Despite Troon being synonymous with golf, there are quite indisputable records to the effect that local football has a history which began approximately three years before the golf course at the end of the South Beach was ever considered.
As far back as 1875 there was a Troon Portland football team, reckoned as seniors, though most of their matches were of necessity friendlies since no leagues of any kind were then available. But they did play clubs such as Irvine, Irvine Victoria, Ayr, Kilmarnock Athletic, Kilmarnock Portland and other county teams.
The first Troon Portland team, many of them with relations living in Troon today, was as follows: Goal, Frank Briggs, Backs, Charles Fullarton, David Connell, and Hugh Allison; Half backs, Robert Hastings and James Connell; Forwards. Reuben McNeillage. John Kennan, James Murchie, William Cunningham, John Johnstone. Robert Smith. and David Johnstone.
The first proper football club in Troon first came into being in 1889, when Troon Academicals (together with 23 other clubs) became members of the first ever Ayrshire Junior Football Association. That Troon side won the Irvine and District Cup in 1891–92 and again in 1894–95. There is no doubt that they had some first-class talent; two of their players, D. Boyd and T. Walker, were to play as a left wing for Scotland against England.
The Troon Academicals name was reborn in 2009 by a Troon F.C. affiliated supporters team of the same name.
In 1904–05 the Ayrshire Consolation Cup was won by a Junior team named Troon Rangers.
Troon Athletic were founded in 1919 by the Troon Federation of ex-Servicemen with a committee headed by Tom Wallace (President) William Noble (Treasurer) and William S. Elliot (Secretary). Their home ground was at the public park in Troon from the Station Hill to the Yorke Road bridge until 1923. From 1923 onwards they were inhabitants of the brand new Portland Park, and they established a fine honours list.
Troon Athletic joined the Kilmarnock and District Junior League, winning it at the first attempt in the 1920–21 season. Their first team was as follows – S. Elliott, W. Kettle, and A. Hendry; P. McAdam, G. Elliott, and H. Murdoch; J. Wright and J. Hillditch; A. Howie: J. McLean and R. Hunter.
It was indeed a team to remember, and one with a future.
In 1921–22, and now playing in the stronger Western league, they finished in seventh place out of nineteen clubs. the Scottish Cup saw a run to the sixth round, which was then the stage of the last sixteen clubs in the competition. Fellow Ayrshiremen, and eventual Cup winners, Kilwinning Rangers put an end to the Cup dream. There was to be a trophy, however, to show for all the hard work, with th winning of the Ayrshire Junior Cup, well over three thousand people watching them defeat Ardeer Thistle 2–1 at Rugby Park, home of Kilmarnock Football Club.
In 1924 the Ayrshire Consolation Cup came to town, after a 3–0 defeat of Cumnock. Another two years passed and Athletic were again in the running for honours. Semi-finalists in the Western League Cup and Ayrshire Consolation Cup, finalists in the Irvine & District Cup, and in the last sixteen of the Scottish Cup, it was a season of near misses. In the Scottish Cup, they had their record win in the trophy, with a second round 11–4 win against Glasgow Highlanders, but Renfrew put the run to an end.
The four seasons in the Intermediates was relatively successful, winning the Ayrshire Intermediates Cup (1928–29) and the Gold Watch competition (1929–30) as well as being finalists in the 1930–31 Stirling Trophy. Another three points in the League in 1931 would have seen the title won, but it was not to be. In 1935, Saltcoats Victoria defeated Athletic by a convincing four goals to nil in the final of the West of Scotland Consolation Cup, whilst 1936 saw their final piece of silverware won, in the shape of the Ayrshire Consolation Cup, with a 4–3 win against Kilbirnie Ladeside.
Second World War
As with most levels of football, Junior football was suspended during the period of the Second World War of 1939–1945, and Troon Athletic closed down in 1940 as many of the players and officials were involved in Air Raid patrols or working overtime in the local shipyard, with insufficient time to run a football club.
After the Second World War, Junior football reformed and Troon Juniors was established in 1946.
Troon Juniors played in the Western League North Section but the first few years saw little of any note, with league form being poor and usually ending in a lowly position.
By 1953–54, the years of waiting finally bore some fruit, with sixth place achieved in the Western League, only four points behind Champions Irvine Meadow. Winners in the Land O’Burns Cup (4–0 against Kilbirnie Ladeside) and finalists in the Ayrshire Junior Cup, there was something to cheer the fans. To round off a good season, the fifth round of the Scottish Cup was reached, before losing 3–0 to Clydebank Juniors. The fourth round saw unusual opposition in Argyll side Lochgilphead, who were routed by four goals to one.
In 1955–56, as well as getting to the semi-finals of the two cups they had reached the final of two years earlier, a final placing of 5th in the league, though nineteen points off the top, was their best to date. After this, it was back to almost obscurity for a decade, with early exits and poor league form the norm.
The mid-1960s saw a brief improvement, with the first semi-final appearance in a decade (in the Western League Cup) and the following season they ended as second in the league and semi-finalists of the West of Scotland Cup. The Western League was disbanded in 1968, when Junior football was regionalised and The Ayrshire Region of the Scottish Junior Football Association was formed. We had our first taste of international recognition in 1969 when Gordon Armstrong was capped by Scotland at both Junior and Amateur level in successive weeks, playing in both matches against Wales. Troon Juniors played in the Ayrshire League Northern Section until season 1976–77 when the Sectional formation was abandoned. This was replaced by two Divisions with Troon Juniors being assigned to the Second.
