Bill McCracken

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Bill McCracken
Personal information
Full name William McCracken
Date of birth (1883-01-29)29 January 1883
Place of birth Belfast, Northern Ireland
Date of death 20 January 1979(1979-01-20) (aged 95)
Place of death Hull, Canada
Playing position Defender
Youth career
Belfast Distillery
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1904–1924 Newcastle United 432 (8)
National team
1902–1919 Ireland 12 (1)
1921–1923 Northern Ireland 4 (0)
Teams managed
1923–1931 Hull City
1932–1933 Gateshead
1933–1936 Millwall
1937–1950 Aldershot
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

William "Bill" McCracken (29 January 1883 – 20 January 1979) was a Northern Irish footballer who played as a defender. He was a cousin of Robert McCracken who also had a career as a professional footballer.[1]


During his career, McCracken captained both Newcastle United and internationally.[2]

McCracken played for English club Newcastle United from 1904 to 1924, helping them win three League titles and the FA Cup. McCracken is one of just a few players whose actions have brought changes to the Laws of the Game when, as a centre-half at Newcastle, he masterminded the technique of making opposition forwards ruled "offside" when the rules stated that 3 defenders must be between the attacking player and the goal line. So successful was McCracken's defensive ploy that the Offside Rule was changed to "2 defenders" between the foremost attacker and the goal line".[3][4]

In total he played 432 games for Newcastle, scoring 8 goals. After leaving Newcastle he went on to become Hull City manager in 1923 and he took them to the FA Cup semi-final in 1930. He left the club a year later.

He later had a short term in charge of Gateshead, before managing Millwall from 1933–1936. He went on to manage the now defunct Aldershot, and later returned to Newcastle as a scout.[2] In the 1970s, with McCracken in his 90s, he was scouting for Watford.[5]

McCracken gained 16 international caps, scoring one goal.[6] His team mates while playing for Ireland included Archie Goodall, Billy Scott, Jack Kirwan and Robert Milne.


As a player

Newcastle United


  1. ^ "Bob "Roy" McCracken". Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Bill McCracken". Newcastle United F.C. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Does anyone understand the offside law?". The Independent. 8 June 2006. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  4. ^ Harris, Tim (2009). Players: 250 Men, Women and Animals Who Created Modern Sport. Random House. pp. 462–465. ISBN 978-1-4090-8691-8.
  5. ^ Hornby, Hugh (18 December 2003). "A master tactician hated by the fans". Lancashire Evening Post. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  6. ^ "Bill McCracken". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman. Retrieved 21 March 2018.

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