Ed McIlvenny

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Ed McIlvenny
Personal information
Full name Edward Joseph McIlvenny[1]
Date of birth (1924-10-21)21 October 1924
Place of birth Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Date of death 18 May 1989(1989-05-18) (aged 64)
Place of death Eastbourne, East Sussex, England
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Playing position Winger
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1946–1947 Morton[2] 0 (0)
1947–1948 Wrexham[2] 7 (1)
1948 Fairhill Club
1948–1950 Philadelphia Nationals
1950–1953 Manchester United[3] 2 (0)
1953–1957 Waterford 57 (19)
National team
1950 United States 3 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Edward Joseph McIlvenny (21 October 1924 – 18 May 1989) was a Scottish soccer player, who most notably captained the United States national team in their 1–0 upset of England in the 1950 FIFA World Cup.[4]

In 2005, a film directed by David Anspaugh, The Game of Their Lives traced the adventure of this historic match.

He learned the game as a youth and was selected to Scottish Junior League on a tour of the North of Scotland. In 1947 he signed with the Welsh club Wrexham A.F.C., then in the Third Division North of the English Football League, but he only played seven games for them before moving to the US in 1949 to stay with his sister.[5]

McIlvenny excelled with the Philadelphia Nationals of the American Soccer League, where he teamed up with US national team captain Walter Bahr, and was selected to join the national team during their 1950 World Cup appearance. He was given the honour of being captain for the game against England "because he was British",[6] and in that game, it was his throw-in that led to the US goal.[7] Although he was not a US citizen, he had declared his intention of becoming one and thus was eligible to play, according to the rules of the United States Soccer Football Association at the time.[6]

However, he never did gain citizenship. Earlier that same year, he had played in an All-Star game against Manchester United and his play attracted the attention of United manager Matt Busby, who offered him a spot on the team after the World Cup. Upon his return to England, the English press called him "The Yank from the Tail of the Bank" (a reference to the sand bank that finishes at Greenock).[5] He only had two appearances for them, however, and transferred to Waterford United of the League of Ireland instead. He played for them for four years and then returned to England to play for Headington United, after which he retired from playing and ran a football school.

In the movie The Game of Their Lives that depicted the US victory over England, McIlvenny (played by US soccer player John Harkes) was given a much smaller role and the captainship was given to Walter Bahr instead. McIlvenny's widow, Sheila, was reported as saying: "It's disappointing, but what do you expect from Hollywood?... It is not the true story, not at all. I think he would have accepted it, but I don't think he would have been happy with it because it wasn't the truth."[citation needed]

He was enshrined in the US National Soccer Hall of Fame, along with the other members of the 1950 World Cup team, in 1976.[5] He is also featured in the Scottish Football Museum.[7]


  1. ^ "Ed McIlvenny". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 15 April 2017. 
  2. ^ a b http://www.neilbrown.newcastlefans.com/wrexham/wrexham.html
  3. ^ http://www.neilbrown.newcastlefans.com/manutd/manutd.html
  4. ^ Russell Stoddart (23 June 2014). "World Cup: Ed McIlvenny - the Scot who sunk England in 1950". BBC Sport. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "Edward John McIlvenny". National Soccer Hall of Fame. Retrieved 9 November 2005. 
  6. ^ a b Jose, Colin. "The Real Story About the 1950 U.S. World Cup Team". Archived from the original on 15 July 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2005. 
  7. ^ a b Malcolm, Ross (12 June 2010). "The Scot who beat England at World Cup – with the USA". The Scotsman. Retrieved 12 June 2010. 

External links[edit]

  • Eddie McIlvenny at Post War English & Scottish Football League A–Z Player's Database