Blackburn United History

Blackburn Athletic were the first club from West Lothian to become East Junior Champions in season 1933-34, but five years after their formation the club folded in 1937. No other Junior club existed in the village until the 1960’s.

The formation of the current club has its roots back in 1963 when Bobby Newbury formed New Blackburn Athletic, playing a season in Lanarkshire Juvenile football before joining the Edinburgh & District Junior League for season 1964-65.

The club were to have many ups and downs in their ten year spell in Junior football, a high point undoubtedly being the 1965-66 Brown Cup Final win over Scottish Junior Cup holders Linlithgow Rose, whom they trounced 6-1 in a replay at Bo’ness after a 1-1 draw at Tynecastle. But as so often happens this solid start was not built upon and the club went into steady decline, interspersed with the odd good season, until 1973-74 when they finished second bottom of the B Division and withdrew at the seasons end along with Peebles Rovers.

The club retained non-playing membership of the SJFA for 1974-75 season and the social club continued to operate as normal. In the summer of 1975 the club started to take steps to get back onto the pitch but instead of the Juniors, they opted for Welfare football instead and joined the Lothian Welfare League which was quite strong at the time with 12 clubs.   The first season at that level was reasonably good with a mid-table finish and a run in several cups.

Twelve months later in July 1976, the struggling social club closed and the football club committee decided a fresh start was required and it was then that the club changed name from New Blackburn Athletic to Blackburn United but continue in the Lothian Welfare League.  Two seasons further on and in 1978 the club merged with Blackburn Thistle who ran U16 and U18 teams and the club continued under the Blackburn United banner in both Welfare and Youth football.

At the beginning of 1980 the club started discussions about re-joining the Scottish Junior FA, and after some improvements to Murrayfield Park they entered the B Division of the East Region for season 1980-81, playing in the Tottenham away kit of the time, yellow and blue.

The first Junior game at Murrayfield Park was a local cup-tie against Bathgate Thistle on the 16th August 1980 and in front of a large crowd the team went down narrowly by three goals to two. Despite this early popularity the club struggled in those formative years until in 1984, it appeared that the club may have to fold due to lack of both money and committee. However the Blackburn U21 Juveniles agreed to step-in and run the club bringing with them new committee members, new finance, and new club colours of black and white.

Unfortunately with the loss of the retained players list in the post, the team had to begin the following season with mostly U21 players from the previous season. However, this misfortune didn’t prevent the club from winning promotion to the A Division and knocking favourites Yoker Athletic out of the Scottish Junior Cup in front of a record 600 crowd.

Other than a two year spell in the top flight after that promotion winning season, success has been hard to come by. The first of two Cup Final appearances was in the 1988 St.Michaels Cup when Ormiston Primrose triumphed 2-0 at Albyn Park, Broxburn while in season 1999-2000 the team progressed to the final of the West Lothian Millennium Cup at Almondvale Stadium in Livingston, knocking out League Champions Linlithgow Rose at their Prestonfield home on the way, only to go down 2-0 to Fauldhouse United in front of a 700 strong crowd.

The club became an integral part of the Blackburn United Community Sports Club which runs teams at most age levels as well as Ladies and girls sides. The new facility of New Murrayfield Park – next door to the old Junior ground –  was opened in 2013 with a large new club building housing 6 changing rooms, club rooms, and a new 3G floodlight main pitch.

In the final two seasons of Junior football the club gained promotion for the first time in 32 years, then in the final season 2017-18 finished in an impressive fifth place in the East Region Premierleague before deciding the future lay in Senior football with the East of Scotland Football League. A Premier League spot was secured with promotion in the first season and full Scottish FA membership was granted in 2019 allowing entry to the Scottish Cup for the first time.

Several of the clubs players have moved into league football. The month before the start of the 1980-81 Junior season striker Alan Irvine moved from Murrayfield Park to Hibernian for £125 and his career then took him from Scotland to England and onto Asia with appearances for Falkirk, Liverpool, Dundee United, Shrewsbury Town and Mazda of Japan. Alan finished his professional career back in Scotland with St. Mirren and finally East Fife.

Young centre half Chris Innes signed for Terry Christie’s Stenhousemuir in September 1996 after 44 appearances for The Burnie, before moving onto Premier League Kilmarnock in 1998, playing in European competition for the Ayrshire club, then heading north to Dundee United in 2003 and south to Gretna two years later. Chris captained the Black & Whites in the 2006 Scottish Cup Final against Hearts, which they narrowly lost on penalties.