Patsy Gallacher

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Patsy Gallacher (16 March 1891 – 17 June 1953) was an Irish footballer, playing in the wing right position, and most noted for his career at Celtic.

Early life[edit]

Patsy was born in a workhouse in the small Donegal town of Milford. Gallacher was just three years old when his family moved to Scotland and he played for his first schoolboy team, at Holy Redeemer Primary School in Glasgow. Patsy had to organise the team, acting as captain and secretary because every teacher in the school was female and showed little interest in the sport. Patsy remembered his first trophy in the Yoker Athletic Schools' Tournament playing for Holy Redeemer who were the dark horses of the competition. He recalled that the organisers were unwilling to award the cup to a team without an adult manager.

Patsy then joined Benvue, a team in the Clean Speech League. He then moved up to the juvenile side, Renfrew St. James. He then moved up again to Clydebank Juniors and began to attract the attention of scouts from senior clubs. They could see his talent which was impressive, but had doubts due to his puny, frail appearance. Despite this he received offers of a trial with Clyde F.C and Celtic. During his trial period he scored twice in a 6–1 defeat of Dumfries and three times in a 5–0 win against a British Army XI.

Celtic career[edit]

He was quickly promoted to the Celtic first team and made his debut against St. Mirren at Parkhead in November 1911. He was to overcome his supposed physical problems in the same way that Garrincha would in years to come. Within six months he secured his first winner's medal scoring once in the 2–0 victory over Clyde in the 1912 Scottish Cup final. He went on to play for Celtic for 15 years from 1911 to 1926, featuring in 569 games in all competitions. In 464 games in major competitions Patsy scored 192 goals. Today he ranks as Celtic's sixth highest goal scorer behind Jimmy McGrory, Bobby Lennox, Henrik Larsson, Stevie Chalmers and Jimmy Quinn. One of his most famous moments came in the 1925 'Patsy Gallacher' Scottish Cup final against Dundee, when he barged from behind in a packed penalty area, and somersaulted over the goal line with the ball between his feet into the net for a goal.

He revitalised Celtic's team which had slipped to fifth place in the league for season 1910–11 as the great team, that had included Jimmy Quinn and Jimmy McMenemy which had won six successive league titles in a row began to tire. With Gallacher in the team Celtic won seven League Championships, four Scottish Cups, four Glasgow Cups and eleven Glasgow Charity Cups

Departure from Celtic[edit]

In 1926, Celtic 'retired' Patsy without warning. Speculation among his fans was that they wanted to save on his wages, which were considerably higher than those of any other Celtic player of the time. (despite the fact that the team included greats such as Jimmy McGrory and Jimmy McStay). Gallacher went on to play for six more years with Falkirk, fuelling speculation among Celtic supporters as to how many more goals he would have scored and trophies lifted had he stayed at Celtic Park.

International career[edit]

Patsy gathered 13 caps for Ireland in an age when fewer internationals were played. On his debut for Ireland at Windsor Park in Belfast against England he became the highest paid international ever. Interest in the Ireland team grew tremendously: 50,000 packed into Windsor Park for his debut.

Like many Irish players of his era, he played for both the Belfast-based Irish Football Association side (12 times), and the Dublin-based Football Association of Ireland team (Once). This has led to the mistaken assumption that he played for both Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State. In fact, both sides called themselves, "Ireland," and both selected players from the entire island. It was only after the Second World War that FIFA regularised this situation, ordering both associations to rename their sides, although the Irish Football Assoctiation were given permission to continue to call themselves, "Ireland," in the now defunct Home International competition.

Gallacher also represented the Scottish League XI twice.[1]

Trivia and quotes[edit]

  • Gallacher played just one game for Rangers[2]
  • Gallacher's nickname was "The Mighty Atom".
  • Gallacher's sons both played football as well, Tommy for Queen's Park and Dundee and Willie for Celtic
  • Patsy Gallacher was the grandfather of Scottish footballer Kevin Gallacher.
  • In 2007, Celtic supporters in a neighbouring Donegal town called Ramelton claimed Gallacher as "a son of Ramelton", despite it being well known that his place of birth was Milford and that it is documented that the family left for Scotland when young Patsy was just three years old. This has been a subject of much local mirth ever since. Interestingly, a Milford spokesperson stated, "Ramelton can have Patsy. The last thing this quiet and peaceful wee town (Milford) needs is rowdy tribal Scotsmen tramping all over our heritage".

To play alongside Patsy Gallacher in national cup final was a dream. Patsy was the fastest man over 10 yards. He moved at great speed and he could stop immediately sending opponents in all directions. He could win a game when the rest of us were just thinking about it — Jimmy McGrory

Within 20 yards of goal Patsy Gallacher was the most dangerous forward I have ever seen. You never knew what he would do. Often he would wriggle through, past man after man, with defenders reluctant to tackle in case they gave away a penalty kickAlan Morton of Rangers and Scotland

Many people have asked me how Patsy would have stood up to the rigours of the modern game. He would have strolled through it. There is no present day player in this country that I would put anywhere near his class. Even Jimmy Johnstone, with all his talents, never reached the Gallacher heights. Gallacher was always advancing; there was no doubling back and playing across the field. Everything he did was positive. — Jimmy McGrory

There never was a player like him, and I often wonder if we shall see his like again. I wish we could, just to show the present day players that we of Patsy Gallacher's time had something to boast about — Alan Morton

He was the greatest who ever kicked a ball. — Tommy Cairns of Rangers

Patsy was the complete footballer. He had wonderful ball control, he had tricks of manipulation all his own. His body swerve and ability to change pace, which never came from practice but obviously were natural gifts, were a sore problem to opponents — Sir Robert Kelly

So long as there is a Celtic the name of Patsy Gallacher will be revered, and his sons and their families can rightly be proud of that. — Sir Robert Kelly

The best book on Patsy Gallacher is "The Mighty Atom" by David Potter, published by the Parrs Wood Press 2000


  1. ^ "Patsy Gallacher". (London Hearts Supporters' Club). Retrieved 5 December 2011. 
  2. ^,_Patrick

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