Only Once a Blue (Part 9): John Hannan

Conveniently situated on the North East coast of Scotland, the seaport of Dundee earned for itself the title of ‘Juteopolis’ because of the large quantities of the vegetable fibre imported to the town which were then spun into rope and canvas. The Tayside town also imported a large amount of flax from the Baltic countries, which was used to make linen. This form of industry provided employment for a budding young footballer with the name of John Hannan, born 28 April 1884, at 53 Hospital Wynd. He was the 2nd child of Daniel, a jute mill overseer, and Jane.

The 1891 census revealed that the family, which by now included seven children, were living in the Hilltown district to the north of Dundee and that John had joined his father working in a jute mill. He began his football career at left-back, with local Northern League amateur side Lochee United from where he signed for Celtic in April 1905. He spent several weeks with the Glasgow club before, along with Willie Black, joining Everton the following June. The Merseyside club paid a joint transfer fee of £355 while both players received a bonus of £10 plus a wage of £4 per week. John Hannan was placed in the Lancashire Combination side and made his debut against Accrington Stanley at Moorhead Park where over 4,000 people watched them beaten by five goals to nil. Signed as cover for Jack Crelley, he had to wait until Boxing Day to play his only Football League game for Everton when they were beaten 2-1 by Bury at Goodison Park. At the end of season Hannan was placed on the transfer list for an asking price of £150 and, it was reported, he received an offer to join Southern League side, Fulham. He declined and rejoined Lochee United.

In May 1907, Hannan joined Scottish Northern League side St Johnstone and spent two seasons with the Perth-based club before returning home to sign for Dundee Hibernians. The new club had taken possession of the former home of Dundee Wanderers, Clepington Park, and, after extensive redevelopment, renamed it Tannadice. Hannan captained the Dundee side when the inaugural game took place,18 August 1909, against the Hibernian club from Edinburgh with 6,000 people watching the sides draw 1-1. The following Saturday, he scored the first competitive goal at Tannadice when his side beat the homeless Dundee Wanderers in a Northern League game. Hannan spent the rest of the season with Dundee Hibernian, playing against such sides at Arbroath and Montrose, and left at the end of the season.

He then joined Forfar Athletic and assisted them to go on an extended Scottish FA Cup run. After battling their way through the qualifying stages, the ‘Loons’ reached the first round and disposed of the 5th Battalion, Kings Own Scottish Borders. Round Two granted them a home tie with Division One side, Falkirk. Their visit attracted a record crowd to Station Park and they roared John Hannan and his team mates on to a famous 2-0 victory. The Forfar dream was then shattered at the quarter-final stage, with a 6-0 defeat against Aberdeen at Pittodrie. The following season, John Hannan again signed for Dundee Hibs but had returned to Forfar when World War One was declared.

On 16 October 1916 John Hannan married Margaret Garrity before enlisting to serve in World War One. He was wounded in action and awarded a stripe of Russian gold braid to wear on the arm of his uniform. John Hannan died in Dundee on 25 May 1953.


Peter Mc Bride. Dundee United FC.

By Tony Onslow

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