Formation and early success
In the beginning in the year 1919 - club name and formation
Early in 1919 a handful of Dumfries football enthusiasts met in their homes to discuss not only the restoration of competitive football fixtures locally (following the end of World War 1) but also the formation through amalgamation of a local football club to compete at more than a local level.
A public meeting was arranged in Dumfries Town Hall on 21st March, 1919 on the proposed merger and representatives were approached of football three clubs from Dumfries and Maxwelltown:-
• Dumfries F.C.
• 5th Kings Own Scottish Borderers football team
• Arrol-Johnston Car Company
And so Queen of the South F.C. was born. Dumfries had been nicknamed `Queen of the South` by David Dunbar, a local poet, who in 1857 stood for Parliament in the General Election. In one of his addresses, he called Dumfries, "Queen of the South", and this became synonymous with the town. Palmerston Park (a football venue since the 1870s on the site of the former Palmers Toun Farm), was chosen as the club`s home.
People from Dumfries are nicknamed `Doonhamers`. This is because when in towns in Scotland further North (i.e. most places due to the position of Dumfries near the Scottish South coast), they would refer to Dumfries as `Doon hame`; `Doon hame` is Scots dialect for `Down home`. Hence the club nickname of `The Doonhamers`. The club badge contains the same motto as that on the crest for the town of Dumfries, `A Lore Burne`, meaning, `To the Lore Burne`, (the historical rallying point in Dumfries against outside attack.
After four trial matches Queen of the South`s first ever game took place on 16th August 1919. Invites were sent to local councillors and magistrates and the presence of Dumfries Town Band added to the sense of occasion. The opposition was Sanquhar side Nithsdale Wanderers and the challenge game ended 2 - 2. Among those who played in this first game was Ian Dickson who would leave in 1921 to top score at Aston Villa.
(Team photo from the first ever Queen of the South game, 16th Aug 1919)
Queen of the South are separate from a much earlier Dumfries club named Queen of the South Wanderers that existed from 1873 to 1894 who also played at Palmerston. The most prominent player for Wanderers was centre half David Calderhead who was there from 1881 - 89. In 1889 he gained a full Scotland cap in a 7-0 win against Ireland. This attracted Notts County where he was victorious in the second FA Cup final he played in.
Queens first ever competitive fixture was on September 6th, 1919, in the Scottish Qualifying Cup against Thornhill. Dumfries born Norrie Fairgray returned and played in this game after his career away included playing under the management of David Calderhead at each of Lincoln City and then Chelsea. After a 1-1 draw Queens went through after a replay (again played at Palmerston). Queens first ever away game and first ever defeat both came two rounds later in the same competition - a replay away to Galston.
Very early in their careers the form of Dave Halliday (1920) and Hughie Gallacher (1921) at Queen of the South proved to be the beginnings of hugely successful careers elsewhere. Both are established all time greats not only of Scottish and UK football, but also at world level. For example both are in the group of only 28 men to have scored over 200 goals in England`s top division. Both are in the top 60 of the IFFHS list of the highest top division goal scorers in world history.
Jimmy McKinnell, Tom Wylie and Willie McCall were all sold to Blackburn Rovers within a short space of time (McKinnell and Wylie enjoyed fine top flight careers with Rovers and played in the 1925 FA Cup semi final). This combined with the sale to Aston Villa of Ian Dickson (Dickson top scored for Villa in 1921/22 with 28 goals in helping Villa finish 5th in the English top flight) helped to fund the purchase of Palmerston Park in 1921 for £1,500.
At regional level Queens performed well winning many cups in the Southern Counties set up. Playing in the Western League Queens were runners up in 1921-22. The Doonhamers also reached the Scottish Cup quarter finals for the first time despite their then non league status. Instrumental for QoS was the young Willie Ferguson whose form generated a move to spend a decade with Chelsea. Queens then created something of a sensation with the signing coup of Celtic defensive great and ex internationalist, Joe Dodds. Future USA internationalist, David Robertson, was on the books in Autumn 1922. With further experience provided on the pitch by Bob McDougall, Queens won the Western League in 1922-23 with a 20 game unbeaten league campaign.
Entering the Scottish Football League
Queen of the South had applied to join the Scottish League for seasons 1921-22 and 1922-23 unsuccessfully. The ambition bore fruit in 1923-24 when Queen of the South were invited to join the Scottish Football league at its lowest level, the newly created Third division. Queens finished 3rd. Queens biggest achievement that season was in the Scottish Qualifying Cup.
(The victorious QoS squad with the Scottish Qualifying Cup.
Back - Geddes [trainer], McMaster, McAlpine, Woods, McLauglan, McDermid, McDougall, McKnight, Harper [trainer].
Front - Gray, Gillespie, Muir, Dodds, Dougan, Lister.)
