Joe Leiper
Joe Leiper
Joe Leiper
● Joe Leiper (DCM)

born in Scotland

Joseph Leiper was born on Saturday, 15th March, 1873, in Partick, Glasgow.

The defender signed for Thistle in April, 1892, having most recently been with Minerva.

Aged 19, he made his first known appearance on Saturday, 23rd April, 1892, in a 3-2 win away to King's Park in the Scottish Alliance League.

There were no known goals for Joe during his spells with Thistle.

He played his last known game for the club on Wednesday, 26th August, 1903, in a 1-1 friendly draw away to Port Glasgow Athletic, having appeared for the Thistle on at least 7 occasions.

His club-list included Gilmorehill, Possilpark, Minerva, Third Lanark, Partick Thistle, Derby County, Grimsby Town, Chesterfield Town, Motherwell, Hull City, Aberdare Athletic and Belper Town.

Joe died on Wednesday, 3rd February, 1937, in Partick, Glasgow, aged 63.

Bio Extra

The son of Joseph Leiper (wine merchant) and Ellen Leiper (née Barr) who were married in February 1872 in Donegal.

Leiper was born in Partick, and spent his childhood across the Clyde in Govan, living with his parents and two aunts. The teenager, a left-back specialist throughout his career, started out with Gilmorehill then Possilpark, before enjoying some success and gaining noteriety with Minerva. They had risen to become Glasgow's leading junior club, but folded at the end of season 1891-92, homeless and strapped for cash. Their record that season speaks for itself: P36, W28, D6, L2, F154, A39. It was a season in which they won the Glasgow Junior Cup and the Maryhill Charity Cup but, most impressively of all, they won the Scottish Junior Cup, beating Benhar Violet (Harthill) 5-2 at Cathkin Park. Joe's form at Minerva was recognized in February 1892 when he won a Scottish junior international cap. Thistle signed eight Minervans for the new season, namely William Alder, Andrew Stewart, James Mulvey, Robert Currie, Jacky Robertson, John Harvey, Maurice White and Joe Leiper. Between them they would make around 330 appearances and score some 50 goals.

Joe wasted no time at all in making his Thistle debut in late April 1892, appearing in a fine 3-2 win at King's Park in the Scottish Alliance. A couple of weeks later, he turned out in the Greenock Charity Cup Semi Final tie, Thistle going down narrowly by one goal to nil to Morton. The first game of the 1892-93 season drew a crowd of 2,000 to Inchview for a game against Celtic, which had been advertised as being against the Celtic first XI. However, a weakened side was sent to Partick, still expected by Celtic to be good enough to win. Through goals from Harvey (also ex-Minerva), Ingram, Murray, Bruce and Paul, and a fine performance from Joe himself, Thistle recorded their first-ever win over Celtic, by 5 goals to 2. Whilst at Minerva, Joe had guested for Third Lanark and he returned to Old Cathkin Park the following week, Thistle being soundly beaten by 6 goals to 2. That turned out to be Joe's final game (for the time being at least) as he touted himself around English clubs, speaking to Sunderland before making his date with destiny by signing for Derby.

He made nearly 180 appearances for the Rams over eight seasons as they inhabited the upper reaches of the First Division, finishing runners-up in 1896 and third the following season. Joe also played in two FA Cup semi finals for Derby - in 1896 and 1897 - before playing in the 1898 FA Cup final itself, as his Derby side were beaten 3-1 at Crystal Palace by local rivals Nottingham Forest. Joe crossed the ball for Steve Bloomer to score Derby’s only goal. All this came after a severe bout of influenza in 1893 that Leiper had to recuperate from in Matlock. In February 1900, he was transferred to Grimsby Town, and 18 months later he joined Chesterfield Town, shortly after being fined for drunkedness by a Grimsby magistrate!

Meanwhile, Partick Thistle had developed a reputation for being inconsistent at this time; between 1898 and 1903 they had yoyo’d between the 1st and 2nd, never spending two consecutive seasons in the same division. The committee, soon to become the first board of directors of the newly limited liability company (Partick Thistle Football Club Limited), were determined that the club should become a regular First Division team, avoiding the annual scramble to avoid relegation. 1903-04 was the chance to get consistent. Financially they finished the previous season with a substantial bank balance, after clearing off £650 of old debts.

The previous season was a record one for Thistle as they finished 8th, well away from the bottom of the division. Most of the previous season’s players who had performed so well were retained. The want of a reserve back had been severely felt towards the end of last season, and in addition to John Campbell and Harry Wilson, Joe Leiper was brought back to the club from Chesterfield in June, 1903. Leiper had gained lots of experience down South, but the old Partick Minervan was expected to prove an important signing and end his career at Meadowside. As it turned out, he played in 3 of the first 4 games of the season, but was released from his contract before the month of August was out! He signed for Motherwell in September 1903, where he spent the season captaining the side while living in Rothesay and also playing cricket.

The 31-year-old still hankered after adventure, and joined Hull City at the very beginnings of the club in the summer of 1904. He stayed only three months, which was long enough to play in the club’s first two FA Cup ties in 1904. With Leiper being a seasoned professional footballer with top flight experience in England and Scotland under his belt, he was a well-known figurehead and acted as a device to attract local interest. His short-lived spell at Hull City was perhaps explained by the fact that for the club’s first practice match in August 1904 Leiper turned up towards the end of the game and had to be hastily replaced.

Leiper joined Aberdare Athletic in February 1905 and ended the season with a Welsh Cup runners-up medal. He then finished his career at Belper Town, just up the road from the city of Derby where he had made his reputation a decade earlier, but was suspended by the Belper commitee in November 1905 after not turning up for a fixture and leaving them shorthanded. He had returned to Hull by 1907, playing local football for Jackson’s and living as a “gentleman” with his Sheffield-born wife Martha and five children, spending his time managing his property portfolio. In 1927 he returned to Glasgow to work in the shipbuilding industry and died in the city in February 1937. His son, John, signed the death register entry.


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