McPherson John Image 1 Glasgow Rangers 1895

McPherson John Image 1 Glasgow Rangers 1895


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Born in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire and known as ‘Kitey’ from a young age, inside forward John McPherson started his football career with his local side Kilmarnock, winning the Ayrshire Cup in 1885. He appeared for English club Everton as an amateur in 1887, also playing for Cowlairs of Glasgow in the early rounds of the 1887-88 Scottish Cup, which led to a protest by their defeated opponents Third Lanark over the possibility of McPherson and others having professional status, prohibited at the time.Another player, Robert Calderwood, was found to have been paid by an English club and the match was replayed, with Cowlairs winning again. McPherson did not return to Everton, featuring instead for Kilmarnock in the same season’s Scottish Cup before spending the next two years with Cowlairs, after which he joined Glasgow Rangers in 1890.

McPherson was first selected for Scotland while with Kilmarnock, playing in a 5-1 victory over Wales at Hibernian Park in March 1888, and he won 3 further caps while with Cowlairs during 1889 and 1890. While with Rangers he won 5 Scottish caps, his final cap coming in a 5-1 win over Ireland at Ibrox Park in March 1897 in a match in which he scored 2 of his 6 international goals. Additionally he scored three times, including twice on his debut in a 3-0 win over The Football League at Ibrox in April 1897, in 5 appearances for The Scottish League, his other goal coming in his final representative match, a 3-0 victory over The Irish League at Dens Park, Dundee in February 1902.

McPherson played mainly as a forward at Rangers, but was often used in other positions including goalkeeper. He played in the inaugural Scottish League season, 1890-91, making a scoring Scottish League debut in a 5-2 win over Heart of Midlothianin in Rangers’ first ever Scottish League match in August 1890, in a season where Rangers finished as joint champions with Dumbarton. McPherson’s first recorded appearance had been in a friendly against Everton on 19th April 1890 at Ibrox, and he scored in a 6-2 defeat. McPherson scored 15 goals in Rangers’ 18 matches in the League that season, including four in a 6-2 win over Cambuslang at Whitefield Park on 23rd August 1890 (the first ever hat-trick scored in the Scottish Football League) and 5 goals in an 8-2 win over St Mirren on 4th October 1890.

Despite Rangers’ successful introduction to the Scottish Football League, they had to wait until season 1898-99 to win the Scottish League title again. It was done in style as Rangers won all of their 18 League matches, with McPherson netting 10 times. That remarkable season was the first of four consecutive League titles and McPherson made significant contributions to all of them, scoring nine goals in 1899-1900, seven in 1900-01 and three in 1901-02, which proved to be his final season with Rangers.

McPherson also won three Scottish Cup medals with Rangers, the first in 1894, where he scored in five of Rangers’ six matches, including the 3-1 Final win over Celtic at Hampden Park. McPherson also scored in the 1897 Final, where Rangers defeated Dumbarton 5-1. His third medal came a year later in a 2-0 win over his former club Kilmarnock. His final recorded appearance for Rangers was in a 2-0 friendly defeat to Glentoran on 2nd April 1902. McPherson maintained a close association with Rangers after his playing years, serving as a director from 1907 until his death in 1926 at the age of 58.

McPherson had several family members involved in football. His son Robert played at junior level with Benburb, and his grandson Johnny (known as ‘Sailor’ due to his wartime navy service) played a single League match for Rangers in 1948 followed by spells at senior level with Ayr United and in the juniors with Irvine Meadow.

In addition, his younger brother David was a teammate at Rangers, had a long spell at Kilmarnock (including playing in the 1898 Scottish Cup Final where he and John were on the opposing teams) and was also a Scottish international; elder brother James was a teammate at Kilmarnock, Cowlairs and the Glasgow FA team, and played as a guest for Celtic.

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