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Patsy Gallacher

Patsy Gallacher (March 16, 1891 - June 17, 1952) was an Irish footballer, playing in the inside right position, and most noted for his career at Celtic.

Early life

Patsy was born in the small Donegal town of Ramelton, where he began to learn football at the age of eight. After his family moved to Scotland he played for his first schoolboy team, at Holy Redeemer Primary School in Glasgow. Patsy had to organise the team, acting as captain and secretary because every teacher in the school was female and showed little interest in the sport. Patsy remembered his first trophy in the Yoker Athletic Schools' Tournament playing for Holy Redeemer who were the dark horses of the competition. He recalled that the organisers were unwilling to award the cup to a team without an adult manager.

Patsy then joined Benvue, a team in the Clean Speech League. He then moved up to the juvenile side, Renfrew St. James. He then moved up again to Clydebank Juniors and began to attract the attention of scouts from senior clubs. They could see his talent which was impressive, but had doubts due to his puny, frail appearance. Despite this he received offers of a trial with Clyde F.C and Celtic. During his trial period he scored twice in a 6-1 defeat of Dumfries and three times in a 5-0 win against an British Army XI.

Celtic career

He was quickly promoted to the Celtic first team and made his debut against St. Mirren at Parkhead in November 1911. He was to overcome his supposed physical problems in the same way that Garrincha would in years to come. Within six months he secured his first winner's medal scoring once in the 2-0 victory over Clyde in the 1912 Scottish Cup final. He went on to play for Celtic for 15 years from 1911 to 1926, featuring in 569 games in all competitions. In 464 games in major competitions Patsy scored 192 goals. Today he ranks as Celtic's sixth highest goal scorer behind Jimmy McGrory, Bobby Lennox, Henrik Larsson, Stevie Chalmers and Jimmy Quinn. One of his most famous moments came in the 1925 'Patsy Gallacher' Scottish Cup final against Dundee, when he barged from behind in a packed penalty area, and somersaulted over the goal line with the ball between his feet into the net for a goal.

He revitalised Celtic's team which had slipped to fifth place in the league for season 1910-11 as the great team, that had included Jimmy Quinn and Jimmy McMenemy which had won six successive league titles in a row began to tire. With Gallacher in the team Celtic won seven League Championships, four Scottish Cups, four Glasgow Cups and eleven Glasgow Charity Cups

Departure from Celtic

In 1926, Celtic 'retired' Patsy without warning. Speculation among his fans was that they wanted to save on his wages, which were considerably higher than those of any other Celtic player of the time. (despite the fact that the team included greats such as Jimmy McGrory and Jimmy McStay). Gallacher went on to play for six more years with Falkirk, fuelling speculation among Celtic supporters as to how many more goals he would have scored and trophies lifted had he stayed at Celtic Park.

International career

Patsy gathered 12 caps for Ireland and one for the Irish Free State in an age when fewer internationals were played. On his debut for Ireland at Windsor Park in Belfast against England he became the highest paid international ever. Interest in the Ireland team grew tremendously, 50,000 packed into Windsor Park for his debut.

Trivia and quotes

  • Gallacher's nickname was "The Mighty Atom".
  • Gallacher's sons both played football as well, Tommy for Queen's Park and Dundee and Willie for Celtic
  • Patsy Gallacher was the grandfather of Scottish footballer Kevin Gallacher.

To play alongside Patsy Gallacher in national cup final was a dream. Patsy was the fastest man over 10 yards. He moved at great speed and he could stop immediately sending opponents in all directions. He could win a game when the rest of us were just thinking about it — Jimmy McGrory

Within 20 yards of goal Patsy Gallacher was the most dangerous forward I have ever seen. You never knew what he would do. Often he would wriggle through, past man after man, with defenders reluctant to tackle in case they gave away a penalty kickAlan Morton of Rangers and Scotland
Many people have asked me how Patsy would have stood up to the rigours of the modern game. He would have strolled through it. There is no present day player in this country that I would put anywhere near his class. Even Jimmy Johnstone, with all his talents, never reached the Gallacher heights. Gallacher was always advancing; there was no doubling back and playing across the field. Everything he did was positive. — Jimmy McGrory

There never was a player like him, and I often wonder if we shall see his like again. I wish we could, just to show the present day players that we of Patsy Gallacher's time had something to boast about — Alan Morton

He was the greatest who ever kicked a ball. — Tommy Cairns of Rangers

Patsy was the complete footballer. He had wonderful ball control, he had tricks of manipulation all his own. His body swerve and ability to change pace, which never came from practice but obviously were natural gifts, were a sore problem to opponents — Sir Robert Kelly

So long as there is a Celtic the name of Patsy Gallacher will be revered, and his sons and their families can rightly be proud of that. — Sir Robert Kelly

The best book on Patsy Gallacher is "The Mighty Atom" by David Potter, published by the Parrs Wood Press 2000

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