Then considerably more prestigious than now, Queens brought the cup to the South West for the first time in its 25 year history. In the final replay a surging run through the opposition half and shot from Bob McDermid (on loan at Queens from Rangers before going on to captain Aberdeen) opened the scoring. Next McDermid`s `dummy` let Bert Lister in to hit the second. McDermid`s left foot finish sealed the 3-0 win and Queens were crowned. The train bringing the players and the trophy back to Dumfries were met by crowds of jubilant well wishers on the platforms and surrounding streets and approaches. The team were then entertained at the Town Hall Buildings on Buccleuch Street.
Goalkeeper Jimmy Coupland signed in 1924 and would make his debut aged 16. Queens first tangible national league success came in their second season of 1924/25 by finishing second to gain promotion to the Scottish Second Division.
1926-27 saw Queens drawn for the first time competitively against Old Firm opposition. Queens took eventual winners Celtic to a replay before being eliminated from the Scottish Cup. Among those playing for Queens was strong and fearless inside left Billy Halliday, brother of Dave Halliday. The 21 year old`s nine goals in 15 games that season seen Newcastle United offer him a contract. With the offer of higher wages and a signing on fee plus his brother`s massive success as a goal machine at nearby Sunderland, unsurprisingly he signed. At Newcastle he joined Hughie Gallacher who had captained the Geordie side to be 1926/27 English League Champions.
(This image is of what is touted as the earliest known programme involving Queens. The home side are defunct Edinburgh club, St Bernards)
1930s - Joining the top flight
1931-32 was notable for a number of reasons. Centre Forward Jimmy Rutherford hit what remains the record number of goals in one season for Queens, 41. The Scottish Cup campaign seen Queens inflict their record senior victory of 11-1. The opposition was south west rivals Stranraer whose goal was the last of the twelve scored. In the next round Queens took top division Dundee United to two replays before elimination.
In 1932 Coupland became injured and was replaced by the small but agile and safe handling John Smith. Willie Savage joined the same year (he make would make 369 appearances for Queens). Willie Culbert also joined in 1932 and with Savage would form the club`s full back partnership for years to come. Left winger Tommy McCall broke the national record of goals scored in a season from his position with 32. Queens ended their 1932-33 league campaign with a 2-1 victory over divisional champions Hibernian.
After previous seasons solidly consolidating their position in the 2nd division, Queen of the South were promoted to the Scottish First Division as runners up. 10 years after entering the league and with 2 promotions behind them the club were set for top division football.
Top division football
The mid 30s
From 1933, excluding war time interruption, Queen of the South spent only one season out of Scotland`s top division until 1959. Queens justified their meteoric rise with some fine performances. In this period Queens` ability to live with the elite is demonstrated by their results against Celtic. On eighteen visits to Palmerston Park Celtic managed just five victories. With three games drawn, Queens claimed full points on ten occasions.
After 10 years at David Calderhead`s Chelsea (3 with Hughie Gallacher who was now recognised among the greatest talents in football), Willie Ferguson rejoined Queen of the South at the start of 1933/34 season (after 4 years as a Queens player Ferguson would become manager). In their first-ever game in the top division a Queens team featuring Smith in goals and Savage, Culbert and Ferguson playing outfield, Queens condemned Celtic to a 3 - 2 defeat. The Sunday Mail headline read," Queens brew hot stew, Celtic merely the gravy". The Celtic match program the week after said, "We would be failing in our duty as Celts and as sportsmen if we omitted to congratulate Queen of the South on their victory over us. And we hope they will continue to serve up good, honest football which brought them their first victory in the league."
(The QoS team that played in the club`s first ever game of top division football, the 3-2 win against Celtic, 12th August 1933.
Back - Russell, Irvine, Jenkins, Smith, Savage, Culbert.
Front - Wales, Bell, McGowan, McDonald, Ferguson)
That season of 1933/34 saw the club`s highest ever league finish with fourth place in Scotland`s top flight. Irish international Laurie Cumming scored 24 goals that season. Adam `Skull` Allan and winger and local lad Willie Anderson would also figure prominently. Among the scalps Queens took that season were double victories over Celtic, Hibs and Hearts. Queens reached the Scottish Cup quarter finals before losing to two deflected goals away to St. Johnstone.
(This is the first ever QoS produced match programme. The fixture from 16th September 1933 is a reserve league fixture against Beith)
The 1936 overseas tour and the Algiers invitational tournament
In 1935 George McLachlan became Queen of the South manager (as well as playing in Scotland and in the 1927 F.A. Cup win with Cardiff City his experience included being club captain at Manchester United and a spell with French side Le Havre). In May 1936 McLachlan took Queens on an 11 game tour to France, Luxembourg and Algeria. In France they played against such teams as Montpellier (losing 4-2) and Stade Reims (winning 5-4 against the future twice European Cup finalists).
(With Algeria then under colonian rule from France, French is no surprise as the language on the programme)
The tour included competing in a four team invitational tournament in Algiers. The match days were Thursday May 21 and Sunday May 24.
