Goalkeeper Peter McBride was born in Ayr, and played junior football for Westerlea before joining Ayr United in the Scottish Second Division in 1892 making his debut that August, signing for Preston North End on 5th December 1896, initially as understudy to Welsh international keeper James Trainer, known as “The Prince of Goalkeepers” who had been in Preston’s “Invincibles” team of 1888-89. Preston paid Ayr £55 for the transfer, and McBride was given a weekly salary of £3.
He made his Football League debut against Stoke in March 1898, keeping a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw, and soon became Preston’s number one keeper, being ever present in 1898-99 and 1899-1900. On 20th March 1901, McBride injured a shoulder in a trial for the Scottish team. As a result McBride missed the last five games of the season with Preston. His deputies Samuel Woodhouse and Archie Montgomery let in 15 goals in those final games, and Preston were relegated from the First Division. In the 1903-04 season McBride helped Preston to regain their position in the First Division winning the Second Division Championship with 20 wins and 10 draws out of their 34 games. McBride had a great season, keeping 14 clean sheets. McBride was also a member of the Preston side which was runners-up to Liverpool in the 1905-06 League Championship. Preston had the best defensive record in the First Division that season.
In March 1901 he played for the Anglo Scots against the Home Scots in an international trial match in Glasgow. On 9th April 1904, McBride won the first of his six international caps for Scotland in a 1-0 defeat to a Steve Bloomer goal for England at Parkhead. He played against The Auld Enemy four times, including Scotland’s 2-1 victory in 1906, his other two caps including his final cap at The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham in March 1909 coming against Wales. McBride was actually Preston’s first Scottish international owing to the fact that for many years previously The Scottish Football Association had refused to pick the likes of Jimmy Ross and John Bell while they were playing south of the border.
McBride was known for his aggressive behaviour and it is reported that during one match against Blackburn Rovers in October 1899, when the opposition’s debutant striker Arnie Whittaker scored his third goal, McBride raced out of his penalty area and shook him by the throat. One report of the time stated: “McBride had an amazing contempt for any opponent and displayed it by making their shooting appear feeble. Several of the game’s hard men were determined to make him suffer for such antics but in turn, he resented the indignity and regularly risked injury to his magnificent physique for the sake of personal pride. Once against Bolton, he was up and at two forwards, throwing punches like a heavyweight boxer.”
Failing eyesight forced him into retirement in 1912, but during his 15 year period at Preston, McBride played a record 443 League games for the club and made 475 appearances overall, and remains second only to Alan Kelly Sr. in the list of North End’s record League appearance makers.
In the image c.1907, Preston defend against Sunderland with “St Peter at the Gate”
NB the foundation of Vintage Footballers is mainly down to Peter McBride!