It was in April 1919, following the First World War that a Recreational Club was formed within the Burntisland Shipyard Company. Employees agreed to subscribe to funds at the rate of 1/2d per week with the Company kindly consenting to match the sum subscribed by all the workers.
The subscription was subsequently increased to 1d per week in order to provide a fund large enough to cover the initial expenditure required to establish a Cricket Club, equipment for the Bowling Club and the establishment of two football teams, one at Junior level and one at Juvenile level. The Club went on to purchase a recreation field at Kirkton with a small pavilion erected to cater for the Football Clubs in the winter and the Cricket Club in the summer.
The Junior team were enterprising and in the early years played in competitions including the Scottish junior Cup, East of Scotland Junior Cup, Fife Cup, Cowdenbeath Cup and then the East of Fife Junior League. The Raith Rovers Parliamentary Cup and the Wilson Cup added to the list of competitions entered but these early years met with little success. In 1923 the Shipyard Juvenile team was represented in the Burntisland and District Juvenile League while the Junior Club faded from the scene. It was in 1925 that the Burntisland Shipyard Amateur team was formed and the club entered the Lothian Amateur League.
Scotland’s oldest club Queens Park FC were to become a regular opponent of Burntisland Shipyard for several years. A friendly was arranged between the Shipyard and Queens Park Reserves, sometimes known as Queens Park Strollers, in March 1926 at Burntisland. This turned into an annual fixture, with the Shipyard also visiting Glasgow to play at Lesser Hampden. Records show that the fixture was still being played into the mid 1930’s.
One of the first major successes was to come in May 1928 when the Shipyard defeated Murrayfield Amateurs 1-0 in the Logan Cup Final at Tynecastle in front of a crowd of 3000 – 500 of whom had travelled from Burntisland. In 1929 The Burntisland Shipyard Amateur Football Club became full members of the Scottish Football Association and entered into the Scottish Qualifying Cup and became the first amateur side from the Lothian League to qualify for the Scottish Cup. The Club then played for a further two seasons in the Lothian League before moving to the Edinburgh & District Amateur League retaining a second side in the Lothian League set up.
This followed acceptance earlier in 1931 into The Fifeshire Football association – a move that gave the Club entry into the draws for the Fife & Wemyss Cups against teams such as Raith Rovers, East Fife, Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly, and Dunfermline Athletic. The Fife Cup is still played for each season by these clubs with the exception of Lochgelly.
In May 1932 the Shipyard won the Fife Amateur Cup in the first year of it’s existence beating Abbotshall in the final by 4 goals to 1 at Dunnikier Park, Kirkcaldy. This could have remarkably been an all Burntisland affair but, unfortunately Burntisland United were beaten in the semi-final by Abbotshall. August 1934 saw the club’s top squad return to the first division of the Lothian Amateur League and in May 1935 the club were presented with another Logan Cup win, this time by 4 goals to 2 against Insurance Amateurs at Meadowbank. The clubs popularity and success at this time resulted in the running of 3 sides.
The club made its first appearance in the Scottish Cup on the 11th January 1930 drawing 2-2 against Murrayfield Amateurs in Burntisland before a crowd of 600. However, the replay seven days later was lost by 3 goals to 0. In the 1933/34 season the club lost by 3 goals to 2 to Ross County, then of the Highland League, at Dingwall.
The first Scottish Cup tie against a league member club played in Burntisland was on the 18th January 1936 when the Shipyard drew 2 -2 with Dumbarton in front of a crowd of 600. The replay the following week was lost by 4 goals to 2 with a crowd of 1700 spectating and gate receipts of £51. Another Logan Cup victory was to come in the 1935/36 season when St Cuthberts FP were defeated by 4 goals to 1, once again at Meadowbank.
In the 1936 season centre forward R Burnett achieved the feat of scoring over 50 goals in the season. The exact number is not known, however, this was to be surpassed in later years, which is documented elsewhere in the club history. Another goal scoring achievement occurred in October 1938 when in a Scottish Qualifying Cup Tie, the Shipyard beat Dunkeld and Birnam by 8 goals to 2, with centre forward George Aitken scoring all 8 goals.
The 21st January 1939 will probably go down as one of the most memorable occasions in the clubs history. Having once again qualified for the Scottish Cup the Shipyard were drawn at home to Glasgow Celtic. In front of a crowd of 3000 Celtic ran out winners by 8 goals to 3. The Shipyard matched their illustrious guests up until half time, only trailing by 3 goals to 2, and drew level again early in the second half. Celtic went on to dominate the final stages of the game however, and scored 5 unanswered goals.
During the Second World War years the Shipyard continued playing in the Lothian Amateur League, although a large number of clubs stopped playing with national service taking its toll on sports participation. During this period clubs to emerge given the war situation included- The Pioneer Corp, Scottish Command, R.A.F.(east Fortune), Royal Army Pay Corp. In 1945 the British and Norwegian flags were flown at Recreation Park when a Burntisland Shipyard Select played a team representing the Norwegian Navy. The Shipyard was led by Alec Craigie – ex Luton, Dundee, Cowdenbeath and Partick Thistle player. The friendly finished with the Shipyard winning by 6 goals to 2.
Following the war the Shipyard again won the Fife Amateur Cup defeating Crail by 8 goals to 1. The Cup unfortunately had gone missing during the war period and was not available for presentation. During the Fifties the club lost in the Scottish Qualifying Cup 1st round three years in a row between 1954 and 1956 losing to Forres Mechanics 1-7, Selkirk 3-2 and Eyemouth also by 3 goals to 2. The team continued to play in the Lothian League set-up until August 1959 when the club joined the Kirkcaldy and District Amateur League.
