Neil McBain

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Neil McBain
Personal information
Full nameNeil McBain [1]
Date of birth(1895-11-15)15 November 1895
Place of birth Campbeltown, Scotland
Date of death 13 May 1974(1974-05-13) (aged 78)
Place of death Ayr, Scotland
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) [2]
Position(s) Half-back
Youth career
Campbeltown Academicals
Senior career*
Hamilton Academical
1914–1921 Ayr United 111 (12)
1921–1923 Manchester United 42 (2)
1923–1926 Everton 97 (1)
1926–1928 St Johnstone 38 (4)
1928 Liverpool 12 (0)
1928–1931 Watford 85 (5)
1947 New Brighton 1 (0)
National team
1922–1924 Scotland 3 (0)
Teams managed
1929–1937 Watford
1937–1938 Ayr United
1938–1939 Luton Town
1946–1948 New Brighton
1948–1949 Leyton Orient
1949–1951 Estudiantes de La Plata
1955–1956 Ayr United
1956–1959 Watford
1962–1963 Ayr United
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Neil McBain (15 November 1895 – 13 May 1974) was a Scottish professional footballer and football manager. He remains the oldest player to appear in an English Football League match aged 51 years. [3]


Playing career


McBain, a wing half, began his senior football career in the summer of 1914, joining Ayr United, [4] with whom he made his league debut on 20 March 1915 against Clyde. He served in the Black Watch and then transferred to the Royal Navy during World War I. [5] He moved to Manchester United in November 1921 for a fee of £4,600.

In January 1923, after 42 league games for United, McBain moved to Everton, costing the Goodison Park side £4,200. He played 97 league games for Everton, leaving in July 1926 to join St Johnstone [4] for a fee of £1,100.

He returned to Merseyside in March 1928, joining Liverpool, but played only 12 times before joining Watford in November the same year.


His Scotland international debut came in April 1922 while he was with Manchester United, in a 1–0 victory against England at Villa Park. He won two further caps while with Everton, in 1923 against Ireland and in 1924 against Wales.

Coaching and managerial career

He was appointed player-manager of Watford in 1929, retiring as a player in 1931 after playing 85 times for Watford. He left Watford in August 1937 and took over as manager of Ayr United later that year. In June 1938 he returned to England, as manager of Luton Town, but left Luton in June 1939.

He was appointed as manager of New Brighton in June 1946. On 15 March 1947, New Brighton had an injury crisis, particularly among their goalkeepers. With no other option McBain played in goal against Hartlepool United at the age of 51 years and 120 days (and almost exactly 32 years after his professional debut). He was sacked by New Brighton in February 1948 with the club bottom of the league. Later that month he joined Leyton Orient as assistant to Charlie Hewitt, but in August 1948 took over as manager after Hewitt left to rejoin Millwall. In August 1949, McBain left Orient to manage Argentine side Estudiantes de La Plata.

McBain returned to Ayr United, as manager, in 1955, taking the club to promotion as Scottish Division Two runners-up in 1956, but in August 1956 left to manage Watford for a second time, his second spell lasting until February 1959.

His final spell as a manager came again at Ayr United, between 1962 and 1963. He died in 1974, aged 78.

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  1. "Neil McBain". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  2. Junius (20 August 1923). "Prospects of the clubs in the First Division of the League. Everton". Athletic News. Manchester. p. 5.
  3. Oldest League players [ permanent dead link ]
  4. 1 2 John Litster (October 2012). "A Record of pre-war Scottish League Players". Scottish Football Historian magazine.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
Sporting positions
Preceded by
William James Sawyer
New Brighton A.F.C. manager
Succeeded by
Jack Atkinson