Monday 17 December 2018

Lisbon Lions honour their Celtic Bhoy Patsy

Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld signing autographs for young fans in Ramelton yesterday
Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld signing autographs for young fans in Ramelton yesterday
The plague to Patsy Gallagher

FOR a small town to produce one international sporting legend is noteworthy, but to produce two is remarkable.

Ramelton, Co Donegal, population circa 1,900, is exactly such a town, being the celebrated birthplace of the first All-Blacks captain Dave Gallaher and legendary Glasgow Celtic forward Patsy Gallagher.

Born in the late 19th century the length of a football pitch from each other, just 20 years apart, both left, as children, the north Donegal town for better lives in New Zealand and Scotland.

In November 2005, Dave Gallaher (1873-1917) was honoured in his birthplace when the All-Blacks team travelled to Ramelton to unveil a plaque at Crammond House in the town's Market Cross, the house where he was born.

Yesterday, Ramelton, home of Swilly Rovers, re-affirmed its soccer roots when another plaque was unveiled at a house just off the Cross on Main Street, next to where once stood the humble cottage in which Patsy Gallagher was born.

Unlike his Presbyterian neighbour, Patsy Gallagher (1891-1953) was born into desperate poverty, emigrating to Clydebank, Glasgow, with his family at the age of eight.

Despite his thin, frail appearance, he quickly gained a reputation as a skilled footballer, making his debut for Celtic at Parkhead in 1911.

Earning the nickname "The Mighty Atom", he scored 192 goals in 569 appearances with the club, to earn sixth place in Celtic's all-time scoring records.

Thousands of miles away in New Zealand, Dave Gallaher had also sealed his place in sporting history, captaining the first All-Blacks tour of Britain and France in 1905 and 1906.

In brilliant sunshine yesterday, eight former members of the famous 'Lisbon Lions' Celtic team, the first British team to win the European Cup in 1967, led by captain Billy McNeill, joined members of the Gallagher family and hundreds of local people to remember the Celtic forward.

Celtic chairman Brian Quinn said that Patsy Gallagher had captured the essence of the Celtic team.

"He had excellence and style and the ability to do something unexpected and unusual.

"He was a beacon for Celtic players to come and I want to thank the town of Ramelton for giving him to us," he said.

Fianna Fail TD and lifelong Celtic supporter, Pat the Cope Gallagher, said it was important that sportsmen like Patsy Gallagher and Dave Gallaher were remembered in their native place.

ANITA GUIDERA

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