George McKay
George McKay
A. Player

probably born in Scotland

George McKay was born on Tuesday, 18th December, 1860, in Partick, Glasgow.

The midfielder probably joined Thistle in 1884.

Aged 23, he made his first known appearance on Saturday, 23rd August, 1884, in a 4-2 friendly win at home to Morton.

George scored his first known goal for Thistle on Saturday, 25th April, 1885, in a 5-2 friendly win at home to Rangers.

He scored his second and last-known goal on Saturday, 2nd May, 1885, in a 4-1 friendly win at home to Partick.

He played his last known game for the club on Saturday, 10th April, 1886, in a 7-1 friendly win at home to St Bernard's, having appeared for the Thistle on at least 42 occasions.

His club-list included Partick Thistle, Burnley, Woolston Works, Elswick Rangers, Newcastle West End and Middlesbrough Ironopolis.

George died in the second quarter of 1909, in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, aged 49. *

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Bio Extra

The son of William McKay (mason) and Chelly McKay (née Campbell). The family were living at Lumsden Street in Partick at the time of the 1881 census. In Govan, 2 years later, George married Catherine Morrison. George's earliest footballing activity isn't clear, but we know from his life movements he was involved in the shipbuilding industry and was quoted as a riveter's labourer. He was predominantly a half-back whilst at Thistle, and turned his hand to the full back positions as his career progressed.

George spent two full seasons with Thistle, the last season at Muir Park (1884-85) and the first season at Inchview (1885-86). It was a decent period for the club who continued to develop slowly and surely, and won their matches more often than not. He was never known as a threat in the attacking third, but scored (his only two goals for the club) in the final two matches at Muir Park in the late springtime of 1885. Firstly, Rangers were beaten by 5 goals to 2 and then (the soon-to-be-disbanded) Partick were defeated by 4 goals to 1. It was the eleventh and final Partick derby, and it was a 10th consecutive H2H victory for the Thistle. Within a number of weeks, it was announced that Thistle would be moving in to takeover the ground at Inchview. Ruthless!

George, who had built a reputation for rough play, was attracting the attentions of professional clubs in Lancashire as season 1885-86 got underway. With professionalism still frowned upon in Scotland, associating with professional clubs was a gamble for players who then returned to Scotland. However, the Scottish Umpire informed that McKay had not left for England, and was still playing for Thistle. The reports and rumours continued into October, and, in early November, it transpired McKay had played an ill-advised game trial game for Burnley. It's not known what happened in Burnley but it clearly wasn’t a good experience – George wrote to the owner of the Royal Oak Hotel that “I would not have stayed on any account”. On his return he was suspended by the SFA for two months on the charge of “professionalism”.

It seemed to be no co-incidence that at this time (towards the end of 1885) that Thistle, uncharacteristically, began to falter, results-wise. The Scottish Athletic Journal were unable to explain it… “Since the demise of the Partick club, Partick Thistle is now a combination of two clubs, and monarch of all it surveys down Partick way. Yet when it had to rely solely on its own resources it met with much greater success.” The Scottish Umpire felt they had a clue… “The Partick Thistle are surely going downhill. Week after week they are on the shady side. What does it all mean? Has Mckay’s absence anything to do with it?

Well, the bold George did return to the side after the new year and results did improve. Thistle lost only 1 of their last 13 games, and that to the mighty Renton. However, before too long, George's restless legs were off again, this time on a 400 mile journey from Glasgow to Southampton! There, he turned out for Woolston Works, a team made up primarily of shipyard workers. A huge employer, they had a great team and were known for a robust style of play which brough them success. At that time, they vied with St Mary's YMA as the top side in Southampton. It was a move which suited George in every way. He and Catherine had a child there; Cecilia Campbell McKay was born in Southampton in the second quarter of 1887, a wee sister to Florinda and William.

Woolston attracted several footballers from the North of England and Scotland at that time, the men being employed at the Oswald & Mordaunt yard. McKay became skipper of the team as they lifted the Hampshire & Dorset Cup in February 1887. He was rated highly, noted as a “diminutive captain”, and, although left-footed, could play on either flank at full-back. Brilliantly, George met a friendly face in his second season at Woolston, as his old Thistle mate, Andrew Duff, showed up, following the same career trajectory! George left before that season was out, although Andrew carried on into the springtime of 1888 and won silverware.

With a down-turn in shipbuilding work by the end of 1887, most of the imports to Woolston left and, by March 1888, George and his young family had relocated to Tyneside, where he signed with Elswick Rangers. It's highly likely he found work at the Elswick shipyard nearby. George became a key figure for Rangers, and was captain at the Mill Lane ground as they challenged Newcastle’s West End and East End. He reached the final of the Northumberland Challenge Cup, and was selected for the Northumberland County side as well as for the Newcastle & District XI.

George was poached by the West Enders in the close-season of 1889, as they made their debut in the new Northern League competition. Playing in his familiar half-back role, and sometimes described as having a rough edge to his game, he appeared in the club’s first-ever league match during September 1889, and enjoyed a good season before returning to Rangers. With the Elswick club, he had plenty of fellow Scots in the side over his period there, with no fewer than four who had played for Partick Thistle including Jack Beattie, William Knox, Jock Baxter and Robert McLucas. At the end of his career in 1893, George joined Middlesbrough Ironopolis for their debut in the Football League, playing on at least five occasions.

By the time of the 1901 census (in which they were mis-recorded as 'McKee') George and Catherine were living in Stockton, County Durham, and were now raising a flock numbering seven, namely: Florinda (17, b. Glasgow), William (16, b. Glasgow), Cecilia (15, b. Southampton), George (9, b. Sunderland), Alexander (6, b. Middlesbrough), John (2, b. Middlesbrough) and Elizabeth (1, b. Paisley). Sadly, it was in that town where Catherine passed away just two years later, and George did likewise in the second quarter of 1909.

(WS/PJO/NK)



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