Who Put The Ball In The Rangers Net?

by William Sheridan
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NEIL HARRIS

15.04.1916 Rangers [h] W5-2 (SFL - game 34)
William Leitch (1-0, 10 mins); John Bowie (2-0, 1st half); Muir Honeyman (3-0, 1st half); Neil Harris (4-0, 45 mins); Neil Harris (5-2, 2nd half)

The capture of Neil Harris in the summer of 1913 proved to be an extremely shrewd piece of business. He was described by the press at that time as “the most sought-after Junior player in Scotland” and “the cleverest centre-forward in the Junior world”.

The 5’ 8 hitman wasted no time in living up to the hype, scoring 4 goals in his first 4 games whilst an 18-year-old. Over the course of the next 7 seasons he never let up, scoring 98 goals in just 168 appearances before a big money move took him down to St James’ Park, where fame and fortune beckoned.

Neil thoroughly merits his high placing in our countdown, with no fewer than 8 goals against the Rangers to his credit.

The best spurt was undoubtedly in season 1915-16, as Thistle continued to dominate Rangers in the Scottish Football League (yes, you read that correctly!) Thistle finished joint 5th in the table this term, and another two victories over our South side rivals made it a season to remember in footballing terms, if not in worldly matters, as man fell into bloody conflict with man all over the globe.

Trying to take their minds off the horrific events of the time, some 24,500 were at Firhill to witness this one, and proceedings got underway in the spring kick-off time slot of 3.30pm. Come 4.15pm, there was great joy for the Maryhill regulars as Thistle had positively romped into a 4-0 half-time lead, with headers from Leitch and Bowie, a shot from Honeyman and a spectacular waltz and drive from Neil Harris capping it all off. Thistle kept at it in the second period, but the goals were not so easily forthcoming, and Rangers clawed their way back into contention, only trailing by 4 to 2 by the midway point of the closing half.

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However, any lingering doubts about blowing a 4 goal lead were removed in the 80th minute “with alertness and dash” as William Leitch slipped a lovely pass into the path of Neil Harris who, “from a fair range”, fittingly scored with “the best shot of the day which had Hempsey beaten all the way”.

The Daily Record reporter opined that the game had been played too fast for Rangers. Thistle were certainly doing something right in these encounters, for this was our fourth consecutive League win over Rangers – a H2H record which stands to this day.

And what of this man Harris? In January, he had scored the only goal of the game at Ibrox and now, here he was, contributing an excellent brace to give Thistle a handsome 5-2 win, completing an historic League double for the second successive season. To this day, Neil is the only Jag in history to score in every game of a “League whitewash” season over Rangers. The biggest miracle in all of this is that they didn’t try to poach him away!

Publishing date Originally published on 19-Dec-2017 (WAT).
Thistle Archive publishing date Republished here on The Thistle Archive, 07-Sep-2020.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 19-Dec-2017.





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