Wick Academy Football Club are a senior football club founded in October 1893, who currently play in the Scottish Highland Football League at Harmsworth Park. They represent the Caithness town of Wick, making them the most northerly professional football league club, not only in Scotland, but in the United Kingdom.
The club was known in Wick simply as Academy and sometimes in other parts of Caithness as Pulteneytown Academy. An indirect and unofficial connection with the local school of the same name was maintained with the election of a teacher, John Davidson as the first captain or ‘leader’ as it was termed in the minute book of the first meeting. The club’s first game was a friendly away to Castletown. Home games were played at Harrow Park, now known as Harmsworth Park. Ten matches, with only two defeats, were played in that first season against teams like Dunbeath, John O’Groats (formed that same year in Wick), Lybster Portland, Thurso Thistle and Wick Thistle.
The Wick League was started in 1896, and Academy won the championship in the third season in 1898–99, the first of 17 league titles. From 1907 to 1914, Academy had virtually a clean sweep of league and local cups and in 1911, applied successfully for full membership of the SFA, so they could play in the Qualifying Cup.
Academy’s Qualifying Cup début was a home tie on 2 September 1911, and a crowd of about 800 saw a 4–0 win against Inverness Thistle. Men paid 6d, boys 3d, ladies were admitted free and gate receipts were £17. Caledonian won a 2nd round tie in Wick 4–1.
The right winger in those games was Jimmy Miller, who was later secretary and president of the club, his commitment to the club continued almost 50 years to 1954.
A Caithness County League was started in the 1926–27 season, by which time the Harmsworth family had bought the park and donated it to the town with the Burgh Council as trustees and local sports clubs formed a management committee. Only the football clubs seemed prepared to do the work of the ground improvements and building a stone wall to enclose the park. Changing rooms were built and were saved from demolition in 1973, when Academy agreed to keep them in a good state of repair. The building now houses an office and tea hut. Academy won the county league in 1927–28 and again in 1928–29, 1930–31, 1935–36 and 1937–38.
As the only SFA club in Caithness (Thurso Pentland were also members for three years from 1936), Academy was allowed to sign players from other clubs to play in Qualifying Cup games. From 1928 onwards, they were unbeaten at home in Qualifying Cup ties. In 1933, they beat Nairn County, Caley and Keith, all away, to reach the Scottish Cup proper, losing 3–0 to a strong Division Two side, St Bernard’s on 20 January 1934 at the Gymnasium Ground in Edinburgh. In 1936, Academy drew 3–3 in Wick with local rivals Brora Rangers, won the replay and two more games at Forres Mechanics and Buckie Thistle to earn a tie at Stirling. Academy scored first against King’s Park, but lost 6–1. Several prestigious friendlies were played, Aberdeen and Celtic were among the teams who appeared at Harmsworth Park in the 1930s.