Club History

Founded: 1951

Home ground: Ainslie Park

Training ground: Spartans Community Football Academy at Ainslie Park

Manager: Dougie Samuel

Record attendance at City Park: 3,346 v St Mirren (5th Februaury 2006)

Record attendance at Ainslie Park: 3,127 v Manchester United (23rd July 2011)

Record attendance away from home: 4,295 v St Mirren (14th February 2006)

Home colours: white shirt with red flash, red shorts, white socks

Away colours: navy shirts, navy shorts, navy socks

The Spartans Football Club was established by two former Edinburgh University players, Elliot Wardlaw and Jimmy Beaumont, in the summer of 1951 and immediately joined the East of Scotland League. The club was originally formed for former university and college footballers but the constitution now allows “other interested parties” to join.

Spartans continue to play in the East of Scotland League, the level directly below the Third Division of the Scottish Football League. The team won the championship for the first time in season 1971/72 and the title was retained for the first time in 2004/05.

The club became full members of the Scottish Football Association in 1976 when moving in to City Park as tenants of Edinburgh City Council. The ground is situated on Ferry Road, five hundred yards from Crewe Toll in the north of Edinburgh. Spartans have participated in the Scottish Qualifying Cup since moving in to City Park and won the competition for first time in 1978.

Spartans qualified for the Scottish Cup for the first time in season 1978/79 and, after receiving a bye into the second round, won 3-2 away to Scottish League opponents East Stirlingshire. The team earned replays against Stenhousemuir, Cowdenbeath, East Fife, Arbroath and Clyde but did not knock out a Scottish League team again until 2003/04. That season Alloa Athletic and then Arbroath were defeated on a famous cup run which culminated in a fourth round meeting with Scottish Premier League side Livingston at City Park. A capacity crowd of 3,200 packed into City Park for the tie and, although Spartans held out until half time, Livingston eventually won 4-0 to reach the last eight. Spartans were the top scorers in the Scottish Cup that season with 18 goals.

In 2005/06 Spartans took two more Scottish League scalps at City Park when Third Division leaders Berwick Rangers were beaten 1-0 and Queen’s Park defeated 3-2. First Division leader St Mirren then escaped from City Park with a 0-0 draw in the fourth round, Spartans squandering a good chance just a few minutes from time to cause one of the greatest cup upsets of all time. With the Spartans fans clad in sombrero-style hats, a record crowd of 3,346 crammed into City Park for the match, with temporary seating used to increase the capacity. Saints won the replay 3-0 on a romantic night for Spartans at Love Street on Valentine’s Night. Although the official attendance was originally given as 4,295, a record for a match involving Spartans, St Mirren later confirmed that the real figure was in well excess of 5,000. The biggest travelling support – estimated at over 900 – ever to follow Spartans pitched up at Love Street that night, adding a splash of colour the occassion and giving the team a vociferous backing.

The Scottish Cup upsets apart, Spartans’ other claim to fame is having more registered players than almost any other club in Scotland. In addition to the Senior team, the Junior team, which was established in the late 1970s, play in the East Region South Division and the Saturday Amateurs, started up in the 1980s, in the Lothian and Edinburgh Amateur League. Our under-19 team play in the East of Scotland Youth League and we also have youth teams right down to under-8s. There are over 500 youngsters on Spartans’ books and a waiting list is now in place for some age groups.

Since season 2008/09 Spartans have had a ladies teams in the Scottish Women’s Premier League after amalgamating with Edinburgh Ladies F.C.

In July 2008 Spartans applied to take up a membership vacancy in the Scottish Football League, but lost the election to East of Scotland League rivals Annan Athletic.

In June 2009 Spartans top Amateur side successfully applied to join the Scottish Junior Football Association and their first season in the Juniors was the 2009/10 season, where they played in the East Region South Division, finishing 2nd.

In Season 2010-11 Spartans were the first team in East of Scotland history to win the domestic clean sweep, winning all 5 domestic trophies – The East of Scotland Premier Division, South Challenge Cup, Image Printers East of Scotland Qualifying Cup, League Cup and King Cup.

Season 2013-14 saw Spartans leave the East of Scotland League and join the new Scottish Lowland League.  Spartans won the inaugural competition and the right to automatic entry into Round 2 of the following season’s Scottish Cup.

2014-15’s Scottish Cup adventure saw Spartans beat SPFL sides Clyde and Morton at Ainslie Park before drawing with Berwick Rangers.  1,000 Spartan Army followers made the trip for the midweek replay at Shielfield which Berwick held on to proceed to a Quarter Final tie v Hibernian following a narrow 1-0 win.

Season 2016-17 would see silverware return to Ainslie Park with the club victorious in both the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup and the Lowland League Cup.  The former saw Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale beaten 2-1 at the National Indoor Stadium at the Oriam; whilst the latter was annexed at “neutral” Ainslie Park, as BSC Glasgow was defeated 3-2.

Season 2017-18 was to see the club clinch the Lowland League title for a second time. A tense championship race went down to the last game of the season, with the club knowing that victory would see them crowned champions.  A tense 0-0 draw ensued at home to East Stirlingshire; however, word came through that East Kilbride had lost and the title was destined for Ainslie Park.  Alas, dreams of making it into the SPFL were dashed as Highland League champions, Cove Rangers, prevailed in a two legged play-off match.  Cove would go on to beat Berwick Rangers and secure the coveted SPFL place.

Season 2019-20 saw the club kick off against a Liverpool under 23 side to celebrate ten years at Ainslie Park.  A bumper crowd of 1,975 watched the game and caught a glimpse of some of the Liverpool stars of the future – including Neco Williams who would go on to feature as a starter in both the FA Cup and English Premier League later in the season; and, Rhys Williams who would play in the Carabao Cup and EPL the following season.  Spartans put up a valiant fight against their illustrious opponents succumbing to a late goal in a 1-0 defeat which saw the visitors take home the Ronnie Swan Challenge Cup.

Sadly, as for many clubs the length and breadth of the country, the season was brought to a premature end due to the global Covid 19 pandemic.  The league took the decision to declare Kelty Hearts as champions based on points per game, per league standings, as at the time of the cessation of football on 13 March 2020.  Spartans had been sitting in fifth position with 49 points from the 25 games played.

Next Fixture

Date: Friday 17th May
Opponent: Dumbarton
Venue:Ainslie Park
Competition: Play-Off Final 2nd Leg
Kick off: 7.30pm

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