So just who were the Celtic Class of ‘55? Next up, Jimmy Rowan

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Jimmy must have impressed Broomfield manager Willie Steel in his early exchanges as he was immediately named captain of Airdrieonians, one of four new skippers in the top-flight that season with Billy McNeill of Celtic amongst the others. Cesar would enjoy his introduction a tad more than Jimmy on the opening day of the season as the League Cup got underway, Celts beating Hearts 3-1 with debutant Bobby Murdoch, Charlie Gallagher and John Hughes all on target, whilst the Diamonds suffered a hefty 4-0 defeat to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

Jimmy did not fare much better as Airdrieonians welcomed Celtic to Broomfield on Saturday, 27 October 1962. The Hoops had drawn with Valencia in midweek to exit the Fairs Cup in their first-ever European tie, but there was no sign of a hangover as a five-goal second-half blitz saw them leave Airdrie with a 6-1 win.

Jimmy Rowan featured at inside-right that afternoon, and he was again wearing the number eight for the Diamonds for the return fixture, played at Celtic Park on Saturday, 2 March 1963. Horrendous winter weather meant this was the first home game played by Celtic that calendar year, and they would claim both points following a 3-1 win, but Jimmy – “Airdrie’s best forward” according to The Evening Times and noted by The Herald’s Cyril Horne as “the most intelligent player in the outfield” – at least had the satisfaction of scoring against his old team, heading the equaliser just before half-time.

There would be no satisfaction whatsoever in the Diamonds next visit to Celtic Park, on Saturday, 26 October 1963. This was the famous game when Hoops goalkeeper Frank Haffey saw his penalty kick saved by opposite number Roddy McKenzie, thus preventing a Celtic win by double figures. Both John Hughes and John Divers scored hat-tricks in the 9-0 rout which left Airdrieonians rooted to the bottom of the table.

Celts would also end the Broomfield club’s interest in the Scottish Cup that season, following a 4-1 win at Celtic Park on Saturday, 15 February 1964. Once again Jimmy was on the scoresheet, bringing the visitors back into the match at 2-1 early in the second half before goals from Jimmy Johnstone and John Hughes eased the Hoops through to the fourth round.

Jimmy Rowan of Airdrieonians

The clubs met for the final season that season seven days later at a snow-covered Broomfield, Sam Henderson making his second and final appearance in the Hoops at right-half in a lottery of a match. A Frank Brogan double gave Celtic the victory – the winger denied a hat-trick when Diamonds keeper Jim Samson saved his late penalty – whilst John Fallon prevented Jimmy from scoring a hat-trick of goals against Celtic in Airdrie colours with a stunning save from his free-kick.

The 2-0 win kept Celts in third place behind title contenders Rangers and Kilmarnock, whilst Airdrieonians had recovered from their dreadful start to the season to climb clear of the relegation slots. Queen of the South and East Stirlingshire would take the dreaded drop and to this day have not returned to the top-flight, whilst Clyde featuring a young Harry Hood secured promotion behind runaway Second Division champions Morton.

Jimmy was linked with a move to Pittodrie in 1964 but chose to remain in the west of Scotland for family reasons. His final campaign as an Airdrieonians player was 1964/65, another disappointing season which did end in relegation, together with Third Lanark after their final campaign in the top Division. He did not feature in the side which lost 2-1 to Celtic at Parkhead on Hallowe’en 1964 in a dreadful match only brightened up by a late Stevie Chalmers double.

Continued on the next page…

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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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