Jim Melrose
Jim Melrose
Jim Melrose
● Jim Melrose, 1977 (TOP)

born in Scotland

James Millsopp Melrose was born on Tuesday, 7th October, 1958, in Glasgow.

The 5' 8Β½ (9st 0lbs) forward signed for Bertie Auld's Thistle on Tuesday, 8th July, 1975, having most recently been with Eastercraigs.

Aged 16, he made his debut appearance on Wednesday, 30th July, 1975, in a 4-0 friendly win away to Ross County.

Jim scored his first goal for Thistle on Saturday, 13th March, 1976, in a 5-0 win at home to Meadowbank Thistle in the Spring Cup.

He scored the last of his 65 goals on Wednesday, 7th May, 1980, in a 1-1 draw at home to Aberdeen in the SFL Premier Division.

That turned out to be his last game for the club, having clocked up 187 appearances as a Jag.

Jim's club-list included Eastercraigs, Partick Thistle, Leicester City, Coventry City, Celtic, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Manchester City, Charlton Athletic, Leeds United, Shrewsbury Town, Macclesfield Town, Curzon Ashton and Halesowen Harriers.

Bio Extra

Jim played for Glasgow Schoolboys at Primary School level and started training with Partick Thistle when he was about 11. In 1971, just after Thistle had beaten Celtic in the League Cup final, he signed an "S-Form" at Firhill. While "signed" as a Jag, he played at youth level with Eastercraigs then Sighthill Amateurs. A quick developer, he turned pro when he was 15-and-a-half in 1975. Shortly after leaving school, Bertie Auld introduced him to the Partick Thistle first team, aged just 16. He was carefully integrated in 1975-76, beginning with the pre-season tour of the Highlands. Jim played in a number of cup games that season and was afforded a rather glorious League debut on Tuesday, 21st February, 1976, when he came on as a sub in the 3-0 win which clinched the title at East End Park, Dunfermline.

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The manager was very progressive so I got my chance early on. There were more opportunities at small clubs. I stayed at Partick for five really good years. It was a part-time club and my dad made me take a trade and I served my time as an electrical engineer. While I was at Thistle I played for Scotland under-18s. In 1976 we won the initial World Cup which was in the south of France. Then I got 10 Under-21s caps and also represented the Scottish League.

Jim is a self-confessed Rangers man, but let there be no doubt as to his will to win at Partick Thistle, for he scored crucial goals in two Firhill wins over his favourites - the 4-3 in March 1977 as well as the 2-1 in August 1979. The bold Jim also put Thistle 2 nil up at Ibrox in the classic 3-3 draw in November 1977, and could scarcely hide his delight in doing so. Mind you, his last minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Celtic in February probably gave him a level of satisfaction deeper still!

Jim did incredibly well for Thistle with many memorable goals to his credit. Two top-flight hat-tricks were recorded; a 3-1 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park (April 1977) was followed by a 6-1 win over Hibernian at Firhill (April 1979). In a pre-season match at Telford Street on Wednesday, 3rd August, 1977, Jim made history by becoming the first (and, to date, the only) Thistle substitute to bag a hat-trick. Remarkably, our flame-haired "super-sub" scored 3 in the last 6 minutes, as Caledonian were finally overcome in a 6-1 victory.

Thistle were on the brink of doing something historically special in Jim's time, but always fell short at the critical points. Back-to-back Scottish Cup semi final exits were made at the hands of Aberdeen (1978) and Rangers (1979). All of Jagskind exploded in ecstasy when Bobby Houston put Thistle ahead against Rangers with only 10 minutes left on the clock, but his perfectly headed goal was disgracefully ruled offside by the biased officials, Ian Foote being the man in the middle. The despondency, rage and sheer injustice of it all continues to be strongly felt by all who bore witness to it. After scraping past Thistle 1-0 in the replay, Rangers took 3 games to beat Hibs in the Final. By contrast, Thistle defeated Hibs 3 times out of 4 that term. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that we were cheated out of an amazing opportunity to get our name on the famous old trophy for a second time. Brutal!

Despite all the good times in the Cup and the Premier League, Jim didn't always see eye-to-eye with the Thistle manager, Bertie Auld. One of the most famous incidents in Thistle folklore occurred between the two at Firhill on the 5th May, 1979, as Jim explains:

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We were playing against Hearts and I had put us ahead. Bertie kept screaming that I needed to get wide, first on the left and then on the right. But, being a centre-forward, I kept going back to the place I knew best. I told him where he could go and he went ballistic. Despite us having used our substitute, he hauled me off and left us with ten men!

Talk about a maverick! Whoever heard of a manager doing that? There were 11 minutes to go and Thistle were still only leading by one goal to nil. Luckily for Bertie (or Jim, whichever way you look at it!) Alex O'Hara headed in a Jamie Doyle cross with a minute to go; Partick Thistle 2 Heart of Midlothian 0. Maybe there was some method in Auld's madness after all, but many Thistle fans who were exiting at the city end still gave him pelters as he walked off!

A further measure of the success of this Partick Thistle team can be gleaned from the final analysis of Jim's last season, 1979-80. Thistle finished 7th but, frustratingly, two more points would have secured a place in the UEFA Cup, something which they'd been threatening to do many times since being promoted in 1976. And Jim's final two games? A 4-3 Firhill win over Rangers (yes, another one!) was followed by a 1-1 draw with the champion club, Aberdeen. Brilliantly, Thistle were the only team to remain undefeated in the 4 games against them that season.

Jim crammed so much into his time with Thistle that it's amazing to think he was only 21 when he departed for Jock Wallace's young Leicester City team in 1980. At Filbert Street, Jim continued to find the net regularly, notching 21 goals in 72 league appearances in his two seasons there, including many famous winners against top sides such as Liverpool and Manchester United. Dave Sexton then took him to Highfield Road, Coventry, in September 1982 where he again provided a consistent return of 8 goals in 21 league outings (10 in 29 all competitions).

In the summer of 1983 Jim moved back to Scotland with Celtic (from where he also had a loan spell with Wolves). Subsequent spells at Manchester City, Leeds United, Charlton Athletic and Shrewsbury Town completed his top flight playing career in football. In 1986, Jim made some club history with Charlton when he scored their fastest ever goal - clocked at 9 seconds - against West Ham at Upton Park. Whilst with the Shrews, he made legal history by becoming the first player ever to be awarded criminal damages for assault against him; Chris Kamara (Swindon Town) had broken his cheekbone in a match in 1988! In the early 90s, Jim wound down his footballing career in non League football with Macclesfield Town, Curzon Ashton and Halesowen Harriers. He kept in contact with the game in a variety of ways, becoming a players agent and a football scout. He also worked as an operations manager in the catering industry, before becoming involved in banking and finance.

(WS)



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