As featured in the regular Larkhall Thistle match programmes, a series of quiz questions involving Thistle and their players past and present. Questions by our resident Thistle expert/researcher/Googler, Hugh Kerr.
Who was the last Thistle player to be capped at both Junior and Senior level for Scotland?
– He got his two Senior caps in the same year, against Wales and England
– He stayed in Larkhall for many years and had a business in the town.
Tommy Ewing. He signed for the Jags from Birkenshaw Welfare Hearts and played for Junior Scotland during his spell at Gasworks Park. He then signed senior with the other Thistle – Partick – and was with them for three years, during which he won his two Scotland caps in a 1-1 draw with Wales and a 4-0 defeat to England. Tommy then moved to Aston Villa before returning to Partick Thistle and Morton, where he finished his playing career. He also had a spell as manager of the Accies. Tommy owned the Ranch bar in Larkhall and Jilts in Hamilton for many years.
Can you name the five sets of fathers and sons who have played with the Jags?
– In one set the father and two sons played with the Thistle.
– Of the fathers and sons in the five sets, two sons and one father went on to manage and play at the highest level.
1. The McLeans
Tommy “Speeder” McLean played for the Thistle in 1932 in the Scottish Cup semi-final, where we lost 3-2 to Rob Roy. His two sons, Jim and Willie subsequently played with the Jags. Wee jum as he was known played senior with Hamilton Accies, Clyde, Dundee and Kilmarnock but is best known for his 22 years as manager of Dundee Utd, winning the league championship and breaking the Old Firm’s hold on major honours.
His brother Willie played for Airdrie, Sheffield Wednesday, Alloa and Clyde. He played with and managed Queen of the South and Raith Rovers and also managed Motherwell Ayr and Morton.
2. The Chalmers
Jimmy and John Chalmers. Jimmy played with us in the early fifties and John was with us in the seventies before moving to Lesmahagow where he gained numerous caps for Junior Scotland.
3. The Dempseys
Jim Dempsey joined the Thistle from Blackburn United and had a tremendous spell at the club in 1969 before he joined the Accies where had two spells as a player. He also played for Raith Rovers, Stirling Albion, Albion Rovers and Thistle again. Jim also managed Accies for a season then came back to Thistle as manager in 1991-1992 but left to manage Fauldhouse .
He returned as assistant to Bobby Crilly in 1999. You could say Jim was an old style tough-tackling half back. His son John was in the same mould as his old man when he was with us during his dad’s spell at Gasworks Park.
4. The Hamiltons
Charlie Hamilton only played with the Thistle for one season and was an old type battering ram centre forward. His son Graeme was only with us for about six months and was a skilful midfielder.
5. The Bapties
Crawford Baptie “Big Beeba” as he was known was equally at home either in defence or midfield and was great favourite with the supporters. He also played at senior level with a host of clubs including Falkirk, Accies and Motherwell. His son Jack signed for us from Lanark United but failed to command a regular place and was released and now plays with our tenants at Gasworks Park, Royal Albert.
We have travelled to the North of Scotland on many occasions, can you recall the only time we were defeated?
– It was a major shock on the day.
Ellon United. The game was played at Uddy Park, Formartine and quite frankly should never have been played. When we arrived they were putting down red salt on various parts of the pitch, including the goalmouths and it was clear that the ref was hell bent on the game going ahead. It was about the only game on in the North of Scotland, even Aberdeen’s game was off due to frost, in fact Bobby Clark and Alex McLeish were at the game.
We just could not get to grips with the conditions and lost 2-1 to a team who lost 6-0 at Cumnock in the next round. The game ended with Tommy Burns in our goal a spectator as we laid siege to the Ellon goal. Tommy had to keep out his goalmouth as much as possible as the ground was starting to freeze under his feet. That was the longest bus journey home you could imagine.
Anyone who has looked into the history of the Thistle will know that Tommy “Fister” Lang won an English FA Cup medal with Newcastle, but can anyone name the guy who coached Thistle, won a senior Scottish Cup medal with his home town club, was capped for Scotland and once during his senior career scored 6 goals in one game?
Wilson Humphries. Wilson was Motherwell born and played for them at inside-right, once scoring six goals in one game against Dundee Utd and was capped once for Scotland against Sweden. Wilson also played for St.Mirren, Dundee Utd and Hamilton Accies. He was a part time coach at Motherwell, combing it with his main job as a school teacher and also managed St Mirren for a couple of seasons.
He was only at Gasworks Park for part of a season, I am not sure exactly how he came to be coach – I think one of our players at the time taught at the same school. When he arrived we were rooted at the bottom of the old Central League First Division and looked odds-on for relegation, but we went on a run of victories which resulted in us needing a win at Renfrew to stay up. We won 2-1 and I can remember the game quite clearly, Tommy Burns was absolutely brilliant in goals and at the other end Alistair Duff netted twice in what turned out to be his last game.
Wilson Humphries had the knack of getting the best and more out of even the most basic players and when he entered the dressing room, he commanded the attention of the players right away. He was old-school in many ways – one story in particular springs to mind. One of our players sustained a bad head gash and our physio at the time John Brown who was brilliant at his job and a great favourite with the players, was all for taking the player off. The player in question was local lad Alan Hamilton, not great on ability but would run for you all day. Wiilson said, “John get a f*****g bandage on it and make sure he doesn’t see it in the mirror, I’ve played with worse in my time”.
So Alan was put back on the pitch with what looked like a turban on his head. We won the game and in the dressing room later when he saw the gash, Alan nearly fainted. He had to go to hospital to get umpteen stitches. Wilson’s bonus for keeping us up was a bottle of Black Label which was his tipple. We couldn’t keep him due to financial restraints, but what a six months we had while he was coach with his unique style of man management. Unfortunately Wilson passed away in 1992.
Who was the coach who in one calendar year managed to relegate three clubs, including the Thistle?
Ian Browning. Ian was in charge of Carluke Rovers as one season ended and they were relegated and he was sacked. New season started and he was with Stonehouse Violet, he had bad start and was sacked. He then joined us in October as player coach when quite honestly we were in a really bad way but he did not help things and we went down to Division C of the old Central League as did the Violet. Quite a record at any level.