Willie Maley

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Willie Maley
Personal information
Full name William Patrick Maley
Date of birth (1868-04-25)25 April 1868
Place of birth Newry, County Down, Ireland
Date of death 2 April 1958(1958-04-02) (aged 89)
Place of death Glasgow, Scotland
Playing position Half Back
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1887 Third Lanark 0 (0)
1888–1897 Celtic 75 (2)
1896 Manchester City 1 (0)
Total 76 (2)
National team
1893 Scotland 2 (0)
1892–1894 Scottish League XI 2 (0)
Teams managed
1897–1940 Celtic

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

William Patrick "Willie" Maley (25 April 1868 – 2 April 1958) was a Scottish football player and manager. He was the first manager of Celtic Football Club, and one of the most successful managers in Scottish football history. During his managerial tenure Maley led Celtic to thirty major trophies (16 league championships and 14 Scottish Cups) in forty-three consecutive years as manager.

Early life

Maley was born in Newry Barracks, County Down, Ireland, the third son of Thomas Maley and Mary Montgomery. Thomas came from Ennis, County Clare, while Mary had been born in Canada to Scottish parents. At the time of his son's birth, Thomas was stationed in Newry as a sergeant in the 21st (Royal North British Fusilier) Regiment of Foot.[1] In 1869, Thomas took honourable discharge from the British Army and the family moved to Scotland, settling in Cathcart - at that time a village just south of Glasgow.[2]

Willie Maley left school at the age of 13 and worked for a few years in the printworks of Miller, Higginbotham & Co., and then at the Telephone Company of Glasgow. Eventually he was offered the opportunity to train as a chartered accountant with Smith and Wilson, a Glasgow accountancy firm.[3] As a young man, Maley was much more involved in athletics than in football, although he had played a few games for Cathcart Hazelbank Juniors in 1886 and had played with Third Lanark from later that year.[4]

Playing career

It was on a visit to in Cathcart in December 1887 to invite his brother Tom Maley to join Celtic that Brother Walfrid and the rest of the Celtic deputation first met Willie Maley and they casually invited Willie to come along. In 1888, he was signed by the fledgling Celtic and became one of the club's first players as a midfielder. In 1896, he made a single appearance for Manchester City in a Second Division match against Loughborough. Due to his Scottish maternal grandparents and his having lived in Scotland since the age of one, Maley played for the Scottish national team, earning two caps in 1893 against England and Ireland.[5] Maley represented the Scottish League twice.[6][7]

Manager of Celtic

In 1897, the board of Celtic directors appointed Willie Maley, at just 29 years of age, as Secretary-Manager – the first manager – of Celtic. He won the Scottish League championship for the club in his first full season as manager. Mr Maley never worked with his players in training, he watched games from the directors' box and never indulged in team talks or spoke to his players at half-time or post-match.Mr Maley would not even announce the team: players learned if they were in or out through reading the line-up in the newspaper.[citation needed]

Celtic had been a buying club in their opening decade, spending heavily to bring professionals to the club. Maley decided to scrap that and rely almost entirely on recruiting youngsters fresh from junior football. Maley created a young team who won six consecutive league titles in a row between 1905 and 1910 and won the first Scottish League and Scottish Cup doubles. They were the best team in Glasgow, and the six-in-a-row record remained unbroken until the 1960s. As his six-in-a-row team began to age, Maley set about the task of building a younger team. This younger side, which included Patsy Gallacher and the apparently 'ageless' McMenemy, would win four league titles in succession between 1914 and 1917 and set what is still the UK record for an unbeaten run in professional football: 62 games (49 won, 13 drawn), from 13 November 1915 until 21 April 1917.[citation needed]

That side would go on to win two more titles, in 1919 and 1922. Celtic continued to gather trophies throughout the 1920s and in the mid-1930s Maley built his third great team, featuring Jimmy Delaney and Jimmy McGrory. This side won the league title in 1936 and 1938 and the Scottish Cup in 1937. By then, Maley was approaching 70. The Maley years ended in a less than happy fashion. With Celtic at the bottom of the table, after a meeting with the board of directors in February 1940, Mr Maley finally retired. Maley was the longest serving manager in Celtic's history. In his 43 years as manager, he won 16 Scottish League championships, 14 Scottish Cups, 14 Glasgow Cups and 19 Glasgow Charity Cups.[8][9]

Managerial honours

Celtic (1897–1940)

Winners (16): 1897–98, 1904–05, 1905–06, 1906–07, 1907–08, 1908–09, 1909–10, 1913–14, 1914–15, 1915–16, 1916–17, 1918–19, 1921–22, 1925–26, 1935–36, 1937–38

Winners (14):

1898–99, 1899–1900, 1903–04, 1906–07, 1907–08, 1910–11, 1911–12, 1913–14, 1922–23, 1924–25, 1926–27, 1930–31, 1932–33, 1936–37

Winners (14):

1904–05, 1905–06, 1906–07, 1907–08, 1909–10, 1915–16, 1916–17, 1919–20, 1920–21, 1926–27, 1927–28, 1928–29, 1930–31, 1938–39

Winners (1): 1938* (*): Competition staged only once to commemorate the Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938.

Individual honours

On 15 November 2009, Maley was inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame.[10]

Managerial statistics

As of 30 November 2013.
Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Celtic April 1897 January 1940 1,611 1,039 314 258 64.49

Cultural references

His Celtic career is detailed in song, Willie Maley by Mr David Cameron, one of the most popular Celtic songs amongst fans. The song was unheard of until he gave it to Charlie and the Bhoys who rewrote some of the lyrics and made the song what it is today.


  1. Brian McGuirk, "Celtic FC: The Ireland Connection" (Black and White Publishing, 2009), p. 95.
  2. Brian McGuirk, "Celtic FC: The Ireland Connection" (Black and White Publishing, 2009), p. 96.
  3. Brian McGuirk, "Celtic FC: The Ireland Connection" (Black and White Publishing, 2009), p. 96.
  4. Bathgate, Stuart (27 September 2012). "Celtic fans get chance to own medal won by club legend Willie Maley". The Scotsman. Retrieved 28 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Willie Maley at scottishfa.co.uk
  6. "Willie Maley". www.londonhearts.com. London Hearts Supporters' Club. Retrieved 15 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "William Maley". www.londonhearts.com. London Hearts Supporters' Club. Retrieved 15 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Willie Maley". Scottish Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 14 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "2009 Scotland Hall of Fame inductee biographies". STV Sport. STV. 17 November 2009. Retrieved 14 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Eight more Scots greats enter Hall of Fame", thescotsman.scotsman.com, 16 November 2009; accessed 6 May 2014.

Further reading

  • McGuirk, Brian. Celtic FC: The Ireland Connection (2009).
  • Potter, David. Willie Maley – The Man Who Made Celtic (2003).