Airdrie, Lanarkshire born inside left Alex “Sandy” Macfarlane started his football career with Baillieston in 1894 before joining hometown professional club Airdrieonians in 1895. He moved south to join Second Division Woolwich Arsenal in November 1896, making his Football League debut coming against Grimsby Town on 28th November. He only made five appearances for Arsenal and returned to Airdrie the following year. His second move south of the border was more successful, joining First Division Newcastle United in October 1898, soon becoming their first-choice inside left. In four seasons in the north east McFarlane scored 17 goals in 86 appearances, with three consecutive top six finishes.
He returned to Scotland to play for Dundee in 1901. Described as “brilliant… with great command of the ball”, during his twelve years there he won a Scottish Cup in 1909-10 and made five appearances for Scotland between his debut in a 1-1 draw with Wales at Dens Park in March 1904 and March 1911, when he again played against Wales, this time at Ninian Park, Cardiff. He scored once in a 5-0 victory over Ireland on 15th March 1909 in a British Home Championship game at Ibrox, the only time the opponent was not Wales amidst the 5 caps he won. He also made 3 appearances for The Scottish League between April 1904 and March 1911, scoring once in a 2-0 win against The Irish League at Firhill in October 1909.
He moved to Chelsea in April 1913, but only played only very occasionally in the first team, making in total 4 appearances, and retired from playing in 1914.
After the First World War MacFarlane returned to Dundee in 1919 and spent six years as manager of the club, during which time they reached another Scottish Cup Final in 1925. That summer Charlton Athletic tempted him to move south. In January 1928 he returned to Dundee, but only lasted six months before returning to Charlton in June. In his first full season back at The Valley, he led Charlton to the 1928-29 Third Division (South) title.
He left Charlton in December 1932 and less than a year later joined Blackpool on a two-year contract in July 1933. At Blackpool, he dismantled The Seasiders’ squad, allowing nine players to leave Bloomfield Road as he brought in fresh faces. One player he signed was the legendary Peter Doherty, who cost £1,000 but was sold on to Manchester City in 1936 for ten times that amount. At the end of the 1934-35 season, Blackpool finished fourth position in the Division Two table, just missing out on a return to the top flight and MacFarlane left the club that summer finishing his involvement in professional football.
Note: although this image was published in 1912, an identical image was published in 1909 on a similar cigarette card issued by the same issuer.