Every now and then I find something that really stands out, and I was particularly taken by the above census return from a household in Liverpool in 1891. Staying with a Mrs Hughes, a widow, at 26 Coniston Street are six young men, all from Scotland, and all described as 'labourers'. But that masks their true vocation: they are all players for Everton Football Club, who would win the Football League championship in 1890/91; three of them were good enough to play for Scotland. The players are Duncan McLean, Daniel Doyle, James A McMillan (the three internationalists), Daniel Kirkwood, Alexander Brady and Patrick Gordon. Dan Doyle is perhaps the most famous of them, as after he captained Everton that season to their league title, he moved to Celtic where he won a further four league championships and nine Scotland caps.
More satisfying for me was that this entry led me to other genealogical records which enabled me to pinpoint McLean and McMillan, two Scotland players who had previously been utterly elusive. Duncan McLean was born on 20 January 1868 in Renton, and died there on 17 November 1941. James Andrew McMillan was born in Bonhill on 11 April 1869, and died in Bootle on 20 February 1937.
A similar discovery in the city of Liverpool which helped my research was from 1911. Two young Scots, described helpfully as professional footballers with Liverpool FC, are boarding with a tobacconist called William P Dunlop in Walton Breck Road, right outside Anfield. The players are John McConnell and Donald McKinley, and while the former returned north after two seasons, the latter became a Liverpool legend staying for almost two decades, winning two Scotland caps into the bargain. What makes the entry really interesting, however, is the tobacconist.
William Dunlop had also played for Scotland during a great Liverpool career, having joined the club in 1894 following spells with various Scottish clubs including Kilmarnock and Abercorn. His age (37) and middle initial (P) did not fit with the usual identification of him as born in 1871 with a middle name of Theodore. A bit of investigation confirmed that he was actually William Peden Dunlop, born in Hurlford on 11 August 1874. He died in Stanhope, County Durham, on 28 November 1941.