On the 10th May 1952 another famous club came to Burntisland when Heart of Midlothian played the Shipyard in a match to officially re-open the ground after the pitch had been ploughed up and re-sown. Hearts brought a strong team to Burntisland who were given a tour of the Yard prior to the match. The pitch was in magnificent condition for the game and over 1000 tickets had been sold. Hearts won the match by 12 goals to 2 with the legendary Jimmy Wardhaugh scoring 8 goals. The Shipyards goals were scored by Gavin and Wilkie.
During the Sixties the club won the Kirkcaldy and District League in the 1965/66 season. However the decade was to end with the club coming close to disappearing, when in1969 the Burntisland Shipbuilding Company went into liquidation. It took a dedicated committee to keep the club afloat through good management and various fund raising events.
In 1971 the Shipyard reached the final of the Scottish Qualifying Cup (South). Although losing the two legged final by 5 goals to 3 on aggregate to St Cuthberts Wanderers the club had already secured their place in the Scottish Cup itself and went on to gain a first ever victory in the cup, beating Coldstream by 2 goals to 0 at Burntisland. To honour this achievement the Shipyard were given a civic reception. Provost Stanley Bolam welcomed chairman James Swan and captain Jim Thomson together with many other players and officials. Sadly in the next round the Shipyard were beaten 4-1 at home by a very strong Elgin City team. In 1977 the club again qualified for the Scottish Cup this time being drawn at home to Second Division League leaders Berwick Rangers. In front of a crowd of 450 the Shipyard made a sensational start by taking the lead after only 2 minutes through a George Mackie goal, however, the lead was short lived and Berwick eventually ran out winners by 4 goals to 1. During the next few years the club picked up silverware in the local amateur leagues but no success could be found in the Scottish Qualifying Cup.
The 1989/90 season brought one of the clubs most memorable achievements when in the Fife Cup semi final at East End Park the Shipyard beat Scottish Premier League opponents Dunfermline Athletic in a penalty shoot-out after drawing 2-2. The Dunfermline side that night contained no fewer than seven first team regulars. In the final against Raith Rovers at Starks Park the Shipyard were well beaten by 7 goals to 0.
Ex captain Jim Thomson had been managing the club for a few seasons now and was beginning to assemble a strong squad that won the Fife Amateur Cup in two out of three seasons and also Kirkcaldy and District League success. The 1994/95 season was to bring another crack at the Scottish Cup after negotiating three rounds of the Qualifying Cup including notable victories against Annan Athletic (4-3)and Civil Service Strollers(2-1). The club went on to reach the final of the Qualifying Cup after another famous victory, this time against Gala Fairydean at Burntisland by 2 goals to 1. The famous and magnificent trophy again eluded the Shipyard after losing by 4 goals to 1 to one of Scotlands top non league clubs Whitehill Welfare. The draw for the Scottish Cup handed the Shipyard a bye into the second round where the club would play St Cuthberts Wanderers at home. The media interest was unheard of at this level of football and on the 7th of January 1995 in front of a crowd of 750 and the BBC cameras http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gx9GpiBjaAo with Hazel Irvine the well known presenter commentating, the Shipyard were 5-0 up at half-time including a hat trick from record scorer Rabbie Matthew. In the second half St Cuthberts pulled back a couple of goals but, another goal for the Shipyard near the end made the final score 6-2. This now meant that the club were in the hat for the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup for the first time ever, alongside the biggest names in Scottish football. The excitement was at fever pitch when the draw was made live on television, however, when the club came out of the hat away to Keith or Huntly it was definitely something of an anti climax. Huntly won the replay so the Shipyard had an away trip there on the 28th January 1995. At the time the country was suffering severe weather with snow all over. The Shipyard made the journey in these conditions, arriving very late at Huntly’s stadium. To everyone’s surprise the game was on. The match was played on a horrendous surface which the Shipyard players could not contend with and Huntly with their class and experience ran out easy 7-0 winners. In the next few years some notable scalps were taken in the Scottish Qualifying Cup, however, qualification for the Scottish Cup could not be achieved.
In 1999 the club joined the Kingdom Caledonian Amateur Football League which is based in Fife and are still currently members of.
August 2006 saw a major change at Recreation Park with the opening of a new Clubhouse, replacing the old “Green Hut” which had stood for around 50 years. The Clubhouse was officially opened by top ex referee John Rowbotham. The Committee, especially Jim Thomson and John Robertson, were to be commended for their efforts in raising funds and The Burntisland Development Trust were thanked for their assistance in providing grants to help finance the £100,000 project.
After a major shake up by the Scottish Football Association in 2007, the Scottish Qualifying Cups were discontinued and that meant all member clubs, plus four Scottish Junior Association member clubs, would compete in the 1st round of the Scottish Cup. With no qualifying needed now the club would be featuring in the Scottish Cup every season, this meant more chances to mix with the bigger non-league clubs and possibly Scottish Football League clubs. Also, it would be a boost financially.
The first round draw for the 2007/08 competition saw the Shipyard drawn away to Wigtown and Bladnoch. After an arduous journey the Shipyard shook off their travel weariness and won by 5 goals to 3. The 2nd round saw the Shipyard drawn away from home again, this time to 3rd division Albion Rovers. On Saturday 27th October 2007 the Shipyard travelled to Cliftonhill Stadium in Coatbridge but, Albion were much too strong for the Shipyard and ran out winners by 8 goals to 0. The 2008/09 competition saw the Shipyard drawn away again, this time to Highland League side Clachnacuddin. On Saturday 27th September 2008 at Grant Street Park, Inverness, the trip to the Highland capital proved fruitless as Clachnacuddin won by 4 goals to 0.