David Potter’s Celtic Player of the Day, No.53 – Willie Fernie

Willie Fernie was a footballing artist. Added to his natural ability of ball control, dribbling skills and passing ability, was the rugged determination born in the Fife coalfields of his birth.

He first made his debut in 1950 and it was really 1953 before Celtic fans saw Willie at his best, winning the Glasgow Charity Cup medal and a Coronation Cup medal with a fortnight.

But season 1953/54 was a truly great season for Celtic as he played superbly to lead them to a League and Cup double and to win International recognition including a trip to the ill-fated World Cup of 1954 in Switzerland.

He was an inside forward, inside right mainly but in 1957, we find him at right half in the immortal half-back line of Fernie, Evans and Peacock which beat Rangers 7-1 in the unforgettable League Cup final of that year.

Fernie was clearly the best player on the park and is rightly commemorated in song for the part he played that day. Sadly that team broke up almost immediately after that, and in a year’s time Celtic sold him to Middlesbrough.

 Photo: imago/Colorsport  Willie Fernie – FC Middlesborough. 01/10/1959 . Scotland International  1959 -960 

On Wearside, he impressed everyone playing alongside Brian Clough, but he then returned in 1960 and had major heartbreak in losing the 1961 Scottish Cup final to Dunfermline. He then lost next year’s Scottish Cup final as well, but by this time he was playing for St Mirren. He was the Manager of Kilmarnock for a spell in the 1970s before becoming a Glasgow taxi driver. He died in 2011.

David Potter

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.

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