Willie Fagan

William Fagan (20 February 1917 – 29 February 1992) was a Scottish footballer, who played for Celtic, Preston North End and Liverpool.

Willie Fagan
Personal information
Full name William Fagan[1]
Date of birth 20 February 1917
Place of birth Musselburgh, Scotland
Date of death 29 February 1992(1992-02-29) (aged 75)
Place of death Wellingborough, England
Position(s) Forward
Youth career
1934 Wellesley Juniors
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1934–1936 Celtic 12 (9)
1936–1937 Preston North End 35 (6)
1937–1952 Liverpool 158 (47)
1952 Distillery
1952–1955 Weymouth
Total 205 (62)
National team
1945 Scotland (unofficial) 1 (0)
Teams managed
1952–1955 Weymouth
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Football career


Fagan started his professional career as a teenager at Celtic,[2] joining the club from Wellesley Juniors, the same route taken by his uncle John McFarlane 16 years earlier.[3] He made his debut aged barely 18 in March 1935, and appeared five times for the Hoops as they won the 1935–36 Scottish Division One title; however, it was his six goals in as many matches at the start of the 1936–37 season which drew attention from other clubs.[4]

Preston North End

He moved on to Preston North End where he would link up with several other Scottish players,[5] including former Celtic players Hugh O'Donnell and Frank O'Donnell, and future managerial great Bill Shankly. They reached the FA Cup final of 1937 but lost the game 3–1 to Sunderland.


Liverpool manager George Kay then took Fagan to Liverpool where he made his debut, along with John Shafto, on 23 October 1937 in a 1–1 league draw with Leicester at Anfield. He scored his first Liverpool goal a week later on 30 October in a 3–2 league win over Sunderland at Roker Park.

While playing for the Reds, Fagan went straight into the line-up in his favoured inside-left position, although he did appear as a centre-forward; he ended his initial season at the club with nine goals in 36 matches. He followed this up by scoring 15 times, one behind top scorer Berry Nieuwenhuys (who later invited Fagan to be best man at his wedding)[6] and missing only just three matches of the 1938–39 campaign.

The Second World War interrupted Fagan's career for six years and it took away the majority of his best years. He played as a wartime guest for Celtic,[4] Aldershot, Leicester, Northampton, Newcastle, Chelsea, Millwall and Reading.

Fagan returned to Merseyside upon the conclusion of the war and was appointed captain.[7] He played 22 (18 league) matches, scoring seven goals (all in the league) as Liverpool won the first post-war First Division championship by the end of the 1946–47 season.

Injuries caused his appearances during the 1947–48 and 1948–49 seasons to be very irregular, and he also lost the captaincy[7] and appeare dto be on the verge of departing. He bounced back in the 1949–50 season as he helped the Reds to their very first Wembley cup final on 29 April 1950. Fagan made 42 appearances in that campaign, seven in the FA Cup, scoring 11 goals, four of them in the cup run. Arsenal won the final 2–0 in front of a 100,000 crowd, the second time he had been on the losing side in a cup final.

Fagan made just four appearances during the following campaign and three during the first half of the 1951–52 season. He was allowed to leave Liverpool in January 1952.

Later football career

Fagan joined Northern Irish club Belfast Distillery where he played for a short time. He then headed back to England where in took on a player/manager role at Weymouth.


He gained his only international recognition during World War Two when he appeared for Scotland in 1945; however these are regarded as 'unofficial' internationals.[8]

After playing

After hanging up his boots, Willie became a Borstal officer, an occupation he held until his retirement in 1982.

Willie died in February 1992 in Wellingborough. He was 75 years old.



  1. "Willie Fagan". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  2. Celtic secure young Fagan, The Evening Telegraph, 12 June 1934 (via LFC History)
  3. MacFarlane John Image 3 Glasgow Celtic 1922, Vintage Footballers
  4. Celtic player Fagan, Willie, FitbaStats
  5. Willie Fagan transferred to Preston North End, Western Morning News, 15 October 1936 (via LFC History)
  6. Rare and unseen pictures of Berry Nieuwenhuys, LFC History
  7. "Captains for Liverpool FC since 1892 lfchistory.net
  8. "Willie Fagan". London Hearts Supporters' Club. Retrieved 20 January 2014.