James Gailey
James Gailey
James Gailey
● James Gailey, c1896 (SJJP)

born in Scotland

James Ballantyne Gaily (re-styled as 'Gailey' throughout his life) was born on Monday, 4th February, 1878, in Clydesdale Iron Works Village, South Lanarkshire.

The midfielder signed for Thistle on Saturday, 20th July, 1901, having most recently been with Clydesdale Wanderers.

Aged 23, he made his debut appearance (as a trialist) on Tuesday, 14th May, 1901, in a 2-0 friendly defeat at home to Rangers.

James scored his only goal for Thistle on Saturday, 21st December, 1901, in a 4-1 win at home to Motherwell in the SFL Second Division.

He played his last game for the club on Saturday, 12th December, 1903, in a 1-0 friendly win away to East Stirlingshire, having appeared as a Jag on 58 occasions.

His club-list included Clydesdale Wanderers, Burnbank Athletic, Bellshill Athletic, Partick Thistle, Ayr and Scottish American.

James died on Thursday, 12th November, 1931, in New Jersey, aged 53.

Bio Extra

The son of John Gaily (iron puddler) and Mary Gaily (née Ballantyne) who were married at Clydesdale Iron Works, a manufacturing Village in Bothwell parish, South Lanarkshire, near Holytown station. An interesting social picture is painted when you consider that James would also be born in that same village some 2½ years later. Although born of a 'Gaily' lineage, he seemed to determinedly style himself as 'Gailey' throughout his life in census, immigration and death records, and this is the name his children took.

James, like his father, worked as an iron puddler at Clydesdale Iron-works, and played for a number of teams in Lanarkshire in his spare time, spending several seasons with Clydesdale Wanderers mainly. He hardly seemed like an inspirational signing when he formally joined the recently demoted Partick Thistle in the close season of 1901, but he actually turned out to be just what was needed at the time. He was a rock-steady no-nonsense centre-half who could lead by example, and dig in when the going got tough. James was getting his first crack as a senior professional, and the move worked out brilliantly for both parties as Thistle finished strongly in second place in 1901-02 and were re-elected back to the First Division. With only 9 defeats in the 22 game League campaign in 1902-03, Thistle were comfortable in 8th place (of 12) and could now build for the future as an established top-flight club. It would be nearly 70 years before they would again suffer the pain of relegation! James did so well that there were rumours of a move down South, but he would play his final games as a senior footballer in Scotland with Second Division Ayr from New Years Day 1904 to the end of that season.

James left for New Jersey in September 1907, and would later become a naturalised citizen of the States. At some point, he married an English lass by the name of Christina. He was naturally drawn to the local football scene, and played with the biggest team in the area, Scottish American, who had been going strong since the mid 1890s. A team photo of Scottish American in 1911 features James, and we learn that they were champions of New Jersey and winners of the Clan McDonald Cup in 1909 and 1910. In late November 1931, James passed away fairly early at 53 and was laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery, Kearny, New Jersey.


© The Thistle Archive 2015-2024. All rights reserved. Third-party trademarks and content are the property of their respective owners, and subject to their own copyright terms and conditions. See the website links provided in each case.