Bo’ness, West Lothian born right back Alec McNair began his career at Stenhousemuir. Initially he played at inside right and was a regular goalscorer, helping the club win the Scottish Qualifying Cup in 1901 and 1902. He also played in the Stenhousemuir team that reached the Scottish Cup semi-final in 1903, losing 4-1 to Rangers.
He first actually played for Celtic in a trial in May 1903, however it was a year later when he actually signed for the club in May 1904 and he started his remarkable career as a Bhoy in a 3-0 Glasgow Cup victory over Queen’s Park at Parkhead on September 10th. It was to be another 21 years before McNair would leave the Celts. No player in the history of the club played as many games as Alec McNair, and this figure likely is truly higher as likely doesn’t include all the friendlies and extra matches from his time at the club. Such was his part in “The Holy Trinity” defence of Charlie Shaw, McNair and Jock Dodds, so effective was their defence, it earned that sacrilegious tag. He was an integral part of the Celtic side spearheaded by Jimmy Quinn that won six successive league championships from 1904-05 to 1909-10. Willie Maley, the Celtic manager, described McNair as “The coolest, most intelligent player I have ever seen.”
After the First World War, he returned to his best despite age and wear. In one match he and a colleague (Jimmy McMullen) arrived on the pitch 30 minutes late for the ‘Victory International’ v Ireland and yet still got a rousing reception. On 4th Jan 1921, he was given the grand honour of a tribute match comprising of a “Celtic/Rangers Select XI” v “Scottish League Select”. Capped 15 times for Scotland between March 1906 and April 1920, he also won 3 Victory International caps and represented The Scottish League 16 times between 1908 and 1920. McNair’s appearances total and his trophy and caps count might have been significantly higher had it not been for the interruption of World War One when the Scottish League continued but the Cup and internationals were suspended, considering his success at club level and selection for Scotland continued after the conflict.
He played his last game on 18th April 1925, a 1-1 draw with Queen’s Park, McNair was already 41 when he finally left Celtic and retired from playing football at the end of the 1924-25 season. This incredible man and footballer played a record 604 times in the League & Scottish Cup for the Bhoys and scored 11 goals on his way to winning 12 Scottish League Championships and six Scottish Cups.
He later managed Dundee between 1925 and 1927. His first two seasons saw Dundee finish mid-table and then fifth. However, after a poor start to season 1927-28, McNair left Dens Park in October 1927 and retired from football completely.