David Potter tells the incredible true story of Willie Goldie’s Celtic debut

The following story is likely to strain the belief of anyone, but I am assured by one of the characters that it did happen. It really could only have happened to Celtic in the mad days when Bob Kelly was in charge of the club, and it goes an awful long way to explain why it was that Celtic with talented youngsters like Pat Crerand and Billy McNeill, and experienced, wily old pros like Neil Mochan and Bertie Peacock on board, still could not win anything.

It was October 1 1960. It had generally been agreed that Celtic were off to a bad start this season. In the all-Glasgow Scottish League Cup section, Celtic, after seeming to have had it all won, collapsed in the final two matches, to Third Lanark and then Rangers in the last game and were out of the competition.

They had then lost again to Rangers in the Scottish League, and on the Monday night before this game, they had exited the Glasgow Cup to Partick Thistle. It was fair to say that the team were not impressing their grumbling supporters, but everyone consoled themselves by saying that they had a young side, and they still needed time. It was an excuse however that was now wearing a little then.

But today Celtic were on the team bus making the short trip to Broomfield to play Airdrie, and optimism was in the air that maybe this could be the day that the corner was going to be turned. There was the usual jokes and banter. Suddenly someone said “There’s Willie Goldie!”, and there he was with his green and white scarf round his neck waiting for a bus at Monklands Hospital.

Willie was the reserve team goalkeeper, the reserves weren’t playing today, (they had beaten Airdrie reserves 2-0 on the Friday night) and Willie was a supporter, like everyone else. Mr Kelly, impressed by Goldie’s enthusiasm, told the bus driver to stop and they gave him a lift to the game, and a seat in the stand with the official Celtic party.

But it went even further than that. John Fallon, the man who thought he was playing in goal, went out to have a look at the pitch and both goalmouths, as goalkeepers do. He chatted away to the rest of his team mates, and then came back into the Away dressing room to discover that his boots had been removed, and that Willie Goldie was getting ready to play in the game.

Goldie had played for Airdrie in the past, and Mr Kelly seemed to be impressed by his “local knowledge” that would help Celtic today. Fallon was of course shattered by this, but the real victim was Willie Goldie.

Celtic proceeded to lose 0-2, and Willie Goldie, in the unkind words of a reporter, gave away goals “like soap coupons”, being badly positioned for the first and failing to grasp the second one cleanly.

He was a bag of nerves, and never played for Celtic again. It was an astonishing day for Celtic, Goldie and Fallon. Everyone had just assumed that Fallon must have picked up an injury, and when the truth came out, it was first of all one of these typically Glasgow urban rumours with everyone saying “Naw! I’m no believin’ that!”

But it was true!

David Potter

* Colour photo at top of this article courtesy of by Hearts historian Tom Purdie.

About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.


  1. That’s a great story, David. I’ve not heard it before. Good insight into the Kelly years.

  2. I remember one of the paper headlines from that game “Storrie Book Ending For Diamonds!” Jim Storrie scored Airdrie’s second goal that day. It was some years later though that I found out the Goldie story was true. Like a lot of away grounds in those days Celtic often found it a difficult venue. I remember one game there when Celtic had a corner on the left beside the covered enclosure where the crowd was close to the action. As Bobby Carroll was about to take the kick a Black Pudding landed at his feet accompanied by a shout of “haw Carroll that makes 2 ae yese!”
    On a pedantic note you have your Jags and Hi Hi mixed up. Third Lanark put us out of the Glasgow Cup and Partick Thistle beat us at Celtic Park in the League Cup. The League Cup elimination was typical of Celtic in those days. With 2 games left Celtic were top of the group with 7 points. Rangers and Thirds had 4 points and the Jags just 1 point. With 2 points for a win a victory over the winless Thistle would give Celtic the group with a game to spare. However they blew it and lost 1-2. Rangers beat Thirds to move onto 6 points so Celtic still had another chance to win the group. A draw would be enough in the last game at home to Rangers. However another 1-2 defeat ensued which meant Rangers progressed to the next round.
    Experiences like that make me always wary of assuming any victory until it actually happens – and that most certainly includes this season’s league title!