Old Monkland, Lanarkshire born goalkeeper Dan McArthur was Celtic’s first great goalkeeping hero. Fearless and athletic, McArthur signed for the Bhoys in April 1892 from Parkhead Juniors and made his debut in a home league clash with Abercorn on September 10th that same year in a game in which Celtic triumphed 3-2, although it wasn’t until season 1894-95 that he became a regular taking over from Joseph Cullen, but he had played in only a handful of matches in the two League title winning seasons of 1893 & 1894.
Apparently only 5 foot 5″ and described as a goalkeeper “of the midget order” McArthur’s bravery as the custodian of the Celtic goal was the stuff of legend and in an era when keepers were subject to near assault during every attack where he was regularly knocked unconscious. McArthur wore his many battle scars with pride but apart from his incredible courage he was also a skilled keeper with excellent reflexes and great judgement. As one man put it: “If they’re going to kill McArthur they’ll have to shoot him“.
When Rab MacFarlane was brought in as cover for McArthur, he had none of wee Dan’s suicidal tendencies, stating: “It’s better to lose a goal than a goalie”! which clearly depicts the “bravery” that Dan had in going for the ball.
By late 1902 his body had however taken enough punishment and he retired from the game after 120 Celtic appearances and 3 Scotland caps. He first played for Scotland against Ireland in a 3-1 victory at Celtic Park in March 1895, winning a second cap a week later against England in a 3-0 defeat. He was recalled for a 6-0 triumph over Wales at Wrexham in March 1899, but this proved his last cap. He also represented The Scottish League on 4 occasions between April 1895 and April 1899, playing 3 times against The Football League and once against The Irish League. For Celtic he had played a pivotal role on the field to build the foundations of the first side, and helped win four League titles, the latter two in 1895-96 and 1897-98, along with two Scottish Cups in 1899 and 1900.
He later played briefly for Clyde and had a single appearance for Queen’s Park before retirement.