Ian Wilson
Ian Wilson
Ian Wilson
● Ian Wilson, c1958 (TD)

born in Scotland

Ian Wilson was born on Sunday, 3rd December, 1939, in Shotts, North Lanarkshire.

The forward signed for David Meiklejohn's Thistle circa Saturday, 1st December, 1956, having most recently been with Westrigg Bluebell.

Aged 17, he made his debut appearance on Monday, 8th April, 1957, in a 2-1 neutral-venue defeat against Northampton Town in a Benefit match.

Ian scored his first goal for Thistle on Wednesday, 30th October, 1957, in a 6-3 defeat at home to Rangers in the Glasgow Cup.

He scored the last of his 11 goals on Wednesday, 19th August, 1959, in a 2-0 win at home to Arbroath in the SFL First Division.

He played his last game for the club on Saturday, 27th August, 1960, in a 4-1 defeat at home to Rangers in the League Cup, having appeared as a Jag on 40 occasions.

His club-list included Westrigg Bluebell, Partick Thistle, Stirling Albion, Coleraine and Bellshill Athletic.

Ian died on Sunday, 5th November, 2023, in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, aged 83.

Bio Extra

Described by Partick Thistle historian Robert Reid as a “cultured inside forward”, which is high praise indeed. The youngster from North Lanarkshire had been introduced to the men's game via junior outfit Westrigg Bluebell. Thistle's scouting network picked up on reports of his potential, and Ian signed for Thistle in December 1956, just as he was turning 17. One of the many great things about manager Davie Meiklejohn is that he was always prepared to give youth a chance and this policy served him well indeed, with a non-stop slew of talent coming through as the 1950s progressed.

In April 1957, Thistle accepted an invitation to provide the opposition for Tom Fowler & Ron Patterson's benefit match at Northampton Town. 5,000 were at the British Timpken Sports Ground to see it. A typically thunderous penalty by Jimmy Davidson had Thistle ahead, but Northampton came back and scored a winning goal at the death. Playing and being involved with the travelling party was invaluable experience for Ian and, just 2 weeks later, the 17-year-old was handed his competitive debut in a Firhill League encounter against a Dundee side which was led by future Thistle manager, Willie Thornton. Ian played well and fast raiding by George Smith and Johnny MacKenzie had the Jags in complete control; Partick Thistle 5 Dundee 0. It was the biggest win of the season.

Ian would score 11 goals for the Partick Thistle first team, all of them in his teenage years. In fact, he scored 6 goals in his first 11 competitive games, which was great going for an inside forward, especially one so young. These were spread over a considerable period of time though, as Ian was blended in gradually to the first team. He made 4 competitive appearances in 1957-58, scoring in a 6-3 Glasgow Cup loss at home to Rangers. 1958-59 was his real breakthrough season, as he made well over 20 appearances and registered 8 goals to his account, the undoubted highlight of which was a New Years Day hat-trick in front of 8,000 at Shawfield in 1959. In atrocious conditions, Thistle were better in every department. Clyde seldom threatened. Andy Kerr back-heeled a George Smith pass and Ian Wilson strode past 3 defenders (6). His 2nd (53) was a fierce drive having rounded the centre-half and his 3rd (65) was a shot through a ruck of players from a Kerr lob.

Could life get any better for Ian at this stage? Well, yes it could. Just 2 days later in fact, as a mammoth 36,000 were at Firhill for the annual league visit of Rangers. Unchanged Thistle were worthy winners on the frozen, sanded pitch. George Smith smashed home a Davie McParland pass from 18 yards (31) and it was virtually all Thistle in the first half. League leaders Rangers rallied after the break but found John Freebairn in inspiring form. Smith, from a Tommy Ewing cross, (76) made sure. Another great personal highlight for Ian came at the start of the next season. Thistle's League Cup section included Celtic, and 25,000 were at Parkhead on match day two. The home side outplayed Thistle and should have been well ahead at half-time, but John Freebairn was in magnificent form. A soft pen (52) sparked some more urgency from the Jags, and the deficit was cancelled out when Ian Wilson side-footed a pass from George Smith (65). Jim Fleming prodded in a Davie McParland cross (78) to trigger boos from the terracing; Celtic 1 Thistle 2. An Old Firm double for Ian - how about that?

In the grand scheme of things, Ian found it tough to hold down a regular place in this high quality Partick Thistle team, and it was no great surprise when a transfer was arranged in December 1960. After 4 years with Thistle, Ian made the switch to Stirling Albion, just as he turned 21. The 'Beanos' were a top-flight side at the time, but they were struggling at the wrong end of the table, and Ian would suffer the pain of relegation come season's end. He played one further season at Annfield, but was only a fringe player in first-team terms. The club punched well above their weight in 1961-62, running all the way to the semi finals of the League Cup, in the end defeated only in extra-time at Easter Road; Hearts 2 Stirling Albion 1. Ian was freed from Albion in April 1962. After a stint at Coleraine, Ian returned to the junior game and played with Bellshill Athletic. On occasion, he'd be opposed by his brother, Bobby, who kept goal for Bathgate Thistle and Royal Albert.

It was towards the end of his spell at Stirling Albion that Ian got married, and therein lies a tale…

On Friday 23rd February, 1962, sixty wedding guests sat in Allanton Mission Church, waiting for the familiar strains of the wedding march and the entrance of the bride, Miss Jean Weir of Redmire Crescent, Allanton. They waited and waited and waited for over an hour while the organist looked askance at the doorways at each end of the church for a sign and began to fumble through the hymnary for yet another impromptu voluntary to fill the gap. What she and the guests did not know was that through in the vestry of the church it was our bridegroom, Ian, who was blushing! The minister had asked him for the certificate of marriage and the bridegroom and his groomsman had just discovered that neither of them had one. The bride had been attending to all the administrative side of the wedding and the bridegroom, happy that she was doing so, had no idea that he needed anything more than the rings he had in his pocket! It was a case of best man to the rescue, as multiple persuasive phone calls ensued, and a taxi was commandeered to dash all over Wishaw and the surrounding area. Luckily they traced a sympathetic registrar to his home and he obliged by re-opening the office and furnishing the party with the necessary documentation. Phew! The reception at Crown Hotel was late too, but what looked like being a disastrous wedding day finally settled down and ended happily for the bride and bridegroom, See the 'Scrapbook' tab above for the full press-report!

Ian retired from working life in 2002 after a very successful business career, and was highly respected by everyone he ever came across. Sadly, he passed away in Wishaw General hospital in late 2023, after suffering a heart attack and his wife (of 61 years) Jean was at his bedside with him. He'll be greatly missed by Jean, his daughter Maureen and grandsons Scott and Ross.

(WS/AFK/ANB)



Historian's note: Ian Wilson was the name our man used throughout his life, but this differs from his name at birth, which we shall verify at a later date.

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