Home side Racing Universitaire d`Alger (R.U.A. for whom Nobel Prize winning author/philosopher Albert Camus had played in goals for their junior team) had already won both the North African Champions Cup and the North African Cup in the 30s (R.U.A. would win each twice by the decade`s end). With the match date ironically being Ascension, it was Queen of the South who rose up at the judgement with the men of this generation. Goals by Willie Thomson and Joe Tulip (the Northumbrian was one of the first Englishmen to play in the Scottish League) saw Queens book a place in the invitational tournament final with a 2 - 1 win condemning R.U.A. to defeat.
In the final Queens faced a Racing de Santander side who had just finished 4th in Spain`s La Liga notching home and away double victories against both Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona. Norrie Haywood`s goal and a 1 - 0 score line saw victory for La Belle Equipe Ecossaise. The trophy can still be seen in Queens` club museum today.
The late 30s
On the back of league wins against Dundee and Hibs, on 30 January 1937 captained by Savage, with Willie Fotheringham in goal and with Culbert, Allan, Cumming, Tulip and Jackie Law also playing, Queen of the South condemned Rangers to a 1 - 0 first round Scottish Cup exit. The Evening Times reported, "It was more than a merited win for Queen of the South. It was a triumph". Queens made it to the quarters that season.
Winger Jackie Oakes signed in 1937 from Wolverhampton Wanderers (Oakes would eventually leave for Blackburn Rovers in 1947). 1937/38 at Ibrox Park was the first season when Queens condemned Rangers to a league defeat. In 1938 original board member Jimmy McKinnell Senior became secretary/manager until retiring in 1946. Tommy Lang signed after his successful career down South including spells with Newcastle United (1932 F.A. Cup winner), Huddersfield Town and Manchester United. Queens hit the Scottish Football League top spot for the first time in 1938/39 and finished the season in sixth place. The Doonhamers again reached the Scottish Cup quarter finals, the third time of the decade.
In 1939/40 after 5 games with Queens in ninth place, the league was abandoned, after war was declared in Europe. Scottish football was then restructured into a regionalised two league set up with an East and a West league. Queens played in the West League. The new League started on October 21st, 1939.
(Among those who played in this war time game from 1942 at Palmerston were Matt Busby (then of Liverpool), Joe Fagan (Liverpool) Bill Shankly (Preston North End), Frank Swift (Man City) Tommy Walker (Hearts) and Scottish internationalist left back from Dumfries, Bobby Ancell (Newcastle United)).
At the end of 1939/40 Queen of the South finished runners up to Rangers in the West league. Queens never played another league game of any description until the war in Europe was over. The national league resumed in 1946/47 with Queens retaining their place in the top division.
Freddie Jenkins joined in 1947 and in 1949 was transferred to Chelsea for a new club record fee of £10,000.
1947/48 was the first season Queens would register league victories against both of the Old Firm in the same season. In the same season on 20th September 1947, Queens played in what remains unbeaten as the record high scoring draw in a league game in senior Scottish football, 6 - 6 against Falkirk at Palmerston. The score line was matched by Motherwell v Hibs on 5th May 2010. Dougie McBain and Jimmy McColl both joined Queens in the Summer of 1948 having just played for Matt Busby`s Great Britain side in the semi final of the London Olympics.
Wales, Leeds United and Juventus legend John Charles made his first team debut for Leeds in a friendly versus Queens on 19 April in 1949, the year of the 30th anniversary of both clubs founded in 1919. The score at Elland Road was 0-0 before a 20,257 crowd.
The same year on 15th October saw the collective competitive debut of Hibs` `famous five` forward line of Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull and Willie Ormond. Queens lost the game 2 - 0 at Easter Road.
1949/50 and other Scottish Cup runs
Queen of the South have made it to the Scottish Cup quarter finals on numerous occasions. Only once in the 20th century did they progress beyond that stage. That was in 1950 when in front of 32 000 fans they knocked out Aberdeen 2 - 1 away in a replay (the home game was 3 - 3). In the semi final after drawing 1 - 1, Queens were knocked out 3 - 0 by Rangers in a replay. Both semi finals were played at Hampden Park in Rangers` home city of Glasgow.
In 14 Scottish cups played between 1949/50 and 1962/63 Queens reached the quarter finals five times. The most memorable of the 4 of these that resulted in defeat was arguably in 1962/63. Dundee United required two replays to see Queens off after the first two games ended 1 - 1. There was also a high scoring quarter final against Rangers losing 4-3 in 1957/58. The four Scottish Cup quarter final appearances of the 1950s is the highest of any decade in Queens history.
