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Celtic's first ever goal scorer
PersonalFullname: Neil McCallum
aka: "The Shadow"
Born: 3 July 1868
Died: 5 Nov 1920
Signed: 1888-90, 1891-92, 1905 (1 game)
Left: 22 Feb 1890 (Blackburn Rovers); Aug 1892 (Notts Forest)
Debut: Celtic 5-2 Rangers XI, 28 May 1888, Friendly
International Caps: 1
International Goals: 1
BiogNeil McCallum will go down in history as the man who scored Celtic’s first ever goal.
Tempted away from Renton to sign for the newly formed Celts, Neil McCallum opened the scoring on May 28th 1888 when Celtic defeated a Rangers XI side 5-2 in our inaugural game.
Neil was a popular figure among the early Bhoys support who enjoyed seeing his trickery on the right wing. McCallum also possessed a vicious shot and he enjoyed nothing more than cutting in from out wide and unleashing an angled drive at the keeper. His skill was there despite having a rather flat footed running style apparently.
He had a short spell with Blackburn (signing at a moment of madness) before returning under the amnesty of 1891. He was the subject of interest from Nottingham Forest but the Celtic members made it clear to the English club’s representative that he would be lucky to leave Glasgow in one piece should he tempt the popular McCallum to the midlands (along with Sandy McMahon).
McCallum did however eventually move south to Nottingham in August 1892 after 33 appearances and 17 goals for the Bhoys. Apart from scoring Celtic’s first ever goal this history maker was also part of the first Celtic team to play in a Scottish Cup final (1889) and then win the trophy (1892).
In February 1888 Neil McCallum played for Rangers in a friendly against Aston Villa at Parry Barr, Birmingham. he was one of five guests players that Rangers used that day. Woods & Campbell (Rhapsody In Green, 1990:12) believe that this makes Neil the first Roman Catholic to play for Rangers and also the first individual to play for Celtic and Rangers.
McCallum was capped once for Scotland but it is for his efforts with Celtic that his place in football history is assured. He scored once in a 10-2 defeat of Ireland.
After playing his heart remained at the club, and he was an odd-job man as of Aug 1905. Notably, he wore an Inverness cape under his clothing in his daily ware. This likely highlights possible Highland connections, and possibly extends Celtic's reach to the Catholic community of not only Irish descent but of Highland descent as well (must be noted that there were such a high number of Highland Catholic descent people living in the Bridgeton area of Glasgow at that time that the area became nicknamed as 'Glengarry'). However, some research shows his parents were from Donegal and came over during the Famine and settled in Bonhill. He has 4 half brothers born in Donegal and 5 full brothers born in Bonhill. So the reasons for the Highland connections need some more detail.
Neil McCallum's birth certificate states his birthplace as Braehead, Bonhill and born on 3 July 1868. He died on 5 Nov 1920 at 657 Edgefauld Road, Garngadhill, Glasgow.
A man who made a mark far greater than even he could ever have imagined.
|APPEARANCES||LEAGUE||SCOTTISH CUP||LEAGUE CUP||EUROPE||TOTAL|
|1888-90, 1891-92, 1905||20||13||-||-||33|
Honours with CelticScottish Cup
Neil McCallumSource: http://www.valeofleven.org.uk/famousfolk/neilmccallum.html
Neil McCallum’s place in history is secure for as long as there in an Old Firm in Scottish Football, because he was the first man to score a goal for Celtic against Rangers.
Neil was born in Bonhill in 1869 and when he died at the age of 51 in 1920, he was buried in Bonhill Churchyard. Although he went on to play for a number of clubs in England as well as Scotland, Neilly, as he was known, was a Valeman first and foremost. He had the distinction of being a member of the 1888 Renton FC World Champions team while still only 19, which was quite appropriate since it was at Renton FC that he started his footballing career. In that great Renton team he played outside right in a forward line which lined up as Neilly McCallum, Harry Campbell, John M Campbell, Johnnie McNee and Jamie McColl.
His obituary described him as “one of the trickiest and cleverest outside rights that the Vale has given to Scottish football, a real artist at corner kicking”, “a cheery character and popular accordingly”, and “famed for wonderful angled shots”. Like other members of the World Champions team, Neil joined Celtic in May 1888, immediately after the victory over West Bromwich Albion, and lost no time in displaying his skills. He could hardly have had time to lace his boots in May 1888 when he scored Celtic’s first-ever competitive goal and that it also happened to be against Rangers in what turned out to be a 5-2 victory for Celtic was no doubt an added bonus.
