David McLean (footballer, born 1890)

David Prophet McLean (13 December 1890[2] – 21 December 1967) was a Scottish footballer who played as a striker, scoring consistently throughout his career. At club level he represented Celtic, Preston North End, Sheffield Wednesday, Third Lanark, Rangers, Bradford (Park Avenue), Dundee and Forfar Athletic. He had one cap for Scotland.

David McLean
Personal information
Full name David Prophet McLean
Date of birth (1890-12-13)13 December 1890
Place of birth Forfar, Scotland
Date of death 21 December 1967(1967-12-21) (aged 77)
Place of death Forfar, Scotland
Position(s) Striker
Youth career
Forfar West End
Forfar Celtic
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1907 Forfar Athletic
1907–1909 Celtic 24 (19)
1909–1911 Preston North End 49 (25)
1911–1919 Sheffield Wednesday 135 (88)
1915–1918Third Lanark (loan) 85 (70)
1918–1919Rangers (loan) 24 (29)
1919–1922 Bradford (Park Avenue) 85 (49)
1922 Forfar Athletic
1922–1926 Dundee 114 (43)
1926–1931 Forfar Athletic 153 (72)
Total 669 (395)
National team
1912 Scotland 1 (0)
1918[1] Scotland (wartime) 1 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only



McLean moved from Forfar to Glasgow to join Celtic as a 16-year-old; he quickly won a Glasgow Cup medal, being selected to make his debut in the replayed final against Rangers and scoring the decisive goal in a 2–1 victory.[3] Though understudy to the established centre-forward Jimmy Quinn and out of favour for a spell after expressing anger at criticism from manager Willie Maley after a poor team performance,[4] he was involved in Scottish Football League title wins in his first and second seasons,[5] including a significant part in Celtic's 'famous fortnight' in April 1909, when they played eight games in twelve days to retain the championship.[4] However, he was not able to displace Quinn and moved on to Preston North End while still a teenager.

The Wednesday, Rangers loan

In England he was the top scorer twice in successive seasons in England's top flight when playing for The Wednesday, as the Sheffield club were then named.[6] He shared the distinction with two others on the first occasion, all with 25 strikes, before he was outright winner in 1912–13 on 30.[7] In 1915, World War I halted league football in England, but not in Scotland, and McLean was permitted to play for Third Lanark, where he scored 70 goals in less than three seasons,[8] and for Celtic's cross-town rivals, Rangers. In his sole season with the Ibrox club he was top scorer in the Scottish League in 1918–19 (29 goals in 24 matches);[9] he thus became the first player to be outright top scorer in the top divisions in both England and Scotland. The feat has since only been matched by McLean's future teammate at Dundee, Dave Halliday.[10] He also won another Glasgow Cup, eleven years after his first, with a win over his former employers Celtic; however, they claimed the league title over Rangers by a one-point margin.[11] At the end of the war in 1919, McLean returned to Wednesday but was soon transferred to Bradford (Park Avenue) where he spent three years.


McLean joined Dundee in 1922 where in his first season he was a teammate of Alex Troup. Dave Halliday was top scorer in Dundee's run to the 1925 Scottish Cup Final, in which McLean's goal had Dundee leading at half time. Celtic's Patsy Gallacher equalised before Jimmy McGrory headed a last minute winner for the Glasgow club.[10][12] After his Dundee spell, McLean closed out his career back home with five more years at Forfar Athletic.[8]


McLean received one cap for Scotland, in a 1912 British Home Championship match against England.[13] While based in England, he took part in five Home Scots v Anglo-Scots trial matches between 1910 and 1920, scoring four times,[8] with further international opportunities limited by the war.

IFFHS recognition

In the International Federation of Football History & Statistics updated 2008 list of the world's most successful top division goal scorers (1888–2008), McLean was placed at 43rd equal with 316 top division strikes.


McLean also played cricket for Strathmore C.C. and played in the game in June 1930 at The Hill in Kirriemuir when J.M. Barrie opened the pavilion, and two members of the touring Australian side, one of them the great Macartney, played before a packed crowd.

Personal life

He was the elder brother of footballer George McLean who was also a forward.[14] They were teammates at Bradford for one season (1921–22, David's last of three campaigns at the club and George's first of nine) and both closed out their careers at Forfar, but David (eight years older) had retired by the time George came 'home'.

Apart from when his footballing career took him elsewhere, he lived in Forfar all his life. He frequently attended football matches and was often invited to be the guest of Celtic at games in which they were involved. He died in December 1967.

See also


  • Byrne, Stephen; Jay, Mike (2003). Bristol Rovers Football Club - The Definitive History 1883-2003. Stroud: Tempus. ISBN 0-7524-2717-2.
  • "David McLean". Scotland The Complete Record. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  1. 45,000 view the charity 'national match, Sunday Post, 9 June 1918 (via Partick Thistle History Archive)
  2. Football. | Glasgow Cup–Replayed Tie., 28 October 1907
  3. The Celtic Miscellany (Davie McLean), David Potter, The History Press, 2011; ISBN 9780752490595
  4. Celtic player McLean, David, FitbaStats
  5. David McLean, The Sheffield Wednesday Archive
  6. Top goal scorers in English football's First Division / Premier League, 1888-2019, Statista, 27 May 2020
  7. John Litster (October 2012). "A Record of pre-war Scottish League Players". Scottish Football Historian magazine. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. Rangers player McLean, David P., FitbaStats
  9. Dave Halliday on Queens Legends, www.qosfc.com
  10. Association Football | Glasgow Cup Final, The Glasgow Herald, 7 October 1918
  11. Scottish Cup Final: Celtic Win Trophy For Eleventh Time, Glasgow Herald, 13 April 1925 (via The Celtic Wiki)
  12. Sat 23 Mar 1912 Scotland 1 England 1, London Hearts Supporters Club
  13. SFAQs: Davie McLean, ScottishLeague.net
  • Forfar Greats - David Potter 2009