‘After leaving St Gerard’s School in Govan, this young man played for a number of clubs,’ Jim Craig

On this day in 1961, a Celtic eleven of – Haffey, MacKay, Kennedy, Crerand, McNeill, Clark, Gallagher, Fernie, Hughes, Chalmers, Byrne – ran out at Firhill to face local rivals Partick Thistle in a league match.

At that time, Celtic were lying in fifth place in the table and the Jags were seventh, so a competitive match was expected and an attendance of 27,000 did not disappoint the treasurers of both sides.

Only three days earlier, Celtic had beaten Hibs by a single goal at Easter Road in a quarter-final replay in the Scottish Cup, with John Clark the surprise scorer. The result gave a real boost to the team and the players would have been determined to follow that success with full points on the north side of the city.

They did, in fact, get off to the perfect start, when outside-left Alec Byrne got on the end of a Charlie Gallagher cross and almost casually headed home. But Thistle fought back and four minutes before half-time got the equaliser through a 23-year-old centre-forward, who hammered the ball home past Frank Haffey from a cross on the left.

After leaving St Gerard’s School in Govan, this young man played for a number of clubs, Kilmarnock Amateurs, Shettleston Town, Kirkintilloch Rob Roy, Kilmarnock, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Luton Town before joining Partick Thistle in December 1960.

His frequent changes of club might suggest a lack of success but in every club that he joined, he was quick to get on the score sheet and there were always other clubs interested in him joining them.

Just before the break, though, Celtic went back in to the lead when Stevie Chalmers pounced on a loose ball to make the score 2-1.

Unfortunately, just after the interval, fighting broke out on the terracings and police dashed among the fans stationed there and made some arrests. On the field of play, the Jags did their best but Celtic always looked that bit more comfortable and when the final whistle blew, it was still 2-1 to Celtic.

And what happened to the young Thistle centre-forward. Well, Joe McBride moved from Firhill to Fir Park in November 1962 and in June of 1965, was snapped up by Jock Stein for Celtic.

Jim Craig

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About Author

Lisbon Lion and Celtic Ambassador Jim Craig provides The Celtic Star readers with a 365 day diary of all things Celtic, providing a remarkable and unique insight into our club from one of the players who won us The Celtic Star in Lisbon on 25 May 1967.

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