James Cleland
James Cleland
James Cleland
● James Cleland (LFH)

born in Scotland

James Cleland was born on Thursday, 7th October, 1869, in Glasgow.

The forward first appeared as a guest for Thistle in May, 1894, whilst a Third Lanark player.

Aged 24, he made his first known appearance on Wednesday, 16th May, 1894, in a 6-1 neutral-venue win against Johnstone in the Greenock Charity Cup.

James scored his first known goal for Thistle on Saturday, 26th May, 1894, in a 3-2 neutral-venue defeat against Battlefield in the Greenock Charity Cup.

He scored the last of his 3 known goals on Saturday, 13th November, 1897, in a 3-2 win away to Clyde in the SFL First Division.

He played his last known game for the club on Saturday, 21st October, 1899, in a 2-1 defeat away to Ayr in the SFL Second Division, having appeared for the Thistle on at least 9 occasions.

His club-list included Minerva, Third Lanark, Partick Thistle, St Bernard's, Liverpool and Abercorn.

James died on Monday, 16th November, 1942, in Glasgow, aged 73.

Bio Extra

The son of Matthew Cleland (mercantile clerk) and Margaret Lithgow Cleland (née Allan).

Whilst at Third Lanark, the ex-Minerva winger guested for Thistle in the annual end-of-season charity tournament organised by Morton. He played two games in May 1894, both at Cappielow, Thistle defeating Johnstone by 6 goals to 1 in the Quarter Final, before losing by 3 goals to 2 against Battlefield. Half way through his third season with Third Lanark James moved from Glasgow to Edinburgh, joining top-flight rivals St Bernard's in December 1894.

He got the surprising call to play for Liverpool at the end of that season. They had finished bottom of the First Division that season, and were condemned to the Second Division after losing by a single goal to Bury in Cleland's solitary game for the club, a 'Test Match' on 27th April 1895, the result of which always had a huge bearing on the end-of-season election.

Never out of the top-flight, James played another season with St Bernard's in 1895-96, scoring twice in 7 League games, before switching to Abercorn the following term, scoring twice in his 5 League appearances for the Abbies. Thistle, promoted to the top-flight for the first time, brought James to Meadowside for his 'second spell' with the club in the close season of 1897. He appeared in 7 of our League games, again scoring twice (can you see a pattern here?) both goals coming in the two matches with Clyde, a 1-1 draw at Meadowside (30th October) and a 3-2 win at Shawfield (13th November).

James returned as a Jag to his old stomping ground at St Bernard's on 4th December 1897 as Thistle were shockingly humiliated by 9 goals to 1. Whatever transpired in the aftermath I cannot say, but it would be nearly two years before he turned out again for the first team. Thistle, by then back in the Second Division, lost 2-1 at Ayr on 21st October 1899, whereafter James's footballing career seems to have come to a halt. James married Agnes Hutchison Rankin on Boxing Day, 1901, in Glasgow. Later in his working life, he was a company director at an engineering firm, Watson Laidlaw & Co Ltd. The company specialised in manufacturing centrifugal machines, hydro-extractors and separators for the sugar, dairy, chemical, laundry and textile industries.


Historian's note: Not to be confused with John White Clelland (b. 6 January 1863, Hamilton) who played with Royal Albert and was capped for Scotland. After first appearing as a guest in 1894, our James Cleland formally joined Thistle 3-and-a-half years later.

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