Formed 1887. Wound up 1905.
Re-formed as Leith FC 1905. Wound up 1955
Elected to the Scottish Football League 1891. Transferred to the Eastern League 1915.
Elected to Scottish Division Three 1924. Joined the Scottish Alliance after Division Three was abandoned in 1926.
Elected to Scottish Division Two 1927. Expelled 1953.
1905-1919 a b f
1935-1936 b c
1936-1937 b d
1949-1950 b e
Leith Athletic FC was founded in 1887 in the Port of Leith, just to the east of Edinburgh. In 1891 they replaced Glasgow side Cowlairs in the Scottish Football League. They played at various grounds before settling into the old Logie Green Park in 1904.
The club’s early colours were sometimes described as “chocolate and cream” but, according to SFA and SFL records researched by Alick Milne, they were in fact maroon and white: by the time the club was in the Scottish League, they were wearing black and white.
After a reasonable start (fourth out of 12 in 1892), Leith had to apply for re-election in 1894 and 1895 when they received only three votes and were relegated to the Second Division. They fared rather better in the second flight, (runners up in 1896, 1897 and 1899) but they could not muster enough votes to be elected back into the First Division. In 1905, having failed once again in the end of season voting, Leith Athletic was wound up and a new limited company formed to take over the old club’s assets.
Now playing as Leith FC, the team comfortably won the Scottish Second Division championship but yet again, they failed to be elected to Division One (runners up Clyde and fourth placed Hamilton being preferred). In 1910 Leith and Raith Rovers finished level on points and were declared joint champions: Raith were promoted but it appears that Leith did not contest the elections. Three years later, Leith were involved in the end of season elections once again but this time they had finished in last position and their place in the league was at stake. They survived until the competition was suspended in 1915, when they joined the Eastern League.
In 1916 Leith closed down for the duration and when the club was reformed in 1919, the old name of Leith Athletic was revived and the club joined the Western League. Over the next 35 years the club had no fewer than eight home grounds. After playing for one season in the Scottish Alliance (1923-24), Leith were admitted to the Third Division, formed the previous season, where they stayed until 1926 when the competition was abandoned with fixtures remaining. Leith then contested the end of season elections for the Second Division and were eliminated on the chairman’s casting vote in the third ballot.
They rejoined the Scottish Alliance but in 1927 were back in the Scottish League, replacing Nithsdale Wanderers. The club’s fortunes were now definitely improving and in 1930 they won the Second Division championship and with it promotion to the First Division. Leith survived for two seasons before they were relegated, remaining a middle ranking Second Division side until the league was suspended in 1940.
An attempt to revive St Bernard’s FC through a merger with Leith Athletic in 1945 came to nothing and in 1946 Leith became founder members of the new Division C (third tier). The following season the decision was taken to expand the Scottish Second Division from 14 to 16 clubs and Leith were elected to one of the vacancies. After one season they were relegated and when the third tier was split, Leith joined Division C (North & East).
After winning the Qualifying Cup in 1948-49, the team turned out the following season in black shirts with white sleeves adorned for the first and last occasion with the club crest.
The C Divisions were made up largely of reserve sides and Leith campaigned for the non-reserve teams to be admitted to the Second Division. They were not successful and were expelled in August 1953 when they refused to play any more fixtures in Division C. It was too late for the club to join another competition and in 1955, Leith Athletic went out of business. In a supreme irony, the two C Divisions were abandoned that summer and, just as Leith had wanted, the non-reserve sides went into the Second Division.
In 1996 a new Leith Athletic was formed as a youth team, which now boasts more than 600 members aged 5-21, keeping the name alive.
- (a) The Scottish Football League - Past Members III (Norman Nichol 1994)
- (b) Alick Milne
- (c) London Hearts
- (d) Historic Saints of Edinburgh (George Campbell 1983) provided by Stuart Swan.
- (e) Cec Harrison
- (f) Keith Ellis