Celtic legend Charlie Tully, born on this day in 1924

Charlie Tully was born on this day in 1924 in Belfast. He played for Belfast Celtic for a few years and then Charlie travelled to Glasgow in the summer of 1948 to sign for Celtic.

Charles Patrick Tully was a personality player of the type that Celtic supporters crave at certain points of their history, and they certainly needed one in the late 1940s and early 1950s, a dismal time for the club which took a long time to recover from the war.

He arrived from Belfast Celtic in 1948, a year in which the club had flirted with relegation. His beginning was spectacular with a defeat of Rangers and the winning of the Glasgow Cup in 1948, but the success was not really sustained until that famous day in 1951 when the team captured the Scottish Cup once again with the Irish left wing of Peacock and Tully playing a significant part.

It was his trickery that the crowd loved, his ability to dribble, to pass, and to get the better of a burly defender. Occasionally he could have done with being more direct or passing the ball sooner, for his tendency to show off annoyed his team mates.

Injury compelled him to miss the 1953 Coronation Cup final (he played in the earlier games) but he was heavily involved in the League and Cup double of 1954, and his last big game for the club was the 7-1 League Cup final in which he was outstanding.

He thoroughly deserved the adulation that he received, and remained a popular figure when he returned to Celtic Park.

David Potter

He starred in the Celtic side for eleven seasons and became a huge favourite among the support , entertaining the large Celtic crowds with his skill and trickery.

Charlie made 319 appearances for Celtic and scored 47 goals. He won two Scottish Cup medals in 1951 and 1953, a League winner’s medal in 1954, plus two League Cup medals in 1956 and 1957 as well as having an adult fairy tale called ‘Tully and the Three Gers’ named after him in 1948.

Charlie Tully quotes, courtesy of The Celtic Wiki, where you can read much more about The Celtic legend HERE.

“Neilly Mochan was a greyhound enthusiast. I remember he wanted a dog from Ireland, and I put him in touch with an owner that I knew. Neilly bought it for eighty pounds. A few days later it dropped dead! He never forgave me.” Charlie Tully

“Who is that fella standing beside Charlie Tully?” Charlie’s popularity was such that when Celtic were in Rome in 1950 to play Lazio in a Friendly the team was granted a Papal Visit and when Charlie got his picture taken with the Pope the joke was to ask the question “Who is that fella standing beside Charlie Tully?” – The joke being that Charlie was more well known than the Pope himself.

“At an early age, I discovered that my face and tongue were due to get me into a lot of trouble.”Charlie Tully

“I always wished I was born on the Twelfth of July, just to be awkward, like!” Charlie Tully

“You’re the Irish coffee, I’m the cream!” Charlie Tully to Bertie Peacock

“And Charlie Tully! Wonderful player, awfie man. My digs were in Rutherglen, Miss McGuigan’s, and Charlie would stay over if he had a drink in him rather than face the wife. I’ll never forget the first time he sat on the ball – against Rangers! No-one, as far as I knew, had ever done that before. Their players looked stunned. We all used to get given passes to games, and Charlie always played with them in the pocket of his shorts. If he was playing well he’d hand them out to the opposition: ‘Here, you’d be better off watching me from the stand.’ In a cup-tie at Falkirk he scored two goals straight from corners.” Sean Fallon

It seems odd to nominate as “man of the decade of the 1940s” a player who played only two years of that decade, but that tells everything about Celtic from 1940-1948. Frankly, it was a dreadful time for Celtic.

Excuses are possible for the war years – things were difficult and football was far from the foremost consideration in anyone’s mind – but one cannot really explain away the awful seasons of 1946/47 and 1947/48. It was the “near relegation” of 1948 however which triggered a rare foray into the transfer market, and on this occasion, Celtic pulled out a plum in Charlie Tully from Belfast Celtic.

Charlie Tully holding the Coronation Cup

He made his debut against Morton in August 1948, but it was the weekend of 25-27 September which made him. On the Saturday at Celtic Park – “Hogan, Boden, Weir and Tully – the lads that ran the Rangers sully” was the cry as Celtic beat Rangers 3-1 with Tully orchestrating some devastating football, and then on the Holiday Monday at Hampden, Celtic beat Third Lanark by the same score to win the Glasgow Cup.

It may only have been the Glasgow Cup, but it was much prized and cherished in the Celtic heartlands, and the perception was that a new era had arrived. And how Celtic needed a hero in those grim, desperate days! And he was Charles Patrick Tully.

He played for Celtic until 1958. A glance at his record must record quite a few disappointments in that under-performing era for Celtic, but Tully was always an entertainer. Never the greatest “team man”, he was an individualist, and he won two Scottish Cups, two Scottish League Cups and one Scottish League, sadly missing through injury the Coronation Cup final of 1953.

But the stories that were told of him! His exploits on the field meant that he would remain a Celtic hero until his premature death in 1971.

David Potter

Charlie Tully supporting Celtic in Lisbon, May 1967
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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds 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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