In the early days of Scottish football, Vale of Leven (based in Alexandria) and their neighbours Renton were real powers in the land. Vale won the Scottish Cup three times in succession (1877, 1878 and 1879). In 1878 they travelled down to England and beat the F.A. Cup winners, The Wanderers, 3-1 at Kennington Oval. The Wanderers had the advantage that the game was played under the English throw-in rule, but the Vale's Scottish passing game proved superior to the English game of individual dribbling. The club also won the Celtic Society Cup in shinty in 1879.
Vale of Leven was a founder member of the Scottish Football League when it was formed in 1890. By this time, the club was being eclipsed by the rising stars from Glasgow and Dumbarton. In their second season they failed to win a single game and finished last. Rather than face re-election for the second time, the club withdrew and joined the rival Scottish Alliance where they played for a single season.
Between 1893 and 1902 the Vale played only friendly matches and in cup competition before joining the Scottish Football Combination. In 1905 they applied successfully for readmission to the Scottish League when the Second Division was extended with two additional places. They finished as runners-up in 1907 and in 1909 but did not receive the votes they needed to be elected to the First Division. As the following decade wore on, Vale of Leven struggled and regularly finished near the foot of the table. When the Second Division was suspended in 1915, Vale joined the Western League.
After World War I ended Vale of Leven returned to the Scottish League for the third time as members of the reformed Second Division. After a decent fourth place finish in their first season, the club was relegated to the new Third Division in 1924. This ill-fated competition was abandoned in 1926 when it became clear that the cost of meeting match guarantees and additional travel expenses were beyond the means of its members.
After a season playing in the Scottish Alliance, financial constraints forced the club into a local district league before being discontinued in 1929: victims of the Great Depression which had proven so disastrous for many small Scottish football clubs at professional and amateur level. There was every intention of reviving the club once local economics made it viable; however, unlike previous occasions they were struck off the SFA club roll after withdrawing from their Scottish Qualifying Cup match against Dykehead
In the meantime Millburn Park continued to be used by a new amateur side, Vale of Leven Old Church Old Boys Association (usually known as "Vale Ocoba"), who took part in the Scottish Cup from 1931 until 1938, and who enjoyed success in first the West of Scotland Amateur League and then the Scottish Combinations: ironically, they also won the Scottish Qualifying Cup (North) in 1937. Despite the church team name, Vale Ocoba appeared to be a flag of convenience for the Vale of Leven Football & Athletic Club struck off the SFA's roll, as events proved.
Original club colours: Dark blue shirts, dark blue shorts, red socks.
Vale Of Leven OCOBA were invited to be part of a reconstituted Scottish Football Alliance, along with Babcock & Wilcox (a works team), fellow former Scottish League and Alliance member Galston, Girvan Athletic, another former Scottish League member Nithsdale Wanderers, Queen's Park Strollers (Queen's Park third team), and Stranraer, which they duly did, but as Vale of Leven Football & Athletic Club - "Vale Ocoba" promptly vanishing from the face of the earth.
Disaster struck however when the start of World War 2 obliged the league to be suspended due to restrictions on travel by December 1939. In order to survive, Vale Of Leven promptly joined the ranks of the Scottish Junior Football Association - suffering an abrupt vacancy in their Central League due to the bankruptcy of Springfield Athletic - and thus bringing to a final end 67 years of membership of the Scottish Football Association they'd helped to create.
Technically, the current club is unattached to the former senior club, but in reality it is the continuation of it. Scottish Junior football has a number of clubs (e.g. Arthurlie, Beith, Royal Albert, Port Glasgow Athletic) that were forced to fold as Senior sides due to financial reasons or as a result of the collapse of the old Scottish Division Three in the late 1920s. (Some initially found a home in the Scottish Alliance, until this too was discontinued at the behest of the Senior sides.) This is more prevalent on the West Coast where no non-amateur Senior league exists any longer. The most recent example of this trend has been the former Junior turned Senior turned Junior again side Clydebank.
Vale of Leven should not be confused (but frequently are by non-Scots) with the slightly differently named East of Scotland League club Vale of Leithen. Most Scottish teams with the name "Vale of" had their name inspired by the Alexandria side, who along with Queen's Park and Third Lanark toured throughout Scotland in their early years doing exhibition matches to increase interest in football.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.