Football first came to Renfrewshire in the early 1870s, with teams like Thornliebank, Arthurlie, Barrhead and Renfrew. It was not until 1877 that the first team emerged in Paisley, when St.Mirren decided to switch codes from rugby to football. They were closely followed at the end of 1877 by rivals in the shape of Abercorn.
Over the years that followed, The Saints and The Abbies, as they were now being called, formed a strong rivalry in the town. Over this period, teams began to slip away from the senior ranks, and the Saints and Abbies were now two of the only three senior teams left in Renfrewshire.
Following the untimely demise of the Abbies in 1920, Greenock Morton were left as Saints closest rivals and since then this rivalry has intensified and is one of the most hard-fought derby fixtures in Scottish Football. In the early days of Scottish Football County Cup Competitions were common, and were regarded as second only to the Scottish Cup in importance. Renfrewshire had a strong competition with as many as thirty teams competing each season, but with the demise of so many clubs this competition has lost much of its appeal.
Charity Cups were also contested, and the Paisley Charity Cup was introduced in 1882-83 and was played each year until 1967. The names of St.Mirren and Morton are emblazoned on these trophies more than any other teams, proving their dominance in Renfrewshire.
In 2001, Greenock Morton were in financial trouble and St.Mirren stepped in to arrange a challenge match with all proceeds going to the Cappielow club. This was not the first act of kindness towards their rivals by the Saints, as back in season 1908-09, when Abercorn were having similar troubles, a match was organised by St.Mirren and all proceeds went to the Abbies. Unfortunately this only prolonged their demise.
As a true gesture of charity it is interesting to note that Saints won neither of these matches against lesser teams, drawing 0-0 with Abercorn and losing 2-1 to Morton!