1950s - The Beautiful South
The Scottish cup run to the 1950 semi final was balanced by the disappointment of Queen of the South`s first ever league relegation. 1950/51 seen Queens rule the Scottish B Division when promoted straight back to the top flight as champions clinching the title by winning away at Forfar. Queens also reached the semi-final of the Scottish League Cup. The championship trophy was presented to then captain and rugged centre half Willie Aird at the start of the next season. In that same 1951/52 season the Doonhamers would hand Celtic a 4 - 0 thrashing.
The early and mid 1950s saw the club`s most successful spell to date achieving regular mid table finishes in the Scottish A Division (as the top flight was then called). Queen`s were managed throughout this period by Jimmy McKinnell Junior. On 23 February 1952 Palmerston Park saw its record attendance of 26,552 for the Scottish Cup visit of Hearts.
This was the era at the club of goalkeeper Roy Henderson, full back Dougie Sharpe, and until July 1952 Dumfries boy and centre-forward Billy Houliston. Centre forward Jackie Brown debuted in January 1947 (in season 1953/54 he would score 4 hat tricks). Dougie McBain gave 7 years from 1948, the year in which he played in the run to a Wembley semi final of the Olympics Games for Matt Busby`s Great Britain side (McBain scored against Netherlands at Highbury in the first round). Jim Patterson signed in 1949 (251 strikes for the club make Jim Patterson the all time goals king of Queens).
Inside forward and play maker Walter Rothera joined the club in 1951 as did full back Jimmy Binning and classy left half Jimmy Greenock. Jackie Oakes returned, arriving this time from Manchester City. Centre half Alex Smith and goal scoring outside right Bobby Black (another local boy) signed up in 1952. Black is the club`s 2nd highest scorer with 120 goals. Charlie Johnstone played until 1953 before retiring aged 41.
(Back - Dougie McBain, Alex Smith, Dougie Sharpe, Roy Henderson, Jimmy Binning, Jimmy Greenock
Front - Bobby Black, Jimmy McGill, Jim Patterson, Wattie Rothera, Jackie Oakes)
At different levels whilst at Queens, Billy Houliston, Sharpe, Patterson, Binning and Black would represent Scotland internationally. Henderson was selected 6 times as Scotland reserve goalkeeper. Queens topped Scotland`s highest division until New Year in season 1953/54. Same season league defeats were given again to both of the Old Firm in 1953/54 and 1955/56 by killer Queens. The solidity of Queen`s results through this period peaked in 1955/56 when after again leading the top division early in the season they finished in sixth place - a finish surpassed only once in the club`s history. For Queens fans this was the time of the beautiful South.
(This match programme is to mark the arrival of floodlit football at Palmerston. The opposition were English top division club, Preston N.E.)
Queens were subsequently relegated from the top division in 1959.
Early and mid 60s
In February 1960 ex-Scotland and long-time Blackpool FA Cup winning goalkeeper George Farm signed for Queen of the South. Another ex-international, England`s Ivor Broadis had already joined at the start of that season.
(QoS 1960/61. Back row; G Irving, H Mattison, G Farm, J Kerr, P Scott, J Byrne
Front row; R Black, M Elliott, J Patterson, I Broadis, E Garrett)
Queens made it to the League Cup semi final in 1960/61 for the second and to date last time with Maurice Elliott among those to figure prominently. Farm was made player manager in 1961. Fast and tricky right winger, Ernie Hannigan (he later said, "Going to Queen of the South turned out to be a great move"), and big, future Scotland centre forward, Neil Martin, joined in `61 and formed a great partnership (they would later play together in England`s top division with Coventry City).
With Jim Patterson still at Queens the club were promoted back to the top division in 1962 where they played again for 2 seasons (beating Celtic at Parkhead in the process). Queens have not played top division football since 1963/64. Queens would keenly contest promotion to the top flight in the next 2 seasons but missed out by 1 place by finishing 3rd on both occasions.
Two players signed for Queens in the early 1960s who by sticking with Queens through thick and thin would give greater service than any other player. With a combined service of 4 decades and over 1400 games between them those players are Allan Ball and Iain McChesney. Another 60s stalwart, Jim Kerr, made 403 appearances. Lex Law joined in the mid 60s and was another to give over a decade of service.
The Willie Harkness era - 1967 to 1994
Willie Harkness became Queen of the South chairman in 1967. Willie`s involvement with Queens started as a ball boy and continued up to him making his debut for the club as a player in 1938. Willie joined the board in 1959 (his brother Sammy also joined) before eight later years becoming Chairman.
A second place finish in 1974/75, with the likes of John Dempster and Crawford Boyd well established at Queens, failed to carry the significance of previous seasons due to league restructure meaning the top 6 clubs would play in the 2nd of 3 divisions the next season (instead of providing promotion to the top tier as had been the case before).
Two seasons later in 1976/77 by finishing 9th in a 12 team second flight makes this one of only two season in the Harkness era when Queens finished in the upper half of the Scottish league (placing them 19th out of 38 clubs as there were then).
