George Leckie
George Leckie
A. Player

probably born in Scotland

George Gibson Leckie was Friday, 8th June, 1860, in Hutchesontown, Glasgow.

The defender probably joined Thistle in 1877.

Aged 17, he made his first known appearance on Saturday, 16th March, 1878, in a 4-0 friendly win at home to Springvale.

That day, George became a member of our scoring debutant's club.

He scored his second (and final known) goal for us on Saturday, 15th October, 1881, in a 7-1 win at home to Pilgrims in the Scottish Cup.

He played his last known game for the club on Saturday, 10th May, 1884, in a 3-2 friendly defeat away to Northern, having appeared for the Thistle on at least 51 occasions.

His known club-list included only Partick Thistle.

George died on Thursday, 22nd November, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois, aged 68.

* If you can help us to improve any of these marked points on The Thistle Archive, then please do get in touch →

Bio Extra

The son of Andrew Leckie (masonry foreman) and Elizabeth Leckie (née Gibson). At the 1881 census George, a hewer mason, lived at 92 Dumbarton Road with his Mum (Elizabeth, 47), younger brother (Andrew, 19), younger sister (Margaret, 16) and a ship-carpenter lodger (John McTyer, 19).

George is a contender to be one of Partick Thistle's founder members. At a general meeting on the 3rd September 1877, the first ever committee of the club was elected, and 17-year-old George took his place as the treasurer. He was clearly competent and trusted in the role, as he held the position for several years thereafter. His teenage pal, Hugh McColl, was listed as the secretary. Despite these rather grand and grown-up sounding titles for such young men, we need to bear in mind the grass-roots public-park level of the endeavour at that time. It was initially a youthful enthusiasm which drove the game onwards in the 1870s, and it's perhaps understandable that the seasoned committee beardies didn't come in to play until later, when a bit of money and prestige was swirling about. We're expecting that our founders will all turn to be very young, most if not all being teenagers, in line with other clubs, the four Rangers founders being a good example; Moses McNeil (16), Peter McNeil (17), Peter Campbell (15) & William McBeath (15).

In April 1879, the 19-year-old George was part of the first-ever Partick Thistle cup-winning side, appearing as a half-back in the 1-0 win over Marchton. He was often listed as the club captain in press reports, and was officially reported as such in the AGM of 15th August 1881. Echoing the pioneering adventures of Partick, their burgh rivals, on Saturday the 26th November 1881, Partick Thistle played their first ever game against non-Scottish opposition – their first ever game on “foreign” soil. George was in place in his usual role as a half-back. Blackburn Olympic, who were to win the FA Cup in 1883, were the opponents. Kicking off at 3.10pm before 500 hardy but keen souls, the game was played in the howling wind and rain, and the home side were 4-0 up at half-time. Thistle, playing with the conditions, staged an amazing second half comeback and came away with a highly credible 4-4 draw. This exciting adventure raised the club's profile greatly, and the memorably romantic name of Partick Thistle became more widely known on a British scale.

George and his younger brother, Andy, played in the same Partick Thistle team for a while, first proven on 8th April 1882 in a 3-0 home win over Clarkston. They may well have played together as brothers before that, but teamlines weren't so regular for Thistle at the beginning of the 1880s, so we may never know. The Leckies are only beaten to first-known brothers status by a mere 2 days; Edward & Jerry Suter were first to be recorded on 6th April 1882 away to St Bernard's!

George was listed as the vice captain in season 1882-83, and Saturday the 30th December 1882, marks the date when Partick Thistle played hosts to a non-Scottish club for the first time. It was Blackburn Olympic again – the rematch! Following the previous seasons’ epic 4-4 draw in Lancashire, it was Thistle’s turn to play mine host. The game was described in the Manchester Courier as “the annual match between these sides”! No crowd can be found for this one although it was played before “a very large crowd of spectators” according to the Sheffield Independent. Niall Kennedy’s research notes that “An interesting experiment was carried out in the game – the first half saw English-style throw-ins (one-handed, any direction), while the second used Scottish throw-ins.” George was part of the Partick Thistle which permanently took ownership of the Yoker Cup in March 1883, the 6-0 win over Sir John Maxwell securing the trophy for a third consecutive time.

The “annual match” with the Olympic was played once more, on the 7th April 1883, Thistle going down 0-3 at Blackburn’s “Hole-i'-th-Wall” ground, conveniently situated just behind the public house where a fine evening was spent drinking, dining and smoking. The Olympic were in fine spirits, having just returned victorious from London the previous week, where they had become the first Northeners to win the FA Cup. Their 2-1 victory over Old Etonians was achieved after extra-time in front of 8,000 (mostly crestfallen) spectators at Kennington Oval. George, and Thistle, were mixing in high company. George's final playing season was 1883-84 and there were many memorable victories achieved, including an astonishing spell in September in which Glasgow Thistle were defeated 9-0, Falkirk beaten 8-2 and Orchard thumped 8-1 in the Scottish Cup. Most tellingly of all, George played in both legs of the derby against Partick that season, being on the right side of 5-0 victories on both occasions. On his watch, Thistle had risen to be the undisputed kings in the burgh. Amazingly, George is not known to have missed a single competitive match in all his time at the club, and it's proven that he played in 17 of them from 1879 to 1883. He held the consecutive appearances record until John Hendry bypassed him in 1887.

George's brother, Andy, followed in his footsteps by taking a leading role in the committee throughout the latter half of the 1880s. Heading into the 90s, the Jags were in a great place as an establishment club, and the Leckie brothers can be proud of the role that they played. George's post-Thistle life initially looked like a bit of a mystery, with no trace of him in the Scottish census records of 1891, 1901 or 1911; it turns out that his life adventure ended up in Chicago!

The bold George sailed for those United States of America in 1884, working to his trade as a stonecutter. He applied for and obtained American Citizenship in 1890. Frustratingly, we have his card but not his photograph or declaration of loyalty which we can usually get, We don’t know if Illinois works to a different system, but we would doubt it. We shall keep our eyes open as ever. George then got married at the age of 33 on 31st October 1893 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, to a girl ten years his junior, Miss Elizabeth C. Bowie, who lived just down the road from him, down the road in Scotland that is, she was an Ayrshire lass! There is only one child, Elsie Elizabeth Leckie, who was born 23rd October 1896.

In the 1900 Census things are fine, we have the three together George, Elizabeth and Elsie. However, by the 1920 US Census, George and Elizabeth are 1700 miles apart and divorced, Elizabeth having remarried and been widowed in the interim. Sadly, Elizabeth herself then died in 1921. When George died in 1928 they were both in the same cemetery in Cook County, so we'd like to think that George returned to Illinois to look after his daughter Elsie in 1921. And as for Elsie, well she lived a long life, married, and became Elsie Swanson. She died on 14th September 1993 in Kalamazoo, Michigan at the ripe old age of 96.

(WS/JK)




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