Football had been played in the town of Peterhead as far back as the 1870’s, but in 1890 Peterhead Football club was formed within the hopes and aspirations of a number of enthusiastic football fans in 1890, those men forming the first committee of the Club. The newly formed committee decided it was time for a properly organised team playing within the rules set down by the Scottish FA.
Within a year, the ambitions plans of those men were partly realised by the towns Feuars Managers who gifted to the newly formed Peterhead FC a piece of land within the town’s Raemoss Park. Named Recreation Park, it was opened by the town’s Provost Smith, who was accompanied by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in August of 1891 and became Peterhead’s home for over 100 years.
Peterhead began their competitive life nine years later in 1900, joining the Aberdeenshire Football Association. With just six teams competing, it was a rather short season however. They remained in the Aberdeenshire League until 1931 when they joined the Highland Football League. In this time, the club had just one success, winning the Aberdeenshire Cup in 1906. They eventually repeated this success in consecutive seasons, 1934-35 and 1935-36.
The early years of the club’s history also hold the heaviest defeat a Peterhead side has suffered. In season 1923/24, the club were drawn at home to Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup. Aberdeen offered the Peterhead committee £300 to switch the game to Pittodrie Stadium, a move which the committee gladly undertook. The players were not happy with the decision, and walked out in protest. This turn of events left the committee to patch together a team at the last minute to ensure the tie went ahead, but they might as well not have bothered, as the Dons routed Peterhead by 13 goals without reply.
In 1939, league competition was suspended due to the outbreak of the Second World War, resuming in 1946. Peterhead were then to go through a period of success, winning the Highland League for the first time in that first season back in action. This was to prove the spark for further success for the club, winning the Highland League again in 1949 and 1950.
It was nearly forty years before the club would again take league honours, winning their fourth title in 1988-89, and a fifth under the guidance of Ronnie Brown ten years later.
Much of Peterhead’s success has come in cup competitions, none more so than the Aberdeenshire Cup, which they have won 20 times, most recently in 1998-99.
Peterhead are also five times winners of the Highland League Cup, and six times winners of the Scottish Qualifying Cup (North). In addition they hold one Aberdeenshire Shield, again won in the highly successful 1998-99 campaign.
Peterhead Join the Scottish League
Just eleven days into the new millennium, Peterhead were voted into the Scottish Football League along with fellow Highland League side Elgin City, compensating for the loss of two clubs to the expanded Scottish Premier League (SPL).
It is believed that the move from Recreation Park to the modern Balmoor Stadium, which was opened on September 28 1997, had much to do with the decision although the move was not so popular among some of the community in the town. Recreation Park was bought by the supermarket chain Safeway, and is now a Morrisons store.
Despite their elevation to the SFL’s ranks, Peterhead remain members of the Aberdeenshire FA and are still eligible to enter the Aberdeenshire League (now an under-21 league), Aberdeenshire Cup and Aberdeenshire Shield, though the club have failed to take this opportunity in recent seasons due to fixture congestion.
Peterhead quickly established themselves in Division Three, finishing their debut season in 5th place under the guidance of former Scotland International Ian Wilson, and reaching the Quarter Finals of the Scottish Cup for the first time. It was during this campaign that current manager Iain Stewart was brought to the club as a player.
Following two consecutive fourth place finishes, Wilson was removed in January 2004 to be replaced by Iain Stewart. Assisted by Paul Mathers, Stewart guided the club to a third consecutive fourth-placed finish but was to buck the trend in his first full season as boss, leading the club to promotion by virtue of finishing second to champions Gretna F.C..
A year later, Peterhead came close to a second successive promotion. The introduction of a playoff system meant their third place finish gave them a chance of again being promoted alongside Division Two champions Gretna. Partick Thistle’s equaliser just thirty seconds from the end of the second leg of the playoff final saw the match go to extra time and penalties, with The Jags eventually promoted to the First Division.
In October 2006, the club came under the management of former Aberdeen Manager Steve Paterson with Gothenburg great Neale Cooper returning to Scottish football, as he took on the role of first team coach. When Steve Paterson left Peterhead in early 2008, Neale Cooper took over as manager joined at the club by Andy Doran. Peterhead narrowly missed out on the end of season playoffs for a place in the Scottish First Division in 2008 finishing 5th, however he guided the Blue Toon to 4th the following season and a playoff against 2nd bottom Airdrie United from Division One, which Airdrie won. Peterhead struggled the following season and Neale Cooper departed the club in March 2011. John Sheran was appointed as Cooper’s successor but could not save the club from relegation as they were dumped down to the SFL’s bottom tier. After a very poor start to the 2011 season, Sheran was sacked from his position in September to be replaced by former East Stirling and Morton manager Jim Mcinally.
Mcinally brought some stability to the team and they finished in 7th position at the end of season 2011/12 but enjoyed a memorable Scottish Cup tie at home to Celtic in January 2012. It was all change to the start of Season 2011/12 as Rangers who had gone into administration were demoted to the bottom tier of Scottish football with an opening tie v Peterhead on the first day of the 2012 season. Peterhead managed to hold Rangers to a 2-2 draw shocking the away side into a realisation that life was not to be easy in league 3. After riding Ranger’s coattails for the remainder of the season Peterhead pulled off a shock win against the Glasgow side at Ibrox running out 2-1 winners. Finishing the season in 2nd place, Peterhead entered the play-offs in confident mood and eased past Queens Park before losing out to East Fife in the play-off final consigning them to another year in League 3.
The 2013/14 Season proved to be an excellent year for PFC as they went on to win the division by a clear 13 points from their nearest rival Annan Athletic. This was the first time in the club’s history that they had lifted an SFL championship and the team were awarded “the Pride of Buchan Award” for their achievement.
League reconstruction meant that PFC were now playing in the SPFL League 1 and they cemented their place in season 2014/15 with a respectable 6th place finish. The 2015/16 Season however was a more fruitful one for PFC as they reached the Petrofac Cup Final after an impressive run in the cup including a 5-0 away win against Falkirk in a game where talismanic striker Rory Mcallister scored all 5 goals. The final was played at Hampden in April 2016 against Rangers in front of a sell-out crowd and although Peterhead went down 4-0 to the Glasgow giants, it went down in history as the first time PFC had reached a National cup final. Finishing the season in 3rd place, Peterhead lost out in promotion to the Championship in the play-offs.
Season 2016/17 proved to be an unforgettable one for the club as they finished in 9th place and a dismal showing in the play-off final against Forfar relegated them once again to the bottom tier.
With an aim to bouce straight back up the leagues, PFC started the 2017/18 season well with a memorable win against Premier side Heart of Midlothian, beating them 2-1 at home in the Scottish League Cup. Mcinally and his men came very close to winning the campionship ending the season in 2nd place only a mere point behind the champions Montrose. The play-offs once again proved an unhappy hunting ground as PFC lost out in the play-off final against Stenhousemuir who were promoted to league 1.
Determined to finish the job this time to once again be promoted into League 1, PFC won the 2018/19 championship in the final game of the Season at Hampden only 5 points clear of Clyde who could have also clinched the title on the final day had results not went Peterhead’s way.