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You Can't Put That Bhoy On The Park Boss - If You Do It Will Be Manslaughter!
There are few players in the history of Celtic so fondly recalled as the great Patsy Gallacher.

There are few players in the history of Celtic so fondly recalled as the great Patsy Gallacher.

The Donegal-born (and Glasgow raised) forward is commonly regarded as one of the most gifted footballers to ever wear the famous green and white Hoops and some would argue that he was the most talented Bhoy of them all.

The man who would later be nicknamed 'The Mighty Atom' first caught the eye at Clydebank Juniors but some thought the player was simply not physically strong enough to perform in the senior game. At 5' 7" Patsy was a frail looking character who appeared capable of being blown away in even the mildest of breezes.

After a number of trial games he was eventually signed by Willie Maley on October 25 1911 and made his full competitive debut at Parkhead in a 3-1 league win over St Mirren. When Maley first introduced the fragile looking player to his new team-mates the legendary Jimmy Quinn remarked:

"You can't put that Bhoy on the park boss. If you do it will be manslaughter!".

But peerless Patsy soon convinced Quinn and the Celtic support that despite his slim build he had the steel to go with his skill and that no opponent would be allowed to bully and kick Gallacher out of a game.

In terms of his ability with a football Gallacher was a revelation. A genius. He was the most wonderful of dribblers and his audacious talent saw him tease and terrorise defenders. He was an entertainer but his cheeky skills also had an end product as time after time Gallacher would deliver a killer pass or hit home an unstoppable shot.

The Celtic support had seen nothing like the unique brilliance of Patsy and his dazzling runs and thunderous shots would brighten up the dourest of Scottish winter afternoons. His jinking, gutsy, jousting runs had the supporters roaring their approval year after year.

Possibly his most celebrated moment was in the 1925 Scottish Cup final, a match since dubbed 'The Patsy Gallacher Final'. Getting the ball just inside the Dundee half, he rolled past challenge after challenge, sometimes appearing in danger of toppling over as he swerved and swayed dangerously close to the ground. No Dundee boot or body could stop him completely as he veered, sure foot as a young deer, towards their goalmouth. Finally a heavy, desperate tackle grounded him inside the six-yard box. Patsy hit the ground and for an instant his brave effort seemed to be at an end. But Patsy had not yet parted company with the ball, which remained between his feet. A quick somersault and both Patsy and the ball ended up entangled in the Dundee net for the most unorthodox goal in a Scottish Cup Final. It was one magical moment.

The Irishman - who came to Scotland with his desperately poor family when just a young child - was a major factor in numerous Celtic successes as the Bhoys established themselves as the dominant team in Scottish football. His Parkhead career would last 15 years in which time the Hoops won six league titles four Scottish Cups, four Glasgow cups and eleven Glasgow charity cups.

He had a good sense of humour as well. Once, Patsy Gallacher played in the blue of Rangers in a benefit match for his Rangers' pal Andy Cunningham. Not an easy thing to stomach for any proud Celt, but at the end of the game he took off his jersey to reveal that he was actually wearing a Celtic jersey underneath. Even the Rangers fans are said to have laughed.

His most audacious stunt, however, came when the Celtic manager Willie Maley took his side to a luxury hotel in Dunbar for a thoroughly modern spa-style period of training, rest and relaxation. The team were, for health purposes, put under curfew. Gallacher, however, decided he would quite fancy a nippy sweetie or two, and so persuaded a hotel chambermaid to lend him her uniform. Small and svelte enough to exude femininity, a glammed-up Gallacher sashayed past Maley, on sentry duty in the hotel foyer, bade his boss a very good night in a comedic high-pitched squeal, and disappeared through the door Maley was holding open for “her”. Prepared to go out on the town in drag, in the old austere environment in Scotland in the 1920s, he must have really wanted that dram.

During the war years, Patsy Gallacher had to work in the shipyards. He was actually fined for bad time-keeping by the shipyards and because of that he wasn't allowed to play for Celtic on a Saturday afternoon for eight matches. Cynics may take something from this, but it didn't stop Celtic from dominating the league during that time. Once a game had finished, Willie Maley made sure the results were telegraphed to the war office, who then sent it onto the trenches so the soldiers knew the score about half an hour after the full-time whistle. It was said that Patsy Gallacher was the most talked about man in the trenches among Scottish soldiers – more so than King George or the Kaiser.

