There have been strong suggestions that either or both Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong could make their Celtic debuts at Firhill tonight. Celtic supporters are confident that the former Dundee United duo will make a great impact on the race for the treble this season and in the seasons ahead in Celtic jerseys.
Not every debut goes the way you would like it to though. Many have forgotten that the man regarded as Celtic’s greatest player of all time, Jinky himself, got off to perhaps the worst start imaginable in the Hoops.
Aged 18, the 5ft 4inch Viewpark Bhoy made his first appearance for the club at Rugby Park on 27th March 1963. Despite established players such as Stevie Chalmers, Charlie Gallagher, Dunky McKay and Jim Kennedy in the team, Celtic slumped to an unforgiveable 6-0 defeat to a relatively poor Kilmarnock team. Of course, Jimmy Johnstone went on to prove himself a football great and his unfortunate debut was put behind him – which wasn’t the case for the goalkeeper Dick Madden.
That night at Kilmarnock was also Dick’s debut. He had been a schoolmate of Jinky’s at Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell. Season 62-3 was his first at the club having signed from Blantyre Celtic and, although third-choice keeper, he was called up to replace the injured Frank Haffey (who himself did not enjoy the best reputation between the sticks!). Although Dick was considered blameless for all six goals and Celtic’s main defenders were injured for the game, his debut was to prove his last first team game for the club.
Dick wasn’t banished though – and even travelled with the team to Budapest for a European game the following season as deputy to John Fallon. Here he can be seen as part of the travelling party – standing in front of John Hughes near the top of the stairs on the Aer Lingus plane.
It wasn’t all bad news for Dick where the game of football was concerned though. When he got home that night he found out that his family had won the then incredible sum of £10,000 on the football pools!
His Celtic team-mates weren’t slow to pick up on his good fortune coming so soon after his unfortunate debut. Bertie Auld recalls that one of them suggested the keeper should open up a pub with his winnings – and call it the Lets Six Inn!
Dick went on to have a decent career with Albion Rovers and Clydebank. He was very sanguine about his time at Celtic Park and liked to tell the story of how, years later, on a visit to the barbers the barber turned to him, after a few minutes of sly looks, to ask “Did you used to play for Celtic?” Dick replied that he’d been the reserve goalie for a number of years, prompting the barber to say: “That’s right – You’re the only thing that Frank Haffey ever kept oot!”
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I know Dick and he told me that the real reason the senior players didn’t play the March 63 game against Kilmarnock is that they wanted more money and the management refused they used excuse that missing players were injured/ill at the time. At this time there was no big money for players. I still kid him on that his record of letting in 6 against Killie still stands and maybe celtic’s longest standing record. Incidently he ended up a bookmaker and Ally McCoists father was one of his managers and he tells me John Greg was one of the nicest guys off the park.
Thanks Kenny – hope Dick is doing well.