Like fellow and contemporary Scotland international, Jimmy McAulay, Willie McKinnon was a player, who might have been a Vale of Leven player but spent all his playing career with Dumbarton. He was born in 1859, a year older than McAulay, but like him in Bonhill.
He was the third child, the second son of again Highland Stirlingshire parents, married in Balfron, his father variously described as a Carter, a Van Driver and a Contractor. But before he was ten the family had moved to Dumbarton and Willie spent what was to be a tragically short life devoted to the town's club, as player, a left-winger, referee, club-official and ultimately club-chairman.
Indeed, tragedy seems to have begun early for McKinnon. He would lose his father in 1880 and his mother in 1887. Meantime he had trained as a teacher, an English teacher, a job which in 1884 took him to Hawick in The Borders. By then he had already begun to play first with Dumbarton's then other team, Alclutha, joining Dumbarton itself in 1880, aged twenty. He was in the town's teams that lost, both on replays, the Scottish Cup Finals of 1881 and 1882 but did not feature in the winning team of 1883. And in 1883 and 1884 he was selected for Scotland four times, twice against Wales and twice England.
And such was is sporting versatility once in Hawick he turned his talents to the oval-ball game, played at half-back for Hawick itself, Hawick RFC founded in 1885, and was in the team that won the Hawick Sevens in 1886. And whilst it is said that he returned to Dumbarton to teach there in late 1886, returning briefly to football before finally hanging up his playing boots, his connection with Hawick did not end there.
In 1888 in Edinburgh he married Agnes Scott from the border town. But there was to be rapid tragedy. Whether she was already ill on her wedding day is impossible to tell but only two years later in 1890 she would pass away, at just twenty-four, back in Hawick and of cancer. And Willie himself would follow not too long after. In 1899 and not yet forty he would die in Dumbarton to be buried in the town's cemetery. And somewhat ironically his passing in hospital had been of liver damage/disease said to have been caused not by a football but a rugby injury.
1888 - Bridgend, Dumbarton
1899 - Little's Hospital, Dumbarton
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