Jim Craig – Celtic players faced the empty goal, the piper played a lament

After the accidental collision at Ibrox on 5 September 1931 which led to the death of John Thomson, there was, naturally, an outpouring of grief in the following days.

There were thousands at John’s funeral in his home village of Cardenden in Fife and the papers were full of tributes from the football community of Scotland, the political establishment and the ordinary fans. It was a time when rivalries were forgotten and sympathies expressed.

For Willie Maley, though, while obviously devastated, some decisions had to be taken and he met them head on.

Firstly, he decided that Celtic would not ask for a postponement of their next league game, due only 7 days later. Then, he had to deal with the problem of another goalkeeper. John Thomson had been so consistent and regular that others seldom got a chance.

On this day in September 1931, with a lone piper in attendance, visitors Queen’s Park walked out on to the pitch at Parkhead, followed by the Celtic team – without a goalkeeper. They all turned towards the empty goal at the west end of the ground as the piper played a lament.

Then, after a short silence, reserve goalkeeper John Falconer walked out to take his place and the game began, the players coping manfully on what was an extremely emotional occasion to record a 2-2 draw.

Ayrshire boy Frankie Quinn was born on this day in 1926. Frankie joined Celtic from Saltcoats Victoria in November 1946, while a welder in an Ardrossan shipyard. He made 7 appearances at outside-right between 1946 and 1948 before moving to Dundee United.

Jim Craig

Did you read the fabulous tribute to John Thomson by Matt Corr on The Celtic Star on 5 September? If not it’s certainly worth a read, see HERE.

Join in the Celtic conversation today on the new fans forum – it’s called CELTIC NOISE…

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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