After 1977 the term “Juniors” was dropped from the club title, which was the fourth occasion in the history of football in Troon that the town’s Junior club changed its name. From then on it was simply known as “Troon Football Club” and it was around this time that black and blue vertical stripes first appeared on the club shirts, and they have remained to this day.
At the end of the 1985–86 season, promotion to the First Division of the Ayrshire League (which had been formed upon the dissolution of the Western League in 1969) was attained, and although relegated at the end of the season, they reached the semi-finals of the Ayrshire Sectional League Cup. Troon F.C. languished in the Second Division of Ayrshire Junior Football until 1997 when after a long spell of mediocrity, Manager John Redmond led the club to the Ayrshire Second Division Championship trophy & promotion to the Ayrshire Division 1.
Super League era
In 2002 the new West of Scotland Region was formed and Super Leagues introduced. Troon F.C. started off that new era for Junior football in the Super League First Division and in the inaugural season, Troon F.C. finished in second place winning promotion to the Premier Division. They played in the top flight for two seasons but were relegated at the end of the second despite winning their first major honour, the West of Scotland Cup, and having their best ever run in the Scottish Junior Cup. The next three seasons were spent in the First Division where success mainly eluded the Portland Parkers. Management teams changed and season 2007–08 ended with Troon being relegated to the Ayrshire District League.
In 2010 the Kirkwood family took an interest in Troon and were appointed on to the committee of the club. Jim Kirkwood Snr. was appointed as Chairman, Alasdair Kirkwood as club Treasurer and Jimmy Kirkwood Jnr. as a committee member and Assistant Manager under John Redmond. The fortunes of the club improved almost immediately as an improved professionalism and business nous saw investment in the club infrastructure. A renovated and expanded social club at Portland Park became a real asset to the club, and investment on the playing surface itself (overseen by new groundsman Gus Hollas) allowed an immediate improvement in the style of play encouraged by the new coaching staff.
Jimmy Kirkwood took over as Manager in March 2011, assisted by former Troon player Gordon Burns, and an overhaul of the playing squad commenced with an emphasis on youth development & attractive football. Results were erratic to begin with, but the improvement was remarkable and a title push was well underway in season 2011–12 with the team missing out on the second promotion spot by one point. The club went one better in 2012–13, securing second place with weeks to spare after a season long title battle with Kilwinning Rangers and promotion back to the Super League was assured. Further investment off the park saw upgraded dressing rooms, an outside area beside the social club and expanded terracing areas on the homes side.
In season 2013–14 the club were crowned the Super League First Division Champions, Ayrshire Cup winners and were also West of Scotland Cup finalists.
In the summer of 2015, work commitments saw Jimmy Kirkwood take a sideways step to become General Manager and was replaced by Gordon Burns as Troon Manager. A long unbeaten run saw Troon push for the West of Scotland Super League Premier Division title, before eventually finishing fourth in the 2015-16 season. The following season was a disaster for the club as a poor season throughout saw the club finish bottom of the Premier League and relegated to the Super League First Division. Manager Gordon Burns resigned at the end of the season and was replaced by Jimmy Kirkwood for a second spell as Manager.
Colours and crest
Previous Troon-based teams from the pre-war period played in plain blue, red or black, but when Troon F.C. were founded in 1946 they wore a red bodied strip with white collar and sleeves, white shorts and socks with red trim. These continued to be their colours until 1970 when blue first entered the strip, replacing red as the main chest colour in a similar style. Blue and black stripes became the main jersey colours in the late seventies and have remained ever since, although red has continued to be utilised as a change strip in homage to the original strips.
The club did not have an official crest before 1974. After this date, the club used the Troon town coat of arms as an identity only, before an official club badge was introduced in 1977 when the term “Juniors” was dropped from the club’s official title and Troon F.C. was born. Introduced by John Oliver, the badge bore a significant resemblance to the Burgh of Troon coat of arms with the inclusion of footballs. The badge was displayed in the clubhouse, depicted on a plaque made many years ago in the workshops at the Troon shipyard.
The club badge did not actually make it on to the shirts until as late as season 2005–06, initially appearing as a coloured shield and latterly as a hollow symbol.
Kit manufacturers and shirt sponsors
|Period||Sportswear||Home sponsor||Away sponsor|
|2001–2005||Stanno||The Anchorage Hotel||The Anchorage Hotel|
|2005–2007||TFG Sports||Hillhouse Quarry|
|2007–2010||Puma||Nelson Construction||Nelson Construction|
|2010–2012||Nike||Sprint Communications||QTS Group|
|2012–2013||Taste To Go|
|2015–2016||Mayfield Garage Services|
|2016–2017||The Marine Hotel|
Troon had their first taste of international recognition in 1969 when Gordon Armstrong was capped by Scotland at both Junior and Amateur level in successive weeks, playing in both matches against Wales. Former Troon player Jim Stewart was capped twice by Scotland, against Chile in 1977 and Norway in 1978.