In 1978 Chairman Willie Harkness was appointed as Chairman of the Scottish Football Association. In this post he travelled to the 1978 World Cup in Argentina and the 1982 World Cup in Spain. 1978 was the last year of Tommy O`Hara who joined Washington Diplomats in America. To join him later on the Diplomats playing staff were Johan Cruyff and Wim Jansen.
(The promotion side of 1981. Back - Malone, Scott, Phillips, Alexander
Middle - McCann, Coughlin, Robertson, Boyd, Cloy
Front - Ball, Dickson, McChesney, Gordon)
Queens were promoted as runners up of the third of three divisions in 1980/81 (winger Jimmy Robertson was divisional player of the year) and in 1985/86. Another great servant of the club, Nobby Clark, played in the 81 campaign and managed the 86 campaign. Along with Robertson and Clark the other most prominent long servants of the 80s were keeper Alan Davidson and utility man George Cloy. However both visits to the middle division were short (one season and three seasons respectively). 1987/88 saw Queens second and last Harkness era finish in the top half of the Scottish League ladder when finishing 7th out of 12 in the middle division (placing them 19th out of 38 clubs).
(The promotion side of 1986. Back - Parker, Cochrane, J. Robertson, McBride, Dick, Maskrey, Mills, Forsyth
Middle - Cloy, Hetherington, G. Robertson, Bryce
Front - Gervaise, Davidson, Reid, Clark, McChesney)
In 1970/71 and 1972/73 11th place finishes in the lower division meant Queens finished 9th bottom of 37 teams in the Scottish league ladder. In finishing second bottom in the lowest division in 1979/80 only Alloa Athletic that season prevented Queens finishing bottom of the entire Scottish football league ladder. From 1982/83 to 1984/85 Queens finished in 8th bottom, 9th bottom and 7th bottom. More abject league finishes followed; the sequence from 1989/90 to 1992/93 was 5th bottom, 3rd bottom, 4th bottom and 5th bottom of the Scottish football league pile.
Queens had two runs to the Scottish Cup quarter-finals during this period. These were in 1975/76 (including an Allan Ball penalty save with a broken ankle in the away 2 - 2 fourth round draw with Ayr United before Peter Dickson lobbed the keeper for the winner in the 5 - 4 replay victory), and 1976/77.
In the 1990/91 Scottish Cup Queens were knocked out at home to then non league Ross County in a 2nd round replay conceding 6 goals to 2. Two seasons later (again in the second round) Queens went out to non league opposition again this time losing 2 -1 away to Huntly. In 1993/94 Queens conceded 8 goals to Forfar in the 1st round exit (scoring 3 in reply).
The lowest recorded attendance for a competitive Queens` game at Palmerston is 300 on 4 May 1974. Alloa Athletic were the league opponents in an end of season Queens 1-0 victory.
In 1984 Queens smashed their previous highest transfer fee received with £100,000 for Ted McMinn`s move to Rangers.
(This programme is from the fund raising game held after the Pan Am flight 103 disaster at Lockerbie).
In December 1993 Tommy Bryce of Queens scored a "hat-trick" against Arbroath in a period of 1 minute, 46 seconds, earning him a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
The chairmanship of Willie Harkness ended on 14th April 1994. Willie was a strong-minded and fierce character who sent many a footballer (or manager) away knowing what he thought. Those who encountered the man though, speak of his strong influence and sharp wits and his passion for Queen of the South.
The Blount, Bradford and Rae times
New chairman and local businessman Norman Blount started the ball rolling on dragging Queen of the South into the 21st century by the bootstraps.
Two time divisional player of the year Andy Thomson was transferred to Southend United for a club record fee of £250,000 in 1994. As Thomson was to say on his return over a decade later, "Things have changed quite a bit while I`ve been away - a new stand, a completely new set-up and a more modern type of training system.”
(Norman Blount standing on the right receives the big cheque that helped to fund the new stand)
That stand, the family stand at Palmerston, was paid for with the help of some sport funding and the fee received from Southend for Thomson Rangers provided the opposition in April 1995 in a game (drawn 2 - 2) to commemorate the stand opening and also the club`s 75th anniversary. Notably among those happy to guest for Queens` new regime were Davie Irons and Ian McCall (future manager for a year and a half and a Scottish Cup run of some controversy) – two Dumfries boys whom had sought their footballing careers outside the town. There was also a return to Queens colours for this game by Thomson, Ted McMinn and Rowan Alexander.
Other ideas quickly came along:-
* The first senior club in the UK to use a lottery scheme to decide the annual shirt sponsor. Such was the success of the idea that the club became inundated with calls from other clubs enquiring on the best way to set such a scheme up
* Queen of the South became the first club in the world to deploy astro turf on the outside of the touch line on a grass pitch (for linesmen to run along).
