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J Thomson

John Thomson

Celtic & Scotland Goalkeeper

Information about John

Born in Kirkcaldy in 1909, John Thomson lived with his parents and his brothers and sisters at 27, Balgreggie Park, Cardenden. He died in Ward 5, Victoria Hospital, Glasgow, at 9:25 pm on Saturday, 5th September, 1931 at the age of 22 years.

Between the Posts at Parkhead

He was the Prince of Men John Thomson came from Bowhill Bowhill, Cardenden John Thomson put Bowhill on the map. As Celtic's goalkeeper he is remembered to this very day for his goal-keeping prowess.I was only nine years old when that tragic accident happened at Ibrox. Rangers were playing Celtic. It was during the second half and five minutes had gone from the restart when the ball was swung into the Celtic goalmouth. John Thomson left his goal and dived to a 50/50 ball with Sam English, the Rangers' centre-forward. Tragically, John lay still on the field and had to be carried off, badly injured. Later that evening, he died in the Victoria Hospital, Glasgow. The game ended with the score, Rangers..0 Celtic..0. The funeral to Bowhill Cemetery took place on Wednesday, 9th September, and was the largest I have ever seen. Thirty to forty thousand people paid their last respects. Two special trains left Glasgow for Cardenden; people walked all the way from Glasgow and slept the night on the Crags and along by the bing just to be there on the day of the funeral; football supporters came from all over the country. The Bowhill Pipe Band and the Bowhill Silver Band were in attendance. An aeroplane landed in the Daisy Park and I think it belonged to one of the national newspapers. The crowd along the route from 27, Balgreggie Park to the cemetery was packed tight, some even clambering up on to the roof tops. The coffin was carried by Celtic players.

Willie Maley

Celtic manager Willie Maley wrote of him: “ Among the galaxy of talented goalkeepers whom Celtic have had, the late lamented John Thomson was the greatest. A Fifeshire friend recommended him to the Club. We watched him play. We were impressed so much that we signed him when he was still in his teens. That was in 1926. Next year he became our regular goalkeeper, and was soon regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers in the country. But, alas, his career was to be short. In September, 1931, playing against Rangers at Ibrox Park, he met with a fatal accident. Yet he had played long enough to gain the highest honours football had to give. A most likeable lad, modest and unassuming, he was popular wherever he went. His merit as a goalkeeper shone superbly in his play. Never was there a keeper who caught and held the fastest shots with such grace and ease. In all he did there was the balance and beauty of movement wonderful to watch. Among the great Celts who have passed over, he has an honoured place.” Celtic has never forgotten John Thomson. When they are playing in Fife they make a point of paying their respects at his grave and usually they lay a wreath. It was by chance that John Thomson came to be playing for Celtic.

One Saturday John was playing for Wellesley Juniors against Denbeath Star and a Celtic Scout came through to watch the goalkeeper of Denbeath Star and he was so impressed by John's skill that it was he who was signed by Celtic. His debut for Celtic was against Dundee at Dens Park...where it was said he made 20,000 friends that day ...and Celtic won 3-1.


In 1993 has a street been called after him...Thomson Court. In the old part of Bowhill Cemetery, not far from the gate, you can see the memorial erected in his memory. The inscription reads:- IN MEMORIAM JOHN THOMSON SCOTLAND'S INTERNATIONAL GOALKEEPER who died 5th September 1931aged 22 years The result of injuries received at Ibrox Park beloved son of John and Jean Thomson. "Honest and upright he played the game Beloved and respected he made his name". INTERNATIONAL HONOURS France 1930 England, Wales, Ireland 1931 English League 1929-30-31 Irish League 1929 WITH CELTIC FOOTBALL CLUB Scottish Cup Medals 1927-31 Glasgow Cup Medals 1927-28-30 This memorial was erected by public subscriptions from friends and admirers the world over. "They never die who live in the hearts they leave behind".

Copyright Cardenden Local History Group


John Thomson's Grave.

Bowhill Cemetery.



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