I've been spending a bit of time recently on the biographical details of early Scotland internationals. The standard reference work is Doug Lamming's Scotland Who's Who, published in 1987, but in the 25 years since then the technology revolution has opened up a wealth of resources which were not available to him.
So, a first point of call is the Scotland's People family history centre in Edinburgh, which has digitised census, birth, death and marriage records, among a lot of other information. I've also trawled through the player registration books at the Scottish Football Museum, which provide home addresses for many players, an essential pointer to identifying those with common names. And the outcome is an opportunity to identify for the first time quite a number of Scotland caps, and correct some false information which is circulating. It's an ongoing project, but here are some results:
William Barbour Agnew (3 caps 1907-08), who played for Kilmarnock, Newcastle and others. Date of birth generally given as 16 December 1879, but this was a twin who died six weeks later. His parents had another boy the following year, born 30 December 1880, and this was the footballer. He died on 19 August 1936 in Moffat.
David Alexander (2 caps 1894). From an era when an East Stirlingshire player could be capped, Alexander's address is in the SFA register, and by tracking him in the census it was possible to work out that he was born in Cambusnethan, Wishaw, on 22 April 1869. An iron moulder by profession, he died in Glasgow on 14 January 1941.
William Bowie (1 cap 1891). The only Linthouse player to be capped. He was born in Govan on 31 December 1869 and died in the same area on 9 June 1934. He was a ship plater.
Thomas Hamilton (1 cap 1891). Capped with Hurlford in the same game as Bowie, he could be tracked from his address in registration books and comparing that with the census. He was born in Dundee on 22 March 1872 and moved to Ayrshire at an early age. He died on 17 October 1942 in Kilmarnock.
Bernard Breslin (1 cap 1897). An early Hibernian great, Breslin was working as a bartender in Harthill when he died of tuberculosis on 10 November 1913. His birth was a bit harder to locate, but eventually I found it had been recorded phonetically as Bracelan, as his illiterate father had signed the birth certificate with an X. He was born on 2 May 1874 in Carfin.
There are too many others to list here, but this gives a flavour of what can be done with newly available digital resources. Is there scope for a new Who's Who?
All blog posts, unless stated, are written by Andy Mitchell, who is researching Scottish sport on a regular basis.