Glasgow born outside left George McLachlan joined Scottish League Clyde in 1922 from Queen’s Park Strollers having previously played for Crossbill Amateurs in 1918, Parkhead Juniors in 1919 and Rutherglen Glencairn in 1920. After a spell on loan at King’s Park (now Stirling Albion), and on his return to Shawfield in 1924 he established himself in their first eleven and it was from Clyde that he joined First Division Cardiff City in November 1925 for £2,000, making his Football League debut against Leicester City that month.
He soon became a regular in the Cardiff line up and the following season was a member of their triumphant FA Cup Final line up when they took The Cup to Wales beating Arsenal 1-0 at Wembley. He was also a member of their Charity Shield winning team that October with a 2-1 win over The Corinthians at Stamford Bridge, in a season in which he was an ever present for The Bluebirds, his return of 12 goals that season his career best. At the time it was said of him “McLachlan is very speedy, crosses a good ball and is a powerful shot”.
At Cardiff, McLachlan moved from outside left to wing half, and in 1928 he played for the Anglo-Scots against the Home-Scots in an international trial match at Firhill, but his international call up had probably been scuppered in March 1926 when he’d broken his leg against Leicester City while in arguably the best form of his career. After their relegation to the Second Division in the summer of 1929, McLachlan left The Bluebirds after 24 goals in 154 appearances, signing for First Division Manchester United in December 1929, where he captained the side between the departure of Jack Wilson in 1932 and the appointment of Louis Page as captain. McLachlan scored four goals in 116 games for The Red Devils.
In June 1933, McLachlan was appointed as a player-coach at Football League newcomers Chester, who were about to embark on only their third Football League season. Throughout the 1930’s Chester never finished outside of the top ten in Division Three (North), their lowest finish came in 1933-34 when they came in 10th place with McLachlan scoring 7 goals in 32 appearances for The Seals.
McLachlan had a spell as player-manager with French side Le Havre in 1934-35. He was offered a further contract with the club, but his ambition was to manage a Scottish First Division side. In 1935 McLachlan was the successful applicant out of almost one hundred who applied for the job as manager of First Division Dumfries based club, Queen of the South. His appointment was announced on 29th June.
He was manager of one of the landmark events in the history of Queen of the South; the 11-game 1936 overseas tour and the Algiers Invitational Tournament. Queens returned with the trophy after beating Racing Santander in the Final. Players at the club during this time included Willie Savage, Willie Culbert, Willie Ferguson, Joe Tulip and Irish international Laurie Cumming.
McLachlan’s time at Queens was part of a long spell the club spent in Scotland’s top division. It was under McLachlan that Jackie Oakes joined Queens. On 22nd March, with five games remaining of the 1936-37 season, the Queens board announced that McLachlan would be leaving the club on 30th March. The week was intended to allow the outgoing manager to offer advice on team building for the next season. Willie Ferguson was named as McLachlan’s successor.