Archie McLean

Archibald Fulton McLean would never turn out for a top-flight team. It was not that he couldn't play but the closest he got was probably at Ayr, in the season before it amalgamated with Parkhouse also from the town to become Ayr Utd.. But as "O Veadinho" he would make a mark on global football that few can rival. 

Archie was born in Dovesland in Paisley in 1886, the son of a Threadmill Tenter. The youngest of seven children he grew up in the south-east of the town, starting work making boxes but eventually training as a Tenter himself and then a fitter and being employed by the thread-makers, Coats. And that was how his story really started.

In 1907, whilst part-time with Glasgow Perthshire, he, then a Tenter, had been sent out by work for two months to Brazil. The company had built a factory in Ipiranga, then just outside and now a suburb of Sao Paulo. And whilst there had turned out four times for the local team, Germania, one of those games being against Sao Paulo Athletic (SPAC) with Charles Miller, bringer of football to the city in its line-up, and Jock Hamilton of Fulham as referee. 

At this point the twenty-one year-old returned. In 1909 in Paisley he married fellow thread-mill worker, Margaret McNeil. Their first son, John, was born in 1911. However, the following year Archie, now re-trained as a fitter, was asked to return to Brazil and, clearly impressed with what he had seen the last time, he went, this time joining SPAC and going straight into it struggling team. However, as with many British clubs SPAC was struggling between increasingly shamateur football and still amateur rugby, the latter winning and McLean, as a working-class not having it. Whilst he remained a life-long SPAC member he moved on to Americano, where he met the also newly arrived Englishman, Bill Hopkins, and when Americano stuttered at the end of the season the two of them would form Scottish Wanderers. 

Scottish Wanderers would only last two seasons and it would not win the League but it did play a style of football, the short-passing, to-feet Scottish style that people came to see at its shared Velodromo ground. It even got both McLean and Hopkins into the Sao Paulo state-team and their way of playing, nick-named A Tablinha, the little chart, was adopted and adapted by it and then by Brazilian football at large. Brazilian had until modern time Scottish football at its core.

In the end Archie McLean would remain in Sao Paulo football for well over a decade, even when Scottish Wanderers was forced to dissolve. He would remain in the city for forty years, his and Margaret's second son, Robert, born there in 1916. And they, Robert and John, would also there play at a good level. In fact it was only on retirement that Archie and family finally returned to Scotland and to Paisley, where they had maintained a house. Margaret would pass away there in 1963 at the age of seventy-five. Archie would make a final journey back to Brazil that same year. His own death would be in 1971 at the age of eighty-four. 

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