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Charlie Patrick Tully
Charles Patrick Tully.

Charles Patrick Tully . . . the name, still magic to many of Scotland‘s soccer fans is synonymous with the golden post-war days of football when the poorly-paid, highly-priced entertainers of that time made the turnstyles click to a boom only equalled by the unqualifled success of Celtic and 1n a smaller way Rangers today.

Charlie much to his discomfort, had to admit to being born on the 12th of july in Belfast. His great friends of his early period at Parkhead like Pat McAulay and Jock Weir seldom let him forget it-but the Irishman with his quick-witted ability to switch defence into attack as he did on the field, soon had them on the receiving end. I first met Charlie in 1946 in Belfast. I was enjoying a short holiday after a tonsil operation, and the Belfast boy was also recovering from a slight operation.

For the next few weeks I saw Belfast Celtic in action every Saturday. Charlie Tully and Jack Vernon were the stars of the side, and when I returned to Glasgow I told the Celtic management all about these two great Irish players .

New Celtic boss Jimmy McGrory made a quick dash to Belfast to sign Jack Vernon, but unfortunately Vernon joined West Brom, and went on to become one of the most famous names in the post-war game.

Tully had not long to wait. In 1947 Celtic played Belfast Celtic in a close-season tour of Ireland. After twenty minutes a fine Celtic side with Bobby Hogg, Bobby Evans and Co., were four goals down . . . and the man who was doing the damage was that broth of a bhoy Charlie Tully. Celtic scrambled to a 4-4 draw. Chairman Bob Kelly was not too happy with his team, but he was highly impressed with the fair-haired Irishman.

Not long after, Jimmy McGrory crossed the Irish sea to sign Tully-and one of the most exciting eras in Scottish football had arrived.

Celtic , in the shadows of the great Rangers team of the period , just couldn't win a trophy. They had some splendid footballers , but the pay off in trophies just wasn't there , but within a couple of weeks Charlie had practically destroyed the Rangers myth himself.

In a League Cup game at Parkhead soon after he had arrived. Charlie was the star of the Celtic team which beat Rangers 3-1. Tully became an overnight idol. It was not the defeat. It was the manner of the defeat.

Charlie Tully, for long periods of the game. humiliated famous Rangers players like Ian McColl and George Young who were at that time the backbone of the Scottish International side. Celtic never looked back. We won the Scottish Cup in 1951 for the first time since 1937.

I was captain and the happy marksman in the 1-0 victory at Hampden against Motherwell . . . but there was no question about the Tully contribution to the Cup. Charlie and myself had an instinctive understanding on the field, and in one vital tie against Hearts at Tynecastle, we walked through the entire Hearts defence before Tully placed me in position to score the winning goal of the match . Willie Bauld, Alfie Conn, and Jimmy Wardhaugh played for Hearts . . . so it wasn’t a bad result.

Tully was the presiding genius of the victories in the next few years. Celtic won the Coronation Cup in 1953 beating the best teams in England. In 1954 Celtic won the Scottish League and Cup double for the First time in 50 years, and until he packed up in 1959 Charlie Tully was associated with all the great happenings at Celtic Park. The present Celtic manager Jock Stein joined Celtic in 1951, and jock and Charlie played a vital part in the successes of that period.

Tully, of course, was a legendary character. He combined the magic of his on-field football with a brilliant Irish wit and hell-raising, fun-loving style of life similar to Celtic greats of the past like Patsy Gallacher and Tommy McInally.

Tommy used to meet Charlie and myself every Tuesday (pay-day) and the tremendous wit of Tommy and Charlie could have filled any Glasgow music hall of the time; Tommy, proud to the point of vanity, about the fine Celtic team he played in, practically snuffed Charlie out of the conversation-until Tully quipped back; ‘Of course, you’re right Tommy about these great players and their style of play,but you must remember-the fastest thing on earth in those days was a horse.’ Again, Tully, exasperated hearing about the fantastic goal scored by Patsy Gallacher against Dundee after the first world war commented: ‘According to all the reports I hear from chairman Bob Kelly, and Jimmy McGrory about the number of men Patsy beat, he must have started his run at Melbourne, hopped on a plane to London, jumped a helicopter to Dens Park, and grabbed a taxi up the left_wing to score. That’s the only possible way he could have passed all those people.’ The tales of Tully are as legendary on the continent, and in America, and I was the victim of a typical Tully incident. Celtic, in their highly successful tour of America in 1951 were playing F ulham at Trybourgh Stadium in a British Challenge match.

One of the F ulham forwards (better remaining unnamed) was an old adversary of Charlie’s when he played in Irish football. The game was tense and tough with crowd scenes every odd minute. During one skirmish when wee Bobby Collins was knocked out and while he was receiving the referee’s and linesman’s attention, I suddenly turned round in mid-field and saw a left hook from Charlie which Cassius Clay might have been proud of.

The blow landed on the jaw of Charlie’s old enemy who fell pole-axed. No one appeared to notice, all eyes being on the Collins incident and within two brief seconds the Tully boy was at the other end of the park.

I, concerned ahout the Fulham man, helped him to his feet-the poor fellow just didn’t know what had happened. However, you can imagine my feelings when the referee and linesman rushed over to the Fulham player and then turned on me to book me for an assault on an opponent.

