Famous men in football, “No. 10”: Alexander Maconnachie


November 4, 1899
Alexander Maconnachie is the idol of the Notts County crowd. In thunderous unison from ten thousand throats comes the cry, “Go on, Mac!” and the response adds fresh fuel to the flame of enthusiasm. A very magician is the little Scotchman; his spell controls the spirit of the spectators, who blow hot or cold according to the whim of Alexander. With him in happy humour supporters hope and opponents tremble; fortunate it is for the latter that Maconnachie’s moods come and go.

It it were possible to combine his ability with the unfailing reliability of captain David Calderhead, you would be within measureable distance of the ideal player. But many fine footballers cannot settle down to consistency, and to the company of such belongs Maconnachie. Not that Notts have had much to complain of, but occasionally Mac lapses into inaction more apparent because his correct style is the exact antithesis.

It is perhaps his remarkable adroitness more than anything else which strikes the spectator who is fortunate enough to catch him on his game. In truth he is a great player, and to his skill was largely due increased success of Notts last season. His form this year has not been satisfactory as a whole, though last week against Burnley he showed by one of his brilliant displays that the falling away was only temporary. Whether Maconnachie is destined to win any international distinction is a point difficult to discuss; only, if an ambition in that direction would temper his character wth necessary prudence there would be little doubt of his final success in the quest.

Born at Glasgow in May, 1876, Maconnachie is 23. There is one fatal blot on his career. He did not play football when a mere baby. The successful singer relates how the inborn talent manifested itself in infant days; the premier danscuse tells of tripping the light fantastic as soon as cradle days had passed; and coming into the real of sport and pastime we hear of young children taking naturally to the water after the manner of ducks. Maconnachie, however, did not commence to play football until 17, at which age he joined a Glasgow junior club called Ashfield.

In the same team were Jimmy Stevenson (who susbequently played for Derby and is now at Newcastle) and Neill (the splendid half-back of Glasgow Rangers). So strong were Ashfield that they landed in Glasgow “Evening News,” the Scottish Junior, the Maryhill, the North-Eastern, and the Glasgow Junior Cups – a record of which Maconnachie still speaks with glowing pride.

Stevenson was responsible for bringing Maconnachie across the Tweed, recommending him to Derby County, to which club Stevenson had gone some time previously. In Scotland he had played outside right, and at Derby he sometimes figures there as partner to Steve Bloomer; on other pccasions he appeared in the centre. By his efforts the Peakites placed great store, and were looking to him for material help in their later Cup tie struggles two years back. In the third round, however, Liverpool entered a protest against him on the ground that he had played in a five-a-side contest during the close season. Mac was consequently unavialable for the rest of the competition – a contingency which profited neother Liverpool nor Everton, for Derby overcoming both reached the final.

Beaten at the Palace by Nottingham Forest, their loss doubtless took their minds to absent Maconnachie, which by that time was in the Notts County ranks. Fears of test matches induced Notts to seek for his transfer; Derby because of the peculiar circumstances yielded. He could not play in the Cup for them, and the relations between him and another Peak player were not such as would allow of the two working harmoniously. Stars in other than the footballing profession disagree. There was not room for two Richmonds, so Maconnachie secured his pass to Nottingham.

Since the days of Sandy Higgins the lace city has never possessed such an accomplished dribbler as Maconnachie. Unlike the old Forest player, Mac is not fitted for centre-forward; when he should be combining with and feeding his wings he is most likely to be seen speeding away in the direction of goal, forgetting the organising duties of a pivot; instead of looking after the wings he wants to be consistently fed by the other forwards. With Notts he has chiefly appeared inside right, and there rather than in centre is his proper place.

You know Maconnachie is a footballer as soon as you see him; as he walks on to the ground the easy springiness of his gait suggests the foot juggler. His movements are naturally graceful, and he has a fair notion of the poetry of motion. Possessing complete mastery of both feet, he winds through a maze of opponents in a style almost bewildering, and there is not much about the intricacies of dribbling that Mac doesn’t know. He is a fine model for the young footballer, who in these days has not many chances of seeing dribbling of the highest class.

As indicated above, a feature of Maconnachie’s play is the sudden, almost startling adroitness of his movements; he astonishes you by the easiness with which he so rapidly changes his location; it is not the wild rush of the ball, but rather the graceful gliding of the swift skater. And having arrived on the scene almost unperceived, he works the ball out and shoots.

A capital shot he is, too. Wonderfully good at taking the ball on the half-volley and changing its direction, he does this in cases where Billy Gunn – one of the few cricket and football internationalists – used to change the course on the volley.

Maconnachie’s plan demands superior judgment; it also enables the player to get more pace on the ball. This may account for a number of his passes going out. Occasionally his cleverness degenerates info fancy play, for the entertainment of the thoughtless section of the spectators, but more often he works usefully, and he has done more for Notts than any forward the club has had for years past.

