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Bill McCracken

Popularly remembered as the man who formed the modern off-side law, Billy McCracken had an extremely long and tumultuous career in football...

Name: William Robert McCracken
Born: 29 January 1883, Belfast
Died: 20 January 1979, Hull (England)
Height: 5.11 ft
Weight: 13.04 st
Position: Right-Back

Representative Honours: Ireland: 16 Full Caps / 1 Goal (1902-1923), 2 Victory Caps (1919); Irish league: 5 Caps (1902-1904); Football League: 1 Cap (1918), 1 unofficial appearance (1914).
Club Honours: (with Distillery) Irish League Champion 1902/03; Irish Cup Winner 1902/03, Runner-Up 1901/02; Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1902/03; (with Newcastle) Football League Champion 1904/05, 1096/07, 1908/09; FA Cup Winner 1909/10, Runner-Up 1907/08, 1910/11.
Awards: FA Long Service Medal 1978; Football League Legend 1998.

Club Career:
FA Cup
Broadway Thistle
*88/ 5
Newcastle United
377/ 6
Hull City
0/ 0
* all games

Coaching Career:
Hull City manager Feb/23-May/31
Gateshead manager
Millwall manager May/33-Mar/36
Aldershot manager
Newcastle United scout
Watford scout

To follow.

A master tactician hated by the fans

Ireland Cap Details:
22-02-1902 Wales... A W 3-0 BC
22-03-1902 England. H L 0-1 BC
09-08-1902 Scotland H L 0-3 FR (Ibrox Disaster Fund)
14-02-1903 England. A L 0-4 BC
12-03-1904 England. H L 1-3 BC
21-03-1904 Wales... A W 1-0 BC 1 Goal
26-03-1904 Scotland H D 1-1 BC
25-02-1905 England. A D 1-1 BC
18-03-1905 Scotland A L 0-4 BC
08-04-1905 Wales... H D 2-2 BC
16-02-1907 England. A L 0-1 BC
25-10-1919 England. H D 1-1 BC
22-10-1921 England. H D 1-1 BC
04-03-1922 Scotland A L 1-2 BC
01-04-1922 Wales... H D 1-1 BC
03-03-1923 Scotland H L 0-1 BC

Summary: 16/1. Won 2, Drew 6, Lost 8.

Ireland Victory Cap Details:
22-03-1919 Scotland A L 1-2
19-04-1919 Scotland H D 0-0

Summary: 2/0. Won 0, Drew 1, Lost 1.

Additional club career details courtesy of Martin O'Connor.


Unknown said…
Pre 1908 while at Distillery...

"Of backs we can offer a charming variety.
Able to play in class football society;
Still I'd advise you, without impropriety,
William McCracken's the king of them all."

Admired for his 'modesty both on and off the football field.' McCracken was not yet suffering from "swelled head" 'brought on usually by the attentions of admirers.'

Post 1908 after move to Newcastle United...

"The exile once longed for the principal part,
To fight that his land may be free.
But now the thought of the patriot heart.
Is, what will the wages be?"

McCracken was demanding a £10 match fee to represent Ireland against England (the same as some of his English international Newcastle teammates). The IFA refused and McCracken spent the game in the dressing room. He was now seen as to prefer 'his price to his country's football honour.' McCracken was subsequently banned from playing for Ireland, while soon after the IFA passed a motion to cap payments to professionals to £4.

Year after year motions were put to remove the ban but they were defeated and remained in place until 1920 when he finally earned his eleventh Ireland cap against England. The 'grand old man of football' had returned to represent his country at the age of 37, having served twelve years of exile.
Shelley said…
I have just had the pleasure of meeting the son of this man on a bus! We struck up conversation because he said that there was a rainbow. With the power of Google from the brief chat we had I found his dad on here! I am compelled to write a comment as my dad and grandad loved football and my grandad played for famous clubs too. But I am compelled to write because his son (now an old man) made my day! Thank you. Shelley (Hither Green).