And we gave them James McGrory and…Peter Shevlin

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And we gave them James McGrory and…Peter Shevlin

It would be quite a challenge to take the place of legendary Celtic goalkeeper and captain Charlie Shaw, then to prevent a young genius by the name of John Thomson from stealing your spot in the team. That was exactly the challenge set before Peter Shevlin, but he had a real go at doing it with some style, whilst winning his fair share of medals along the way.

Peter Shevlin was born in the family home at 55 Duke Street, Hamilton, just before midnight on Tuesday, 18 November 1902.

His parents were Hugh, a coal miner born in Darngavil, Airdrie, on 19 June 1862, and Helen Shevlin, nee Robertson, a mill worker born in Muiravonside, near Linlithgow, on 9 February 1865. The Robertson family would later move to Rawyards on the outskirts of Airdrie and Hugh married Helen in St Margaret’s RC Church in the town on 5 October 1883.

Peter was their sixth son and tenth child and would be the second son to be named after his paternal grandfather. Hugh and Helen Shevlin had already lost three children by the time ‘the second Peter’ came along in November 1902. On 7 April 1889, baby Peter Shevlin lost his fight for life at 19 Motherwell Road, Airdrie, aged just eight months. He had been suffering from measles and pneumonia for one week.

The family were then dealt a devastating double blow within the space of a few weeks in the autumn of 1896. On 31 August, their 12-year-old daughter Mary – their first-born child – died from tubercular meningitis at Squair’s Court, Westmuir Street in Shettleston, having been ill for three weeks. And as that tragedy was unfolding, Mary’s infant sister Bridget contracted bronchopneumonia.

She would lose her own battle for life within 21 days, passing away on 23 September 1896 having lived just three months. Peter’s six surviving siblings in 1902 were John (16, also a coal miner), Elizabeth (12), Hugh (10), Thomas (9), Patrick (4) and Alice (2).

The six eldest Shevlin siblings had been born in Airdrie, then a seventh in Shettleston, before the family moved to Hamilton in 1896. An eleventh and final child for Hugh and Helen – a seventh son, who would be named Felix McKenna Shevlin – would be born there in 1907.

There was further heartbreak the following year, when Peter’s father Hugh died at 100 Muir Street, Hamilton on 3 February 1908, aged just 44. He had been suffering from chronic bronchitis for three months. Peter was just five years old at that time.

By the time of the 1911 Census, Peter’s mother Helen and her eight surviving children are living at 40 Church Street in Hamilton. The next decade would thankfully bring some happier family occasions despite the horrific, bloody war taking place across the English Channel, with no fewer than five of the Shevlin siblings walking down the aisle between 1911 and 1919.

In 1921, 18-year-old Peter is living with his mother and the two youngest Shevlin siblings, sister Alice (20) and brother Felix (15), at 100 Muir Street Hamilton, the address where his father had passed away 13 years earlier.

On Tuesday, 5 January 1926, Peter took the plunge himself, marrying Rose Hannah at her local Roman Catholic Church in Craigneuk. He is described as a 23-year-old professional footballer living at 105 Muir Street, Hamilton, whilst his bride is one year older and residing at 25 John Street in Craigneuk. Peter’s best man is his younger brother Felix.

That was a busy week to say the least. Just 24 hours earlier, Peter had kept a clean sheet as a Jimmy McGrory hat-trick saw off Partick Thistle at Celtic Park, a third match in four days for Shevlin and his teammates. And any honeymoon would have been brief, as he was in his usual place for the 1-0 win over Raith Rovers at the same venue just four days later!

So, what about that professional football career?

Continued on the next page…

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About Author

Having retired from his day job Matt Corr can usually be found working as a Tour Guide at Celtic Park, or if there is a Marathon on anywhere in the world from as far away as Tokyo or New York, Matt will be running for the Celtic Foundation. On a European away-day, he's there writing his Diary for The Celtic Star and he's currently completing his first Celtic book with another two planned.

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