The player fourth from the right of the front row is Jimmy Rowan, born in Bridgeton in the shadow of Celtic Park on Saturday, 27 July 1935. Jimmy would attend St Mungo’s before his football career commenced with crack local junior outfit Shettleston.
He signed provisional forms for Celtic as a 17-year-old inside-right on Thursday, 9 October 1952, and 48 hours later he was turning out for ‘The Town’ in their 2-1 Scottish Junior Cup win at Holytown United, whilst his new Celtic teammates were beating recently promoted Clyde by the same score at Shawfield with a double from Bertie Peacock, after Celtic chairman and Scottish League President Bob Kelly had unfurled the hosts’ ‘B’ Championship flag from the previous season.
Jimmy continued to divide his time between playing for Shettleston and working as a fitter in the shipyards until being ‘called up’ by Double winners Celtic for season 1954/55, a visit to the World Cup finals in Switzerland to watch new colleagues Bobby Evans, Neil Mochan and Willie Fernie in action for Scotland not the worst way to begin his senior career with his boyhood club.
Back home, Rowan turned out for the reserves in the iconic shamrock kit in Celtic’s annual pre-season public trial on Tuesday, 10 August 1954, exactly one year before the original photo which triggered this article was taken. Jimmy lined up in the following team.
Eamon McMahon; Vincent Ryan & Joe Baillie; Mike Conroy, Alec Boden & Ian Reid;
Bobby Collins, Jimmy Rowan, Jimmy McIlroy, Willie Gillies & Jimmy Duncan.
Bobby Collins was the star of the show as the reserves beat the first team 3-2, Willie Gillies and Jimmy on target before Sean Fallon pulled one back. Jimmy McIlroy re-established the two-goal lead with Charlie Tully completing the scoring. That would be McIlroy’s last game before undergoing an appendectomy the following week. I believe that same side with the exception of John Jack in for Mike Conroy would then beat East Stirlingshire 6-1 at Firs Park four days later, albeit The Evening Times lists ‘Ryan’ at both right-back and inside-right.
Following his Evening Times photocall for the trial match, Jimmy Rowan found himself in front of the camera again on Thursday, 28 August 1954. The occasion was the formal opening of junior outfit Petershill’s impressive new covered enclosure at their Springburn base, Celtic meeting Rangers just as they had done when the stadium itself had been opened back in 1935. The Celtic team lined up as follows for the photocall, although it’s not certain what the formation was for the game itself, which Celts won 2-1.
Andy Bell; Willie Gillies & Ian Reid; Jimmy Walsh, John Jack & Jimmy Rowan;
Peter Goldie, Alec Boden, Vincent Ryan, Eddie Mulvey & Eric Smith.
Jimmy would bide his time in the reserves through the autumn until being brought into the first team on Saturday, 18 December 1954 in place of the injured John Higgins for the visit of Dundee. Celtic lined up that afternoon as follows in front of 14,000 spectators.
Andy Bell; Mike Haughney & Frank Meechan; Bobby Evans, Jock Stein & Bertie Peacock;
Jimmy Rowan, Charlie Tully, Jimmy Walsh, Willie Fernie & Bobby Collins.
The Hoops had lost both League Cup sectional games to the Dark Blues earlier in the season but would gain the two points required to keep them in the race to defend their title with a 4-1 win. Mike Haughney gave the Hoops the lead from the spot on the half-hour after Bertie Peacock had been fouled, the teams turning round at 1-0 mainly thanks to Bill Brown’s heroics in the visitors’ goal.
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