John McPherson (footballer, born 1868)

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John McPherson
Personal information
Full name John McPherson
Date of birth (1868-06-19)19 June 1868
Place of birth Kilmarnock, Scotland
Date of death 31 July 1926(1926-07-31) (aged 58)
Place of death Scotland
Playing position(s) Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1885–1887 Kilmarnock
1887 Cowlairs
1887 Everton
1887 Kilmarnock
1888–1890 Cowlairs
1890–1902 Rangers 175 (98)
National team
1888–1897 Scotland 9 (6)
1897–1902 Scottish League XI 5 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

John McPherson (19 June 1868 – 31 July 1926) was a Scottish footballer who played for Cowlairs, Kilmarnock, Rangers and the Scotland national team.


Early career[edit]

Born in Kilmarnock and known as 'Kitey' from a young age,[1] McPherson started his career with his local side Kilmarnock,[2] winning the Ayrshire Cup in 1885.[3] He appeared for English club Everton as an amateur in 1887, also playing for Cowlairs of Glasgow in the early rounds of the 1887–88 Scottish Cup, which led to a protest by their defeated opponents Third Lanark over the possibility of McPherson and others having professional status (prohibited at the time).[3] Another player (Robert Calderwood) was found to have been paid by an English club and the match was replayed, with Cowlairs winning again.[3] McPherson did not return to Everton, featuring instead for Kilmarnock in the same edition of the Scottish Cup[2] before spending the next two years with Cowlairs, after which he joined Rangers in 1890.


McPherson played mainly as a striker at Rangers, but was often used in other positions including goalkeeper.[4] He played in the inaugural Scottish League season, 1890–91, where Rangers finished as joint champions with Dumbarton. McPherson's first recorded appearance was in a friendly against Everton on 19 April 1890 at Ibrox, and he scored in a 6–2 defeat. His first League appearance, however, was in Rangers' first ever Scottish League match, on 16 August 1890 in a 5–2 win over Hearts at Ibrox, in which he scored.[5] McPherson scored 15 goals in Rangers' 18 matches in the League that season, including four in a 6–2 win over Cambuslang at Whitefield Park on 23 August 1890 (the first ever hat-trick scored in the Scottish Football League)[6][7] and five in an 8–2 win over St Mirren on 4 October 1890.

Despite Rangers' successful introduction to the Scottish Football League, they had to wait until season 1898–99 to win the League title again. It was done in style as Rangers won all of their 18 League matches, with McPherson netting 10 times. That remarkable season was the first of four consecutive League titles and McPherson made significant contributions to all of them, scoring nine goals in 1899–1900, seven in 1900–01 and three in 1901–02 — which proved to be his last season with Rangers.

McPherson also won three Scottish Cup medals with Rangers, the first in 1894, where he scored in five of Rangers' six matches, including the 3–1 final win over Celtic at Hampden. McPherson also scored in the 1897 final, where Rangers defeated Dumbarton 5–1. His third medal came a year later, 1898, in a 2–0 win over his former club Kilmarnock. His final recorded appearance for Rangers was in a 2–0 friendly defeat to Glentoran on 2 April 1902.

International career[edit]

McPherson was also a Scottish International, winning a total of nine caps and scoring six goals.[a] He is one of four players named John McPherson (none of whom are related) to have represented Scotland at full international level. He also played five times for the Scottish League representative side.[4][9]

  1. ^ In the Scottish Football Association's website profile,[8] McPherson's record has been appended in error onto that of John McPherson (footballer, born 1867) who gained 1 cap in 1891.

