Inverness born left half Peter McWilliam started his playing career at junior club Heatherley in 1898 and joined Inverness Thistle in 1899, remaining with them for a season before joining Albion Rovers in 1900. He returned to Inverness Thistle in 1901 before joining First Division Newcastle United in August 1902, and he was a feature of the very successful period at Newcastle United between 1902 and 1911. Initially a fringe player, he made his Football League debut against Middlesbrough in October 1902, but only played in the first team on 12 occasions during his first two seasons. Breaking into the first team early in the 1904-05 season, he scored 12 goals in 242 games for The Toon, and was part of the 1904-05, 1905-06 and 1908-09 League Championship sides. He was an FA Cup Finalist in 1905, 1906 and 1908, on each occasion Newcastle lost, to Aston Villa, Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers respectively. In 1910 he finally won an FA Cup winner’s medal as Newcastle beat Barnsley in a replay.
He was also capped eight times by the Scotland, making his debut in April 1905 in a 1-0 defeat to England at The Crystal Palace. The football world knew him as “Peter the Great”, and he was hugely popular with the Geordie fans. His playing career came to an end following a serious knee injury sustained in an international match against Wales in March 1911.
He first became manager at Tottenham Hotspur in December 1912 and managed the team during one of its successful periods. This included the Second Division Title in 1920 and following promotion, winning the FA Cup in 1921 and finishing runners up in the First Division in 1922. In February 1927 he left Spurs and was appointed to manage Middlesbrough in April 1927 having been enticed by an offer of a £1500 salary per annum.
Although he enjoyed some success at the club over seven seasons he never gained the full popularity of the fans and left in March 1934. He returned to London briefly as a chief scout for Arsenal, having declined their offer to manage them, before once again returning to manage Tottenham in May 1938, during which time he promoted many younger players to the first team from the ‘nursery side’ at Northfleet, including Bill Nicholson. The intervention of the Second World War effectively brought his managerial career to an end and he retired in June 1942.