Les McDowall
Les McDowall
Les McDowall
● Les McDowall, 1938 (VIF)

born in India

Leslie John McDowall was born on Friday, 25th October, 1912, in Gangapur, Rajasthan.

The defender signed for Donald Turner's Thistle on Tuesday, 10th February, 1942, having most recently been with Manchester City.

Aged 29, he made his debut appearance on Saturday, 14th February, 1942, in a 4-0 defeat away to Hibernian in the Southern League.

There were no goals for Les during his time with Thistle.

He played his last game for the club on Saturday, 6th June, 1942, in a 2-0 defeat at home to Celtic in the Summer Cup, having appeared as a Jag on 15 occasions.

His club-list included Glentyan Thistle, Sunderland, Manchester City, St Mirren, Rangers, Partick Thistle, Morton, Wrexham and Oldham Athletic.

Les died on Sunday, 18th August, 1991, in Tarporley, Cheshire, aged 78.

Bio Extra

Following on from the Ward brothers in the 1880s, Les McDowall was the third Jag to be born in India, although he was brought up a Scotsman through and through. He started with Glentyan Thistle of Johnstone, before getting a prestigious move down south to Sunderland in December, 1932. A wing half or centre half, he spent five years of his playing career with the Rokermen (English champions in 1935-36) mainly as a reserve to Alex Hastings. Manchester City paid £7,000 for his services in 1937 and between then and 1948 he played 129 times for the team scoring 8 goals. He also captained City for a short while. Les guested for a number of clubs during wartime, and this included a 4 month spell at Firhill from February 1942. With Les at centre half all the way through the 8 game campaign, Thistle got very close to reaching the Southern League Cup final, being thwarted near the end by Morton in the semi final replay, 0-1 in front of 12,000 at Ibrox. In 1949, he briefly moved to Wrexham's Racecourse Ground to take up the player/managerial post before being brought back to Maine Road in 1950 and installed as manager.

Manchester City was languishing in the second tier of English football, and McDowall set to work building a solid team and soon saw the fruits of his labour, with the club returning to the first division the following season. Solid if unspectacular progress was made in the early 1950s, with some notable results along the way; the most significant being a handful of derby victories against Manchester United. McDowall was an innovator, undoubtedly ahead of his time, inspired by the great Hungarian side of the era he pioneered the use of wing backs and the deployment of a forward playing between the strikers and midfield. These revolutionary tactical systems, more commonly associated with the game as we know it today, were not an instant success however and City leaked more than five goals in a game on three occasions in the 1955–56 season.

Don Revie was a key player in McDowall's team and it was with Revie that he masterminded the "Revie Plan", centred on the plan's namesake playing in a withdrawn striker's role. McDowall's tactical brainstorming and tinkering, which had generally been met with scorn and derision from the majority of fans at Maine Road, eventually bore fruit and the club was rewarded with consecutive appearances in the FA Cup finals of 1955 (lost 1–3 to Newcastle United) and 1956, winning the latter against Birmingham City 3–1. The mid 1950s were the high points of McDowall's career as manager of Manchester City. An ageing team and limited resources saw the club begin to wane and fall towards the foot of the first division by the beginning of the 1960s, culminating in relegation to the second division in the 1962–63 season. With relegation came the end of McDowall's tenure at Manchester City. He went on to manage Oldham Athletic from June 1963 to March 1965 before quitting management.

He died 18 August 1991 at the age of 78. McDowall was an active freemason.


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