Formed 1876. Wound up August 1896.
Founder member of the Scottish Football League 1890. Failed re-election 1891.
Founder member of Scottish Division Two 1893. Failed re-election 1895.
1881-1886 b c
1887-1893 b c
1893-1895 b c
In the second half of the 18th century Glasgow was often described as the workshop of the British Empire. Much of the iron and steel manufactured in the region was used to supply the Clyde ship yards and the locomotive, carriage and wagon works in and around the Cowlairs district, north of the city centre. There were at one stage no fewer than four huge works in the area, building locomotives and rolling stock for the burgeoning railways across the world.
Cowlairs FC was formed in 1876 and were originally considered a junior team, although this was before the formal division of Scottish teams between junior and senior associations. They entered the Scottish FA Cup for the first time in 1880 and in 1886 they played in the English FA Cup, losing to their local rivals Rangers in the first round. In the 1889-90 season they handed a 21-0 thrashing to Victoria FC in the Scottish FA Cup
In 1890 Cowlairs became founder members of the Scottish Football League but they had a catastrophic season. They finished bottom and had four points deducted for fielding ineligible players (they would have been last even without the penalty). Celtic and Third Lanark suffered similar penalties for the same offence suggesting that teams took a relaxed attitude to player registration. Worse was to follow when the authorities inspected the club's accounts and alleged illicit payments had been made to players (professionalism was not permitted in Scotland at the time). At the League AGM, Cowlairs failed to be re-elected and their place was taken by Leith Athletic.
The following season Cowlairs played only friendly matches and cup ties but in 1892 they joined the Scottish Football Alliance, winning the championship at the first time of asking. An attempt to gain re-admission to the Scottish League failed but instead they found themselves in the new Scottish League Second Division, formed largely of former Alliance teams in 1893. They finished as runners-up, two points behind champions Hibernian but they were not elected to the First Division. The following season, now facing severe financial problems, they finished rock bottom and were voted out, gaining only three votes.
Cowlairs played a few games in the 1895-96 season but, under pressure from their creditors, they closed down before the season ended and in August 1896, Cowlairs FC was struck off the Scottish FA roll.