McBain Neil Image 4 Ayr United 1921


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Campbeltown, Argyllshire born half back Neil McBain started with Campbeltown Academical in 1912 and began his senior football career in the summer of 1914, joining Ayr United, for whom he made his Scottish League debut on 20th March 1915 against Clyde. He also played for Kilmarnock in April 1915 and guested for Portsmouth during the First World War. He served in The Black Watch and then transferred to The Royal Navy during the War and after the War he had a brief spell at Third Lanark earlier in 1921 before re-joining Ayr United in August 1921.

He transferred to First Division Manchester United in November 1921 for a fee of £4,600, making his Football League debut against Aston Villa. His Scotland international debut came in April 1922, in a 1-0 victory against England at Villa Park. In January 1923, after 2 goals in 43 appearances for United, McBain moved to Everton, costing the Goodison Park side £4,200. McBain was known for his heading ability and elegance on the ball. He won two further Scotland caps while with Everton, in 1923 against Ireland and in 1924 against Wales. He scored once in 103 appearances for Everton, leaving in July 1926 to join St Johnstone for a fee of £1,100. He returned to Merseyside in March 1928, joining Liverpool for £1,000.

At Liverpool McBain replaced long-serving full-back Tommy Lucas for the final stages of the 1927-28 season, when he played in ten of the last 11 fixtures. He only played twice more for the club, on both occasions replacing Tom Bromilow, in consecutive matches against Arsenal and Birmingham in the late-autumn of 1928 before joining Watford in November the same year for “under £1,000”. He became their player manager in May 1929 and continued his playing career until May 1931 when he hung up his boots after 5 goals in 95 appearances.

He continued as Watford manager until August 1937 when he became Luton Town’s chief scout, taking over as Luton’s manager from June 1938 to June 1939. After the Second World War he became manager of New Brighton in June 1946 and he is best known as the oldest player ever to appear in a League match at the age of 51 years and 120 days. In March 1947 New Brighton were short of a goalkeeper and he put himself in goal, conceding three goals in a 3-0 loss against Hartlepool. He left New Brighton in February 1948 and joined Leyton Orient as assistant manager becoming their manager from April 1948 to August 1949. After a brief spell at Chelsea as chief scout, he coached in Argentina at Estudiantes de la Plata from March 1950 to 1954. He returned to Ayr United as manager in April 1955 before returning to Watford where he was manager from August 1956 to February 1959. He was finally manager of Ayr United from 1962 to 1963 and had spells scouting for Mansfield Town and Everton.


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