Peter McKennan
Peter McKennan
Peter McKennan
● Peter McKennan (TG)

born in Scotland

Peter Stewart McKennan was born on Tuesday, 16th July, 1918, in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire.

The 5' 11 (12st 9lbs) forward signed for Donald Turner's Thistle on Wednesday, 12th December, 1934, having most recently been with Whitburn Junior.

Aged 17, he made his debut appearance on Wednesday, 28th August, 1935, in a 1-1 draw away to Dunfermline Athletic in the SFL First Division.

Peter scored his first goal for Thistle on Wednesday, 4th September, 1935, in a 2-1 defeat away to Third Lanark in the Glasgow Cup.

He scored the last of his 114 goals on Saturday, 25th October, 1947, in a 2-1 win at home to Aberdeen in the SFL First Division.

That turned out to be his last game for the club, having clocked up 199 appearances as a Jag.

His club-list included Whitburn Junior, Partick Thistle, Raith Rovers, Wrexham, Glentoran, Linfield, West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea, Brentford, Leicester City, Middlesbrough, Oldham Athletic and Coleraine.

Peter died on Saturday, 28th September, 1991, in Dundonald, South Ayrshire, aged 73.

Bio Extra

In his autobiography, former Oldham player Orig Williams describes meeting his new mentor on arrival at the club as follows:


It all began well as I was “adopted” on my first visit to the changing room. My mentor, guide and self-appointed instructor was to be Peter McKennan, a well-travelled and at one time an incredibly gifted footballer. He was a six-foot, brylcreemed-haired Scot who, by the time he had arrived at Oldham, via Partick Thistle, West Brom, West Ham and Middlesborough, had clearly been worn down by injuries, which included a fragile ankle.

Though he had received little schooling, he was known as McKenna MA BA or MA BA McKennan…………At one stage in his career, he could dribble away, beating man after man, and should have been capped for his country, but as befitting a D Day landing station commander, he was no quitter, and woe betide anyone who crossed him.

Ma Ba' was an inside forward who joined Thistle in December 1934 as a teenager from Whitburn Junior. By the time World War 2 interrupted his career less than 5 years later he had made just less than 200 appearances for Thistle and scored 114 goals. A prolific goalscorer. He scored 4 on 2 occasions, against Albion Rovers in a 6-1 SFL win, and Hamilton Academical in a 4-3 SFL win. Add in 4 hat-tricks, and you start to get the picture. Thistle fans loved him.

When war came Peter joined the army (in September 1939). He served in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Peter was promoted to the rank of Command Sergeant-Major and landed in France a fortnight after D-Day. Peter went on to Caen and Evrecy, where he saw action. He stayed with the Regiment through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany. In the London Gazette of 9 August 1945, Peter was mentioned in despatches and was Acting Company Sergeant Major. In his book “Soccer at War 1939-45”, Jack Rollin writes of Peter “He served first with the Ras then the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He landed at Normandy two weeks after D-Day and was involved in the Battle for Caen. He was one of only four survivors of his section in one engagement. McKennan was mentioned in dispatches for patrol work….

Peter did stay as a Thistle player, but during the war he made guest appearances for a number of clubs. In October 1946 he joined West Bromwich Albion for a fee of £10,000. He made 12 appearances for the Baggies, scoring 4 goals before moving on to Leicester City in March 1948. 18 starts and 7 goals later, Peter moved on to Brentford in September of the same year. In February 1949, Ma Ba' scored 5 in the club’s 8-2 victory over Bury. A spell with Middlesborough was followed by 3 seasons with Oldham Athletic. He scored 33 goals in 83 matches with the Latics, so Orig Williams’ initial view of MA BA may have altered! He crossed the water to become player manager of Coleraine, banging in goals there also, before retiring from the game in 1956. He passed away in September 1991 in Ayrshire aged 73.

On account of his service during WWII, Peter is included in our feature piece, The Partick Thistle returned →.


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