When David Ashworth suddenly and surprisingly left Anfield for Oldham Athletic early in 1923, Liverpool turned to one of their Directors as a temporary answer. But not only did Matthew McQueen see the club safely through to a successful defence of their First Division championship trophy, he stayed in the manager’s chair for 5 years even though he was nearly 60 years old at the time he was asked to take over.
Matt and his brother Hugh had been two of the many Scotsmen recruited by John McKenna shortly after Liverpool were founded in 1892 following Everton‘s decision to move from Anfield to Goodison Park. Both had played in Liverpool’s first-ever Football League match, against Middlesbrough Ironopolis in September, 1893.
When his playing days were over, McQueen took the qualifications necessary to become a Football League referee and officiated as a linesman for a brief period in 1904. Towards the end of the First World War, he was appointed to become a Director on Liverpool’s Board.
After the successive championships of 1922 & 1923, the club’s fortunes declined somewhat with finishes of 12th, 4th, 7th and 9th. But the team started the 1927-28 season in far from convincing form. There were just 6 victories from 17 matches before Manchester United’s visit to Anfield on Christmas Eve. Liverpool eventually finished in what appeared to be a comfortable 16th place out of 22 but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The fight to avoid relegation that year was extraordinary. Middlesbrough finished bottom with 37 points and Tottenham joined them in the Second Division with 38 points. But no fewer than SEVEN clubs with Liverpool among them escaped by finishing on 39 points. However, before that end-of-season drama took place, Matt McQueen had stood down as manager. He had tragically lost a leg in a road accident in the early 1920’s and his health had deteriorated further by the end of the decade. But before he stood down, McQueen had made one of Liverpool’s most significant signings ever, South African Gordon Hodgson, a wonderful striker of the ball who would go on score nearly 250 senior goals for the club in less than 400 appearances.
Matt became Liverpool through and through after his move from Scotland in the early 1890’s. He lived in Kemlyn Road just a stone’s throw from the stadium and was a frequent and popular visitor to the club for the rest of his life. He died at the age of 81 in September, 1944.
Profile by Chris Wood, January 2005