In the summer of 1926 Maley announced that Gallacher would be retiring but a furious Patsy denied all knowledge of this and subsequently joined Falkirk for £1,500 where he played on for another six years. Speculation among his fans was that the board wanted to save on Patsy's wages, which were considerably higher than those of any other Celtic player of the time. He was sadly missed by the Celtic support but his performances in the Green and White meant he would never be forgotten. Many believed that if he'd stayed we could and should have won even more.

In total, Patsy Gallacher played 464 times in the league and Scottish Cup for Celtic and scored 192 goals. He also won international caps for both Eire and Northern Ireland. He became the highest paid international player at the time, and over 50,000 turned up at Windsor Park (N Ireland) to see him in his debut.

Even after over 50 years after his death his name is revered like few others by Celtic fans, most of whom were not even born when he was still alive.

A brilliant and evocative encomium to Gallacher is found in James E. Handley's The Celtic Story: A History of Celtic Football Club (1960):

'From the days of Johnny Campbell, Willie Groves and Sandy McMahon, the 'prince of dribblers', to the era of Willie Fernie and Charlie Tully, the Celtic club has recruited a host of players whose cantrips with the ball have given ecstatic delight to the followers of soccer, but in that brilliant galaxy no star has shone with the effulgence of Patsy Gallagher.
'Commentators exhausted their repertory of metaphors in trying to place him. To them he was 'the mighty atom', 'the vital spark', 'the will-o-the-wisp', 'the Cinquevalli of the football field' and a dozen other extravagances. It is hard to refrain from claiming that he was the greatest forward the Scottish game has ever seen.

'From the beginning, fresh from Clydebank Juniors, a stripling of seventeen, he caught the popular fancy with his unorthodox style, his inexhaustible treasury of tricks, his magical elusiveness expressed in uncatchable wriggles, slips, swerves, hops and famous 'hesitation' stops. To see Patsy halt in mid-career, place a foot on the top of the ball an calmly wait for opponents, reluctant to approach and be fooled, to make up their minds, made many a supporter's afternoon. Physically speaking, he should have been wafted off the field like thistledown. His small, fragile form seemed altogether out of place in First Division football.
'Only his supreme cleverness saved him from annihilation, for he had incredible pluck an tenacity and took alarming risks. For such a puny frame his stamina was phenomenal, and at the close of play he was worrying the opposition with the same degree of doggedness that had marked the opening minute.' (p. 89)

His achievements are made all the more remarkable when you consider the obstacles he had to overcome in life and the courage he showed in matches did not begin to compare to the strength of character he showed off it. Patsy’s wife died aged 35 while giving birth to their sixth child. Patsy became the sole figurehead of the house and combined games and training with Celtic, with his work as a shipwright in the Clydebank yards. This was dangerous work in itself and Patsy once missed a match for Celtic after being hurt when a box of tools dropped on his foot.

In his later years he ran the International Bar in Clydebank, where he was a welcoming host and publican. His generosity and kindness was legendary and when he passed away his family discovered a stacked pile of IOUs from regular customers, dating back years, which Patsy had never called in.

Patsy died on the 17th June 1953 aged 62. His funeral mass was held at St.Paul's Whiteinch, and Patsy is buried in Arkleston Cemetery on the outskirts of Paisley.

We will never fully be able to underestimate the impact 'The Mighty Atom' had on Celtic and the Celtic support. A Celtic great.

Memorial Plaque

A memorial plaque was unveiled at the childhood home of Patsy Gallacher on 4th June 2007 by the Celtic Chairman Brian Quinn and Patsy's son Bernard Gallagher.

Although born in Milford, Patsy was actually raised at nearby Ramelton, a plantation town in north Donegal. It was a great way to mark the life of the man who warmed the hearts of many a football follower and worth a visit for anyone.

Posted by voc1967 on Tuesday 03 September 2019 - 18:58:30 | Comments (1)  |  printer friendly
  • Lizardking @ 06 Sep 2019 : 11:54
    A the genius of the game , and it's a pity that there were no television cameras to record some.of the amazing things this legend could do with a football . When Jinky was terrorising defences in the 60's and 70's people rightly applauded him as a legend of the club , but there were still people alive at that time who had also saw patsy play and when asked if Jinky was the best ever they would say , Jinky is indeed a genius , but I saw patsy Gallagher play .
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