Following the demise of New Blackburn Athletic in 1974 a Leyland United team had been formed to represent British Leyland, the mass producers of trucks and tractors whose factory was situated between Blackburn and Bathgate. Leyland played in the East of Scotland Welfare League in the mid to late 70’s and they inherited Murrayfield Park from New Blackburn as well as playing on the adjacent ash pitch. Unlike Amateur teams of the time, Welfare teams could play ex-Junior and Professional players of any age. Leyland had at their disposal the pick of any potential players amongst the workforce of approximately 7,000 and consequently had a formidable team who, arguably, would have done very well in the present day Junior leagues.
The Blackburn United Welfare team came about when some locally based players left “The Leyland” and formed their own team that they then entered into the same league. Some bruising battles ensued! Leyland United eventually disbanded circa 1977 whilst the ambitious Blackburn United team was officially formed on the 2nd July 1978 when the welfare side merged with Blackburn Thistle. After continuing to compete for two seasons in the welfare league, the club invested heavily in the renovation of Murrayfield Park in the hope of stepping up to the Junior grade. In the summer of 1980 the ground was inspected and approved by officials of the Scottish Junior Football Association and Blackburn United were ready for our first season in the 2nd Division of the Eastern Region of the SJFA.
The first Junior Game at Murrayfield Park was a local cup-tie against Bathgate Thistle on the 16th August 1980 and in front of a large crowd the team went down narrowly by three goals to two. Despite this early popularity we struggled in those formative years until, in 1984, it appeared that the club may have to go out of business. It was at this time, however, that an influx of new committee members from the reformed under age team ensured the continuation of Blackburn United.
Unfortunately, with the loss of the retained players list in the post, the team had to begin the following season with players drawn mostly from the old under-21 side. However, this misfortune didn't prevent the club from winning promotion to the top flight for the first time and knocking favourites Yoker Athletic out of the Scottish Junior Cup.
Other than a two year spell in the 1st Division after that promotion winning season, success has been hard to come by. Our first of two Cup Final appearances was in the 1988 MRS Cup when we went down 2-0 to Ormiston Primrose at Albyn Park, Broxburn while in season 1999/2000 the team progressed to the Final of the Millennium Cup at Almondvale Stadium in Livingston, knocking out League Champions Linlithgow Rose at their Prestonfield home on the way, only to go down 2-0 to another First Division outfit, Fauldhouse United.
Our most famous ex-player to date has been local boy Alan Irvine. Alan moved from Murrayfield Park to Hibernian and his career then took him from Scotland to England and onto Asia with appearances for Falkirk, Liverpool, Dundee United, Shrewsbury Town and Mazda of Japan. Alan finished his professional career back in Scotland with St. Mirren and, finally, East Fife.
Other Blackburn United players have made the move into senior football over the years, most notably when centre half Chris Innes signed for Stenhousemuir in September 1996 before moving to Premier League Kilmarnock in 1998 and heading north to Dundee United in 2003 and south to Gretna two years later. Chris captained the Black & Whites in the 2006 Scottish Cup Final before moving to current club Livingston FC.
(Note: The community of Blackburn has been represented at Junior level by eight clubs since Blackburn Thistle in the 1887-88 season. Blackburn Rovers followed between 1899 and 1901, Blackburn United 1905 to 1906, Blackburn FC in the 1912-13 season, Blackburn Rovers from 1921 to 1926, Blackburn Athletic from 1932 to 1937, New Blackburn Athletic from 1962 to 1974 and, finally, the present Blackburn United side since 1978).