Campbeltown Grammar School Former Pupils Association was formed during 1919 to cater for the sporting requirements of ex-students.
In the beginning the club offered football for men and hockey for young ladies, however, interest from the fairer sex diminished and the club became known as a football team only.
The club started its playing life as a junior team within the auspices of the Campbeltown & District Junior Football Association, a very successful partnership that lasted until the outbreak of war in 1939.
The FPs failed to reappear after the cessation of hostilities in 1945, a combination of loss of life,injury and the natural progression of age being an impossible barrier at that time.
However, after reforming and playing a series of friendly fixtures during the winter of 1959 and the summer of 1960, the club entered the Kintyre Amateur Football League in season 1961/62 and became affiliated to the Scottish Amateur Football Association. At that time the club’s lengthy name was abbreviated to its official title, Campbeltown Former Pupils AFC, but is far better known in competitive circles by its affectionate title, Campbeltown Pupils AFC – ‘the Pupils’.
After many successful years as members of the Kintyre Amateur Football League, the club joined the Scottish Amateur Football League in 1977. During its time as members of the S.A.F.L ‘ the Pupils’ have been blessed with a number of notable achievements; however, winning the Scottish Amateur Premier Division in 1999/2000 is without doubt the highlight of its many years of membership.
The club has its own junior standard ground at Kintyre Park, Limecraigs Road, Campbeltown – a facilty on long lease from Argyll & Bute Council. Attendance record at the ground is 3,500 for a Scottish Junior Cup 5th Round Tie involving Campbeltown United v Loanhead Mayflower on February 2nd 1957. A programme of ground improvement was initiated in 1986, the area being drained and new changing accommodation built. The ground was reopened in 1988, an occasion marked by the visit of Greenock Morton. Manager Ally McGraw and assistant John McMaster brought down the full first team squad to Campbeltown, a wonderful game of football that ended in a 1-1 draw.
Through the years a number of personalities have played with the club, none more famous than Italian International Gionni Moscardini – ‘Johnny.’ Capped nine times at full international level, Johnny scored seven times while representing ‘the Azzurri.’ Born in Falkirk in 1898, he enlisted in the Italian Army at the tender age of eighteen, this, before seeing action in the First World War at the Battle of Caporetto. After recovering from his wounds, he settled in his family’s original home town, that of Barga in Tuscany. An accomplished player, he was soon spotted by the local senior club Lucca, then playing in the Italian League – Tuscany Section. He later signed for near neighbours Pisa – Italian League Northern Section,this before becoming the club’s top scorer and first choice centre-forward for the national side. His final sorjorn in senior football was with Genoa – the top Italian club of the period.
In 1926, he returned to Scotland to help run his uncle’s Royal Cafe in Hall Street, Campbeltown, continuing his long journey in football by playing for ‘the Pupils,’ his last club and the only one of Scottish registration.
Through the generations, the club has sent a regular supply of players to the senior game on both sides of the border, the most famous of them all members of our predecessor club – Campbeltown Academicals. Neil McBain played for Ayr United, Everton, Manchester United, Liverpool and was also capped at full international level against all of the home nations. He went on to manage Ayr Untied in the 1960s, and, strangest of all, did the same at Estudiantes de La Plata of Argentina. His team mate, Peter Pursell, played for Queens Park, Glasgow Rangers on 389 occasions and was capped at full international level for Scotland, this before ending his career alongside his brother, Robert Pursell (Liverpool) at Port Vale. Then there was John Durnan who became captain and legend at Swansea, this before returning home to captain the ’Pupils’ between 1925 and 1930. In modern times the club has sent three players to the professional rank, Duncan McAulay to Greenock Morton in the late 1970s, Thomas Maguire to Aberdeen in the 1980s and more recently Donald McCallum to Dumbarton.
Three players from Campbeltown Pupils AFC have represented Scotland at amateur level, with one adding a Junior international ‘cap’ to his collection. The Reverand B.B. Blackwood, a stalwart of the club’s original eleven in 1919, had the honour of being ‘capped’ by both national associations. More recently, Kevin Gilchrist in the 1980s and Paul McWhirter in 2002 have represented Scotland at amateur level.
