William "Will" McColl

William "Will" McColl was Stirlingshire-born in Drymen in 1865, the eldest son of local Mason's Labourer and a mother from Balfron, would still be in Drymen aged six and would die at just thirty-eight in 1903 in the Stirling District Asylum in Larbert, later Bellsdyke Hospital. But he would make his footballing reputation at Vale of Leven and end his playing career at Renton, having also plied his round-ball trade elsewhere, both in Scotland and England. Moreover, he in the Vale would create a footballing legacy at both Scottish clubs and international level. His grandson was Alexandria-born John McColl, aka Ian, a stalwart of Rangers post war and in the 1950s and Scotland manager in the 1960s, perhaps the unluckiest national manager of them all.   

The McColls arrived from Drymen at some point in the 1870s, settling probably in Jamestown. In 1881 Will already working in the print-fields and the family was living there in 1891 and 1901. Moreover, the local Jamestown club was Will's first. Aged nineteen he played the 1884-5 season before stepping up as a tall and strongly-built inside forward for two more at Vale of Leven. And that was clearly enough for him try his luck elsewhere. He played a further two seasons at Greenock Morton from where he headed South, as now a professional signed by Burnley. But there he played mainly as a reserve until the summer of 1890 before dropping outwith the League with Ardwick, now Manchester City. He can be seen lodging in Manchester in 1891, recorded as a Calico Printer from Jamestown, Scotland. 

And even there it was only another season before a return home, back to Jamestown back to the print-fields and living back with his parents but seemingly little football, perhaps due to injury received in England. Only in Autumn 1893 did he really return to the field of play, now as a centre-half but presumably an Scottish, attacking one with non-League Vale of Leven before moving on to Renton, still in the Second Division, and where in 1895 he was in the James Kelly-role in the Archie McCall-led team that reached but lost the Scottish Cup Final. His reward shortly after, aged thirty, was his only Scottish cap.  

It was to a last hurrah. In November 1895, aged thirty, he suffered a bad leg-break, ironically at Greenock. It required a month in hospital, ending his playing career but not stopping him moving on. In 1896 he married, to Bonhill girl, Mary Ann Wilson. They were to have two boys, the elder one, also William, being Ian McColl's grand-father. They also seemed to have moved to Glasgow to Hutchesontown, or at least Mary was there with the two boys but no sign of their father. He is nowhere to be found, at least not obviously. But the family still remained close, indeed ultimately together. On his death Will was buried in Vale of Leven Cemetery and he would be joined there by Mary Jane on her passing in 1934 back in the home parish and similarly on theirs in 1970 and 1966 respectively by both William and James.

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