McAlpine Jim Image 1 Millwall 1920

McAlpine Jim Image 1 Millwall 1920


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Ravenscraig, Lanarkshire born left half Jim McAlpine played for various local junior clubs, including Craigneuk Heatherbell in 1906, Dalziel Rovers in 1907, Vale of Clyde in 1908 and from 1909 Strathclyde where he was spotted by scouts from Southern League perennial contenders Southampton. He signed for The Saints in May 1911 along with team-mate Andrew Gibson who was also brought to The Dell, and he was considered to be one of new manager George Swift’s better signings. Swift was Southampton’s first appointment as manager and promptly embarked on a spending spree, signing eleven players in six weeks. Playing alongside the ever dependable Bert Lee, he became a virtual ever-present up to the suspension of peacetime football in 1915. According to Holley & Chalk’s “The Alphabet of The Saints”, McAlpine was “rather small for a left half, (but) made up for his lack of stature with a determined and forceful temperament that made him a firm favourite with the Saints crowd.” He scored twice in 132 appearances for Southampton before the First World War intervened forcing the suspension of peacetime football in England in May 1915.

During the War he remained on Southampton’s books, but joined local shipbuilders Harland and Wolff and turned out for their works football team, often against The Saints. He briefly returned to his native Scotland, where League football was still being played, playing for both Kilmarnock (3 matches either side of New Year in 1915-16) and Wishaw Thistle in 1918.

After the War he moved to Southern League club Millwall in 1919, where he was part of their inaugural Football League line up in August 1920 when they beat Bristol Rovers 2-0 at The Den, making 18 appearances for The Lions that first League season in the new Third Division. In July 1921 he moved on to Gillingham, and he missed only two matches in their 1921-22 campaign before falling out of favour early in the new season, making 51 appearances for The Gills through till January 1923 before retiring from football, already aged 36.

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