Chelsea born winger Dr Jimmy Paterson was born in England to Scottish parents but grew up in Glasgow, playing for Bellahouston Academy before joining Queen’s Park in 1908, moving on to Rangers in 1910. He made his Scottish League debut against Hibernian in September 1910 and initially he played in the reserves for the most part while studying to be a doctor at the University of Glasgow. while still studying he became a regular part of the first team playing at outside right as Rangers won the Scottish League in 1912-13. The next season he changed wings, and continued to play until he graduated in 1916, Scottish League football, unlike that in England, not being suspended for the First World War. During the War he also made 19 appearances for Queen’s Park between 1917 and 1919.
Having signed up with the Army, he was appointed Medical Officer to the 14th Battalion the London Regiment, the London Scottish with the rank of Major, and served on the front line. There was formal recognition of his heroism in 1917 as he was awarded the Military Cross – the award granted for an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land to members, of the armed forces. His citation stated, “Under an intense hostile bombardment, he dressed the wounded and cleared them from the road, personally seeing to their removal to the aid post. He then returned and cleared the dead from the road, setting a fine example of coolness and disregard of danger.”
When the War ended he returned to Glasgow and worked in a local hospital. Without any warning to the local media he then turned out again for Rangers, in September 1919 playing against Raith Rovers. In fact he played without having gone back into training – an incredibly dangerous thing to do in terms of injuries that could be sustained, and is reported to have been very overweight, but he still won over the crowd, and scored. Rangers won the Scottish League title again that year but Dr Paterson moved on, having scored 41 goals in 168 appearances for the Glasgow club.
His brother-in-law, John Scott worked in London and was made Arsenal’s club doctor and Jimmy moved to England to join him in his house in Clapton, and was persuaded by John to sign as an amateur for Arsenal in September 1920. Arsenal had won only two of their first 11 games in 1920-21 under Leslie Knighton. Paterson then made his Football League debut against Derby on 30th October 1920 and with Paterson in the side the club went unbeaten in the next seven, winning five, and he played 20 League matches that season. In March 1921 Paterson was selected for the Football League against the Scottish League, coincidentally played at Highbury it was Paterson’s cross that led to the only goal scored by a man who was himself later to become an Arsenal legend, Charlie Buchan. After his 20 games in 1920-21 and only played two League games the following season, followed by 26 in 1922-23 and 21 in 1923-24, at which point he retired, although was still technically on the books of Arsenal. But then on 13th February 1926 he was persuaded by Herbert Chapman to play once again in Chapman’s first season at the club.
Chapman needed someone to fill in for the regular number 11, Sam Haden. The depth of Arsenal’s problem at this moment can be seen by the fact that for the game in question Arsenal were now using their sixth right winger of the season and simply had no one to play on the left wing. Clem Voysey had filled in for the previous match on the left for one game but now dropped out, and in came Dr Paterson. Thus it was that on 13th February 1926, he scored his only ever League goal, in a 3-0 win against Newcastle United in front of 48,346 spectators. Jimmy kept his place for the 20th February 1926 FA Cup game at Aston Villa not least because Joe Hulme, who Chapman had recently signed from Blackburn Rovers was cup tied, and he played again on 24th February for the replay at Highbury in front of a bumper crowd of 71,446 in a game which Arsenal won 2-0, with Paterson scoring the first goal. He played his final game on 6th March 1926 at Swansea, again in the FA Cup, Arsenal lost 2-1. In all he made 77 appearances for Arsenal, scoring twice.