Who Put The Ball In The Rangers Net?

by William Sheridan
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BILL SHANKLY

10.04.1944 Rangers [a] D3-3 (Southern League - game 30)
Willie Sharp (1-0, 17 mins); Bill Shankly (2-0, 30 mins); James Colgan (3-0, 35 mins)

The great Bill Shankly scored for Thistle against Rangers at Ibrox, and that seems like a mighty fine way to open our countdown.

The hardy lad from East Ayrshire had made a bit of a name for himself in the 1930s, and with his hard-but-fair brand of tackling in the half-back role, he was an integral part of the Preston North End side which was re-establishing itself as a top-flight force in the English game, famously winning the FA Cup in 1938.

It came as no surprise to observers that he achieved the ultimate accolade for a Scottish footballer when he captained his country against the Auld Enemy in 1941, and perhaps his very finest hour came at Hampden on 18th April 1942 when Scotland upset the odds to beat a very successful English side by 5 goals to 4, Bill notching Scotland’s 5th with an audacious lob from distance.

It was a real coup for the Thistle when Shankly’s services were procured in the autumn of ’43, our North West Glasgow location placing us ideally as the local club to the Bishopbriggs RAF base where he was stationed. With the unpredictability of life during wartime, no-one knew for sure how long the arrangement would last, and it’s doubtful that anyone foreseen a 69 game stint in which Bill would score 11 goals for the Jags (2 of which came against Rangers), a terrific ratio for a half-back, and one which suggests he was comfortable at Firhill. Winning the Summer Cup with Thistle in 1945 was a major highlight – as was his goal at Ibrox the year before…

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With the citizens of the country on blackout orders between 9.45pm and 6.50am, weekday games, if they were played at all, were usually in the afternoon. Such was the case on Monday, 10th April, 1944, when Thistle made the short journey to Govan to fulfil our 30th and final engagement of that season’s Southern League campaign. Rangers were runaway winners of the League, and were renowned for their "iron curtain" defence at the time, so to secure a 3-3 draw at Ibrox was a very good result, albeit tainted by the fact that a 3 goal lead was squandered.

Bill struck a free-kick in the 30th minute, which took a deflection off the man who would later emulate Shankly’s captaincy of the national team, George Young, en route to goal, putting Jags 2 nil in front. Cue manly handshakes all round – with none of that cuddly-toy apology nonsense to big Geordie I hope!

Publishing date Originally published on 01-Dec-2017 (WAT).
Thistle Archive publishing date Republished here on The Thistle Archive, 07-Sep-2020.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 01-Dec-2017.





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