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John Thomson – A Prince among men

Discussion in 'Celtic Chat' started by Notorious, Sep 5, 2019.

Discuss John Thomson – A Prince among men in the Celtic Chat area at TalkCeltic.net.

  1. Notorious Gold Member Gold Member

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    IT was 88 years ago today, on Saturday, September 5, 1931, the Celtic goalkeeper John Thomson received a serious head injury while playing against Rangers at Ibrox. He died later in hospital, having never regained consciousness after the incident.

    The death of a footballer in his prime is thankfully rare, and even rarer on the field of play. Even after this length of time, John Thomson's untimely death at the age of just 22 remains one of football's great tragedies.

    A young goalkeeper, already the first choice for his club and country, with a long and distinguished career seemingly ahead of him, dead as a result of an accident during a game.

    Thomson was renowned for his bravery and fearlessness, and his dive at the feet of the Rangers forward Sam English as the player went to shoot was visible evidence of those virtues. As English shot, John Thomson's head took the full impact of the Rangers player's knee, leaving the goalkeeper unconscious and his head bleeding.

    As the keeper was being stretchered off, a section of the home support were unaware of the seriousness of the injury and cheered until they were silenced by one of the Rangers players.

    Thomson's death stunned football, and was particularly hard felt by everyone connected with Celtic.

    Some 40,000 people attended the funeral in Cardenden, including thousands who had travelled through from Glasgow, many walking the 55 miles to the Fife village, and Thomson's coffin was carried by his devastated team-mates.

    James Hanley, in his book The Celtic Story (1960) wrote: "It is hard for those who did not know him to appreciate the power of the spell he cast on all who watched him regularly in action. 'A man who has not read Homer,' wrote Bagehot, 'is like a man who has not seen the ocean. There is a great object of which he has no idea.'

    "In like manner, a generation that did not see John Thomson has missed a touch of greatness in sport, for which he was a brilliant virtuoso, as Gigli was and Menuhin is. One artiste employs the voice as his instrument, another the violin or cello. For Thomson it was a handful of leather. We shall not look upon his like again."

    Thomson was brought up in the Fife mining village of Cardenden, and like many of his contemporaries, had started his working life as a teenager down the pits.

    He signed for Celtic in 1926 at the age of 17, having been spotted playing for Wellesley Juniors by Celtic scout Steve Callaghan, who had also alerted the club to the talents of a certain Jimmy McGrory.

    Celtic paid £10 for the young man who would go on to become known as the Prince of Goalkeepers, and by the age of 18 he had already made his first-team debut against Dundee at Dens Park in a 2-1 win for Celtic.

    During his short time as Celtic goalkeeper, he won two Scottish Cup medals - in 1927 when East Fife were defeated 3-1 and in 1931, when Celtic beat Motherwell 4-2 in a replay, having drawn the first game 2-2.

    International recognition followed on the back of his impressive displays for Celtic, and Thomson gained four caps for Scotland and four for the Scottish League.

    A quiet and unassuming character off the park, once on the field of play Thomson had a natural athleticism aligned to a brave spirit and impressed all who had the privilege to see him play.

    In his book, The Story of the Celtic; 1888-1938, Willie Maley, manager of the club at the time of the tragedy, wrote: "Among the galaxy of talented goalkeepers whom Celtic have had, the late lamented John Thomson was the greatest. A Fifeshire friend recommended him to the club. We watched him play. We were impressed so much that we signed him when he was still in his teens. That was in 1926. Next year he became our regular goalkeeper, and was soon regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers in the country.

    "But, alas, his career was to be short. In September, 1931, playing against Rangers at Ibrox Park, he met with a fatal accident. Yet he had played long enough to gain the highest honours football had to give. A most likeable lad, modest and unassuming, he was popular wherever he went.

    "His merit as a goalkeeper shone superbly in his play. Never was there a keeper who caught and held the fastest shots with such grace and ease. In all he did there was the balance and beauty of movement wonderful to watch. Among the great Celts who have passed over, he has an honoured place."

    Certainly the death of John Thomson hit the club - the officials, players and the supporters - hard and had an understandably adverse effect on subsequent performances over the next couple of seasons.

    Indeed further tragedy was to hit the club just two years later when Peter Scarff, who had played in that fateful game, died from tuberculosis at the age of just 24.

    John Thomson's memory has lived on with Celtic supporters and fans still visit his graveside in Fife to pay their own respects.

    The final thought on the tragic events of September 1931 is to remember the epitaph on John Thomson's gravestone, which reads: "They never die who live in the hearts they leave behind."
     
  2. Big Mick Wembley Cup Champions 2009 Gold Member

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    Our next kit maker should bring out a turtle neck goalie jersey as a tribute.
     
  3. Goggzy60

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    It would sell out quickly aswell.
     
  4. Marty McFly Whoa, this is heavy Gold Member

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    :shamrock:

    Without fail, get goosebumps listening to his song.
     
    buchanbhoy and Goggzy60 like this.
  5. paulie67 Gold Member Gold Member

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    No words...
     
  6. DonnyCelt

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    I'm sure his shirt used to be on display years ago in the boardroom at Celtic Park. Guy literally gave his life for the club in tragic circumstances. :shamrock:
     
  7. StevieBhoooy!

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    Was reading a biography about him recently...

