October 7, 1899
There were times last season when those most intimately acquainted with Peter McIntyre felt intensely sorry for him. As a lad of 18 he had come down, beaming the blushes that best becomes a junior international, and having remained for the two months left to wind up that season, had gone afield in quest of such further experience as should make up the complement of desiderati in a player associated with a crack English League eleven.
He sojourned a season with Glasgow Rangers, with whose first string he had not a few gallops. Fortified by this further accession of knowledge of the delicate intricates of his profession, he tripped into Lancashire anew. His return to Preston, however, was performed via Wigan, with whose club he went out against the legions of the Lancashire League. For a season he halted there, and then, striking camp, returned in high hope and proud expectation to the service of his former chiefs.
We were all very glad in Preston to welcome him back, and had pleasant expectation of his adding fire, force, and friskiness to the North End attack. Hence, when fortune declined gracious reward of all his efforts, everyone connected with the club was genuinely sorry, not that he had come back, but that for reasons not patent to the multitude’s eye, his endeavours failed to advantage his side or his own reputation. It did seem curious that he should be so unsuccessful at outside right.
He is magnificently built for athletics, has enviable speed and elasticity, commands the ball very fairly expertly, and can shoot like a mule can kick. But in spite of all this e simply could not get into his game on the wing. As the year advanced, it was demonstrated that such success as he might win as a North Ender would have to be sought by him in capacity other than as a forward.
Once or twice he had the inside berth, while for three-quarters of an hour at Liverpool he took the centre forward position, but with out any material satisfaction to himself. At last the directors of the club lent a sympathetic ear to an oft-repeated petition of his, and let him play half back – a position that he had filled at Wigan with signal success the year before.
And there ended the chapter of his woes.
McIntyre’s history is wonderfully like that of Robert Blythe, who, like himself, hails from Glenbuck, Ayrshire, and finding only a transitory fame – and that never great – as a forward, came out as a great half-back. Very similar, too, is the calse of William Eccleston, and quite a lot of other players. McIntyre had quite a scientific little theory as to his ineffectual play as a wing forward.
“It is too cold a berth for me,” he used to say. “To play at all, I must be constantly at it. On the wing I don’t get enough to do to keep me employed, with the result than when the ball does come out to me, I cant do what I want with it. Now at half-back you are at ait as long as the game lasts, and that’s the place for me. I never get tired in a game, na matter how fast it may be, and believe I could play all day. The hotter the game is, the better I like it, particularly when at centre half is continually in the thick of it.”
Those who have observed the Glenbuckian’s play will appreciate the accuracy with which he defines the order of his comings and goings in the game. His success as a half-back is more pronounced than his failure as a forward was observable, and is purely the outcome of day of Robert McNeill, accident often assigns a man his true position in a team, but it is not accident that begets him successful performance in that station.
Athleticism is inherent in a man, but it is not given to him to triumph in whatever branch he may choose to follow. An arrant duffer on a cycle track, who may wag his legs as if pedaling a traction engine, may show himself wing-heeled on the running path. The most accomplished gymnast may, in the water, be capable of no less absurd pose than head under and heels up; while the man in the water who seems a fish, and can do you an arrow-like dive from the dizzies height of spring-board, will perhaps pretty well faint with fright if asked to venture a “grand circle” on the horizontal bar. Yet each of those men in his line is really an admirable athlete.
And that principle has, it seems to be, quite a logical issue in the case of the man who, equipped by nature for football, is in some way so fashioned that he is a player – a great player – for one place, but only the most mildly moderate performer when debarred from filling his true position. You need not think any the worse of him for that, but content yourself with rejoicing over the happy discovery of the aperture for which he is the correctly-designed peg.
There is to-day, a very comfortable conviction that North End have, in the ruddy-cheeked, tough-muscled, Peter aforesaid, the one mean that they most needed for centre-halfship. It is not claimed for him that he is a great star; but he is just one of those men against whom forwards least like to play, because he has the pluck and pertinacity of the bulldog, with the endurance of the foxhound.
If a man beats him, he is round and after him in one act; and a forward is never free of his worrying and bustling, so long as he holds the ball. The work he puts in during the course of a League match would appeal some of the dilettante dancers of half-back funeral hops, such as one sees often enough – the man who makes one bid for the ball, and being once beaten, is content to accept that as final defeat.
McIntyre gets the balls often enough by sheer irresistibly of effort. To see him plunge into a scrimmage, and simply force the ball out as his own, makes one thing of him as an expert billiard player putting on “top” for a “run-through”-shot. He seems to get his way by just such means. At least he comes out, often enough, on top, if not by it. His tackling is his great strength; and Bob Holmes and Hugh Dunn to play behind him.
In attack he labours tirelessly, fetching and carrying for the forwards like a devoted slave. His “backing up” often takes the shape of a swoop down on goal, with a very thick shot at the end of it. Although so strong and hard-fibred a player, he is scrupulously fair, and carefully abstains from any suggestions of the illegitimate.
There was one very hot exchange at West Bromwich last Saturday between himself and Abraham Jones, the Albion bruiser, but while the firebrand was employing his all-fours against him, McIntyre gave him a perfectly admissable, but quite emphatic shoulder-message, and stuck to his game, with discomfiture of the “Throstle” as the result.
Off the field, “Pather” is the quietest, most pleasant of young fellows, a good deal given to interspection and mental soliloguy, for which latter traits we call him in the saloon “Hamlet.”
Unlike that respectable young person of Denmark, however, he is essentially a practical youth, and not addicted at all to melancholia. Indeed, he is one of the most optimistic of the team, and in the many hard fights that like before North End, he will, I presume to guarantee, sustain a share in the victories ahead, well commensurate with the views he holds as to the team’s rightful position in football.
Fortune will not always use the lash and scourge to the old lab; smiles and good kindness are yet to come hitherward of her bounty. And, inasmuch as favour is for the gallantly deserving, Goodfellow Peter with merit a hero’s measure of the grateful guardian, which in that good time that will for patient waiting and honest striving, come again to imperishably renowned Preston North End.
(Source: Lancashire Evening Post: October 7, 1899, by ‘Abaris’)
Peter McIntyre, Preston North End F.C.