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Football News: John McCann 1860 to 1928: Celtic Committee Member 1894 and 1895

John McCann 1860 to 1928: Celtic Committee Member 1894 and 1895
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John McCann 1860-1928: Celtic Committee Member 1894/5 and 1895/6

John McCann (JM) was born to John McCann and Margaret Begley on 10th June 1860 in Milton, Glasgow. His father was born in Gargunnock, Stirlingshire but seems to have grown up in the Milton area of Glasgow and through the years his occupations were either as an Iron Moulder or Iron Dresser. His mother, originally from Clenus in Northern Ireland came to Scotland and settled in Milton.

JM had 2 older sisters, Jean and Elizabeth and two younger sisters, but sadly both called Margaret died as infants. In 1866 JM's mother died, aged 28 of pneumonia, just 2 months after the death of the second infant. In December of 1865, JM's father looks to have abandoned the family and left for Australia. 'Poor Relief' was successfully applied for by a neighbour, Mrs Morton, who took the children into her temporary care in January 1866. This may have been just after the 2nd infant, Margaret who was born on the 23rd of May 1864 died, aged just one year and eight months, on the 26th of January of Pertussis Bronchitis (Whooping cough).

Mrs Morton then waited for authorisation to allow her supervision to become permanent. A 'Poor Relief' Inspector made a visit to her house to confirm that relief was appropriate and sent back a favourable report to his bosses, saying that she was devoted to the 3 children and that he requested that they stayed with her. The answer that came back was that JM was to be sent to the Industrial School for Boys and Jean and Elizabeth to the Catholic Orphanage for Females, both situated in 72 Abercromby Street. This is confirmed in the 1871 Census, although there is an Anne McCann shown but no sign of a Jean.

More misery was to strike the McCanns though. In 1877, while still a pupil at the St. Mary's Industrial School, JM, at 16 years of age, registered the death of his sister Elizabeth, who was 18 years old. She was, by that time, a student teacher at the same school with Phthisis (Tuberculosis) being the cause of her death.

In 1881, JM was a Pawnbroker's Assistant, boarding in the Gallowgate and on the 15th of November 1887 in Calton, JM married Winifred Green. Between them they had seven children, John Begley, Francis Michael, Austin Philip, Donal, Gerald Louis, Winifred Margaret, Charles Edward and Agnes Mary. Winifred (snr) was a power loom weaver to trade and both were then living in the family home at 56 Marlborough Street.

On the marriage certificate, JM's profession was listed as a Pawnbroker's Assistant and he maintained this role until at least 1891 (by which time the family had moved to Bellgrove Street in Dennistoun). Winifred's father, Michael Green, belonged to the family who toured Ireland with mobile shows and was a descendant of the Green family who were associated with the Green's Entertainment empire which, included Green's Playhouse (later the Apollo) in Renfield Street.

A change in fortune appears to have occurred shortly after this as at some point, JM became a pawnbroker in his own right and as a local businessman, became involved with the Celtic committee between 1894 and 1896. Being on the committee at that time indicated part ownership of the club. When Celtic approached businessmen in the area, JM would have accepted their invitation for funds as he and his sister(s) had benefited from the generosity of others whilst they were in the Industrial School and Orphanage respectively. Also, Brother Walfrid's assistant, Brother Dorotheus was the Marist Headmaster at the Industrial School / Orphanage where the young McCanns were staying.

In 1901, Winifred's sisters, Catherine Green and Margaret Green were living with the family as lodgers and, like Winifred, were also power loom weavers. Reading between the lines, the income from the 3 power looms may well have helped JB set up his own Pawnbroker's business in the Garngad / Royston area.

The other theory is that he may have become assistant to another Pawnbroker on the Celtic committee, Joseph Michael Nelis. There was certainly the need for a Pawnbrokers business in the area as Tennant's massive Chemical Works - called The Rollox - stretched from Royston / Garngad to St Rollox and Sighthill and mostly employed the immigrants from Ireland, some destitute and most desperate for income.

JM was mentioned in newspapers as attending the funeral of John Glass in 1905. John Glass was the president during JM's involvement with the Celtic committee. Although born John McCann, it appears that he took on the name John Begley McCann as certain documents show him with that name from the 1901 Census onwards.

The Pawnbroker business that JM set up was then handed down to his son, John Begley McCann (JB), but due to the renovation and redevelopment of the Royston / Garngad area the business ended, leaving young JB without employment to support his wife and six young children. There was also a major loss of income to JB as a company, reckoned to be the Co-operative, didn't settle a substantial debt.

JM himself died due to having acute generalised bronchitis for 10 days which developed into acute broncho pneumonia for the final 5 days. The death certificate shows him to have died on November 26th 1928 at the age of 65 (although this contradicts previous dates showing him to be born in 1860). He died at the family home at 107 Smithycroft Road, Glasgow.

His legacy continued beyond his death for some time however, as Celtic provided a season ticket in perpetuity to his family. The current descendants of JM hold a copy of a letter, signed by Desmond White, confirming the facts and that the ticket was sold back to them in May 1970 by his daughter, Winifred.

As well as JM having a tangible commitment with Celtic, there have been other relatives (the McCann side and otherwise) who have had connections with the club. Tommy Bogan (1920-1993) was a midfielder who played between 1946 and 1948, playing 34 times and scoring 5 goals, before moving to Preston North End.

Des McCann had a successful trial as goalkeeper in the late 1950s but declined the offer for the security of a day job to support his young family. Des accepted match day employment as Chief Stand Steward between 1962 and 1970. Robert M (Des' father-in-law) and his son, Bob were match day turnstile operators in the 1960s and early 70s.

Written by Stengo1888 April 01 2020 13:21:34


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