    Still learning new stuff !
     
  8. annieroos83

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    Growing up, one of my all-time Celtic heroes. Really inspired me to embrace playing as a goalkeeper in school.
     
  9. Goggzy60

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    Same I honestly struggle to listen to it.
     
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  10. Notorious Gold Member Gold Member

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    It was 89 years ago today, on Saturday, September 5, 1931, the Celtic goalkeeper John Thomson received a serious head injury while playing against Rangers at Ibrox. He died later in hospital, having never regained consciousness after the incident.

    The death of a footballer in his prime is thankfully rare, and even rarer on the field of play. Even after this length of time, John Thomson's untimely death at the age of just 22 remains one of football's great tragedies.

    A young goalkeeper, already the first choice for his club and country, with a long and distinguished career seemingly ahead of him, dead as a result of an accident during a game.

    Thomson was renowned for his bravery and fearlessness, and his dive at the feet of the Rangers forward Sam English as the player went to shoot was visible evidence of those virtues. As English shot, John Thomson's head took the full impact of the Rangers player's knee, leaving the goalkeeper unconscious and his head bleeding.

    As the keeper was being stretchered off, a section of the home support were unaware of the seriousness of the injury and cheered until they were silenced by one of the Rangers players.

    Thomson's death stunned football, and was particularly hard felt by everyone connected with Celtic.

    Some 40,000 people attended the funeral in Cardenden, including thousands who had travelled through from Glasgow, many walking the 55 miles to the Fife village, and Thomson's coffin was carried by his devastated team-mates.

    James Hanley, in his book The Celtic Story (1960) wrote: "It is hard for those who did not know him to appreciate the power of the spell he cast on all who watched him regularly in action. 'A man who has not read Homer,' wrote Bagehot, 'is like a man who has not seen the ocean. There is a great object of which he has no idea.'

    "In like manner, a generation that did not see John Thomson has missed a touch of greatness in sport, for which he was a brilliant virtuoso, as Gigli was and Menuhin is. One artiste employs the voice as his instrument, another the violin or cello. For Thomson it was a handful of leather. We shall not look upon his like again."

    Thomson was brought up in the Fife mining village of Cardenden, and like many of his contemporaries, had started his working life as a teenager down the pits.

    He signed for Celtic in 1926 at the age of 17, having been spotted playing for Wellesley Juniors by Celtic scout Steve Callaghan, who had also alerted the club to the talents of a certain Jimmy McGrory.

    Celtic paid £10 for the young man who would go on to become known as the Prince of Goalkeepers, and by the age of 18 he had already made his first-team debut against Dundee at Dens Park in a 2-1 win for Celtic.

    During his short time as Celtic goalkeeper, he won two Scottish Cup medals - in 1927 when East Fife were defeated 3-1 and in 1931, when Celtic beat Motherwell 4-2 in a replay, having drawn the first game 2-2.

    International recognition followed on the back of his impressive displays for Celtic, and Thomson gained four caps for Scotland and four for the Scottish League.

    A quiet and unassuming character off the park, once on the field of play Thomson had a natural athleticism aligned to a brave spirit and impressed all who had the privilege to see him play.

    In his book, The Story of the Celtic; 1888-1938, Willie Maley, manager of the club at the time of the tragedy, wrote: "Among the galaxy of talented goalkeepers whom Celtic have had, the late lamented John Thomson was the greatest. A Fifeshire friend recommended him to the club. We watched him play. We were impressed so much that we signed him when he was still in his teens. That was in 1926. Next year he became our regular goalkeeper, and was soon regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers in the country.

    "But, alas, his career was to be short. In September, 1931, playing against Rangers at Ibrox Park, he met with a fatal accident. Yet he had played long enough to gain the highest honours football had to give. A most likeable lad, modest and unassuming, he was popular wherever he went.

    "His merit as a goalkeeper shone superbly in his play. Never was there a keeper who caught and held the fastest shots with such grace and ease. In all he did there was the balance and beauty of movement wonderful to watch. Among the great Celts who have passed over, he has an honoured place."

    Certainly the death of John Thomson hit the club - the officials, players and the supporters - hard and had an understandably adverse effect on subsequent performances over the next couple of seasons.

    Indeed further tragedy was to hit the club just two years later when Peter Scarff, who had played in that fateful game, died from tuberculosis at the age of just 24.

    John Thomson's memory has lived on with Celtic supporters and fans still visit his graveside in Fife to pay their own respects.

    The final thought on the tragic events of September 1931 is to remember the epitaph on John Thomson's gravestone, which reads: "They never die who live in the hearts they leave behind.
     
    rhydo1888, bagforlife, HoopyT and 2 others like this.
  11. joemc

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    I love this about our club , history and adoration keep their memory alive and they live on for that reason through all generations , its good to see these posted and for many who haven't heard the players it becomes folklore from songs to stories . H H.
     
    bagforlife likes this.
  12. Notorious Gold Member Gold Member

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  13. JC Anton Get yer, hats, scarfs badges & tapes

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    Rip, Prince :shamrock:
     
  14. Notorious Gold Member Gold Member

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  15. joemc

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    H H John thomson lives on through all of us.
     
  16. Notorious Gold Member Gold Member

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