In the week Peter McNeil’s granddaughter, Heather Lang, unveiled
the plaque at Glasgow Green, marking the site of the first match played by Rangers, Gary Ralston, author of “The
Gallant Pioneers”, received a wonderful surprise. It was a photograph of a near octogenarian, happy in the
company of two of his grandnieces.
The cheeky grin made him easy to identify. He had worn the
same grin, some fifty years earlier, when he appeared in the photograph of the 1877 Rangers’ Scottish Cup Final
side. It was Moses McNeil, the most famous of the Gallant Pioneers and the man who named the
Moses was from the east side of the Gare Loch. His father John was
gardener at Belmore House, near Shandon, the summer retreat of Glasgow corn merchant,John Honeyman. Mother Jean
Bain was from Downpatrick in Ulster. Moses had ten siblings, two of whom died in infancy. He was born in 1855, the
year after Peter, one of his fellow founders of Rangers Football Club. William had arrived in 1852. Willie played
in the first match against Callendar at Fleshers Haugh in May, 1872. He played for the Club for a number of years,
being part of the 1877 Scottish Cup Final side. Willie, in turn, had six sons.
Moses was a natural athlete. Powerful and stockily built, he
was known for his pace but he had stamina, too. In the Ibrox trophy room today is the cup won by Moses for
the half-mile at the Garelochead Athletic Sports on 1 January, 1876. Earlier newspaper reports tell of his
victories in age-group races, against boys older than he. Moses also enjoyed being on the water, being a keen
The Moses Cup in the Trophy
Moses played for the club he helped
found for ten years, playing in the 1877 and 1879 Scottish Cup Finals and being a member of the first Rangers side
to lift a trophy, the Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup in 1879.* He did leave to
join his brother Harry at Queen’s Park for a few months at the end of 1875 but quickly returned to the Light
Blues. He was the first Ranger to play for his country, in a 4-0 victory over Wales at Hamilton Crescent in
1876 (Harry scored that day) and was capped again, when Scotland defeated England 5-4 at First Hampden Park in
1880. For a great deal of his playing career, he formed the Rangers’ left wing with his old friend and fellow
Pioneer, Peter Campbell.
Although being a member of
committee during his playing days, he had little involvement after his playing days were over. He did feature,
though, on a number of occasions with his old pals in the “Ancients” team.
He spent the last few years of his life living with his sister,
Isabella, in Clynder. She died in 1935, to be followed by her brother, the last of the siblings, in 1938. They lie
together with their sister Elizabeth and Isabella’s husband, Duncan Gray, in the lovely churchyard at Rosneath.
Sadly, for the man who gave Rangers’ their name, his name does not appear in the fading lettering on the
On Sunday 28th June 2015 a plaque bearing the name of Moses McNeil was
unveiled at Rosneath Cemtery at a dedication ceremony conducted by Parish Minister Christine Murdoch.
Rangers Football Club was represented by former captain Ally
A memorial is now in place for a lad who fought so hard to establish
the Rangers during those turbulent early years.
He packed a bag and left Rosneath and headed to industrial Glasgow
What he actually did was help form a football club that was to become
the worlds most successful and would affect the lives of millions worldwide , that continues to this
*The Rangers first trophy
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