* The establishment of a club museum (located within the main stand at Palmerston Park)
(The 1997 Challenge Cup Final Squad. Back - Mallan, Kennedy, Rowe, Thomson, Mathieson, Townsley, Eadie, Aitken, McKeown
Front - Cleeland, Irving, Bryce, McAllister, Flannigan)
Queens went on to relative success under Norman Blount`s Chair. In 1997 the club reached the Scottish Challenge Cup final for the first time. Second Division Queens lost 1-0 to 1st Division Falkirk despite a rousing Queens display at Motherwell`s Fir Park; a performance that included the man of the match award going to Queens veteran central midfield playmaker Tommy Bryce and an early career appearance for future Scotland international Jamie McAllister. The final also witnessed one of the earlier appearances of Jim Thomson and Andy Aitken lining up in defence together; a common site in the years to unfold.
In 1999 scenes from the Hollywood film A Shot at Glory, starring Robert Duvall, Michael Keaton and Brian Cox were shot at Palmerston Park.
Norman Blount (later described by Jamie McAllister as "different class") stepped down in November 1999 after five years of service, stating in typically candid style that he felt he had taken the club as far as he could. Ronnie Bradford moved up as new Chairman.
Moving back up
Although successful years on the pitch were to follow, the revival suffered a set back in 1999/2000. At the end of a poor season, only a controversial points deduction for Hamilton Academical saved Queen of the South from relegation to the Third Division.
John Connolly was appointed manager the next season, with Ian Scott as coach. Queens moved forward leaps and bounds. With Captain Jim Thomson, Queens ruled the Second Division to take the title in 2001/02. Like 51 years before this was clinched with Queens winning away at Forfar Athletic. This time it was 3-0 with goals by forwards Peter Weatherson (2) and Sean O`Connor leading to jubilant fans pouring on to the pitch after full time. Goal scoring midfielder John O`Neill was awarded divisional player of the year.
The following season saw Queens victorious in the Scottish Challenge Cup with Robbie Neilson, another later to be capped for Scotland, playing his part. Brechin City were condemned to a 2-0 defeat in the final at a bitterly cold Broadwood Stadium. Goals from John O`Neill and Derek Lyle secured the second piece of silverware in as many seasons for the Palmerston trophy cabinet. Added to his previous medal haul, this game made ex Scotland goallie Andy Goram the first player to collect a full set of Scottish domestic winners medals.
(Both the above photos are from the 2002 Challenge Cup Final win celebrations. The players in the photo on the right are scorers Derek Lyle and John O`Neill)
Ronnie Bradford left due to ill health in June 2003. Fans comments on the club`s message board thanked Bradford for his steerage, foresight, vision, motivation, inspiration and carrying on the work started by Blount.
After a brief tenure in the Chair for Tommy Harkness, son of Willie, retired farmer Davie Rae was elected to Chairman of Queen of the South.
John Connolly left the club in May 2004 to join former club St Johnstone, with his former assistant Iain Scott taking over. With a second consecutive fifth place spot in 2004, Queens became the first part-time club to remain in the new First Division for more than two years. The chants of `2-0 to the part-time team` would echo gleefully around Palmerston when relishing victory over full-time opposition. Queens finished fourth in the First Division in 2005 under `Scotty` - their highest finish since 1963. Scott stayed at Palmerston until the Autumn of that year.
A 2006/07 Scottish Cup run that included a replay penalty shoot out victory over Dundee saw Queens make the quarter-finals before Hibernian won 2 -1 at Palmerston.
Chairman Davie Rae made the decision that the club would move to full time football at the start of the 2007/08 season. Gordon Chisholm was announced as being promoted to manager on 28 June 2007 and appointed Kenny Brannigan as his assistant. After an injury filled start to the season Queens picked up with a 10 game unbeaten run in all competitions that started in January. This run propelled them to 4th in Scottish First Division where Queens finished the season – achieving the position with more points than in 2005.
On 8 March 2008, Queen of the South qualified for their first Scottish Cup semi-final in 58 years with a 2-0 quarter-final home victory over Dundee at Palmerston. The goals came from prolific marksman Stephen Dobbie and an 84 yard injury time long distance thump from Ryan McCann, meriting an application to the Guinness Book of Records as the longest distance goal ever scored by an outfield player.
("And Ryan McCann will be mobbed." Bob Harris, Jim Thomson, Jamie MacDonald and Andy Aitken prove the tv commentator correct after the full back writes himself into the record books from 84 yards.)
Two days later Queens were formally mentioned in the House of Commons as local MP Russell Brown tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM 1145):-
"That this House congratulates Queen of the South Football Club on a magnificent victory that sees them through to the semi-final of the Scottish Cup for the first time in 58 years; congratulates the entire squad, manager, coaching staff, directors and back-room staff and all the loyal supporters; and wishes them every success at Hampden Park on 12th April."
("We can be heroes" - the Scottish Cup semi final starting line up. The same eleven started in the final the following month.
