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 Sam Ricketts letter

sam ricketts

In the 1880’s, two newspapers fought for the readership of the sportsman and sports watcher of the day.  They were “The Scottish Umpire” (SU) and “The Scottish Athletic Journal” (SAJ).  The editor of the SU was John Wallace Mackay.  He was also match secretary of Rangers Football Club.  Unfortunately, Mr Mackay wielded power to the detriment of the Club, destroying much of the popularity gained by the exciting young footballers of the previous decade.

The circulation war between the two newspapers and Mr Mackay’s dual role as editor of the SU and office bearer with the Rangers, led to the SAJ making repeated, although often justified attacks on the Kinning Park club, its supporters and, most regularly, its public face in the form of John Mackay.  Even the least cerebral of the SAJ’s readership realised that references to “The Vampire” were, of course, directed at “The Umpire”.  It did, though, make it clear it had no fault with those still with the club from its early days.  It frequently had words of praise for Tom Vallance; invariably in the paragraph that followed an attack on Mackay.

Matters eventually came to a head at the end of 1884.  Sam Ricketts, on behalf of the Club, wrote to the editor of the SAJ, protesting at the vituperative attacks on the Rangers Football Club which had become a regular feature of the editorial of the SAJ.  Not surprisingly, that publication declined to print Sam’s letter.  Fortunately, the SU managed to find some space!  It appeared in the edition of 17 December, 1884.  Ironically, the two warring publications merged in 1888!  (The letter reveals the dry wit of Sam Ricketts)

The letter


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