John Thomson

Celtic hero John Thomson was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife on 28 January 1909. Died 5 September 1931, aged 22

Celtic manager Willie Maley sent his chief scout, Steve Callaghan, to watch the Denbeath Star goalkeeper but instead came back with a rave review about Thomson. After playing against Denbeath Star on 20 October 1926, Celtic signed, 17-year-old, Thomson for £10. On 5 February, Celtic beat Brechin City 6–3, Maley was concerned by the fact his first choice ‘keeper, Peter Shevlin, had conceded three soft goals. He then decided to give, 18-year-old, Thomson a chance in the next game, which was against Dundee. He kept his place in the team after this match, and helped Celtic to finish second in the Scottish First Division. He also played in Celtic’s 1927 Scottish Cup Final victory, as they beat East Fife 3–1. The following season, after an Old Firm match where Celtic played against their rivals Rangers at Ibrox Park. Thomson received widespread praise from the press following an “immense” performance. On 5 February 1930, Thomson was seriously injured in a game against Airdrieonians. He broke his jaw, fractured several ribs, damaged his collar bone, and lost two teeth when making a diving save. On 11 April 1931, Thomson won the second medal of his career as Celtic beat Motherwell 4–2 in the 1931 Scottish Cup Final. The first match had finished in a 2–2 draw and over 105,000 spectators watched the replay at Hampden Park.

On 5 September 1931, Celtic were playing their Old Firm rivals Rangers at Ibrox Park in Glasgow in front of 80,000. Early in the second half Thomson and a Rangers player, Sam English, went for the ball at the same time. Thomson’s head collided with English’s knee, fracturing his skull and rupturing an artery in his right temple. Thomson was taken off the field in a stretcher; most people assumed that he was just badly concussed, but a few people who had seen his injuries suspected worse. One source said, “There were gasps in the main stand, a single piercing scream being heard from a horrified young woman”; this was believed to be the scream of 19-year-old Margaret Finlay, who was watching with Jim Thomson (brother of John). One Rangers player, also a medical student, said later that as soon as he saw him he gave little chance for his survival.

After having treatment from the St Andrew’s Ambulance Association, he was taken to a stretcher. According to The Scotsman he was “seen to rise on the stretcher and look towards the goal and the spot where the accident happened”. The game ended 0–0. Thomson was taken to the Victoria Infirmary in Glasgow. He had a lacerated wound over the right parietal bones of the skull, which meant that there was a depression in his skull of 2 inches in diameter. At 5pm he suffered a major convulsion. Dr Norman Davidson carried out an emergency operation to try and lower the amount of pressure caused by the swelling brain, but the operation was unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead by 9.25pm.

John Thomson in the news

Read all the news mentioning John Thomson.

The Celtic Star · Jan 16

Great Celtic Sides Named and Rated – Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Fife Celtic

IT started earlier this week when David Potter was challenged by Jerry Woods to come up with an all-time best Celtic eleven from players all hailing from the Kingdom of Fife...

The Celtic Star · Jan 14

Gerald Downey’s Lanarkshire Celtic 2 – 0 David Potter’s Fife Celtic – Ayrshire, Glasgow and Ireland Celtic teams please

YESTERDAY David Potter selected an all-time Celtic Eleven hailing from the Kingdom of Fife and also laid down a challenge to readers to come up with a better team of Lanarkshire or Ayrshire Celts that would be good enough to beat his fine team which had John Thomson in goals and was captained by Broony...

The Celtic Star · Oct 23, 2019

‘Parkhead erupted as it had never done so before,’ David Potter’s 7 Magnificently Random Celtic Stories

ANOTHER Seven Magnificently Random Celtic Stories from club Historian David Potter this morning 1...

The Celtic Star · Oct 14, 2019

‘Hands Across the Atlantic,’ plus David Potter’s 50 Greatest Celtic wins over Rangers

CELTIC have had some great goalkeepers, but very few have been as good as the Canadian Joe Kennaway.

