26 May 2011

James McNeill

Name: James S. McNeill
Born: Belfast
Height:
Weight:
Position: Centre/Right-Half

Representative Honours: Ireland: 5 Amateur Caps (1932-1936); Irish League: 1 Cap (1936).
Club Honours: (with Cliftonville) Irish Cup Runner-Up 1933/34; (with Glentoran) Co. Antrim Shield Runner-Up 1936/37.

Club Career:
Clubs
Seasons
Signed
Fee
League
FA Cup
Other
Malone United
-
-
Amateur
(Combination)
Knocknagoney
-
-
Amateur
(Combination)
Dunmurry
-
-
Amateur
(Intermediate League)
Bangor
-
-
Amateur
-
-
-
Willowfield
-
-
Amateur
(Intermediate League)
Belfast Celtic
-
-
Amateur
-
-
-
Cliftonville
29/30-35/36
-
Amateur
-
-
-
Glentoran
36/37
-
-
*43/0
-
-
TOTALS
£0
-
-
-
* all games.

Biography:
"Strong and robust, his shoulders were made to bear heavy burdens and he has never been known to shrink the job. He is a player who dispenses with all frills, but this is in his favour ... wholehearted and reliable."

James McNeill was playing with adults from the age of 14 when turning out for Malone United in the North of Ireland Combination. It was while playing in the Intermediate League with Dunmurry that he was approached by representatives of Bangor. His first stay in the Irish League was short-lived and he played for Willowfield and Belfast Celtic IIs before joining Cliftonville in the 1929/30 season.

More usually the defensive pivot, McNeill appeared across the half-back line for Cliftonville. During his time the Amateurs enjoyed some rare successes, winning the Gold Cup and appearing in further Irish Cup and Co. Antrim Shield finals. He earned selection for Amateur Ireland and on his d├ębut was part of the team that defeated Scotland for the first time. He was also in the side three years later as the Irish enjoyed their first win on Scottish soil, with McNeill scoring from the penalty spot. As well as his five caps, McNeill was reserve in attendance on several occasions and in the absence of Bertie Fulton was handed the captaincy.

In the summer of 1936 McNeill was one of a host of new players signed by Glentoran. Early in the season he earned his only inter-league honour as the Irish League lost 5-2 to their Scottish counterparts at Ibrox. In what was a difficult season for the Glens the only highlight was a run to the Co. Antrim Shield final where they suffered a replay defeat to Belfast Celtic. In February 1937 Glentoran found themselves 4-0 down with 30 minutes remaining in a match against Ballymena and down to ten men as their goalkeeper had to leave the field injured. McNeill stepped in between the posts and by the 76th minute the scores were sensationally levelled. In the dying minutes, McNeill saved a penalty in what must be one of the most dramatic games the Irish League has ever seen.

Ireland Amateur Cap Details:
23-01-1932 Scotland H W 4-0
16-02-1935 England. H L 2-4
17-04-1935 Scotland A W 3-2 1 goal
15-02-1936 England. A L 0-5
22-04-1936 Scotland H L 3-5 1 goal

Summary: 5/2. Won 2, Drew 0, Lost 3.

With thanks to Jim Murphy for supplying the photo and ISN article on which this profile is largely based.

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