The three Maley brothers all grew up very much Scotland, in Cathcart, the son's of a retired Irish soldier, a Colour-Sargeant in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, and his Scots-Canadian wife. But only one played for their home country, only one should have, and they are not the same, and one could never and never did. And the clue to the riddle is the postings of their father.
The eldest was Tom, "Handsome Tom", born in 1864. He spent his entire playing career in Scotland, and as amateur, whilst working as a school-teacher. A left-winger he began his senior career with a season at Partick Thistle in 1884-5, then in 1887 Third Lanark plus Clydesdale Harriers, with a few games at each, and one only for Hibernian. That was until shortly after its foundation he joined Celtic's ranks, where until retirement from playing in 1891 he would feature alongside brother, Willie, including in May 1888 the first match against Rangers. But he would never play internationally simply because he was one of several the era's Scots by fate born English.
But Tom's playing-days were to be only part of the story. In 1889 he had married Elizabeth Mellon in Glasgow and by 1891 they were living, he a school-master, in Paisley with their first-born. Then by 1901 he was the Superintendent of Slatefield Industrial School in Glasgow. But he had meanwhile been a member of the Celtic's committee and in 1897 had become a Director. And in 1902 he became still more active, but not in Scotland. He became Secretary of newly-relegated Manchester City, saw them promoted back to the First Division in his first season and finish runner-up in the League and lift the FA Cup in his second. However, he was then implicated in a bribery scandal, was banned but, having returned to teaching, reinstated in 1910, taking charge at Bradford City the following season again seeing them promoted to the top-flight. He then dabbled briefly at Southport before returning to Scotland, involved with Celtic still and dying in Glasgow in 1935 aged seventy-one.
Willie Maley's career is well-covered separately on this site, see Willie Maley. Like his elder brother he was a fine athlete and at eighteen or so had already started in senior football with Third Lanark. But when in December 1887 Celtic came to recruit Tom, they found him not at home but Willie there. And the rest is history. He would spend fifty-two uninterrupted years at the club, nine as a player, a half-back, and forty-three as Secretary and then Manager. As such he was as it developed its back-bone and therefore with Bill Struth of Rangers for much of the time one of the pillars of the Scottish game. He would even play for Scotland, twice in 1893, but when he should not have. In an echo of Tom and itinerant, military early days, fate had meant he had been born in Ireland and was therefore eligible only for the Emerald Isle.
However, no such problems of nationality would have arisen for the third of the Maley brothers, Alex. The only problem was that he was never a player of sufficient standard. But that did not mean that he too would not have a footballing life after beginning life in 1876 in Cathcart and working life as a clerk and becoming an "Athletics Outfitter". However, in 1909 he followed his two brothers into football management. He became Secretary of Clyde. It was perhaps a surprising introduction. The club was in the First Division, had a good team and under Walter Jack had just finished third, behind Celtic but above Rangers. And in truth Maley really only held league position. But in the Cup it was a different story, albeit only slightly. Under Jack there had been semi-final defeat to Celtic in 1908-9. Alex took them to the final the following season and again with a rebuilt team in 1912, although losing both to his brother.
However, Alex clearly fell out with Clyde, leaving after that second Cup Final and taking a year out before returning to the game in 1914 but at Clydebank on its foundation and election to the Second Division. It was clearly not ideal timing but under him the club was elected to the top-flight in 1917, finished ninth that season, when the league resumed in 1919-20 finished fifth before spreading his wings. His next job was four years at Hibernian, moving the family, he had married in 1899 in The Gorbals, to Edinburgh. The Leith club dipped at first but in 1924-25 not only finished third above Celtic but that year and previous one reached but lost two Cup Finals. It led to interest from Down South and Alex Maley took the English shilling, for two seasons from 1925 at newly-relegated Crystal Palace. Results were steadied and then improved but after a bad start to his third season he resigned, returned north for a final few months at Clydebanl once more and then stepping back becoming a director but once more at Hibs and working as a journalist And it would be as a retired newspaper-man that he would die in 1949 in Glasgow's Royal Infirmary, aged seventy-four.
1864 - Portsmouth, England (Tom)
1871 - N/A
1881 - Argyle Place, New Cathcart (Tom, Willie and Alex)
Argyle Place, New Cathcart (Willie and Alex)
Salisbury Hotel, London (Willie)
Cathcart Cemetery, Glasgow (Willie)
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