The Celtic Star · Sep 5, 2019

‘Among the galaxy of talented goalkeepers whom Celtic have had, the late lamented John Thomson was the greatest,’ Willie Maley

CELTIC Supporters have this morning – as they always do on this, the sad day in our club’s history – been remembering and paying their respects to goalkeeper John Thomson who in this day in 1931 lost his life while playing for Celtic against Rangers at Ibrox...

The Celtic Star · Sep 5, 2019

T’was the face of young John Thomson, for his last game he had played

A familiar face was missing A shell shocked looking Celtic troop out without their comrade John Thomson for the first time at Celtic Park pic.twitter.com/SG3KnUSUtU — Lisbon Lion (@tirnaog09) 19 August 2018 I saw this photograph for the first time on Twitter last August...

The Celtic Star · Sep 5, 2019

Sunday Afternoon Invite from John Thomson Memorial Committee in Cardenden

SEPTEMBER 5 1931 will always remain one of Celtic’s saddest days, for it was the day that John Thomson met his death at Ibrox in a game against Rangers...

The Celtic Star · Jul 5, 2019

‘Ramsay MacDonald and John Thomson, as they shook hands with each other that day, did not know what was coming,’ David Potter on 1931 Scottish Cup Final Replay

It is often assumed, after the breathtaking and scarcely believable comeback by Celtic in Saturday’s Scottish Cup final against Motherwell, that the replay was some sort of a cakewalk in comparison with Celtic winning comfortably 4-2...

The Celtic Star · May 31, 2019

Celtic 1935-36 – McGrory, McGrory Hallelujah, Jimmy Delaney’s hat-trick against Rangers

The late 1920s and early 1930s had not been happy years for Celtic.

A Celtic State of Mind · May 27, 2019

A Celtic State of Mind – Acoustic Sessions: Volume 1

A Celtic State of Mind was named as the UK’s Best Football Podcast at the prestigious 2018 Football Blogging Awards.

A Celtic State of Mind · May 8, 2019

Gerry McDade with A Celtic State of Mind

A Celtic State of Mind was named as the UK’s Best Football Podcast at the prestigious 2018 Football Blogging Awards.

Celtic Quick News · Apr 24, 2019

Lisbon’s real and vibrant history

For me, growing up in the 70s and 80s, there are two periods of Celtic history, Before Lisbon and After Lisbon.

The Celtic Star · Mar 25, 2019

The Great John Thomson, my Uncle Dan’s claim to fame

DANIEL SULLIVAN was the goalkeeper for Buckhaven Emmet Juniors FC.

The Celtic Star · Feb 15, 2019

‘I Took A Trip to Parkhead, To That Dear Old Paradise,’ David Potter

The John Thomson Memorial Society had their annual trip to Celtic Park today.

The Celtic Star · Jan 28, 2019

Jim Craig – Celtic on this day in the Scottish Cup, John Thomson’s Birthday

The month of January – and occasionally February – are the months when Celtic have, through the years, played their opening tie in the Scottish Cup...

The Celtic Star · Dec 11, 2018

Jim Craig – Goalkeepers and Celtic’s outside-left Hugh O’Donnell

After the death of John Thomson in 1931, Joe Kennaway was brought over from Canada to replace him and held the position for the remainder of the 1930s.

The Celtic Star · Nov 11, 2018

Jim Craig – A young man from Blantyre called John Fallon signed for Celtic

After the death of John Thomson in 1931, Celtic tried out two local keepers before Joe Kennaway was brought over from Canada as a replacement and held the position for the remainder of the 1930s...

The Celtic Star · Sep 30, 2018

Planes, taxis and rowing boats – there was only one Jimmy Johnstone

September is always a very poignant month for Celtic supporters, as we remember some of the greats whose anniversaries fall around this time, from John Thomson to Jock Stein...

The Celtic Star · Sep 12, 2018

Jim Craig – Celtic players faced the empty goal, the piper played a lament

After the accidental collision at Ibrox on 5 September 1931 which led to the death of John Thomson, there was, naturally, an outpouring of grief in the following days...

Transfer Tavern · Sep 6, 2018

‘God rest the prince’ – Almost every Celtic fan has been paying tribute to John Thomson

Yesterday marked the 87th anniversary of the death of Celtic goalkeeper, John Thomson.

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