Thomson, O`Connor, Aitken, Tosh, McCann, McDonald
McFarlane, McQuilken, Dobbie, Harris, Burns)
In the first ever live TV broadcasting of a Queen of the South game, the semi-final was against Premier League side Aberdeen who finished fourth in the league. Over 10,000 Queens fans were in the crowd of 24,008 to witness an astonishing game. Post punk footballer turned telly pundit, Pat Nevin, described the game as, `Hardly defences on top`. Four times Queens took the lead with goals through Stevie Tosh, Paul Burns, Sean O`Connor and John Stewart. 3 times Aberdeen hit back with an equaliser including a goal and two assists from Scotland internationalist and Dumfries boy Barry Nicholson - a boyhood Queens supporter. During an 11 minute spell at the beginning of the second half 5 goals were scored, with Queens` fourth goal of the day giving a 4-3 victory for the Doonhamers. Never has post punk Pat been so right. The highest scoring game in a Scottish Cup semi-final took Queens to the final for the first time in their 89 year history. Aberdeen fans in defeat impressively and graciously applauded Queens` victory.
(Stevie Tosh opens the scoring in the semi final. Tosh is the only Queens player in history to have scored in both a semi and a final of the Scottish Cup.)
If reaction to the quarter final was joyous, the semi final aftermath was euphoric.
Dumfries-born rugby internationalist Nick De Luca was among those to applaud the semi final heroics. De Luca said: “It was really pleasing to see Queen of the South reach the Scottish Cup Final: that type of result is what sport is all about."
Television presenter Stephen Jardine said, "I`m absolutely over the moon. It was an extremely exciting match and I`m really looking forward to the final."
Prolific author, Hunter Davies, in one of his press columns described the result as "incredible", prompting reminiscing of his boyhood memories of living in Dumfries and supporting Queens.
Golfer and Aberdeen fan Paul Lawrie was every bit as magnanimous as the rest of his fellows Dons fans when he said, "We were all down at Hampden for the semi final against Queen of the South, it wasn`t the result we were after but Queens played well and probably deserved their victory. Good luck to them in the final. Andrew Coltart is a Queen of the South fan so you can imagine the texts and calls I`ve had."
Hollywood legend, Robert Duvall, clearly with warm memories of his time in and around Dumfries when filming nearly a decade earlier, faxed a message of good will ahead of the final.
After four weeks without a competitive game following the end of the Scottish League Division 1 season the final was against Rangers on May 24 again at Hampden Park. Despite a battling second half performance to pull back the 2 goal half time deficit to 2 - 2 Queens eventually lost 3 - 2. Queens` scorers were Stevie Tosh and long-serving captain Jim Thomson. Afterwards Tosh said to the press, "We showed what we`re capable of in the second half, and when I went into the Rangers dressing room they knew they had been in a game. But I`m still bitterly disappointed." Tosh then voiced his frustrations at refereeing decisions that went against Queens.
(Jim Thomson makes it 2-2 in the final)
For a team with the core of its support being in a town with a population of 38 000 Queens took a support of around 15 500 to the final. Queens fans have been widely praised for their good humour and carnival like contribution to the day. Musician and producer, Bill Drummond, described Queens goals in the Cup Final as the greatest moment in his life as a Queens fan. Despite defeat in the final 14 000 fans attended an open top bus parade by the team through Dumfries.
From the Scottish Cup run Queen of the South qualified for the 2nd qualification round of the 2008/09 UEFA Cup. Ian McCall on thr BBC TV cup final coverage described Queens` UEFA Cup qualification as, "The very essence of sport".
Queens were drawn against Danish side FC Nordsjælland with ties scheduled for Thursday August 14 in Scotland and Tuesday August 26 in Denmark. UEFA seating restrictions meant Queens played their home UEFA Cup tie at the Excelsior Stadium - home of Airdrie United.
After surviving two pitch inspection because of heavy rain Queens lost 2-1. Sean O`Connor`s header scored Queens goal. Queens delivered a stronger performance in the return leg, controlling most of the game but with only a goal from a 2nd minute Bob Harris free kick to show for their superiority. With a 1–0 victory of no value in an aggregate result due to the away goals rule, the Danes scored two late goals, taking advantage of Queens reduced to near suicidal tactics at that point in a desperate attempt to salvage the contest. Martin Bernburg scored both for Nordsjælland.
Nordsjaelland head coach Morten Wieghorst applauded Queen of the South`s efforts in the Scottish side`s defeat. "I must give lot of credit to Queens, my players looked under pressure. They couldn`t handle it in the first half and we got off to a dreadful start with the early goal for Queens. Overall, I think Queens had more chances than us."
Nordsjaelland skipper Henrik Kildentoft added: "It wasn`t an easy game. We knew it would be tough, because our manager Morten Wieghorst has played against First Division teams in Scotland himself and he told us they would go for it all the way. Looking back at the game, I would say we delivered a mixed performance - a very bad first half and a good second half."
