Position Centre Forward
Once described as one of Scotland's greatest ever football personalities, for well over 50 years McColl was a fixture at Easter Road both as a player and later as a valued member of the backroom staff. For the prolific McColl it was goals all the way and he would later become the first Hibs player to score 100 league goals for the club.
The name of Jimmy McColl is enshrined forever among Hibernian’s collection of all-time greats.
As both a prolific centre-forward and then as a universally popular trainer, he left an indelible mark as a hugely influential figure that brought untold glory to Easter Road.
McColl was the most eminent of all Scottish goalscorers throughout the opening third of the 20th century, but his heroic deeds did not always receive the acclaim his skill, flair and knack for finding the net deserved.
Nimble and imaginative, Glasgow-born McColl held the unique distinction of contributing over a century of goals for two Scottish clubs – Celtic and then latterly Hibernian – and he was idolised by the supporters of both clubs.
Yet one of Scottish football’s greatest absurdities is that McColl was never selected to represent his country.
During the first decade after the Great War, he became Hibernian’s marksman-in-chief and carved out a niche in Easter Road folklore as a result of his eye-catching exploits.
A thrilling entertainer, McColl was skilful, industrious and a spectacular finisher and utterly loyal to the Hibernian cause for what seemed like a lifetime.
Nicknamed ‘Sniper’, McColl was predominately a snapper-up of half-chances and his array of skills enabled him to score with prodigious freedom.
As regular as clockwork, McColl would pop up inside the box and calmly stick the ball into the net with the minimum of fuss – that invaluable knack made him impossible to ignore.
A lethal opportunist, McColl was a constant menace to opposing defenders with his astute football brain enabling him to stay one step ahead of the crowd.
Born in Glasgow shortly before the end of the 19th century, McColl believed he was destined to work in the Shipyards until his form with junior side St Anthony’s prompted Celtic to sign him in September 1913.
He made his senior debut for Celtic a month later, although, to start with, the newcomer was overshadowed by his feted team-mate Jimmy Quinn.
Nevertheless his opportunity to make an impact arrived during the 1914 Scottish Cup Final replay, coincidentally against Hibernian, and McColl seized the chance with ruthless efficiency.
Scoring twice in a 4-1 win ensured McColl rose to prominence and he quickly became Celtic’s premier attacking asset, who inspired a further four championships.
After a season ravaged by injury, McColl was allowed to leave Celtic in May 1920 when he moved to Stoke City – leaving many supporters dumbfounded by his switch to the Potteries.
Overall McColl had plundered an incredible 123 goals for Celtic and his departure was met with utter consternation by the Parkhead regulars.
A move to Stoke City followed for the then astronomical fee of £2,500. However, failing to settle – his wife suffered from homesickness – in the Potteries he soon returned back to Scotland and Glasgow to sign for Partick Thistle.
Hibernian manager Alec Maley was tipped off by his brother Willie, who was in charge of Celtic, that McColl would be receptive to the idea of moving east to Easter Road.
Thus in October 1922, McColl became a Hibs player and Maley later branded him his greatest ever signing.
He made his debut against Rangers and then two weeks later got off the mark with a goal during a 2-0 home win over Raith Rovers.
Even though he was almost 30, McColl was still in his prime and he proved he was as gifted and resourceful a forward as could be found in Scotland.
McColl became a potent symbol of Hibernian’s resurgence – scoring an avalanche of goals over the ensuing nine seasons.
Admittedly there was a great deal more to his game than simply supplying the finishing touch – McColl was the majestic leader of the multi-talented forward line of the feted Hibernian team of the 1920s.
The team reached consecutive Scottish Cup Finals – in 1923 and 1924; heartbreakingly losing to first Celtic and then Airdrie – and royally entertained the Easter Road crowd with some captivating performances.
McColl’s most bountiful season in Leith was the 1927/28 campaign when he scored 27 times in 43 matches and he carried on scoring regularly until he accepted the role of player-manager with Leith Athletic in May 1931.
He became the first Hibernian player to score 100 League goals for the club and finished with the phenomenal total of 143 goals, which included five hat-tricks plus a four-goal haul against Hamilton during his final season.
Let there be no doubt about it – McColl was an absolutely incredible goalscorer. Even now, over 80 years since his final outing, he is placed sixth in Hibernian’s all-time list of goalscorers.
Stop to consider the handful of players that outscored McColl – Gordon Smith, Lawrie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull, Willie Ormond and Joe Baker – and the scale of his achievement is clear.
After less than a season in charge of financially troubled Leith Athletic, McColl then managed Belfast Celtic before heading ‘home’ to Hibernian in 1937.
Recognising McColl’s qualities and desire to serve the club, charismatic manager Willie McCartney employed him as assistant trainer to his old team-mate Hugh Shaw.
When McCartney suddenly and tragically passed away in 1948, Shaw was promoted to the manager’s office and McColl took over the vacant spot as first team trainer.
Liked and respected by the players, McColl proved hugely successful as trainer and his ingenuity helped the Famous Five forward line to score the goals which led to three championships.
During the early 1970's, and then almost 80 years of age, Jimmy McColl was still involved at Easter Road under Eddie Turnbull and was the only person to be connected with what is generally accepted to be Hibs three great sides, that of the mid 1920s, the Famous Five era and the Turnbull's Tornadoes.
In a short ceremony before a friendly fixture against German side Schalke at Easter Road in 1971 watched by all the Famous Five, Jimmy McColl was presented with a watch in recognition of the 50 years spent in the service of the club.
In all McColl served the club as a player, assistant trainer, trainer, reserve team manager and finally odd job man around the ground. He died in Edinburgh on 7th March 1978 aged 86, the club losing one of its finest ever servants, and Scotland one of its greatest personalities.
To celebrate his contribution and commitment to Hibernian, McColl was inducted into the Hibernian Hall of Fame in 2017.
Full name Jimmy McColl
Date of birth 14th December 1892
Place of birth Glasgow, Scotland