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  • Birthday Bhoy Charlie Gallagher

    Birthday Bhoy Charlie Gallagher

    By: Mark Henderson on 03 Nov, 2010 00:00

  • Mark Henderson
    IT was 70 years ago today (Wednesday) that Charlie Gallagher was born into the Irish stronghold of the Gorbals. Like many brought up in that area of Glasgow, he dreamed of one day wearing the Hoops.

    When the chance came, not even the persuasive powers of Willie Waddell at Kilmarnock could change his mind, and he was soon being put through his paces at night under the dim Paradise lights.

    Supporters who watched him perform there for the next 12 years would be thankful for his single-mindedness.

    “When I first joined Celtic, I actually started training with them when I was 16 or 17,” he told this week's Celtic View. “I was training with Kilmarnock as well, as I played with Kilmarnock Amateurs too.

    So I was training two nights a week, once at Celtic and once at Kilmarnock. But I think Celtic heard about me through John Murphy, who was the announcer at the start of the game and also my PE teacher at Holyrood.

    “He realised I was down at Kilmarnock as there were a couple of other Holyrood boys down there as well and he was desperate to get me up to Celtic, so he got me up training.

    “Although I was at Celtic, I was still at Kilmarnock and they were trying to sign me as well. Willie Waddell was the manager there at the time, and I told him I had an offer from Celtic and he couldn’t make me change my mind.

    “He realised it himself and said he was the same himself when he was a young guy when Rangers were after him and to be fair he never pursued it. He just said on you go and all the best to you. And that's what I remember.

    “I went up to Celtic and we just trained at night. I'm sure you've heard the story often that there was only a wee light at each corner of the stand and we were training in that. And when I went full-time, I signed on my 18th birthday in 1958, and that’s when it really started.”

    Gallagher would remain at Celtic for over a decade as the club was transformed from perennial underachievers into one of best teams in the world under Jock Stein.

    During that era, the silky midfielder would make a massive contribution to those achievements, making over 200 appearances in the greatest Hoops side ever assembled, and narrowly missing out on a place in the European Cup final in Lisbon.

    He also scored 32 goals for Celtic, including one on his birthday in 1962. Although unable to remember that particular strike, summoning up the memory of his most prized Hoops goal is certainly an easier matter. Supporters who were there when it happened, though, may have greater difficulty in their recollections.

    “My favourite was obviously the one against Rangers, in the 5-1 victory in 1965,” said Gallagher.

    “They scored first and then we hammered them. It was a bad, foggy day and I don’t think half the supporters saw the goals. They all went into the Celtic End, so they would have seen them but I am not sure about those who were in The Jungle.”

    His outstanding performances for Celtic also saw him being the first Scottish-born player to represent Ireland, a record he remains proud of.

    “It wasn’t the highlight of my life but it was one the top moments in my life, particularly my second cap which was in Dublin against the team that was running riot in Europe, Czechoslovakia,” he said.

    “They were one of the top teams in the world at the time. To do that and be reminded every time I get introduced that I was the first Scots-born player to play for the Republic is something I am quite happy with. Both my parents were Irish and everyone in my family were Irish, so I was quite happy with that."  

    Read the full and exclusive interview with Charlie Gallagher ONLY in this week's Celtic View. On sale now.

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