many teams that it had to be split into two divisions, North and South, but by the mid Sixties membership had shrunk to around nine or ten clubs and plans—long resisted my many Glasgow-based clubs—had to be adopted to include the remnants of the league into the Central League starting with the 1968/69 season. In Lanarkshire things had become so bad that the clubs played for a Supplementary League Cup in addition to the normal League Cup and the league was played out over two separate competitions—the winner of the first playing off against the winner of the second to decide the ultimate league champions. In 1967/68 Shotts beat Larkhall Thistle but the following season no such play-off was necessary as the Bon Accord won both competitions. The league might also have been the first in the UK to introduce an official winter break as clubs didn’t have sufficient fixtures to cover the period from August to May/June.
After years of being spoiled with success in the Lanarkshire League and its attendant auxiliary competitions, Shotts supporters had to put up with much tougher opposition though the first two seasons promised much, the club finishing second to Petershill in the top division both times. The rot set in during the fourth season and two depressing relegations later Shotts Bon Accord found itself in the bottom division.
The Bon Accord soon started the long fight back to respectability but it was a roller-coaster of a ride until a certain kind of stability was acquired with the club’s promotion to the top league in 1985/86. With one exception thereafter, the Bon Accord spent every season in the top flight until we fell out with our game’s governing body in 1995. Between 1968 and 1995 Shotts spent 13 seasons in the top division, 11 in the middle division and two in the bottom flight.
Upon our return to the league in 1996 the club was placed once more in the third division but under a new manager, Rab Sneddon, Shotts won promotion immediately to the second division. The following season Sneddon acquired the services of a former professional by the name of Tony McInally, amongst others of course, and a second promotion followed after an incredibly tight ending to the season. By 1999 we were back in the top league and Sneddon finished the job by lifting the title that year as well, three consecutive league titles, third, second and first—a feat that may never be repeated The team had also won the Sectional League Cup in Sneddon’s second season by beating Arthurlie, who went on to lift the Scottish Junior Cup later that season, on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
Shotts reached the semi-final of the SJC in 2000 (for only the second time since that win in 1958) but their efforts to hang on to the league championship spluttered out as the club managed to win only a single league match between the quarter-final and the semi-final, losing four and drawing two, ultimately finishing third.
Sneddon moved on to his home-town club Bellshill Athletic after four seasons with Shotts and much of the magic went with him. We were relegated the following season and had to fight hard to take part in the latest amalgamation of the leagues, between the Ayrshire League and the Central League. Based on the member clubs’ position at the end of the 2001/02 season, the top teams moved into the Superleague Premier Division or the Superleague First Division. Those who did not qualify stayed in either the Ayrshire Division or the Central League which was split into two divisions.
Promotion was gained to the Superleague First Division on the last day of the season with a 5-3 win over Kilsyth Rangers and three seasons in the First Division ensued. Promotion to the Premier Division was achieved in 2005 where we also stayed for three seasons before tumbling down the divisions after two successive relegations. Yet Shotts weren’t a bad team at that point; there were plenty of good to very good players in the team but little direction was discernible and it was a sorry state of a club that invited Tony McInally, who had had managerial responsibilities at Cumbernauld United and Lanark United since he left the playing staff at Hannah Park, to take over the reins in July 2009.