Billy Gourley
Billy Gourley
Billy Gourley
● Billy Gourley, c1960 (JIL)

born in Scotland

William Gourley was born on Sunday, 3rd January, 1943, in Greenock, Renfrewshire.

The 5' 10 (12st 1lbs) forward signed for Thistle in March, 1961, having most recently been with Maryhill.

Aged 19, he made his debut appearance on Monday, 12th February, 1962, in a 3-0 defeat away to Hibernian in the SFL First Division.

Billy scored his first goal for Thistle on Monday, 30th April, 1962, in a 3-1 friendly win away to Morton.

He scored the last of his 6 goals on Saturday, 21st September, 1963, in a 4-1 defeat away to Heart of Midlothian in the SFL First Division.

That turned out to be his last game for the club, having appeared as a Jag on 15 occasions.

Billy's club-list included Maryhill, Partick Thistle, Falkirk and Stranraer.

Bio Extra

Billy, a left-sided forward, had just turned 18 when he signed for Willie Thornton's Thistle in the springtime of 1961. At least one of his local papers was keeping tabs on him and, in January 1962, the Port Glasgow Express reported that he was β€œdoing well with Partick Thistle reserves”. Manager Willie Thornton seemingly agreed and 19-year-old Billy was handed his senior first-team debut a few weeks later, as Thistle travelled through to the capital for a Monday evening kick-off away to Hibs. Thistle had already beaten the Edinburgh side in both the League and Cup this season, but Easter Road was always a difficult place to go.

β€œA lifeless game in Edinburgh” said the Glasgow Herald. Apart from Hibs' 3 goals in a 6 minute spell (22, 23 and 28) there was nothing to enthuse over. A poor crowd (3,249) bore witness to a spectacle marred by crude defending, misplaced passes, fouls aplenty - and it was effectively over after half an hour. β€œAlthough the Thistle forwards did improve with the aid of the 'slope' after half-time, there was little determination about their play, and the final whistle came as a great relief” reported the Evening Times. This was all very anticlimactic for young Billy and he sat out 11 matches before getting his chance again, which came in the very last game of the season, a 3-1 friendly win at Morton on the evening of Monday 30th April 1962. Brilliantly, he got on the scoresheet that night - he was off and running and could look forward to the new season ahead.

Season 1962-63 was a real classic in Thistle's colourful history - the season in which the club made a genuine challenge for the Scottish League title itself. Dundee had done it the season before and Willie Thornton's boys, playing in front of bigger and bigger crowds were more and more inspired as the campaign rolled out. As late as the 2nd of March, Thistle were level with Rangers on 31 points at the top-of-the League, but they struggled to maintain the consistency after β€œthe big freeze”. In the end, the 3rd place finish matched the club's highest-ever position (a record which still stands today) and was enough to see Partick Thistle qualify for European competition the following season.

For his part, Billy featured in 10 of the first-team matches in 1962-63, 5 before the freeze and 5 after. In October, he scored in back-to-back wins over Dundee United (3-0 at Firhill) and Falkirk (2-0 at Brockville) and actually played in 5 successive League wins, which was the early part of a magnificent run of 15 games unbeaten in the top-flight. In March, Billy notched a brace in a 4-1 win over Raith Rovers. β€œGourley goals brighten a dull match” said the Herald. Thistle weren't at their best, but Neil Duffy scored from close in (8) then Billy smashed in a volley (13) before Raith scored with an angled drive (20). Billy scored again with another fine shot (30). Bottom club Rovers defended strongly until Neil Duffy scored again on 85. The win kept Thistle in 3rd.

Billy featured in a few of the matches at the beginning of 1963-64, but it soon became apparent that the versatile Davie McParland would settle in for the long haul out on the left wing, and this was bad news for Billy's aspirations in that department. And so it came to be that, in October 1963, he made the switch over to Alex McCrae's Falkirk. Billy lined up on the left wing against Thistle the following month at Brockville… Falkirk 3 Partick Thistle 0. Groan. He'd only be human if he felt a sense of satisfaction that afternoon! Billy spent 3 seasons with the Bairns, making 58 appearances in all competitions and scoring on 5 occasions. After 6 seasons of top-flight football with Thistle and Falkirk, Billy stepped back to the second tier, signing with Stranraer in May 1966, a deal which lasted until the end of that year.

(WS/AFK)



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