‘Among the galaxy of talented goalkeepers whom Celtic have had, the late lamented John Thomson was the greatest,’ Willie Maley

CELTIC Supporters have this morning – as they always do on this, the sad day in our club’s history – been remembering and paying their respects to goalkeeper John Thomson who in this day in 1931 lost his life while playing for Celtic against Rangers at Ibrox.

Below are some social media posts while the official Celtic site in their tribute to John Thomson feature extracts from a few older Celtic books.

James Hanley, in his book The Celtic Story (1960) wrote: “It is hard for those who did not know him to appreciate the power of the spell he cast on all who watched him regularly in action. ‘A man who has not read Homer,’ wrote Bagehot, ‘is like a man who has not seen the ocean. There is a great object of which he has no idea.’

“In like manner, a generation that did not see John Thomson has missed a touch of greatness in sport, for which he was a brilliant virtuoso, as Gigli was and Menuhin is. One artiste employs the voice as his instrument, another the violin or cello. For Thomson it was a handful of leather. We shall not look upon his like again.”

In his book, The Story of the Celtic; 1888-1938, Willie Maley, manager of the club at the time of the tragedy, wrote: “Among the galaxy of talented goalkeepers whom Celtic have had, the late lamented John Thomson was the greatest. A Fifeshire friend recommended him to the club. We watched him play. We were impressed so much that we signed him when he was still in his teens. That was in 1926. Next year he became our regular goalkeeper, and was soon regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers in the country.

“But, alas, his career was to be short. In September, 1931, playing against Rangers at Ibrox Park, he met with a fatal accident. Yet he had played long enough to gain the highest honours football had to give. A most likeable lad, modest and unassuming, he was popular wherever he went.
“His merit as a goalkeeper shone superbly in his play. Never was there a keeper who caught and held the fastest shots with such grace and ease. In all he did there was the balance and beauty of movement wonderful to watch. Among the great Celts who have passed over, he has an honoured place.”

Celtic close today’s article thus: “The final thought on the tragic events of September 1931 is to remember the epitaph on John Thomson’s gravestone, which reads: “They never die who live in the hearts they leave behind.””

Celtic Historian David Potter’s tribute appeared just after midnight on The Celtic Star – Sunday Afternoon Invite from John Thomson Memorial Committee in Cardenden, see HERE.

Matt Corr’s tribute to John Thomson was posted on The Celtic Star earlier this morning – T’was the face of young John Thomson, for his last game he had played…see HERE.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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