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Scotland's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 29 March 1890 Ballynafeigh, Belfast  Ireland 3–1 4–1 British Home Championship
2 5 April 1890 Hampden Park, Glasgow  England 0–1 1–1 British Home Championship
3 26 March 1892 Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh  Wales 3–0 6–1 British Home Championship
4 26 March 1892 Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh  Wales 4–0 6–1 British Home Championship
5 27 March 1897 Ibrox Park, Glasgow  Ireland 1–0 5–1 British Home Championship
6 27 March 1897 Ibrox Park, Glasgow  Ireland 5–1 5–1 British Home Championship

Personal life[edit]

A qualified engine–fitter,[4] McPherson maintained a close association with Rangers after his playing years, serving as a director from 1907 until his death in 1926 at the age of 58. He is buried in Craigton Cemetery not far from Ibrox Stadium.[7]

McPherson had several family members involved in football. His son, also John, played at Junior level with Benburb,[1] and his grandson Johnny (known as 'Sailor' due to his wartime navy service)[1] played a single league match for Rangers in 1948[10] followed by spells at senior level with Ayr United[11] and in the juniors with Irvine Meadow.[1]

In addition, his younger brother David was a teammate at Rangers,[12] had a long spell at Kilmarnock[13] (including in the 1898 Scottish Cup Final where he and John were on the opposing teams) and was also a Scottish international.[4][14] Elder brother James was a teammate at Kilmarnock,[15] Cowlairs[16] and the Glasgow FA team,[17] played as a guest for Celtic[18] and spent a lengthy period as a trainer at Newcastle United working with Frank Watt;[19] when James retired, the role was taken by his son Jim,[20][21] whose previous jobs included the Norway squad at the 1920 Olympics, Vitesse in the Netherlands and Bayern Munich in Germany.[22] Another of James's sons Robert was also a trainer/manager who led HBS to the Dutch championship in 1925, while his daughter Mary married Newcastle player and Germany international Edwin Dutton.[23]


  1. ^ a b c d Rangers legend Kitey and his grandson's bizarre connection to German internationalist, Daily Record, 4 September 2019
  2. ^ a b Kilmarnock player McPherson, John, FitbaStats
  3. ^ a b c John McPherson and the Kilmarnock Connection, ToffeeWeb, 21 February 2019
  4. ^ a b c d Lamming, Douglas (1987). A Scottish Soccer Internationalists Who's Who, 1872–1986. Hutton Press. ISBN 0-907033-47-4.
  5. ^ Rangers player McPherson, John, FitbaStats
  6. ^ Paul Smith & Shirley Smith (2005) The Ultimate Directory of English & Scottish Football League Grounds Second Edition 1888–2005, Yore Publications, p228 ISBN 0954783042
  7. ^ a b Craigton Cemetery Heritage Trail, Glasgow City Council
  8. ^ John McPherson, Scottish Football Association
  9. ^ "SFL player John McPherson". London Hearts Supporters' Club. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  10. ^ Rangers player McPherson, John (2), FitbaStats
  11. ^ Ayr United: 1946/47 - 2013/14, Post War English & Scottish Football League A - Z Player's Transfer Database
  12. ^ Rangers player McPherson, David M., FitbaStats
  13. ^ Kilmarnock player McPherson, David, FitbaStats
  14. ^ David McPherson, Scottish Football Association
  15. ^ Kilmarnock player McPherson, Jas, FitbaStats
  16. ^ Celtic 0 Cowlairs 2, 06 Sep, 1888, Celtic FC
  17. ^ Glasgow v London 5-1 (Inter City: March 23, 1889), Play Up Liverpool
  18. ^ McPherson, James, The Celtic Wiki
  19. ^ Sport, Football, Newcastle United FC Team Group with the Dewar Charity Shield 1906, Getty Images
  20. ^ The Toon: A Complete History of Newcastle United Football Club, Roger Hutchinson, 2011, ISBN 9781780573144
  21. ^ NUFC 1938/39 Diary, Toon Times: A History of Newcastle United
  22. ^ Bayern: The Making of a Super Club (page 26), Uli Hesse, 2016, ISBN 9780224100106
  23. ^ Ipswich Town A History, Susan Gardiner, 2013, ISBN 9781445617350