Two notional Irishmen have played for Scotland. Willie Maley was one. James McKee, known as "Doctor" is the other. A centre-forward he had as the 19th Century became the 20th a career of over a decade at top-flight in Scotland and England and won a single cap in 1898 against Wales, scoring twice.
Brought up in Shotts/Harthill, which remained his hometown, he would die there too, he was one of six children of an iron/coal miner. Both his parents were Irish-born, as were according to the 1881 census their two eldest. By then Doctor, born in 1871, was ten. The problem is that the 1891 census shows that in fact three of the young McKees had been born across the water. And it is this second census that is correct. James McKee's birthplace was actually Tullyard by Moira or Dromore in Co. Down the family moving to Scotland at some point before 1877 so about five years old.
Senior football for Doctor began late, at the age of twenty-four at Hearts, and as something of a journeyman. He made only two appearances in a season, scoring once. Before that he had played locally in Benhar and Dykehead. Even when he went straight the following season from Edinburgh to England, to Darwen, then in mid- Second Division, he made little more impact; eight games, three goals. And that was followed by three seasons at East Stirlingshire outwith the Scottish divisions.
However at the end of his final season at the Falkirk club it was elected to the Scottish Second Division, clearly with him making a contribution that won inclusion in the Scottish national team, before his non-qualification was realised, and even at the age of twenty-nine took him back down to England; this time to a Bolton that had just been promoted to the First Division. There in three seasons and before time caught up with him he was to make eight-one appearances and score nineteen times, after which before retirement there would a drop to the Southern League and one more at both Luton and then New Brompton.
At that point he returned north, to live with his parents, and then mother with his siblings all around and follow his father and brothers down the pit. He never married and on his death in 1949 at the age of seventy-eight he was buried alongside his father, his mother and two of his sisters at Shotts Kirk in a grave in need of some tidying.
1881 - Linds Land, by Shotts, Lanarkshire
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