John Murray, John Winning Murray, was one of only two players in the Vale of Leven team born outwith when it lost the 1890 Scottish Cup Final to Queen's Park. The match itself was to be more or less the last hurrahs of the greatest teams of the first decade of Scottish football. The Vale was to drop out of the top flight of Scottish football two years later, never to return. Queen's Park itself would become gradually more and more peripheral by not embracing professionalism until recent times.
Murray would also be one of The Vale players not to stay or come back. He would in 1890, after a single cap and marrying, leave for Sunderland for two seasons, move on to Blackburn Rovers and finally settle in Accrington, dying there in 1922 at the age of just fifty-seven.
Murray had been born in Lennoxtown in 1865. His father was an English-born Machine Printer, his mother from Strathblane, again in Stirlingshire. But the family moved to the Vale of Leven, albeit in stages. In 1871 it was in Glasgow, in 1881 in Alexandria, the father now working as an Engraver. It seems there fore that John would have learned if not all then the majority of his football in the Vale. Certainly he played the junior game with Vale of Leven Wanderers, starting out as a left-half, before joining The Vale in 1885, aged twenty and, with the departure in 1888 of Johnny Forbes, he dropped to left-back.
Meantime he had also become an engraver. It was the trade he would continue during and after football becoming the manager of the engraving department of a firm in the Lancashire town he was finally to make his own. But back to the football itself. A big man, he was six feet, he perhaps surprising gained a reputation for being "too fair in tackling". Yet he had a way of playing that gained him local representation, forty odd appearances on Wearside and well over a hundred for Rovers, where once more for two seasons he was teamed up with none other than Forbes.
Murray's bride in 1890 had been a Bonhill-girl, Jeanie Smith. They already had one child and were to have three more. The eldest, a boy, had been born in Scotland already, it seems, in 1886. The second, a girl, would be born in Sunderland, wife and first child having rapidly joined him there, the third, another boy, in Lancashire. All three seem to have remained in England, as presumably did Jeanie after her husband's passing.
Birth Locator: 1865 - Union Place, Lennoxtown, Stirlingshire
Residence Locations: 1871 - 609, Dalmarnock Rd., Carlton, Glasgow
1922 - Haslington, Lancaster, Lancashire
Death Locator: 1922 - Victoria Hospital, Accrington, Lancashire
Burial Locator: N/A
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