5 February 2011

J.E. "Ernie" McKnight

Name: James Ernest McKnight
Born: c.1912
Died:
Height:
Weight:

Position: Inside-Right

Representative Honours: Ireland: 1 Amateur Cap / 1 Goal (1933).
Club Honours: (with Glentoran) Gold Cup Runner-Up 1933/34.

Club Career:
Teams
Seasons
Signed
Fee
League
FA.Cup
Other
Park End
-
-
-
-
-
-
Dunmurry
-
-
-
-
-
-
Bangor
30/31-32/33
-
Amateur
-
-
-
Glentoran
33/34
c/s-33
-
*31/12
-
-
TOTALS
-
£-
-
-
-
* all games

Biography:
The son of the late-Jimmy McKnight, and grandson of one-time Irish League president John McKnight, James Ernest McKnight came from a rich footballing pedigree.

McKnight began his career in intermediate circles. He served Park End for a short time but it was his performances with Dunmurry that brought him to higher attentions. He was considered a shoo-in for the 1931 Junior international against Scotland only to be transferred to Irish League Bangor shortly before the match.

Still a teenager when he signed for the Seasiders, McKnight hit the ground running and it was quickly predicted that further representative honours would come his way, along with a move to a more "glamorous" club. Indeed, as an amateur player, McKnight would have been free to walk away from Bangor for either of the "two city teams [who had] courted his services" at the close of the 1930/31 season.

The Ireland's Saturday Night was full of praise: "...born with football in his toes. McKnight has an abundance of cleverness, he makes the ball obey his will, and like his father before him, is as full of tricks as a cart load of monkeys." This was followed be the caveat that he was "inclined to over-elaborate" and that "if McKnight could get it into the back of his head that he has colleagues willing to carry on his good work his value to his club would improve 100 per cent."

It may have taken the young McKnight a few seasons to get this advice "into the back of his head" for it was not until February 1933 that the long-predicted international honours came his way. He was selected at inside-right for Ireland Amateurs match against England and he was "a thorn in the side of the English defence from start to finish," scoring the opener as Ireland raced into a 4-1 half-time lead before holding out to win 4-3.

McKnight's "cleverness caught the eye" of several spectators in attendance at the Amateur international in Belfast, as once again he was rumoured to be the target of several bigger clubs - including more than one English club. After two-and-a-half seasons of ignoring a number of opportunities in order to remain with Bangor, McKnight was finally enticed away in 1933. His destination was one of his father's former clubs, Glentoran.

At the Oval McKnight was able to experience some of the more prestigious events in club football. In October 1933 he played in a 1-1 draw with a touring Peru/Chile XI and, having scored in a semi-final victory over Belfast Celtic, was able to play in his first major final. Sadly, the Gold Cup decider resulted in a 1-0 defeat by Portadown. Other highlights included both goals in a 2-0 Irish Cup quarter-final win over ex-club Bangor and a hattrick in a 7-2 City Cup rout of Ards. McKnight played his final games in a Glens shirt in the end-of-season RUC five-a-side competition at Windsor Park in May 1934 as the club drastically altered the squad in preparation for the following campaign.

Ireland Amateur Cap Details:
18-02-1933 England H W 4-3 1 Goal

Summary: 1/1. Won 1, Drew 0, Lost 0.

Photo and details from ISN article kindly forwarded by Jim Murphy.

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