As well as Renton and Celtic, Neil played for a number of English clubs including Blackburn Rovers with whom he had a short interlude between spells at Celtic, Nottingham Forest 1892 – 95, Notts County 1895 and then Heanor Town about 1896, before, according to some accounts, going “back to the Celtic fold”.
McCallum won 1 full cap against Ireland in 1888 while playing for Renton, and was chosen by the Scottish League versus England in 1892. His Scottish Cup Winners medals came with Renton (1888), Celtic (1889) and he was a losing finalist in 1892.
A poignant note at his funeral in the Churchyard was that the mourners were led by his father, Dennis McCallum. The service was conducted by Reverend Father Murray of St Mary’s RC Church in Alexandria as it was called in those days, and amongst Celtic’s representatives were his former team-mate from Renton and Celtic days, James Kelly, and also Willie Maley of Celtic. There was also a big turnout by his surviving Renton colleagues.
Other family members also survived Neil and about 8 years later his brother, Denis, who would have been about 15 years older than Neil, appears in this photograph of Christie Park Veterans (mouse over image to enlarge).
Denis was in good footballing company in that photo since two Old Vale Team Scottish Internationalists, Sandy McLintock and John C McGregor also appear in it. The footballing tradition lived on as well in the McCallum family because Denis’s son Charlie McCallum was the Vale of Leven FC’s captain and centre half well into the 1920’s (the Vale were still a senior team then), while his grandson, also called Denis McCallum, played outside left for Celtic. Some family members still live in the area.
A few years ago, a chance conversation between local historian Billy Scobie and Tom O’Neill from Dumbarton, started a search for Neilly’s grave in Bonhill Churchyard. In one of life’s rich ironies, the minister of Bonhill Church, Reverend Ian Miller, is perhaps the only Celtic-supporting Church of Scotland minister, and Ian was delighted to join in the search.
Together they enlisted the help of Eddie Docherty of Alexandria Cemetery, and under Eddie’s direction Neilly’s long-neglected grave was located in the crowded Bonhill Churchyard.
Hoops hero buried in minister’s pitch
|Nov 9 2006|
|By Tina Kemp|
| CELTIC-MAD minister Ian Miller is ****-a-HOOP — after discovering one of his team’s heroes is buried in his churchyard. |
Ian was delighted to learn that Neilly McCallum — who scored the Celts’ first EVER goal — was laid to rest at Bonhill Church.
Now the soccer-daft reverend — a Hoops fan since he was a teenager — has embarked on a quest to find the exact burial place of the player.
Ian, who has taken some stick from his congregation over the years about his Old Firm affiliation, had no idea such an important piece of his team’s history lay so close to home.
He could hardly believe it when friend and local historian Willie Scobie unearthed the story while researching the church’s history.
Said Ian, minister at Bonhill for 31 years: “When Willie told me he had discovered that Neilly McCallum, the man who scored Celtic’s first ever goal, was buried in our churchyard, I couldn’t believe it. We don’t know exactly where his grave is, but I would love to find it so I can just stand there.
“I haven’t told my congregation yet — I don’t know what they’ll think!”
McCallum, who was also part of the world championship winning Renton side of 1888, died in November, 1920, after a notable footballing career. He joined Celtic in their founding year of 1888 and was the debut scorer in their first ever game — against Rangers.
His link with the churchyard was discovered thanks to a chance meeting in Dumbarton Library.
Willie said: “It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. I was in the room in the library where people research their family tree and, when a member of the public heard I was working on the history of Bonhill Church, he asked if I knew about Neilly McCallum being buried there.
“A member of staff looked up a list of obituaries and we found it in an old edition of The Lennox. It seems he joined Celtic in its founding year and scored their opening goal. His funeral service was taken by the Rev Father Murray and he was then buried in the churchyard.”
Willie added: “If it had been any other church it wouldn’t be quite so interesting but because Ian is a Celtic supporter it’s very appropriate!”
Ian, 62, now wants to try and find McCallum’s grave, which may not have been marked with a stone.
He said: “I take a bit of stick about my loyalties but most of it is good humoured. I’ve even got a photo in the house of Barry Ferguson holding me in a neck lock!”
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|Anonymous||Neil McCallum||4||Aug 8 2009, 4:13 PM EDT by auldbhoy|
Thread started: Nov 10 2006, 4:16 AM EST Watch
Hope you saw the press interest on Neil McCallum indicating that his final resting place is Bonhilll Church, Alexandria. His funeral took place on November 1921 conducted by Father Murray of our near Neighbours Our Lady and St. Marks. We are endevouring to find the exact spot where he is interred and looking to putting up some sort of fitting memorial. Ian Miller ( Bonhill Church)
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