In the 2008 UEFA Cup qualifying trip to Denmark Queen of the South fans were hailed as "a great credit both to their club and to Scotland" by Danish police. About 850 supporters of the Dumfries club travelled to Denmark to watch the Uefa Cup clash with FC Nordsjaelland.
Despite the fact that their team was eliminated, local police said their behaviour was impressive. Insp Rune Hamann said: "It was a pleasure hosting such a visit by Queen of the South whose supporters were extremely well behaved and a great credit both to their club and to Scotland. Copenhagen was particularly busy in the build up to and after the match with a carnival, party atmosphere being evident. I look forward to welcoming Queen of the South and their terrific supporters back in Denmark in the future."
Ch Insp Mickey Collins from Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary said the fans were a "pleasure to work along with". He added: "Despite the huge numbers of supporters who travelled to Denmark there were no arrests, incidents or issues of any concern. Great praise should be passed on to those fortunate enough to be at the match."
Queens fans were warm in their praise of the warm welcome from their Danish hosts. This hospitality was typified by the Danes providing Doonhamers fans with a free bus convoy from central Copenhagen on match day to and from the stadium 25 km away in Farum.
Among those to play in Denmark was Cammy Bell who has since gone on to become the sitxh player born in Dumfries to gain a full Scottish international cap.
With Brannigan taking over as manager for 14 months from March 2010, Queens made it to a third Scottish Challenge Cup Final. The original November fixture was postponed due to inclement weather in a winter that hard hit Queens` fixture schedule. The rescheduled game was played in unseasonally warm weather at McDiarmid Park on 10th April 2011. The game itself proved to be a massive disappointment for QoS fans. Queens conceded a poor early goal from which they never recovered. Missing the industry and competitivenss of cup tied Colin McMenamin, Queens were never on top for 90% of the game. The QoS performance was the antithesis of the `beaten but unbowed` 1997 final. Ross County deservedly won 2-0.
On the evening of Saturday 29th October 2011 was the inaugural induction dinner for the club Hall of Fame. The first five inductees were Allan Ball, Tommy Bryce, Billy Houliston, Jim Patterson and the ex player who organised the dinner as the QoS Commercial Manager, Jim Thomson.
The last season of Davie Rae`s tenure, 2011/12, was a season of austerity and stabilising budgets. There was on the pitch disappointment with Queens conceding too many points from late goals against. 10 seasons after the 2002 promotion, Queens were relegated to the third tier of the Scottish league system.
2011/12 was a complete contrast to the season to follow under the management of Allan Johnston and Sandy Clark. Early season omens were good including a 2-0 League Cup win against Hibs. En route to a fourth Challenge Cup Final, Queens became the first team to beat newly formed The Rangers. 2-2 after extra time at Ibrox, Lee Robinson`s save separated the sides 4-3 on penalties with Ryan McGuffie scoring the decider.
Form in the league was excellent with Queens front running from early in the campaign. Fate intervened in the title clincher, 27th March 2013. Brechin`s quagmire pitch gave them a fixture backlog and were the last team with an arithmetical chance to catch miles ahead Queens. The game was switched from Brechin to be played at nearby Forfar`s Station Park, the site of both the previous title clinching triumphs (1951 and 2002). With an immense display of attacking football, Queens blew Brechin away with a five goal avalanche before half time. Nicky Clark and Michael Paton scored two each and a Chris Mitchell cross was deflected in for an own goal. Gavin Reilly added a 6th in the second half to complete an emphatic away victory with none conceded in return. Queens went back up in in style with six games to spare and as the first team of the season to clinch a divisional title in Scotland or England.
The juggernaut continued 12 days later in the Challenge Cup Final against the SFL1 leaders, Partick Thistle. In extra time Nicky Clark headed in a rebound from Danny Carmichael`s shot against the bar. Scenes of highest drama followed. In the 118th minute, Thistle`s Dumfries born Aaron Muirhead had a penalty saved by Lee Robinson. In the ensuing melee Muirhead was sent off. Two minutes later though battling Thistle equalised in the last few seconds of open play to make it 1-1. Cometh the man, cometh the hour. In the tie breaking penalties Robinson saved two spot kicks and scored one himself for a 6-5 win in the shoot out. This is Queen`s first ever senior football double trophy win in one season.
Queens ended the double winning season 25 points ahead of their nearest challenger. In doing so they set a new divisional points record of 92, 4 better than the previous 88 set by Gretna. With the defence secure and the midfield dominant, Nicky Clark was the primary beneficiary of the near relentless conveyor belt of opportunities manufactured by his team mates. Clark equalled the 81 year old club record set by Jimmy Rutherford of 41 goals in a season. After winning a string of divisional manager of the month awards Allan Johnston won the PFA Scotland Manager of the Year award, Clark and Danny Carmichael were both short listed for the PFA Scotland Second Division Player of the Year with Clark taking the accolade.