William Murray Leslie

That Millwall F.C., or rather, Millwall Rovers, as it was known on foundation in 1885, is a Scottish club is a matter of dispute. But that considerable, initial momentum both was provided by Scots, notably from the London factory of the Aberdeen-based J.T. Morton cannery and preserve manufacturer, many from Dundee, is incontrovertible. Nor can it be gainsaid that on foundation its joint-largest shareholder and first Chairman was a Scot also, one who died in 1951 in Haslemere in Surrey as a barrister and by the name William Murray-Leslie.

He had lived a full life, passing at the age of ninety-three to be cremated in not so distant Woking. He was also a qualified doctor and that was what had seen him almost three-quarters of a century earlier on the Isle of Dogs and, then at the age of just twenty-seven, involved with football not as a player but perhaps an advocate of the vogue for exercise for health. Morton's and the surrounding area was his practice and from where he would climb through London society, eventually both to change profession, reside in Cadogan Sq. and marry the eldest daughter of Lord Rotherham.

But he had begun life as William Leslie, Murray Leslie, if in the Scottish Style his mother's name is incorporated, the son of a farmer, if something perhaps of a gentleman-farmer. The year was 1859 and the place Wester Suddie, Knockbain on The Black Isle by Inverness. His parents, Alexander Leslie and Isabella Murray, were both Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire but with time spent by him or both in India. However, it means for William virtually no contact with football as a child or teenager. The game did come even to the Highland capital until after he had left to pursue his medical studies. Yet by a twist of fate it was precisely that move that took not football to him but him to football. In 1881 and aged twenty-two he is recorded as working as a Medical Surgeon Assistant in Farnworth by Bolton in Lancashire, Bolton, indeed, with Great Lever and Bolton just to the north and just beginning to import Scottish players, at the epi-centre of the first growth of the game in industrial Northern England. In fact what he was to become involved with at Millwall, living right across from the club's first real ground, was perhaps a replication of what he had witnessed in Lancashire just four or so years earlier, indeed something that he might have wanted to to be part from the business point-of-view, if nothing else.

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