An eventful Old Etonian winter tour to Scotland started at Hampden Park, Glasgow. Arthur Kinnaird had not been back to the ground since playing for Wanderers in a 5-0 drubbing from Queen’s Park in 1875, and while it was not such a crushing defeat this time, again his team conceded five. The opposition was Vale of Leven, who chose to play at Hampden because of the status of a match which brought together the winners of the Scottish Cup and the FA Cup, but driving wind and rain kept the crowd down to just 800. The Vale team had the advantage of the strong wind at their backs to pile on the pressure, and built a 4-0 half-time lead. After the break, as the pitch turned into a quagmire, the Etonians exploited the conditions for their own benefit, scoring two quick goals before a defensive blunder let in the Vale for a fifth, and it ended 5-2. The visitors still drew praise in the press: 'The Etonian players are the best exponents of the game seen in Scotland, and under different weather circumstances would prove a good match for their Scotch opponents.'
The storm was gathering so much momentum that the following evening (28 December) it caused one of Britain’s worst railway accidents, the Tay Bridge Disaster. Over 70 train passengers were killed as the bridge collapsed in the wind, which brought an unexpected summons for Major Marindin, who had played in goal as Etonian captain at Hampden. On retiring from the army he had become an investigating officer of railways with the Board of Trade, and was a regular visitor to Scotland on railway business (he had actually inspected the Tay Bridge before it opened in the summer of 1878). He could hardly have been closer to the scene of the disaster, as after the match in Glasgow, Arthur Kinnaird had invited him (and possibly the rest of the team as well) to stay for a couple of nights at his family home, Rossie Priory. It is just ten miles west of the bridge’s northern landfall. On hearing the tragic news, Marindin set off immediately for Dundee to launch the official investigation, ducking out of the rest of the tour. He spent the next few weeks in the city undertaking boat trips to inspect the damage and submitting evidence to the inquiry.
Meanwhile, the football tour continued. Kinnaird took over as Old Etonian captain and travelled with the rest of the team to Edinburgh where, with a local man as substitute goalkeeper, they faced a city select on 30 December and won 4-3.