Monday, 9 December 2013

David McLean - the Sheffield Wednesday striker who finished as top scorer in Division 1 in 1911/12 and 1912/13

This article is an edited version of an article
from the above book that was published in

Two Sheffield Wednesday players have finished as top scorer in the top flight of English football at the end of a season. In 1926/27 Jimmy Trotter scored 37 league goals, roughly half the number scored by newly promoted Wednesday that season and he finished one ahead of Newcastle’s Hughie Gallacher. Scotsman David McLean finished equal top scorer with Sunderland’s George Holley and Aston Villa’s Harry Hampton in 1911/12 before outscoring everyone else the following season with 30 goals.

McLean was signed from Preston in the summer of 1911 and initially he struggled with only four goals when Wednesday played Bradford City on 25 November. He beat ‘keeper Mark Mellors twice and he quickly added further doubles against Manchester City and WBA.

On Boxing Day 1911, Sunderland travelled back home punch-drunk, hammered 8-0, a result that remains the Wearsiders equal record defeat. McLean notched four and his best was when he slipped the ball beyond the full-backs before beating them for pace and showing a fine touch to net. Back at Deepdale, McLean played a lovely one-two with George Robertson before driving home and unstoppable 25-yard shot. Back at Hillsborough, he netted twice against Notts County with his second seeing the centre-forward shrug off some heavy challenges before hammering a shot past ‘keeper Albert Iremonger.

Further goals against Manchester United and Aston Villa meant it was no surprise when McLean was given his debut for Scotland against England at Hampden Park before a world record crowd of 127,307. Also playing for the Scots was McLean’s Wednesday colleague Andy Wilson, who gave the home crowd something to cheer by netting only seven minutes only for Holley to equalise six minutes later. The game ended 1-1 and McLean did not get another chance to play for his country.

McLean wrapped up his first season with Wednesday by scoring three goals in a 5-1 defeat of losing cup finalists, WBA. He had scored 25 times, seventeen at home and eight away and Wednesday finished fifth.

The 1912/13 season saw Wednesday start with a bang and only one point was lost in the first five games in which McLean scored seven times. Wednesday’s impressive start came to a shuddering halt in the sixth game when Aston Villa hammered them 10-0. Yet three consecutive victories against Oldham, Chelsea and Arsenal, were enough to raise hopes of a third championship success after previous successes in 1902/03 and 1903/04.

At Stamford Bridge, McLean completed the scoring in a 4-0 victory when his pass out to Robertson saw the winger deliver a return cross that the Wednesday centre-forward buried beautifully in the corner of the net. By the end of December, McLean had fourteen league goals and his side were second in the table.

His goal at Ayresome Park that beat Tim Williamson was one of the best ever scored at the time as McLean appeared to make the heavy ball swerve in the air before it beat the ‘keeper. Playing against Grimsby in the FA Cup, McLean scored four times. Having belted home a great goal at Anfield, McLean hit an unstoppable shot in the local derby, which saw United beaten 2-0. Victory was especially sweet as it took Wednesday to the top of the league and that remained the case until only one point was won from the two games over Easter and Aston Villa and Sunderland moved ahead. Wednesday was to eventually finish third.

Mclean scored twice in the final match of the season when WBA were beaten 3-2 and his 30 goals were three more than his nearest rival, Sunderland’s Charlie Buchan.

McLean’s form dipped in 1913/14 and he scored only nine times but in 1914/15 he returned with twenty-two before the war brought an end to competitive football. He played just three more times for Wednesday after battlefield hostilities ended and he left to play for Bradford Park Avenue having scored 100 goals for Wednesday in just 147 appearances. David McLean died in 1967.

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