Willie Maley / Peter Johnstone


This photograph was taken in the first weeks of the season of 1909/10. The surroundings would make one think that a match was in progress or about to start and at that time Celtic had played the following games;-

17th August 1909               Hamilton Academicals   (H)          3-1

21st August 1909               Falkirk                                (H)             2-0

29th August 1909               Hibernian                         (A)             0-1

4th   September 1909       Motherwell                     (H)             2-2

11th September 1909      Morton                                             (A)             1-2

My own guess is either the Hibs match or the Morton game and for this reason.

Willie Maley (on the left) is holding under his arm what looks like a flag. Now, originally linesmen consisted of one official from each team but in 1900, the Scottish Football Association put forward a motion that they should be independent and entitled to a fee of 10 shillings and 6 pence (52 and a half pence in today’s money) and a 3rd Class ticket to the ground where the match was taking place.

The idea was undoubtedly a fine one, designed to cut out any bias on the part of linesmen. Unfortunately, as it was a proposal rather than an order, nearly every club ignored it. The poorer ones could not afford it and the richer ones decided to keep in step with their less well-off rivals. So, in 1909, Willie Maley still had the linesman’s flag under his arm, a duty he would undertake only at away matches, hence my reasoning that the photograph was taken either at Easter Road or Cappielow.

The figure on the right of the main photograph is Peter Johnstone, who joined Celtic from Glencraig Celtic in 1908, originally as an inside-forward. He stepped into the first team in 1909 as a left-half, played an important role in the Scottish Cup wins of 1911 and 1912, then moved to centre-half as Celtic did the ‘double’ in 1913/14, the last Scottish Cup before the completion was withdrawn during the 1st World War.

The advent of the war in 1914 made a considerable difference to the life of a professional footballer. As well as the scrapping of the Scottish Cup, international matches were also stopped. Players’ wages were reduced by 25% and later fixed at £1 per week. No wages were paid during the close season and footballers were expected to take their place alongside the other workers in the munitions factories and shipyards. League matches were only confined to Saturdays and holidays; and players could only take part if they had worked the rest of the week.

Peter Johnstone, who had started off his working life as a miner, returned to the pits to help the war effort. At the same time, he helped Celtic to the league title in 1914/15 and 1915/16. Obviously, though, Peter’s social conscience felt the need to do more than that and in March 1916, he signed up and soon joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. While in training in the south of England, he managed a couple of trips back to Scotland, firstly to help Celtic knock Rangers out of the Glasgow Cup ( 23rd September 1916) and then, in his last-ever game for the club, pick up a Glasgow Cup winner’s medal when Celtic beat Clyde 3-2 on 7th October 1916.

Wanting to see more action, Peter transferred to the 6th battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders and was soon in France, where his regiment was heavily involved in the fighting. Tragically, between the 12th and 16th May 1917, Peter was killed at the Battle of Arras, leaving a wife and two children.  His body lies in an un-marked grave but his name is listed on Bay 8 of the Arras Memorial in the Faubourg d’Amiens cemetery in the west of Arras.


Peter Johnstone made 233 appearances in the league and Scottish Cup for Celtic. While training in the south of England with his regiment, he also managed to come back up to appear in a specially-arranged match at Hampden ( 16th May 1916) between a Scottish League X1 and a Celtic X1. The sum of £938 was raised for the Belgian Relief Fund and the teams are shown in this group photograph.

The teams on the night were;-

Scottish League; Stewart (Falkirk), Manderson ( Rangers), Wilson ( Hearts), Gordon(Rangers),

                                Mercer (Hearts), Nellies (Hearts), Simpson (Falkirk), McTavish (Falkirk),

                                Reid ( Rangers), Cairns (Rangers), Morton (Queen’s Park).

Celtic: Charlie Shaw, Alec McNair, Joe Dodds, Jim Young, Peter Johnstone, John McMaster, Andy McAtee,

             Patsy Gallagher, Joe O’Kane, Jimmy McMenemy, John Browning.

Peter Johnstone is in the middle row, the 6th figure from the left.


4 thoughts on “Willie Maley / Peter Johnstone

  1. Hi guys
    Great site, well done!! I hope you don’t mind a couple of corrections reference Peter Johnstone. The Celtic v League Select game was played on Saturday 22 May 1916 and Peter was stillat home he was not required to report for duty until 25 May 1916. Finally, the game was for the benefit of the War Fund and not the Belgian Relief Fund.

  2. Very interested in the linesman story.

    Does anyone know if a John Murray ever ran the line as a “Celtic” linesman in that era?

  3. Peter Johnstone was my Grandad thank you for this information which I never new I did know he was a footballer but not the history which you have informed me of . Thank you again , Hope you are successful in getting a memorial garden for his commitment to his country .

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