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Blairhall Juniors to Celtic

Posted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:36 pm
by Fife Bhoy
Can anyone give me the source information re the players from Blairhall Juniors to Celtic? Is it from a book?
I don't dispute it is accurate as I have heard it before and knew one of those involved Hugh O'Neill but can I get a supporting document? The article on this site that touched on it dealt with the death of Johnny Wilson and went:
Johnnie Wilson 1916-2010 RIP
by cowdenbeather » Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:13 pm
WILSON. - Peacefully at Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline on Tuesday 2nd November 2010, John (Johnnie), aged 94 years of Blairhall. Beloved husband of the late Helen (Ella), loving dad of John and Maureen, much loved grandad of Kieran, Jonathan and Siobhan. R. I.P.

Thus did the Dunfermline Press break the news of the death of Johnnie Wilson who was reckoned to be the oldest surviving Cowdenbeath player. John Wilson was born at Longriggend on 29th October 1916. He was brought up by his grandmother in Shettleston and moved to Fife at the age 12. He attended St Bride’s and St Columba’s Schools in Cowdenbeath and also turned out for the Cowdenbeath & District Schoolboy side. He was selected to represent Scotland schools but because he had actually just left school was unable to play. John then played junior with Lochgelly Albert. He also worked in the pit at Blairhall and was then signed on a provisional basis by Celtic. In 1937/38, 6 players from the Blairhall junior club also joined Celtic - Hugh O'Neill, Jim Birrell, Jim 'Leggy' McMillan, Tom Harvie, Jimmy McDonald and Joe McLaughlin. Johnnie Wilson himself later managed Blairhall for around 20 years (until 1974).

Johnnie was a member of the Celtic reserve side which won the Alliance League in 1938. In 1939, he went down south to play for Chesterfield. War of course then broke out and Johnnie promptly came back north to work in the pits. Wilson then played for Blantyre Vics where he kept a lad named Jock Stein out of the team for a while. Wilson featured for the Vics in the 1944 Scottish Junior Cup final when they lost 1-0 to Glasgow Perthshire. Johnnie also played for Dunfermline, Hamilton and Berwick Rangers during the war period. He then skippered Cowdenbeath from left half in season 1945/46 before he had to return to his pre-war club, Chesterfield. He played with Chesterfield, then for Oldham and finished with Accrington Stanley in 1950.

Returning to Blairhall, he ran the local junior side as aforementioned. He was also a scout for Charlton and Wolves. At Blairhall, he sent a phenomenal number of players into the seniors – names such as Jackie Sinclair (Leicester & Scotland), John Lunn (Dunfermline), Paddy Wilson (Dunfermline) and Eric Martin (Southampton). Paddy Wilson was his nephew and Johnnie was the elder statesman of the huge Wilson footballing clan who played for and ran Blairhall Juniors and then Oakley United – Terry Wilson (Cowden, Hibs, Aston Villa), Charlie Wilson and many others.

Re: Blairhall Juniors to Celtic

Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:15 pm
by nightfire
The reference for James McDonald in The Alphabet of Celts states that James joined the club on 28th January 1939 from Blairhall Colliery and also includes the following:

"Blairhall Colliery was Celtic's Fifeshire nursery on the eve of WWII and provided Celtic with Jimmy Birrell, Tom Harvey, James McMillan, Johnny Wilson & James McDonald."

Re: Blairhall Juniors to Celtic

Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:10 pm
by Fife Bhoy
Thanks for the information.