Kevin Gilchrist, Paul McWhirter, Duncan McAulay, Andy Robertson, Neil Brown, Ian McGeachy, Michael Donnelly, Archie Millar, Alan Sinclair, David Martin and Gary Grumoli have all represented the Scottish Amateur Football League at select level. Duncan McAulay captained the SAFL to success in the inter-league trophy in the mid-1980s – the Baxter Trophy. Campbeltown Pupils centre-forward Kevin Gilchrist finished the tournament’s top goalscorer with an amazing 13 goals for the Scottish Amateur Football League out of a total of 15 scored. Club stalwart Duncan McAulay is the Scottish Amateur Football League’s longest serving team captain, an achievement which saw him elected to the first-ever SAFL ‘Hall of Fame’ in March 2013.
A family’s enthusiasm for the game of football helped to re-establish the club at the beginning of the 1960s. Bernard McKinven, along with his two sons Bernard Jnr and Alex, plus son-in-law Willie Gillespie, were instrumental in re-launching ‘the Pupils,’ a well-known local football club from past history. All played a major part in the development of the club through the years. Alex McKinven was joined by his good friend Bill Hunter to form the management of the team during the initial ‘Scottish League Years,’ this, before handing over to the present management team of Campbell Robertson and Duncan McAulay, both long-serving members of the club’s highly successful side of the late 1970s and 1980s.
Membership of the Scottish Amateur Football League in 1977 was followed by immediate success, the club progressing to win the Scottish Amateur Football League 7th Division, 4th Division and 3rd Division Championships. The ship was kept on course in the intermittent years with runners-up spot in the 6th, 5th, and 1st Division campaigns. Further achievements included winning the original SAFL Top Score Trophy (1977/78) and Colin Munro Cup (1981/82). In recent years, the present management team of Campbell Robertson and Duncan McAulay have guided the club to the SAFL Premier Division One Championship in 1998/99, this before adding the league’s ‘top prize’ to its collection – the SAFL Premier Division Championship in 1999/2000 – the first club from Argyll to claim the coveted trophy. Just to prove this was not a one-off situation, ‘the Pupils’ went agonisingly close to claiming a second Premier title in 2004. Needing only a draw to win the trophy for a second time, the team lost 2-1 to St Patricks of Dumbarton on the last day of the season to finish in runners-up spot. The Pupils also lost narrowly to Shamrock BC by 5 goals to 4 in the final of the SAFL Jimmy Marshall Trophy in 2002.
Campbeltown Pupils AFC celebrated its 90th Anniversary in 2009 with a match against Amateur Scotland. The SAFA kindly sent down the cream of the nation’s amateur footballers to play at Kintyre Park,and, after leading by a single goal at half-time, the Pupils eventually went down narrowly by 2 goals to 1.
Before the start of season 2010/2011, football in the town took an almighty step forward when the town’s two leading clubs, Campbeltown Pupils and Campbeltown Boys, amalgamated their resources. Taking the name of the more historic Campbeltown Pupils AFC, the adult club has subsequently joined the Campbeltown and District Community Football Club. The principle of the town’s ‘Umbrella’ organisation is to gather all groups to work together towards a common goal – from the young mini-kickers at the tender five – all the way through to the adult game in the SAFL or hopefully, to the higher echelons of the sport.
Great faith has been placed in what is seen as a merger of interests, and the project has already borne fruit when Campbeltown Pupils AFC, with its youngest ever squad, won the SAFL Premier 2nd Division title in 2012/13, and followed the next season with the Premier 1st Division Title in 2013 /14.
The club at present plays in the SAFL Premier 1st Division. On the youth front, after a successful period in the Dumbartonshire Development League with our under 16s (2003s)team, the club’s under-14s team (2005s) now plays its football as members of the Glasgow and District Youth Football League. A number of youngsters graduated to the Dumbarton FC Development Team, with Donald McCallum making the breakthrough by playing senior with Dumbarton FC in the SFL Championship. All of this augers well, but we still have a lot of work in front of us to achieve our ultimate aspirations. So far, Campbeltown Community Football Club and its membership – with our own club as top of the pyramid pathway – have achieved the SFA Quality Mark Standard Award (Bronze) in 2013, the Development Award (Silver) in 2015, and is one of only seven clubs in the West of Scotland to achieve the Community Club Award – (Gold). ‘We are of one mind, one effort – one Campbeltown!’