While the story of Battles is relatively well known, finding out about Marshall was quite a challenge. He was generally assumed to have been born in Saltcoats in the late 1890s or even - according to one of his American clubs - in 1902. A detailed look at his playing career made those dates highly unlikely, as he started out with Saltcoats Victoria in 1911, but nobody in census returns seemed to match his profile. It was further complicated that his birth name was John, but he was generally called Jock or Jack in the press.
Experience has taught me there are always clues out there, and the breakthrough came in a newspaper cutting that described his departure for the USA on the Cameronia in September 1924. I was able to check the ship manifest on ancestry, which listed him, his wife and three sons. The next stage was to find his marriage, which meant a trip to the ScotlandsPeople centre in Edinburgh, and by noting his parents on the marriage certificate I eventually found his birth: 24 April 1892 to John Marshall and Annie Cathcart at Braehead, Baillieston. The location was a surprise, but it transpired his father was a miner at the Braehead pit (no longer there, the site is just off the M8 motorway east of Glasgow), and it was clear from later census returns that the family moved to Saltcoats while John junior was a small boy.
His football career could be tracked through the British Newspaper Archive and US soccer archives such as the excellent Bethlehem Steel site, but what happened to him once he hung up his boots? I found John Marshall in the US censuses in 1930 and 1940, living in Kearny, New Jersey, working as a labourer. That seemed to be the end of the line, as New Jersey deaths are not online, but by a stroke of luck I found a family tree - again on ancestry - that seemed to match. I got in touch with the owner of the tree, and she was able to provide not just a precise date of death, 10 October 1964, but also a photo of his gravestone in South Amboy, NJ, where he is buried with his wife. In return, I could provide details of his life.
All in all, a satisfying conclusion to the search for a notable player, who was not just a captain of Scotland but also a highly respected star in his adopted USA.
Born Baillieston, Lanarkshire, 24 April 1892.
Died Morgan, New Jersey, 10 October 1964.
Saltcoats Vics 1911-14 (inc a trial for Rangers res)
Shettleston Aug 1914 (three games only)
St Mirren 1914-19. Won Victory Cup 1919
Middlesbrough Nov 1919-23
Brooklyn Wanderers 1924-25
Newark Skeeters 1925-27
Brooklyn Wanderers 1927-28
Bethlehem Steel Aug 1928- Aug 29
(On loan to Philadelphia Centennials for two games in Nov 1928)
Feb 1913, junior international trial
3 January 1917, Home Scots 2 Anglo-Scots 1 at Hampden, War Fund match (scored one)
19 April 1919, Ireland 0 Scotland 0 at Windsor Park, Victory International
Seven caps for Scotland
12 Feb 1921, Scotland 2 Wales 1 at Pittodrie
26 Feb 1921, Ireland 0 Scotland 2 at Belfast
9 April 1921, Scotland 3 England 0 at Hampden (captain)
4 Feb 1922, Wales 2 Scotland 1 at Wrexham (captain)
4 March 1922, Scotland 2 Ireland 1 at Celtic Park
8 April 1922, England 0 Scotland 1 at Villa Park
16 Feb 1924, Wales 2 Scotland 0 at Cardiff
One cap for USA
6 November 1926, USA 6 Canada 2 at Brooklyn Ebbets Field (scored one)