Peter was the third of the three footballing McNeil brothers, or was it four. In any case he is the second of those who were the founders of Glasgow Rangers. But he is also the one of that same pair not to have played for his country. Like the other boys, and here William is included, he was born at Belmore on the Gareloch, often said to be by Shandon but actually nearer Garelochhead in modern Faslane. His Perthshire-born father was a gardener there. His mother was from Downpatrick in Northern Ireland.
But in spite of the siblings enjoying sporty upbringings in the Dunbartonshire country-side they were all drawn towards Glasgow. Peter became a clerk and by 1871, so having been born in 1854, at sixteen, was already living in the city with his elder sister Elizabeth, and elder brothers James, Henry and William.
Moreover, the quintet was soon to be added by a sixth with the arrival of younger brother Moses, with which the ingredients were in place for the formation in 1872 of a football club. Peter and Moses were two of the four founders. They were joined by Peter McBeath, who lived across the landing from another elder brother, and Peter Campbell, from Garelochhead itself and an exact contemporary of the two McNeils. Simply put they were sixteen and seventeen year-old pals, who, when walking through Kelvingrove Park near where they lived, came up with an idea that fate gave wings.
Peter McNeil took part in the first Rangers match, against Callander in May 1872. He seems then to have played until 1876, captaining the side at times. But when his First Team boots were hung up he continued to be an integral, indeed underestimated part of the club off-field. He was honorary Secretary from 1876 to 1883, served as Treasurer to the SFA from 1879 to 1883 and back at the club was Vice-President from 1886-1888. By then, indeed by 1879, he had gone into business as a "Glover and Hosier", essentially a men's outfitters, specialising in sportswear, with his brother Henry with premises in Glasgow's centre. And in 1885 he married Jeanie Fraser, finally moving out of what was with his sister and William still the McNeil family home in Glasgow, also shared in 1881 with James Campbell, Peter Campbell's elder brother.
Peter and Jeanie McNeil were to have two children, a boy and a girl and remained living close to the rest of the family in Kelvin. But at some point the relationship with brother Harry changed. The latter lost his first wife in 1889 and rapidly remarried. The McNeil parents both died in 1890. Harry himself relocated firstly to Rutherglen and then Bangor in Northern Ireland to run an hotel there. The siblings' business partnership clearly broke up never to be resumed. Harry's first wife died in 1895, he returned to Scotland but to Rutherglen once more.
Indeed, by 1896 the McNeil outfitting business had ceased to exist. And for Peter financial problems set in to such an extent he had a breakdown, was committed tothe Govan District Asylum at Hawkhead by Paisley, now the Leverndale Hospital, and in 1901 at the age of just forty-six passed away. He was then buried, at the time unmarked, alongside his parents and other members of the family in Craigton Cemetery, Glasgow, survived, of course, by Jeanie. She would remarry two year's after Peter's death and, widowed for a second time, herself pass away in a Glasgow nursing-home in 1932 at the age of seventy-four.
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