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Willie Maley homepage | Graves & Memorials

Willie Maley's Grave by Maley's Spirit (May 2010)Maley, Willie - Pic

Following a brief discussion on the main forum a while back, we noted Willie Maley was buried in Cathcart Cemetery though no one seemed to know where or what condition his grave was in. I put this in the "get round to it" box at the back of my head and thought one day I might encounter his grave or ghost on the occasional wander through the cemetery as I live nearby.

Eventually I gave up trying the casual approach and emailed East Renfrewshire Council and got his lair number and burial plot from the helpful staff at the parks department. Armed with my 3 year old son and trusty camera phone I took a measured stroll this time and found the site, unfortunately, there the tale takes a sad turn.

Willie Maley was buried on the 4th of April 1958, two days after his death. The Glasgow Herald obituary on the 3rd of April reads thus:

"..............Mr William Maley, who played for Celtic Football Club in their first official match in 1888 and had a distinguished career with the club as a player, match secretary, and manager for 52 years, died yesterday in a Glasgow nursing home. He would have been 90 this month.

"Though Mr Maley was no mean footballer- he played right half for Scotland on three occasions - it was as the clubs manager that he became famous. For some 45 years he was their guiding spirit, and during that time Celtic won every possible football honour, the Scottish League championship and the Scottish Cup so often that only the feats of Rangers during the period were comparable.

"In his book "The Story of the Celtic", which described the history of the club until 1939, the year before he retired as manager, Mr Maley considered the side of 1904-10 the greatest in Scottish football. In that period Celtic won the league championship in six successive years; the club possess a shield presented to them by the Scottish Football League to commemorate a feat that has not been equalled.

"Mr Maley was latterly to become president of the league in the days when it was permissible for a club manager to officiate on the legislative side of football.

"Mr Maley had one other great sporting interest - athletics. He ws a Scottish 100 yards champion before he made his name in football, and he was primarily responsible for many annual athletics meetings at Celtic Park, which attracted well known competitors from several countries outwith Scotland.

"Celtic Football Club was, however, his life. Many of the players who served under him had mixed feelings about the discipline Mr Maley exerted, but I do not know of one who at the end of his playing career did not concede he had been correct.

"He was not merely, however, a man of stern discipline and distinctive judgement in football matters.There was no greater sentimentalist, no kinder man. The good deeds he did were known only to a few outwith the recipients - and then almost always because they in their appreciation referred to them in later years.

"It is unlikely that Celtic Football Club will ever have a greater Celt."
Cyril Horne


Willie Maley's grave is a family plot, a double lair. Beside him are his father Tom, mother Mary and wife Helen as well as two infants from the family who passed way before their time. Cathcart Cemetery as anyone who is familiar with the older part, is becoming fairly run down as the years pass and Willie Maley's final resting place is no exception.

The following photos illustrate just how poor his only existent permanent memorial has become and of Willie Maley himself there seems to be no mention on the only family stone. Though unable to lift the stone alone, it seems highly unlikely he would be remembered on the underside of the cross, though I was assured he is buried there and can only presume his own memorial was lost or damaged over the years, if he had one.

Willie Maleys Grave

Maley Family Headstone
Above - Cross tumbled from the plinth, the stone next to it is from opposite row. Above right - His wife Helens inscription
Maley Family Headstone 2

Maley Family Headstone
His parents inscriptions

From trawling through the net there have been discussions on a permanent memorial in the town of his birth in Newry, Co. Armagh, but we have no permanent memorial other than songs sung and deeds remembered.

Willie Maley was belatedly inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame last year (November 2009), without him there would be no Celtic Football Club as we know it; no McGrorys, Thomsons, Gallachers or Quinns to eulogise.

He was "Mr Celtic" and deserves a better kept resting place and a seat at the top of the table in our own "Hall of Legends". Where Brother Walfrid, Jinky and Jock Stein (eventually will) stand, Willie Maley should too at the very least, unless anyone has other ideas?

Post-Script

This has become a seminal article.

On publication on this site, this article was firstthen posted on the kerrydalestreet.co.uk forum and quickly gained attention. Within an hour or two, the response was incredible and overwhelming. The article was postedcopied and pasted all across the Celtic forums and sites, with Celtic fans & posters chipping in with their wish to get involved to rectify the above situation.

The Celtic support has always been known for its love of the club's history (more so than any other) and this is a perfect example of the supporters' ethos in practise.

In turn, the Celtic Graves Society was very quickly set up and the process begun for monitoring and preserving the resting places of the great people linked to our great club.

"Maley'sThe author of the article ("Maley's Spirit"Spirit") has a lot to be proud of.

Update Mar 2011

"The Celtic Graves Society are delighted to highlight our ongoing restoration programme with some examples of our work.

With the assistance of the family we have restored the headstone on the grave of Celtic legend Willie Maley"

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