The C Division has its roots in the Eastern League which was formed after World War Two comprising of clubs who were denied their places in the newly formed A and B divisions.
The 1945-46 season had still been prepared as wartime football as the war although over in Europe still continuing in the Pacific. With more clubs re-emerging after wartime shutdown it was decided to operate two divisions under the control of the Scottish League referred to as Division A with sixteen teams and Division B with fourteen teams.
This however left a hand full of the small clubs that the Scottish League frankly hoped would go away. As full members of the Scottish League they were not, for whatever reason, included in either of the two divisions. The solution to this was the formation of the Eastern League. It was formed to be a temporary post-war solution with the clubs accepting this demotion after assurances over the word “temporary”. The league was made up with Dundee Reserves, Dundee United Reserves, and the remaining small clubs Brechin City, East Stirlingshire, Edinburgh City, Forfar Athletic, Leith Athletic, Montrose, and Stirling Albion. The word “temporary” however was soon to be questioned.
These divisions were supposed to be temporary only until hostilities were over, but within days of the season’s start Japan surrendered. This led to a need to reorganise the structure of the league, for the following season, back to a more recognisable pre-war form.
This could not be achieved by promotion and relegation as it was not in operation and with all but two of the pre-war 38 members of the Scottish League re-emerging (King’s Park and St Bernard’s did not survive the war years), there was the question of what to do with the extra clubs.
Some of the bigger clubs and leading Scottish League officials were looking for a way of reforming the size of the league, and now they had their chance.
In England the Football League had agreed in the interest of fairness that season 1946-47 should start, as would 1939-40 if not for the war but thoughts in Scotland were now different.
Talks of the formation of a 16 or 14 team Super League based on ground capacity and crowd potential were held in the winter of 1946 with no relegation or promotion from other leagues without a strong case for inclusion. This idea however came to nothing, as clubs that did not qualify would not vote to accept the idea of no promotion from a second division.
Instead the Divisions were named A and B to mark the fact that they bore no resemblance to the pre-war first and second, and to the injustice of Ayr United, Alloa Athletic, Cowdenbeath, Queen of the South, and St Johnstone, who lost their position held pre-war in the First Division and competed in Division B. The idea of making the numbers of Division B to 16 teams was suggested but did not happen instead C Division was formed made up of the Eastern League clubs and reserve sides of the two Dundee clubs and St Johnstone. To keep the small clubs of C Division content the promise of promotion to B Division was made if one of them won the C Division title.
Change was on the cards again for the 1947-48 season when it was thought that the optimum formula for Scottish football was two divisions of sixteen teams to make the League Cup, which was growing in popularity every season, more manageable. Accordingly Stirling Albion was promoted as Champions with no club relegated and Leith Athletic were readmitted to B Division after finishing third behind Dundee Reserves. A further four reserve sides were added to C Division. Stranraer applied for membership but it was turned down due to geographic remoteness.
1948-49 saw East Stirlingshire promoted to B Division as champions of the C Division in place of Leith Athletic who were relegated.
1949-50 A and B Divisions remained unchanged with the exception of Forfar Athletic who were C Division champions replacing East Stirlingshire. The League Management Committee decided to extend and divide C Division into two sections: North and East containing Brechin City, East Stirlingshire, Leith Athletic, and Montrose plus twelve reserve sides, and the South and West section containing only one none reserve side amongst its eighteen members in Stranraer who suddenly less geographical inaccessible were admitted in May 1949 in place of Edinburgh City who resigned. This new arrangement meant that to win promotion to B Division one of the smaller clubs would have to finish above reserve sides of Aberdeen, Celtic, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, and Rangers making promotion more difficult, which was exactly the idea.
1950-51 East Stirlingshire put forward the idea of, Brechin City, Montrose, Leith Athletic, and themselves been included in a twenty team B Division with little support it never reached the voting stage. East Stirlingshire transferred to the South and West section to join Stranraer.
More problems for C Division sides arose when it was realised that the possibility of two of the smaller clubs winning their respective sections and been eligible for promotion. To guard against this the League Management Committee agreed that promotion would only be granted if the ground of any such club were suitable for holding B Division matches.
1951-52: The only change amongst the C Division clubs was the entry of Berwick Rangers who were placed in the North and East Section.
At the A.G.M of 1952 East Fife had a proposal for two Divisions of 20 and 18, East Stirlingshire wanted 16 and 22, Stenhousemuir wanted 16 and two regional divisions of 12 and Stirling Albion a Division of 42 clubs to include senior clubs from the new towns of Cumbernauld, East Kilbride, Glenrothes and Livingston.
1952-53: The number of League clubs remained unchanged but a number of reserve sides resign.
1953-54: Leith Athletic were expelled from the North and East section for flatly refusing to play after the League turned down their desperate plea for reorganisation. St Johnstone reserves resigned.
1954-55: Brechin City were promoted as champions to B Division with Dumbarton being relegated to the South and West section where they joined Stranraer. East Stirlingshire transferred to the North and East Section to join Berwick Rangers and Montrose.
At the end of season 1954-55 the first major reorganisation of the Scottish Football League took place after ten years. The dissatisfaction of the bigger clubs towards reserve team football where they had to compete in one of the C Division sections had brought about change. The League Management Committee suggested two B Divisions of 11 and 10 clubs with the smaller clubs in the C Division moving up, but there was little enthusiasm for this. Berwick Rangers nearly got 18 and 19 through at the A.G.M but failed by one vote, 24 to 13 to obtain the necessary two-thirds majority. Views changed after it was mentioned by Mr John Thompson of Berwick Rangers that several sides namely Rangers, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Aberdeen, Clyde, Partick Thistle, and St Mirren were not going to enter reserve teams in the C Divisions for the following season. At a recalled general meeting a decision was taken to go to two divisions of 18 and 19 clubs with the five smaller clubs finally reaching their aim of B Division football.