My old dad wouldn’t lie to me … RIP John Thomson

John Thomson Action

THE untimely demise in action of Celtic legend, John Thomson … as, also, its subsequent unfortunate knock-on effect on the life and career of his hapless co-victim, Sam English … ranks high amongst 20th-Century football tragedies.  Accordingly, we are happy, on this, the latest poignant anniversary of his passing, to help perpetuate John’s legend by re-publishing the 25thMay1967 poetic tribute to our slight giant of a goalkeeper:

“The Bowhill Bhoy”

My old dad avowed,

so, it must be true

that a Bowhill bhoy,

hale at twenty-two …

who laid down his life

in a daring save

that propelled the lad

to an early grave …

was the best he ever saw.


In the pomp of youth,

strapping – in his prime,

he had talent raw,

in a gift sublime …

a courageous heart

with a reckless edge –

focus, power and grace

to the jersey pledged …

ne’er before or since surpassed.


Meteoric rise,

cruelly brief career –

tragic his demise,

swathed in grief sincere …

lasting legacy

to both kith and kin,

as a treasured son

and a Hoops’ linchpin…

now, forever, Celtic’s John.


On the fateful day,

in a sick’ning crunch,

consummation sore

of a mother’s hunch …

terrors harboured deep

in a mammy’s heart,

lockfast tight in dread

of his headstrong art …

all unleashed that awful night.


Derby debut cursed

for a young, blond ‘bear’ –

Sam’s marauding power,

Johnny’s peerless flair …

thitherto unmatched,

thenceforth intertwined

in a dance of death –

to their fates consigned …

one to lore; one, living hell.


As the action froze

in a young mind’s eye,

one sharp, piercing scream

rent the Govan sky …

in a grisly trice

two young worlds caved in –

Celtic’s prince of gloves

and his ‘Micky Finn’

nascent destiny undone.


If you value life,

as you’ll surely do,

then, lament the loss

of a genius true …

humble son of Fife

noble, proud athlete

Johnny Thomson, dear –

Scotland’s gem forfeit …

Celtic’s ‘Bowhill Bhoy’ supreme.





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