Letter from a veteran Celt in 1966 triggers a few memories

Another Celtic rite of passage…Frank, Dan and Maura

Part 1: Letter from a veteran Celt in 1966 triggers a few memories

Earlier this year, I wrote a series of articles on the life and career of Jimmy Gribben, a man to whom Celtic Football Club owes a considerable debt.

The transfer that changed the course of Celtic’s history forever

That project came about as a result of a chance meeting with some of Jimmy’s family whilst working on the stadium tours at Celtic Park a few months earlier.

Jimmy Gribben’s Grandsons and Great-Grandsons at Celtic Park

Speaking with Pat Woods about Jimmy at that time, the legendary Celtic historian left me in no doubt whatsoever as to the Baillieston man’s importance to the club.

“No Jimmy Gribben…no Jock Stein…no Jimmy Johnstone…no European Cup. It’s as simple as that.”

The bold Pat then proceeds to collate and send me copies of newspaper articles from the 1960s and 1970s relating to Jimmy, all of which I used in the series published in The Celtic Star and shared with Jimmy’s family last month.

Except one.

The article I saved until now was a letter written to The Celtic View in 1966 from a Thomas Dobson of 4 Kenmore Street, Shettleston, Glasgow, or Glasgow E.2. as it was at that time.

Here it is reproduced in full.


Re your article on Celtic’s tour of the United States and Canada this summer, I have pleasant memories of the 1931 tour of those countries. I was present at one of their games on that tour against Car Steel in Montreal, Celtic won 7-0 and Peter Scarff, playing at centre forward for the injured Jimmy McGrory, scored four of the goals.

Car Steel had a former English International by the name of Sam Chedgzoy at outside right. Some of the old-timers will remember him when he played for Everton. He was over 40 when he played for Car Steel against Celtic.

We had a bus to that game and a couple of pipers and had a great day. The sun was scorching, and I don’t know how the players stuck the heat. The match was played in the baseball stadium and everyone was seated.

One of our party was Pat Quinn from the Cathedral parish; he later became mayor in Montreal. His family emigrated to Canada in the early 1920’s. Pat used to stand in front of the old pavilion at the Camlachie end of Celtic Park; some of the old supporters may remember him.

There were quite a few Baillieston faces at the 1931 match in Montreal – the Fishers, the Conroys, the Burns. Jimmy Gribben, the oldest member of the Celtic staff, knew them all. I had travelled over 2,000 miles from Calgary in Alberta and was in Montreal about a week before the game.

I haven’t seen Celtic this season as I haven’t been out of the house since September, but the old spirit is still there.

I have been following Celts for nearly 60 years. The first game I ever saw at Parkhead was Celtic v Airdrie in 1906. My father took me to that match. Frank O’Rourke was centre-forward for Airdrie. He was a Bargeddie man who later went to Bradford. By the way, his daughter married an old Celtic player, Dan McColgan. I think that he played around the late 1920’s and was afterwards transferred to Third Lanark.

I hope I shall be able to see Celtic when the weather becomes a little milder. I dearly hope so.

Yours etc.

Thomas Dobson”

Article provided by Pat Woods containing Thomas Dobson’s letter

A few things jumped out at me immediately from that letter.

Firstly, I had written about that Carsteel match in my forthcoming book on Celtic in the 1930s and I was pretty sure that Peter Scarff – somewhat bizarrely – had worn a dress shirt and had scored five goals rather than four. A quick check proved both of those facts to be correct.

And I was also curious about the reference to Jimmy Gribben knowing the various Baillieston families. I read that as the author Thomas Dobson recalling Jimmy having been on that tour and meeting the families back in 1931 but I’m pretty certain that was not the case. Perhaps the remark was more about the fact that as a Baillieston man, Jimmy would have known them.

I loved the comment about Pat Quinn having stood in front of the old pavilion at Janefield Street and that supporters at the time of writing may remember him. That sounded like a stretch until you consider that in 1966, people would have stood at that spot less than 40 years earlier, so akin to me discussing friends who stood in the Jungle in the centenary season. Time is a crazy concept sometimes.

As an aside, I had a look to see what information was out there about Pat Quinn, and I believe the following obituary relates to the same gent. It refers to him being an Alderman in Verdun – a borough in Montreal – rather than the Mayor of Montreal itself, but everything else lines up, even down to a mention in the local newspaper of the presentation of a floral horseshoe tribute made by Celtic supporters from Verdun to visiting captain Jimmy McStay.

Patrick Quinn (1893-1947)

Alderman Patrick Quinn of Verdun is ground zero for the Quinn family’s involvement with the United Irish Societies of Montreal. Born September 28, 1893 in Baillieston, Scotland. He married Elizabeth Mary O’Brien April 1, 1918 at St. Mary’s Church in Glasgow. After starting their family there, they made their way to Canada in the early 1920s.

Likely with the UIS as a delegate since the beginning most likely from St. Willibrord’s Church Quinn took on the treasurer’s role in 1933 when longtime president John Loye assumed the presidency. Quinn remained treasurer of the UIS until his death in March 1947.

Quinn passed away 21 March, 1947 at the Jeffrey Hale Hospital in Quebec City after suffering a stroke. He had travelled to the provincial capital earlier in the week as a member of a council delegation and had appeared before the Private Bills Committee.

In addition to his involvement with the UIS, he was a member of the St. Patrick’s Society, the Verdun Voters’ League, and the Optimist Club of Verdun. He had been an alderman for a mere three years. His body lay in repose at Verdun City Hall on Church Ave. Funeral services took place at St. Willibrord’s Church 24 March with interment at Code des Neiges Cemetery.

Ken Quinn, Historian

But the main reason for holding this article back was the reference to Frank O’Rourke and Dan McColgan, whom I knew to be the grandfather and father respectively of my lovely friend Maura McColgan. She headed up the Celtic Park Stadium tours operation a few years ago.

Former Head Tour Guide at Celtic Park Maura McColgan

Time to share their stories, I think.

This is for you, Maura.

To be continued.

Hail, hail!

Matt Corr

With grateful thanks to Pat Woods

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About Author

Having retired from his day job Matt Corr can usually be found working as a Tour Guide at Celtic Park, or if there is a Marathon on anywhere in the world from as far away as Tokyo or New York, Matt will be running for the Celtic Foundation. On a European away-day, he's there writing his Diary for The Celtic Star and he's currently completing his first Celtic book with another two planned.

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