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Partick Thistle 2 Motherwell 3

Today I have chosen to feature the centre pages of my oldest Thistle v Motherwell match programme, which I purchased 66 ½ years ago – quite an alarming thought. Anyway, in those far-off days for League Cup purposes teams were initially drawn into groups of four. Thistle formed a section along with Hearts. Motherwell and Airdrieonians, each team playing the other three home and away. Sadly, on this occasion Thistle didn’t progress out of the group, although we enjoyed remarkable success in the tournaments later in the 1950’s, reaching the final in 1953, 1956 and 1958.

Motherwell were a strong team at the time with players like Archie Shaw and Andy Paton providing a significant physical presence, which describes their rugged approach in euphemistic terms. In other words, they were real hard men, not to be messed with. Providing silkier touches were players like Jimmy Forrest and Jimmy Watson. Then there was Wilson Humphries. I remember him well. Later on in the 50’s he was in the same Latin class as myself at Glasgow University. Without boasting too much, I was much better at Latin than he was, but then he proved to be the better footballer, so take your pick, some you win, some you lose.

In the featured match there were some very interesting Thistle names, none more so than Bobby Henderson, the goalkeeper, a local lad from Armisfield street and a member of the 69th Boys Brigade Company. Jimmy “Tiger” McGowan and Peter Collins were the full-backs. Jimmy Davidson, later to play for Scotland in the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, Bert Kinnell and David Mathers formed the half-back line(midfield area for those under a certain age). Up front we had Johnny MacKenzie, Archie McCallum, Willie O’Donnell, Willie Sharp and Jimmy Walker, quite a forward-line. Unfortunately two goals from our centre-forward Willie O’Donnell were not enough to salvage a draw for Thistle.

Attendances were massive in those days. The official Thistle history book says 30,000 for the featured match. What did we have at the Ross County game last Saturday? – 3,000 – I rest my case and say no more.

Above the teams lists one sees something familiar – the “Star and Garter”, and over to the right – how about a train trip to Blackpool for 30/- return? – £1.50 – seems like a good deal!

Robert R

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