Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
● Matt Wilson, 1921 (PIC)

born in Scotland

Matthew Wilson was born on Thursday, 22nd August, 1901, in Ardrossan, North Ayrshire.

The 5' 11 (11st 2lbs) midfielder signed for George Easton's Thistle on Friday, 2nd January, 1920, having most recently been with Queen's Park.

Aged 18, he made his debut appearance on Wednesday, 28th April, 1920, in a 3-0 defeat away to Ayr United in the Scottish Football League.

Matt scored his first goal for Thistle on Saturday, 12th February, 1921, in a 4-0 win at home to Morton in the Scottish Football League.

He scored the last of his 7 goals on Saturday, 3rd February, 1923, in a 2-0 win at home to Dundee in the SFL First Division.

He played his last game for the club on Wednesday, 14th May, 1924, in a 1-1 win (on corners) away to King's Park in the Stirling Charity Cup, having clocked up 119 appearances as a Jag.

His club-list included Queen's Park, Partick Thistle, East Fife, Clyde, New York Nationals, Bethlehem Steel and Toronto Ulster United.

Matt died in October, 1974, in Canada, aged 73. *

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Bio Extra

The son of James Conn Wilson (master joiner) and Margaret Wilson (nÊe McLean), who were married in September 1885 in Troon.

Young Matt Wilson had been with Queen's Park for some eighteen months when Thistle came calling early in the new year of 1920. He was one of three Spiders signing professional terms at Firhill that year, along with Bob McFarlane and Jimmy Kinloch, all of whom played their part in Thistle's Scottish Cup glory run the following year. Winning the cup with Thistle in his first full season was a dream come true for the young half back, whose role was to provide back-up as and when necessary for Thistle's first choice middle line. He would play around one third of the strenuous 55 game campaign of 1920-21, giving the directors an excellent option when it came to constantly refreshening the team inbetween Cup games in the heavy-load springtime. It wasn't until match day nine (the semi final replay against Hearts) that Matt made his first appearance in the cup run, allowing our internationalist left half, Jimmy McMullan, time to recover from a leg knock. Ironically, Matt was forced to retire for treatment for some twenty minutes in the second half, but returned heroically to play his part: “Wilson, if shaky at times in the first period, was very good in the second.”

Matt would not have been expecting to play again in the Scottish Cup this season, but play again he did - in the final itself! It became clear on the morning of the big match that Willie Hamilton wasn't going to make it, but the directors had every faith that Matt could step up to the mark, after all, he had plenty of League experience by now. Indeed, in Matt's 9 appearances so far this term, only 3 goals had been conceded, a testament to his determined defensive style aligned with the fact that he would “bust-a-gut” for the cause. And what a shift he put in for the final… “Their reserve men, especially Wilson, played exceedingly well” said James Black of the S.F.A. “None did better than Wilson and Borthwick, the reserve halves” said the Dundee Courier. Willie Maley in The Sunday Post observed that “Wilson showed amazing virility for an untried youngster”. Matt's gutsy performance typified the whole team's spirit on the day, beating the odds through grit, determination and a sheer will to win. It was the making of him as a Jag and he became much more of a first team regular in the seasons to come, peaking with 39 appearances in the 43 competitive games of 1922-23.

With the emergence of the likes of Alex Lambie and Jimmy Gibson, Thistle's half-back line went from strength to strength in the mid-20s; Matt found himself labelled as utility man, but he yearned to play centre half and was granted a (financially beneficial) free transfer to East Fife late in 1924. After two years there, and a short spell at Clyde, Matt cottoned on to the emerging trend for Scottish players to try their hand in the North American game, and he emigrated to Canada, where he would spend the rest of his life, in 1927. He played with the New York Nationals in 1927 and 1928, even coming on once as a sub goalie. He'd played in the main three field segments whilst a Jag, but goalie? That was a career first! From there, Matt signed up with Bethlehem Steel in August 1928, where he played for some 9 months, before heading off to re-settle in Candada, where he played with Toronto Ulster United as the decade turned into the 30s.

Away from the football, Matt worked as a shipping clerk when he lived in Glasgow. Aged 21, he married Annie Fleming (26) at her home address of 42, West Street in Glasgow. By this time his father, James, was deceased. Like all good serious footballers, Matt got married in the close-season, tying the knot on the 2nd June, 1922. Matt and Annie set sail for Canada together in 1927. After spending a few years in the States, they returned to Canada, and Matt joined the Toronto Police Force in 1930, as his footballing career wound down.


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