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Full Name: James McCormick
Born: 28 April 1883
1. Came from: Sheffield United Went to: Sheffield United
1. First game: 02 September 1907 Last game: 30 April 1910
2. Came from: Sheffield United Went to: Career interrupted by WW1
2. First game: 10 December 1910 Last game: 01 May 1915
3. Came from: Career interrupted by WW1 Went to: Retired
3. First game: 30 August 1919 Last game: 01 May 1920
Appearances: 310 (310/0) Goals: 26
Born in Rotherham, McCormick was brought up with football in the family: his uncle, Johnny McCormick, was a well known player for Rotherham Town. James McCormick started his working life as a steel worker in Sheffield and played for the Steel, Peach & Tozer works team and then Attercliffe United. He was a big lad for the time, strong and quite prepared to get stuck in, and it wasn't long before he was spotted by Sheffield United, where he played 22 times over at least two years.
Joining Argyle in 1907, McCormick made the right-half position his own for most of the following three seasons. In May 1910 he returned to his former club, but played just one game for the Blades before rejoining his Argyle team-mates that December, much to the delight of the home fans. He went on to maintain a regular place in the side for the following five seasons, until the outbreak of the Great War ended football across the country.
In January 1915 James McCormick joined the 17th Middlesex - the so-called Footballers' Battalion (Argyle's Billy Baker joined around this time too). The battalion became popular for professional footballers and enthusiastic amateurs, together with supporters who wanted to serve alongside their football heroes. For the rest of the 1914-15 season the professionals were allowed some Saturdays off to play for their clubs, which was also seen as a recruitment opportunity: the battalion made the most of it to get men in the crowds to join up. Trained NCOs were scarce and, because McCormick had seen part-time service some ten years earlier with the York and Lancaster regiment, he became a sergeant soon after enlisting.
The battalion went to France in November 1915 and soon experienced life in the trenches. Months of sometimes heavy fighting culminated in the Battle of the Somme, during which, in one offensive, McCormick was wounded by shrapnel in the forehead and temporarily blinded by skin and blood. He picked up a wounded comrade whose legs had been shattered, who guided him the wrong way down the trench and they were captured. He ended up four days later in a prisoner of war camp in Saxony.
When the First World War ended, McCormick was repatriated and spent some time in hospital recovering from malnutrition. He played again for Argyle through the 1919-20 season, taking over at centre-half and captain after Harry Wilcox retired early in the season. Then in June 1920 he emigrated to Canada, where later he was hired to captain Ladysmith Football Club on Vancouver Island. As he got older he was troubled by tinnitus and deteriorating eyesight as a result of his wound. He retired to Kimberley BC in about 1930, where he died of cancer in 1935.
If you can add to this profile, perhaps with special memories, a favourite story or the results of your original research, please contribute here.
From Patrick McCormick in Villecroze, France on 26/02/2020 ...
James McCormick was my grandfather. I noticed that he is not shown in the team after the match on 10 March 1909 until he reappears on 9 April 1909. The reason was that his wife, Lydia, was seriously ill and died in Rotherham, aged 24, on 21 March 1909. She was my dad's mother and he was only two and a half years old. My father was looked after by his paternal grandparents in Rotherham and this might also explain James McCormick's brief return to Sheffield United. As a young child I once asked my dad why his father left Sheffield United. Dad just said "He clocked the trainer". I don't know why, but I think my grandfather was known as a no nonsense type. There are reports in several newspapers in May 1915, in an Argyle game away against Norwich in April, of him having left the pitch and struck a Norwich supporter. I quote just one of them dated 4 May 1915:
The case was dismissed.
A good result we might say but as an ex Magistrate (what would he have said!) I have to say that the best he could have hoped for today would have been a conditional discharge.
APPEARANCE DETAILS [reselect competitions]
The details below reflect appearances in all first-team competitions.
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