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Fullname: David Prophet McLean
aka: David McLean, Davie McLean
Born: 13 Dec 1887
Died: 23 Dec 1967
Birthplace: Forfar, Scotland
Signed: 16 Apr 1907 (from Forfar Athletic)
Left: 5 Nov 1909 (to Preston NE)
Position: Striker
Celtic 5-0 Port Glasgow, League, 2 Nov 1907
: Scotland
International Caps: 1
International Goals: 0

BiogDavid McLean

Forfar-born David McLean was a predatory forward and top class goalscorer who signed for the Bhoys from Forfar Athletic in April 1907.

Davie had played trials at Parkhead in 1905 but did not join the Hoops until some two years later when it was hoped he would become the natural successor to the legendary Jimmy Quinn.

McLean certainly had no difficulty in finding his scoring boots. On his competitive debut - a league clash at home to Port Glasgow Athletic on November 2nd 1907 - he hammered in a hat-trick as Celtic triumphed 5-0.

Davie boasted lightening quick reactions and a powerful shot. Often he would latch on to a loose ball and drive it into the net before the opposition had even sensed the danger. He was able to score from any angle and his pace was a constant thorn in the side of defenders.

He was however as quick with his tongue as he was his feet. He was not one to accept criticism willingly and as a result he would soon find conflict with Willie Maley. As manager Maley was not one to tolerate players who challenged his authority, although he did make some exceptions.

Davie was not to be one of those exceptions and his personality clash with Maley meant that in November 1909 he was sold to Preston North End for £400.

He had scored 19 goals for Celtic in 28 league appearances. Ridiculously, due to the then prevailing rules Davie didn't receive a medal for his part in the two championships Celtic won. He hadn't played in the Scottish Cup with Celtic and therefore missed out on a deserved medal in this competition.

Another reason for his departure could be possibly religious (but not in a sectarian way). As a Protestant at the club he was obviously well aware (and likely respectful) of the cultural history embedded in the club. He openly complained though of the constant harassment by priests & nuns for charitable contributions. It didn't bother some other Protestants at the club, but it's an interesting complaint by the man. He can count himself lucky he didn't go to a Catholic school then, where charity collections were a regular norm.

His departure disappointed the Celtic support and that disappointment grew as McLean continued his scoring feats in England. With his career record Celtic fans were left to wonder what might have been, but then again Celtic had the mighty Jimmy Quinn, and there was nobody who could displace him in the side. As he was to say himself:
"I was understudy to one of the best centre-forwards who ever played, Jimmy Quinn."


McLean, David - Pic

After Celtic, Davie continued to make a name for himself including spells at Sheffieled Wednesday, Forfar, Third Lanark and Dundee. By the time he moved to Sheffield Wednesday in February 1911 he was rated among the best forwards in the game.

His most noted spell (excluding Celtic) was a one season tenure at Rangers where he scored an incredible 29 goals in just 24 matches as Rangers finished second in the League, just one point behind Celtic. Davie was the top scorer in the Scottish League that season, and we should count our blessings that he didn't carry on there.

As a measure of recognition of his quality, he won a cap for Scotland, playing against the Auld Enemy England in a 1-1 draw at Hampden in March 1912 in front of over 127,000 spectators, which was the least he ever deserved. Sadly, it was a solitary cap.

In an interesting career, it is estimated that he scored around 500 goals in total, which is a phenomenal total for any striker in any era.

Davie McLean also played cricket for Strathmore C.C. and famously played in a match in June 1930 at The Hill in Kirriemuir when J.M. Barrie (author of 'Peter Pan') opened the pavilion, and two members of the touring Australian side, one of them the great Macartney played before a packed crowd.

Apart from when his footballing career took him elsewhere, he lived in Forfar all his life. He never lost a love for the game, and was frequently attending football matches and often invited to be a guest of Celtic at games in which we were involved. A wonderful touch.

Davie passed away in Forfar on 23rd December 1967. An interesting player to read up on in Scottish footballing history.

Playing Career

1907-09 28 0 n/a n/a 28

Honours with Celtic

Scottish League


Davie McLean looks back in the Celtic View 1965.