Small of stature, he is tremendously muscular – a pocket Hercules in fact – and looks likely to put on a lot of flesh shortly. Notts could ill afford to lose him, for they are not over-stocked with first-rate forwards, and well-wishers will join in the hope that, with careful attention to training, Maconnachie may long continue to give his best services to the good old club which bears the honoured name of Notts County.
(Lancashire Evening Post; November 4, 1899, by ‘Perseus’)

Alexander Maconnachie, Notts County F.C.
alexander-maconnachie-notts-county

XX

8 comments

    1. Hi Chantelle,

      So nice to have an old famous footballer in the family. I will see if I can find more articles about him and transcribe them for you.

      Kjell

      1. Hi I am the great grandaughter of Alexander jackson maconnachie from Warwickshire I have the team photo when he played for notts county

      2. Hi Ann. Thank you for your posting and I am happy you found a footballing relative here. Even though I am a Liverpool fan I try to find out as much as possible of all old pioneer footballers. The Maconnachie name is quite famous in football. There were also a Jock Maconnachie at Everton.

    2. Is your great garandad name Alexander jackson maconnachie because he’s my great grandad and is wife’s name was Laura Christine kendrick

  1. Alex was my great, great grandfather. Nice to read and even better to see some of my wider family here too!
    I have a similar transcript of John Maconnachie when he played st Everton.

  2. John Smith Jackson Maconnachie
    Hailing from the Granite City, John Maconnachie would prove to be a reliable defender, a fearful opponent, and an excellent captain of Everton Football Club whose career was to be interrupted by the advent of World War 1. He was born, the 6th child of George and Mary, at 77 Constitution Street, Aberdeen on the 5th of May 1885.
    The 1891 census discovers the Maconnachie family have moved to the Possil Park area Glasgow where they are living at 289 Bilsland Drive. John has begun to serve an apprenticeship as Plummer and is playing football for a local junior team who play, at Keppoch Park, under the banner of Glasgow Perthshire.
    In the summer of 1903 he signed for the reigning Scottish League champions, Hibernian. Maconnachie won no major honours during his time at Easter Road and left the club shortly after their 1907 Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Celtic and signed for Everton. However, before taking up residence in Liverpool, on the 21 July 1907, he married Robina Watt at 170 Cannon Gate on Edinburgh and declared his occupation to be a Professional Footballer.
    There were about 12,000 people in attendance when the Aberdonian made his debut, Goodison Park, in a reserve derby against Liverpool before appearing in the first X1, on the 9th of September, in 2-1 win over Preston North End again at Goodison Park. John Maconnachie then had to wait until the 7th of December for a second chance to play for the first X1 where he missed a penalty kick against Newcastle United at St James Park. Beginning his Everton career at centre half he was eventually switched to left back and was an ever-present throughout the season that followed.
    His finest game for Everton came in the 1909-10 FA Cup semi-final re-play against Barnsley on the home of Manchester United at Old Trafford. Maconnachie was forced to take up the centre half position following an injury to Jack Taylor which forced him leave the field and not return for the second half. The Aberdonian was then forced to take up the position of Goalkeeper when Billy Scott was injured while attempting to prevent the Yorkshire side from taking the lead. He produced a brilliant, and at times ruthless, display and held a clean sheet until Scott, with a bandage on his hand, returned to the field. Everton then tried their best to save the game but Barnsley scored twice in the dying minutes to win 3-0.
    When the 1911 census is taken John and Robina are living at 31 Church Road West, in Liverpool. They have 2 daughters Helen, 2 years old and born in Liverpool, along with 8-month-old Robina who has been born in Edinburgh.
    In August that year, John Maconnachie took over the role of club captain as Everton were narrowly pipped for the league title by Blackburn Rovers. Nonetheless, with the war now raging in Europe, he was part of the Everton side won the Football League championship for a second time in 1915 before enlisting for service in the Royal Flying Corp.
    When the conflict ended John Maconnachie returned to Goodison Park for 1 season before signing for a Swindon Town side who had just become founder members of the Football League 3rd Division, South. He had played 270 league and FA Cup game for Everton and scored 7 goals.
    Maconnachie took part in his new clubs first game which resulted in a 9-1 win over Luton Town. He remained for 3 seasons with the Wiltshire side before retiring from the game to take up a coaching position with the Swedish club Djurgardens where he remained for 1 year before returning to England to take charge at Football League 3rd Division North outfit Barrow.
    On the January 1932, following the death of Robina, John Maconnachie married Helen Heath at Mutford Suffolk and the couple settled 37 Prospect Place in Swindon where they raised 2 children. The family was residing at this address when John Maconnachie passed away in November 1956. The funeral service, held at Christ Church in Swindon, was followed by his internment in the burial ground at this location.

  3. Thanks Kjell, & everyone. It’s fascinating to read about the playing careers of my relatives. John smith Maconnachie was my grandfather and Alexander was my great uncle… so much sporting talent in one generation!

    I have JSM’s 1915 league cup winner’s medal and a few other items from his career. But I didn’t know too much about their playing history.

    Just a small point to add to all the excellent information already posted:
    John smith Maconnachie had three children in his second marriage to Helen Heath, they were called Joy, Yvonne and Richard (my father).
    I was born in the Swindon area but now live in Ontario, Canada.
    It’s good to know the history.. and that there are still lots of Maconnachie’s around! Thanks all.

    Alan Maconnachie

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