There was once a time that Scottish footballs finest trophy was won by a club that dominated the scene in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Today, they find themselves in amateur football below the 10th division of Scottish Football. This is St Bernard’s F.C.
Started in 1874, St Bernards were setup as Third Edinburgh Rifle Volunteers who had been inspired to setup a team after seeing Clydesbank & Queens Park face off in an exhibition match. They played in Meadows Park in Edinburgh which Hibernian and Hearts would also play in at some point. The club eventually divorced themselves from the Rifle Volunteers section and became an independent club.
The club was involved in the discussions that led to the formation of the Scottish Football League (the original Scottish Football League) however didn’t participate in the first inaugural season. They then were expelled for unprofessional behavior in 1890 by the Scottish Football Association and thus a new club, Edinburgh Saints, was formed. In 1892 the SFA allowed Edinburgh Saints into the Scottish Football League. They finished third in their first season, beating Hearts & Rangers in the process.
Then in 1895 St Bernards won the elusive Scottish Cup while city neighbors Heart of Midlothian won the Scottish League for the first time. However the best players of St Bernards were taken by English clubs with bigger wages to offer and thus found themselves in a worse state, relegated to Division Two.
1938 had seen St Bernards reach the Scottish Cup Semi Finals, losing to East Fife who went on to win the competition. They recorded their largest crowd of 35,000 at Tynecastle (now the stadium of Heart of Midlothian) and this was the final achievement of St Bernard’s success.
In 1946 the club found themselves in a disastrous financial state and could no longer function as a club, dissolving shortly after a director died tragically. St Bernards supporter club disbanded the team and became an amateur club that now plays in various local amateur leagues.
St Bernards history is often a story untold but the locals and indeed the amateur club will always treasure that Scottish Cup success in the 1890s.