McLean, David - The Celtic Wiki


McLean, David - Kerrydale Street
[Picture: Davie McLean in his Dundee days (rhs)]

David Prophet McLean was one of the stars of the first quarter of the 20th century. He was born in Forfar on December 13th 1887 and started his career with local clubs Forfar West End, Forfar Celtic and Forfar Athletic before signing for Celtic in May 1907.

Davie - a centre-forward - wasn't an automatic choice in the all-conquering Celtic side of the day but he turned out 28 times in the League, scoring 19 goals before leaving for Preston North End in the English First Division in November 1909. Under the prevailing rules he didn't receive a medal for his part in the two championships Celtic won while he was at Parkhead.

He was a regular at Preston, having played 49 League games and scored 25 goals by the time of his transfer to Sheffield Wednesday (known then as The Wednesday) in February 1911 for the substantial fee of £1,000.

During his spell with Wednesday he also won a cap for Scotland, playing against England in a 1-1 draw at Hampden in March 1912 in front of over 127,000 spectators. Davie also spent a few months back with Forfar Athletic before returning to Wednesday. By the outbreak of the First World War he had played 132 times in the League and had scored 88 goals. This, remember, at a time when there had to be THREE opponents between an attacker and the goal in order to be onside!

During the conflict he turned out as a guest player with Shotts-based Dykehead then Third Lanark before becoming one of the few to have played for both halves of the Old Firm when he joined Rangers in 1918-19.

He was a sensation in his solitary season at Ibrox, scoring 29 goals in just 24 matches as Rangers finished second in the League, just one point behind Celtic. Davie was the top scorer in the Scottish League that season.

He made a brief return to Sheffield in 1919 but after three matches moved on to Bradford Park Avenue, then a First Division side and he was their top league scorer with 18 goals in 1919-20. They were a team in decline though and suffered successive relegations in 1921 and 1922. Despite this Davie notched up a total of 49 goals in 85 league matches.

By now nearly 35 and playing at inside-forward many players would have thought their career was over but Davie McLean still had a good few seasons left in him and - after another brief return to Forfar - he signed for Dundee at the start of 1922-23 and ended the season as their top scorer with 22 league goals.

As Davie hadn't played in the Scottish Cup while with Celtic and the competition was suspended during WW1, his appearance in the Final for Dundee at the age of 37 in 1925 was an unexpected bonus so late in his career.

Davie put the Dens side ahead against Celtic after half an hour and they looked to be holding their lead comfortably until Patsy Gallacher sensationally equalised by somersaulting into the net with the ball between his feet.

Jimmy McGrory scored the winner for Celtic with just three minutes left and Davie was left with a runners-up medal to go with his Scotland cap. Scant reward for a remarkable player and a distinguished career.

By the time he left Dundee in 1926 he had amassed a further 114 appearances in the League and added 43 goals to his record. He also played 18 Scottish Cup ties for the Dark Blues and scored six times.

Davie returned home once more to Forfar Athletic who were now a Scottish Second Division side and made yet another 'debut' for the Loons, scoring in a 2-0 home win over Arbroath in August 1926. Incredibly, he played for more than five seasons for the Station Park side. His last match was on September 5th 1931, just three months away from his 44th birthday, in a Division Two match away to Arbroath which Forfar lost 2-0.

By then he'd added another 153 games and 76 goals (72 league, four Scottish Cup) to his tally.

It's impossible to give a precise figure as Scottish records weren't kept as diligently as English ones but it has been estimated that Davie McLean must have scored around 500 goals in total during his career.

He scored 162 goals in English league football, almost all in the top flight and well over 100 in the Scottish First Division. Records for his time at Third Lanark, Dykehead and the various Forfar clubs are incomplete but he is one of a select few to have scored over 100 goals in the top division in both Scotland and England.

His brother George, some ten years younger was also a notable player. An inside-forward, George too started out with Forfar before joining Davie at Bradford in 1921. He played 250 times in the Third North and Second Divisions, scoring 135 goals before finally getting the chance to play in the First Division with Huddersfield Town in 1930.

Huddersfield were always near the top in those days and George, now well into his thirties, played 120 league games and scored 44 goals, including being their leading scorer when they finished runners-up to Arsenal in 1934.

After that, George followed his elder brother's path back to Forfar to end his career at Station Park.

Davie died, aged 80, in Forfar on December 23rd 1967. George passed away in 1970.

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