The 1930s were among Winton Rovers' most successful years. They won nine trophies in that decade and reached the semi-final of the Scottish Junior Cup in 1934, losing to the eventual winners.
WINTON ROVERS 7 - DREGHORN JUNIORS 0
Rovers' Big Win by Junius
In the Western League, Winton Rovers, the leaders, took a heavy toll of Dreghorn, winning by 7-0. This was Dreghorn's first League defeat for twenty-one weeks. Dalry took a point from Irvine Victoria, drawing 1-1, and Glenafton Athletic beat Saltcoats Victoria by five goals to two.
This was looked on as a very important fixture for both clubs but the attendance was only moderate owing to strong counter-attractions. As it turned out, however, it was rather a one-side game, especially in the first half, although not lacking in interest. The Rovers struck a fine game and the Dreghorn defence was put through the mill. The home side rattled up half a dozen goals before the interval and, adding another in the second half, won easily by 7-0.
The visitors were not at full strength, Shepherd, McMurtrie and Devers being absent, but on the locals' first-half display, they would have taken a lot of stopping by any side. In recent games, Rovers' outfield play has been quite good but their finishing had deteriorated somewhat. However, last Saturday (21 April 1934), the forwards were in deadly shooting form. Individually, they were all clever on the ball, though combination was the keynote of their cusses. Deft, accurate passing, combined with quick interchanging of position, kept the visiting defence on the stretch. McLaughlin was the general of the line. His leading-out work was a treat to watch and his ball control was very clever. His partner on the wing, Adair, was well-plied with the ball and in addition to scoring two goals, put over some nice crosses. Mason and Paterson served up some of the football that has made them such a dangerous wing and the latter had several creditable tries at goal. Mason's goal was a good individual effort. Patrick showed a timeous return to shooting form and scored four goals - all well-taken. The rear defence had an easy afternoon owing to the efforts of the half-back line that broke up most of the visiting attacks and co-operated with their forwards in fine style. Bolton played a great game and I would not be surprised if next year found him in senior circles.
In the Dreghorn team, McKillop gave a heroic display at centre-half while the backs improved after a shaky start. Brown in goal played pluckily but had no chance with the goals scored against him. The forwards were poor in the first half but came away better in the latter period of the game. Wallace was the best and was very unfortunate not to score with a shot which rebounded off the crossbar with Thom well beaten. Cameron at outside-right was a clever player and made ground rapidly but his finishing was rather weak. Beattie at inside-left showed fine ball control. He was apt, however, to be selfish and his passing went astray at times.
Rovers got a flying start, Patrick, after working past a defender, scoring in the first minute. Before another minute had gone, a cross from Mason was netted by Adair and with ten minutes played, Mason slipped to Patrick who went through to score again. The three additional goals this half came at intervals of ten minutes, the first by Adair and the other two from Patrick. The fifth was from a header by the centre off a Paterson cross and the sixth from a strong drive which Brown was unable to hold. Dreghorn's best effort was a cute shot by Wallace. Mason's goal in the second half was scored just before the end. He beat several opponents before netting. Dreghorn almost counted on two or three occasions but their shooting, except for Wallace's effort, was poor. The result was Winton Rovers 7 - Dreghorn 0.
The teams were: Winton Rovers - Thom; Mack and Gilmour; Bolton, McKenzie and Gemmill; Mason, Paterson, Patrick, McLaughlin and Adair. Dreghorn - Brown; W Caldwell and J Caldwell; Lafferty, McKillop and Frew; Cameron, Connell, Wallace, Beattie and Irving. The referee was J McGlone from Govan.
If the Rovers give a display against Benburb similar to their first half showing of last Saturday, I consider their chances quite good. The defence is solid and the issue will depend on how quickly the forwards strike a combined game.
Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 28 April 1934
BENBURB 3 - WINTON ROVERS 1
Rovers lose in good game
Winton Rovers lost 3-1 in the Scottish Junior Cup semi-final at Glasgow on Saturday (28 April 1934) but they gave a good display and fell fighting.
Winton Rovers made their exit from the Scottish Junior Cup on Saturday, being defeated 3-1 by Benburb in the semi-final at Firhill Park, Glasgow in the presence of an 18000 crowd. They may have played better games than that of Saturday but, although their finishing was not satisfactory, they served up a good exhibition of outfield football. They were plucky and spirited to the last and they did not let down their supporters or Ayrshire football.
Benburb, it may be said right away, deserved their win. Two of their goals were rather easily got but they were smart at taking their chances. Having once secured the lead, they put up a solid defence and counteracted all the Rovers' efforts till the closing stages of the game and, at the same time, their forwards were ever ready for a dash on their opponents' goal which, with the Rovers' half-backs in the second half working like Trojans as attackers, was not always so well protected as it might have been.
This matter of the solidity of the defence was no doubt the chief difference between the teams and it was mainly in the second half that the difference was noticeable. Rovers' desperate attacks were broken time and again because of the perfect covering-up tactics adopted by the Benburb defence whereas, in the second half when Benburb broke away, they had sometimes a much more open way to goal. The Rovers' halves, especially McKenzie, have been condemned by some critics for allowing the Benburb attack too much rope but, while not altogether blameless, they were right in taking the risk.
The run of the game was largely responsible for dictating their attacking policy. In the second half when Rovers were first two goals down and then three down, they were playing with desperation to reduce the lead against them, and the halves, McKenzie in particular, were trying all they knew to force the attack. It was their very eagerness in this respect that sometimes allowed the Benburb raiders an easier passage to goal than they ought to have been allowed but it would have been futile and foolish for McKenzie to stonewall stolidly, as Swift was doing, when the only hope for his side was the getting of goals.
