With a passing resemblance to Humphrey Bogart, Joe Baillie played his part in the Celtic Story

He had a passing resemblance to Humphrey Bogart, he often wore a trench coat and a broad brimmed hat,sometimes a cigarette hanging from his mouth, and he enjoyed the quiet tough man image.

This was Joe Baillie, not a great or significant name in Celtic history – not a Quinn, a McGrory or a McNeill – and often heard only in the context of Evans, Boden and Baillie.

But that was a significant threesome. It was the half back line of 1951, the team which won the Scottish Cup – the first significant honour since 1938 and it came to a beleagured support after an awful long time of misery.

There must now, one fears, be every few “survivors” of that 1951 Scottish Cup final – one of them is the great Celtic historian Tom Campbell – but the players have now all gone, as indeed have most of the 134,000 crowd.

Joe Baillie, born in 1929, had joined the club in 1945 from St Roch’s, the nursery of Jimmy McGrory and played as a left half. Baillie’s performances in that role allowed Bertie Peacock to move forward to the inside left position alongside Charlie Tully. No-one would say that 1951 was a vintage Celtic side, but it did bring an awful lot of joy when it was most required, and Baillie’s significant contribution was the long ball through to John McPhail from whence came the decisive goal.

Then followed the tour of the USA in 1951, possibly the happiest moments of Joe’s footballing life.

Other than the St Mungo Cup of 1951 (the infamous trophy which had been bought on the cheap by Glasgow Corporation and tended to disintegrate when anyone touched it!), Baillie won little else for Celtic, even though he played 151 times for them over a period of almost a decade. He suffered from cartilage trouble, something that also disqualified him from doing National Service in the Army and he had to serve as a “Bevin Boy” hewing coal in the mines of Twechar, another Celtic heartland and not far from the home of Jimmy Quinn and Charlie Shaw.

Bobby Collins and Joe Bailley

He left Celtic in 1954, joined Wolves, then Bristol City and Leicester City but with no great success.

He died at the young age of 37 in a curious accident. It was late on the night of Tuesday 22 March 1966 when news broke that Joe’s car had been discovered hanging off the parapet on the bridge at Skaethorn Road, Maryhill. The following morning, Joe’s body was found at the bottom of the river.

It was a sad end to the life of a man who had played a small part, at least, in Celtic history.

About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

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