John Madden 1865-1948

John ‘The Rooter’ Madden was born in Dumbarton. His childhood was spent in an area which could rightfully claim to have the three best teams in the world, in the 1880s: Dumbarton, Renton and Vale of Leven. For most people, his claim to fame is that he was remember of Celtic’s first-ever team in 1888. He won three League Championships with Celtic - and the Scottish Cup in 1892. He was capped twice. In the 1893 game, away to Wales, he scored four goals

All this is statistically interesting and no more. He is one of the greatest Scotch Professors of all time. How? It is all down to the work he did, when he left Scotland in 1905. What did he do to earn my respect? He managed Slavia Prague of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He knew of them, from Celtic’s 1904 tour of Austria-Hungary. Known as ‘Dedek’ (Grandad), he ran the club for 25 years.

These words are repeated, again and again throughout this book: new ideas. Like every Scotch Professor before and after him, he brought discipline, serious training and the scientific Combination Game. Slavia Prague regard him as the spiritual father of Czech professional football. Under Madden, they became Czech champions in 1925, 29 and 30. They won the Bohemian football union championship in 1913.

Perhaps his greatest triumph came when he coached the Bohemia-Moravia team to victory in an amateur three country European tournament in 1911. Madden’s team beat France 4-1, then England, 2-1. The game suggests Madden’s footballing brilliance, under bizarre circumstances. After going 2-1 up, the English team apparently went from 2-3-5 to 2-1-7. Madden took his team from 2-3-5 to either a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3 formation and saw the game out.

Along with others Scotch Professors like Jimmy Hogan, John Dick, John Tait Robertson - and Tom Sneddon after the Second World War, John Madden brought the passing and running game during entire continent. When he was showing Slavia how to play the game, the Austro-Hungarian Empire contained what are now parts of eleven new countries.


Giving History a Sporting Chance