Had Rovers secured the first goal, as with the slightest of luck they might have done, the trend of the game would probably have been different. The vital 'wee bit of luck' was doubtless a strong determining factor in the ultimate result as it generally is when two fairly well-matched teams meet. It is not by way of disparaging Benburb's play or deprecating the worthiness of their win that we say the breaks did not go with the Rovers. Benburb, as well as Rovers, had their spots of bad luck but they had more of fortune's smiles than had the Ardrossan side. However, that aspect need not be stressed. Benburb scored the necessary goals and showed themselves possessed of a good defence that, until the last minutes, balked the Rovers' attacks, determined though these were.
Taking the game all through, it was a really good one. Rovers were slightly more on the aggressive but Benburb, with a strong mid-line and two dangerous forwards - outside-right and centre - were always a menace when on the attack. It might be said that the game was won for them mainly by Brownlie, the extreme right-winger, and Swift, the centre-half. Brownlie crosses a lovely ball and although some of his moves were countered by Gilmour, he was very elusive and he got over many threatening centres. His corner-kicks also were perfect. Swift adopted the defensive role, hardly ever leaving Patrick's side, and he did great work for his team. Campbell in goal was safe and Kelso was much the better back, Fraser being beaten often. Rovers were weakest in the front rank where their opponents were strongest - at outside-right. It was not Mason's day on. The big occasion seemed to affect him. He did some clever things but his crosses were not of the usual precision and chances were lost in that way. Nevertheless, he twice all but counted, once with good efforts - once in the first half when, with the keeper beaten, Kelso saved on the line and again in the second half when Campbell had to throw himself full stretch to save a ground ball. McLaughlin was the brains of the line. Seeing how closely Patrick was being shepherded, he gave Adair a lot of the ball, especially in the second half and his cross passes to Mason were masterly.
If his partner was the brains, Adair was the hero of the line. This little Greatheart never flinched a tackle and was full of tricks. Fraser was unable to fathom his moves from beginning to end. Two terrific shots from him seemed counters but were blocked and another lightning drive was just a shade high. The one black mark against him was on account of his corner-kicks - he kept the ball far too low. Patrick, without getting many chances, did well. Twice he was at fault in skiing the ball when a low shot might have counted but he had some creditable tries. A header that struck the outside of the post in the early stages of the game was a clever effort and, in the second half, a shot from a difficult angle was countered by a smart save on the part of Campbell. Paterson showed good footwork and passing but he did not shoot often enough. This was the main fault of the forward line as a whole. They did not try their luck at goal as frequently as they might.
The Rovers' half-backs, as has been indicated, played a capital forcing game and linked up well with their forwards. Their breaking-up work, too, was good when they did concentrate on defence although they and their backs cannot be wholly absolved from blame for the loss of the second goal in particular. Mack, whom the committee had rather injudiciously selected to play in the previous Wednesday evening's (25 April 1934) match and who was injured in that game, was by no means fit. He did not play his usual masterly game but in the circumstances, he gave a creditable display. Gilmour stood up well to the more dangerous wing and his returns were generally accurate. In goal, Thom had many clever saves and blame cannot be attached to him for the points lost.
The first half play was fairly level but although Rovers were as often on the attack as their opponents, Thom had the more difficult shots to deal with. Benburb played an open game and made ground more quickly than the Rovers with their closer combination and they were nippier than the Ardrossan men in getting in their shots. The first goal came after twenty minutes play and it came at a time when Rovers looked like taking a strong grip of things. A long pass by Murray was fastened on to by Devers and he cleverly scored. This reverse for a moment upset the Ardrossan side and they almost lost another goal. They rallied, however, and from that point till the interval, they were the more aggressive. Gemmell, Adair, Mason and Paterson had fine tries but with more slickness in shooting, they would have troubled Campbell more. The best chance that came their way was when Patrick and Mason got right through the defence and had the goal at their mercy but the referee penalised the Rovers badly by awarding a fre kick against Benburb for a defender's attention to Patrick while he was breaking through.
Right at the start of the second half, Benburb made their total two and this goal had a vital effect on the result. Slackness in the Rovers' defence left Brownlie plenty of time to lob over a nice ball. Devers, close in, shot and Thom blocked the ball but Murray netted from the rebound. This was a blow to Rovers but they pegged away. Corners, however, were their only reward although an angular shot by Patrick almost brought success. Benburb were still dangerous when they got on the run and in twenty minutes, from a finely placed corner by Brownlie, Clark who had previously been disappointing in his finishing put the Govan side three up with a well-judged header.
There was a gleam of hope for Rovers five minutes later when a penalty award was granted for Patrick being interfered with while running in with the ball. Bolton's shot, however, was saved by Campbell and the Ardrossan supporters could have been excused for resigning themselves to the defeat of their favourites but the team showed no resignation. Although the Benburb forwards continued at intervals their menacing raids, the determination of the Rovers' attack was so pronounced that within a quarter of an hour, the Benburb defence gave away five corners. In the last minutes, success did come to the Rovers and it was the best goal of the game. The clever combined movement that led up to it was joined in by several of the team and it was rounded off by Patrick snicking Mason's pass into the corner of the net. A minute or so later, the final whistle went with Benburb winners by three goals to one.
The teams were Benburb - Campbell; Fraser and Kelso; Cameron, Swift and Smith; Brownlie, Murray, Devers, Watson and Clark. Winton Rovers - Thom; Mack and Gilmour; Bolton, McKenzie and Gemmell; Mason, Paterson, Patrick, McLaughlan and Adair. The referee was Mr J Welsh and the gate was £362.
Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 4 May 1934