Ye'll No' Believe Who Scored It!

by William Sheridan
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NOBBY CLARK

Tuesday 1st January 1974
SFL First Division - game 16
Rangers [a] D1-1

The teenage Robert, to give him his Sunday name, was signed by Scot Symon in 1968 and had six highly eventful seasons at Firhill, clocking up more than 150 appearances under three different managers. In his first playing season, 1969-70, he experienced the pain of relegation and in the very next he won a winners medal as part of the side which romped to the Second Division title. In 1971-72 he won another winners medal as part of the League Cup winning squad and in 1972-73 he turned out for the Jags in Europe – home and away against Honved. Amazing to think that all of these experiences were crammed in before his 21st birthday! Such was the way for the young Firhill lions at that time – they were thrown in at the deep end and had to swim.

As an interesting aside to the 1971 League Cup campaign, it’s worth noting that Nobby played in the first three games of the season vs. Arbroath, East Fife and Raith Rovers. He then went down with flu and forced Davie McParland into giving Jackie Campbell a shot at the No.5 shirt. Jackie, of course, made that shirt his own for years to come, and it took 5 whole months for Nobby to get another look-in!

It wasn’t until his fifth playing season, that Nobby could add the accolade “Partick Thistle goal scorer” to his list of achievements – but it was a goal well worth the wait for the player and for the fans alike. Can there be a better script than a fans favourite getting his only goal with a crucial strike against the Old Firm? I think not. Football is built on these rare moments of total joy.

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There were 20,000 at Ibrox for this Tuesday afternoon game. It was a hard-fought contest and the Thistle contingent were most aggrieved at the fact that we were trailing to a Derek Parlane penalty, softly awarded by J. Callaghan (Glasgow). Thistle seemed determined to see justice done and their perseverance paid off. With less than ten minutes left on the clock, an inviting cross was flighted into the box. Who would meet it? Joe Craig? Ronnie Glavin? Tommy Rae? No to all the usual candidates – NOBBY CLARK had made a great run, lost his marker, and bulleted it past Peter McCloy with his head, rippling the Rangers net. One each was how it ended – Happy New Year Jags fans!

Nobby was eventually squeezed out of the first team picture in season 1974-75, with the combination of a new manager and the emergence of a new talent, namely one Alan Hansen, limiting his appearances. He consoled himself by adding another winners’ medal to his collection as the Reserves won the Scottish Cup for the second time in four seasons. Reserve team football was no good to Nobby though – and he was too good not to be playing first grade football. Others certainly thought so, and there were no shortage of offers for his services, with Motherwell and Airdrie making notable offers. Nobby himself plumped for Queen of the South where he became an all-time legend both as a player and a manager.

Hugh Strachan was always rightly proud of his one-time protégé – even down to moulding him for just one special goal for the Thistle! Has to be said though, Nobby’s Ibrox trumps Hugh’s Annfield anyday…

Publishing date Originally published on 19-Dec-2014 (WAT).
Thistle Archive publishing date Republished here on The Thistle Archive, 20-Dec-2020.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 19-Dec-2014.

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