Meanwhile at the other end of the field Charlie was demonstrating to all and sundry how I had delivered the blow . . . ‘The best punch I have ever seen big John land’ was the Tully verdict. Needless to say the Irishman kept well out of my way for the next few days. Great Tully games, at home and abroad, both in the club and international sphere come readily to mind. Charlie has graced the football scene from Toronto to Tannadice, from Lazzio in Italy to Linfield in Belfast.

Perhaps in retrospect they have not all been great, but they have certainly been exciting, incident-packed, funny, dramatic and sometimes just simply an anti-climax. The drama of his fantastic match at Brockville in a Scottish Cup tie in 1953 will never be forgotten by the fans who attended the game. Falkirk, in brilliant first half form and ably led by two former Celts, jimmy Delaney and Jock Weir, raced into a first half two goal lead . . . and Celtic looked out of the Cup.

A Jimmy McGrory pep talk worked wonders at the interval, and after an opportunist goal by centre-forward John McGrory, Celtic were back in their traditional Scottish Cup form. After tremendous pressure Celtic were granted a corner on the left and cheeky Charlie took up position for the flag kick.

However, due to the excitement a crowd of spectators had encroached on the field and the flag kick was delayed while Charlie disentangled his legs from the arms of some kids on the touchline.

Completely indifferent to the activity at his back, Charlie looked up, judged his kick, and slung over a beautiful cross. I was playing at left half, and with my height and weight rushed in to try to contact with my head. I didn’t really have to bother. Just as I reached the goal area I saw young Bert Slater in the Falkirk goal holding his head in grief, and I noticed the ball snugly tucked away just one foot inside the Falkirk keeper’s near goal line.

The tremendous ovation from Celtic fans was immediately stifled by a decision by the referee that some infringement had occurred.

The Celtic players accepted the refs decision that Charlie had not placed the ball properly at the flag pole. Back came the ball to Tully. The ball was replaced by the Iinesman, back swung Charlie’s boot in a splendid replica of his first effort, and a second later the Falkirk keeper was bending into the net to again retrieve the ball.

This time the goal rightly was awarded. This was absolute Tully magic. Again, as a close witness I observed the ball strike the exact same spot in the Falkirk net.

A wonderful football feat . . . and quickly appreciated by his team mates. We kept up the attack and another John McGrory goal saw Celtic win the tie, but there was no denying the real architect of that victory-Charles Patrick Tully. . Shortly after Tully played in an international match against England at Windsor Park and again scored from the corner flag in a 2-2 draw with a fine English side. That was the drama. We had the fun when Charlie beautifully somersaulted over Willie Woodburn’s outstretched leg in a league match at Parkhead, and I sneaked one in from the resulting penalty kick to bring the scores level. Big Willie just shook his head and cracked: ‘That will be a good one for your column on Monday, Charlie.’ At that time Tully wrote an article for a Scottish daily paper.

The Tully tricks and gamesmanship again presided in the St. Mungo Cup in 1951. The second half was well ahead and Aberdeen were winning when Celtic were given an innocent shy on the right wing.

Charlie raced over from the left, grabbed the ball and threw it against the Dons skipper Davie Shaw who had his back turned. The ball rebounded to Tully who flighted it over and Sean Fallon lashed it into the net. Again Celtic went on to win a game they well looked like losing and once again they can thank the inimitable Charlie Tully. I saw Charlie play the most exciting football of his life in a high prestige match against Eintracht Frankfurt in New York.

The German side scored within ten seconds, but the genius of Tully, the wiles of wee Bobby Collins, the guts of Jock Weir and the odd opportunist goal by yours truly saw Celtic bounce back to a really great 3-1 victory in the cauldron of hate that was Trybourgh Stadium that afternoon with around 14,000 German supporters in the 20,000 crowd. Charlie again starred in a post-war friendly in Rome against Lazzio where i received my walking ticket after only twenty minutes. Cheeky Charlie in vintage form kept the Italians running round in circles and we earned a 0-0 draw, in a highly partisan atmosphere.

His one great flop and embarrassment was against England at Maine Road, Manchester in a match which was built up as a classic by the press before the game. Ireland were licked 9-1 and poor Charlie hardly showed all game. ‘At least I got nine kicks at the ball’, said Charlie. ‘For every time we kicked off after a lost goal I asked the centre to pass to me.’ His loves and hates. ‘I just love to play against Alf Ramsay, he plays like an opposing outside right. I think he only tackles every Holy Day’ was the Tully comment on the now famous English boss.

He loved to plav0y against Aberdeen and Davie Shaw. He enjoyed most games against Rangers-‘But I just can‘t get round that big man George Young‘ was Charlie's complaint. How would he have fared in present-day football? I say wonderfully! Charlie could still have done for any team exactly what Bertie Auld did for Celtic as a link man in the great European Cup year.

A wonderful player and a wonderful guy! And all for the princely sum of £16 a week. I reckon that on today’s market value he would be worth easily £200 a week, and his transfer would reach the £150,000 mark.

Charlie Tully, in my view, was the last of the really great characters in Scottish football when the emphasis was on relaxed, enjoyable football played out in sporting spirit without anyone really winning or losing too much. In fact those were the days when I suppose players got a lot less out of it than they put into it, and Charles Patrick Tully certainly gave everyone value for money. Charlie has gone-but his legendary memories will linger on for a long time, with every Scottish fan privileged to watch the Irishman in action.

Playing for Celtic no4 By Rodger Baillie

Submitted By Lizardking Randalstown Hoops


Posted by voc1967 on Monday 31 August 2020 - 12:01:44 | Comments (0)  |  printer friendly
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