"Jake" or "Johnny" Madden is quite simply one of the most important figures in early Scottish and World football. His life provides a context for those of not just him but other Scottish footballers. Emerging' like several, from the tenements of Dumbarton he started with his home-town club only to plough a furrow in Britain as one of the most aggressively itinerant of players before wage-caps and the like. And he then went on after hanging up his boots to take his footballing knowledge abroad, in his case to Prague, where he remained for the rest of his life, is buried and remains honoured to this day as the father of Bohemian and Czech football.
John William Madden was born in 1865 about half way up Dumbarton High St., the last surviving child of eight. His father was a labourer, both parents Iwere Irish, from Co. Londonderry and married there. At sixteen Jake was at the top end of the street, working as a Rivetter and at twenty-five he was still there, living with his widowed mum, a professional cum shamateur footballer from the age of twenty-two, but still recorded for his old trade. He, a goal-scoring and slightly flashy forward, had begun his footballing career with Dumbarton Albion, progressed to Dumbarton Hibs aged twenty and to Dumbarton a year later. He was in the home-town side at centre-forward when it in 1887 lost the Scottish Cup Final 2-1, he apparently missing enough chances to have won. It was a bad day at the office. Perhaps it was the shame or he was just chancing it but he immediately headed south for an apparently successful season at Gainsborough Trinity and/or Grimsby before Celtic in 1888 recruited him for its first ever match. But still he did not stick. he went back to Dundee before finally in 1889 going back to The Bhoys. And this time he stayed, for eight seasons, won the League three times, played in the first of the winning 1822 Scottish Cup Final games, but losing in 1893 and 1894, and won two caps, scoring four in his first and one in his second, 2.5 goals a game.
But by the end of the 1897-8 season at the age of thirty-two and after short spells at Dundee and Spurs the boots were finally pegged and it looked as he would be lost from the game for ever. He went back to an unmarried life, living still with mum and working in the local shipyards. That is until 1905, aged almost forty he received an offer of a job as a trainer in what was then Bohemia from Slavia Prague, the only explanation seeming to be former team-mate, Willie Maley. Celtic had toured the city in 1904. The offer was accepted and Madden in February would leave Scotland for good, his mother dying in 1906, but take its game with him. And at Slavia he would not only change the team but also Czech football, with his training and injury-treatment methods with a reputation for kindness with discipline, no smoking, no drinking, in seeming direct contrast to his playing days.
Jake Madden would stay coaching with Slavia essentially for the rest of his life. He would be in charge until 1930, stepping back at sixty-five. His record with the club is of one hundred and sixty-nine domestic matches, one hundred and thirty-four were won (80%). Of matched played with non-domestic opposition it is three hundred and four of four hundred and sixty-nine (65%). In doing so he won local cups, three championships and three league and was innovative. He is said to amongst the first to employ 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 depending on circumstances.
No doubt part of the reason that Jake Madden made the rest of his life in Prague is that he soon after arrival met and married Frantiska Cechova, a Czech girl. They were to have two children, with tradedy hanging over the son, Harry, a possible suicide after a love-affair gone wrong, and mystery the daughter.
Jake Madden would remain in Prague through the Second World War. He would survive only passing in 1948 at the age of eighty-three. His body was carried to the city's Olsanske Cemetery draped in Slavia shirts, a stand at the team's ground is named for him, an eight-foot high photo is imprinted on the wall in the stadium's main reception, his grave is tended and each year he is still remembered with club flowers.
1865 - 84, High St., Dumbarton
1871 - 84, High St., Dumbarton
1881 - 174, High St., Dumbarton
1891-1901 - 210, High St. Dumbarton
1905-48 To Prague
1948 - Dobrovskeho, Prague
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