Pat Gillespie
Pat Gillespie
Pat Gillespie
● Pat Gillespie, 1945 (ANC)

born in Scotland

Patrick Gillespie was born on Friday, 22nd September, 1922, in Renton, West Dunbartonshire.

The 5' 8 (10st 7lbs) midfielder signed for Donald Turner's Thistle on Wednesday, 28th June, 1944, having most recently been with St Anthony's.

Aged 22, he made his debut appearance on Saturday, 2nd December, 1944, in a 2-1 defeat at home to Dumbarton in the Southern League.

There were no goals for Pat during his time with Thistle.

He played his last game for the club on Saturday, 24th March, 1945, in a 6-1 defeat away to Clyde in the Southern League Cup, having appeared as a Jag on 13 occasions.

His club-list included Maryhill, St Anthony's, Partick Thistle, Watford, Northampton Town, Portadown, Alloa Athletic, SC Eintracht, Kearny Scots, New York Americans, New York Hakoah-Americans and Swedish Football Club.

Pat died on Saturday, 7th July, 1979, in New York City, New York, aged 56.

Bio Extra

In his career, Pat was a versatile wing-half who could also turn out as an inside-forward, although he was always a left-half at Thistle. As a youth, he played with the Renton Boys Guild (aka Renton Guild Lads) before the war, a team who had a very good reputation in the juvenile game. We even have a picture (see 'Gallery' tab above). He had been playing in the juniors at Maryhill when he made the switch to St Anthony's in September 1943, and Donald Turner brought him to Firhill some nine months later. Reserve fixtures had, understandably, been few and far between in the wartime years, but Thistle were planning ahead and, in the summer of 1944, got to work on rebuilding the numbers to accomodate a second eleven, Pat being one of the first acquisitions to underpin the plans.

The 22-year-old Pat was a mainstay in the reserves initially, but was finally given his chance in the first team in early December. From thereon, he alternated between Southern League games with the first team, and games in the newly formed Glasgow District Reserve Football League. Results were generally poor during his time at the club, although a couple of home "League" wins over Albion Rovers (4-1, December 1944) and Hamilton (3-1, January 1945) lifted the gloom momentarily. The trouble for Pat was that Thistle had a number of players who could play his role excellently, including Maurice Candlin and Jackie Husband.

Pat was granted a free transfer in June 1945, just as the team embarked on a glory run to Hampden, where they would lift the Summer Cup. At the time, no doubt he would have had mixed feelings about this - he's only human! Within weeks, Watford took the opportunity to have him onboard for their London Combination campaign of 1945-46. Pat was Watford's first-team right-half throughout the season, but it was a poor one for them, finishing bottom of the 18 team League. Pat then played in the resumed Football League of 1946-47, competing in Division 3 South, as Watford finished 16th of the 22 clubs. During this season, Pat lost the jersey to Bobby Ross and others, making only 6 League appearances for the Hornets.

In August 1947, having been granted another free transfer, Pat signed with Watford's Division 3 South rivals, Northampton Town, where he made little impact on first team affairs. An adventurous move to Portadown followed in November 1948 and, after 18 months in Northern Ireland, Pat returned home to Scotland, signing with Alloa Athletic in May 1950. He was pretty much an ever-present in his sole season at Recreation Park, but they had a miserable time of it, finishing rock bottom of the Second Division. Pat's services were not retained for another season.

In October 1952, Pat signed for SC Eintracht for a short stint. Not of the Bundesliga though - this Eintracht was based in Astoria in New York and played in the German-American League! The GAL was a competitor to the ASL during the 50s and 60s. The GAL later became the Cosmopolitan Soccer League, the new name being based on its links to the Cosmos. Just one month later - in November 1952 - Pat joined American Soccer League outfit Kearny Scots (aka Kearny Scots-Americans). The club disbanded after the 1952-1953 American Soccer League season, but the name was revived and the history reclaimed almost 60 years later! Before the start of the 1953-1954 American Soccer League, Pat joined the New York Americans, where his teammates included Roy Milne (Glasgow Celtic) and Terry Springthorpe (FA Cup Winner with Wolves in 1949).

In the summer of 1956, the Americans merged with Hakoah FC. Pat remained with Hakoah-Americans until the end of the 1956-57 ASL season. Together with many former ASL players, he then switched to the National League with the Swedish Football Club in Brooklyn. The NSL in New York in the 1960s consisted of clubs like the Swedish Football Club, Danish Athletic Club and Gjoa (named after Amundsen’s ship) etc. In the 1930s, some 150,000 people from Norway lived in Brooklyn. In the 1960s when Pat played for Swedish, many of the Scandinavians had moved from from Brooklyn to Staten Island and Long Island, but went to their old clubs on the Sundays to play or watch soccer, to eat and to dance.

After a long illness, Pat died in a New York hospital in July 1979, at the young age of just 56.


Historian's note: Not to be confused with the forward-turned-goalkeeper from the same era, Pat Gillespie (who also used his step father's surname 'McDade' as a psuedonym), associated with Blantyre Victoria, the RAF, Doncaster Rovers, Alessandria (fell through), Arbroath, Dunfermline Athletic & Douglasdale.

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