Tom Callaghan
Tom Callaghan
Tom Callaghan
● Tom Callaghan (FFW)

born in England

Thomas Callaghan was born in 1885 in Birmingham. *

The forward signed for George Easton's Thistle on Saturday, 7th August, 1909, having most recently been with Manchester City.

Aged 23 or 24, he made his debut appearance on Monday, 16th August, 1909, in a 2-1 defeat away to Morton in the SFL First Division.

Tom scored his first goal for Thistle on Saturday, 18th September, 1909, in a 3-1 win at home to Dumbarton Harp in the Scottish Qualifying Cup.

He scored the last of his 11 goals on Saturday, 17th August, 1912, in a 2-1 defeat away to Kilmarnock in the SFL First Division.

He played his last game for the club on Tuesday, 1st April, 1913, in a 3-2 defeat away to Third Lanark in the Glasgow & District Mid-Week League, having appeared as a Jag on 98 occasions.

His club-list included Small Heath, Halesowen Town, Glossop, Manchester City, Partick Thistle and St Mirren.

Tom died on Monday, 20th February, 1917, in Zillebeke, West-Vlaanderen, aged 31 or 32. *

* If you can help us to improve any of these marked points on The Thistle Archive, then please do get in touch →

Bio Extra

Outside right Tom was born in Birmingham in 1885, he started playing with local sides Small Heath and Halesowen Town before quickly moving to Glossop in the Peak District, where his career took off. Described as a “pacy winger”, Tom spent the 1904-05 and 1905-06 seasons at North Road. He moved onto Manchester City, and then onto Firhill in August 1909. Tom’s first goal of 11 scored during his Jags’ career was during the 3-1 win against Dumbarton Harp on 18 September 1909. If this Scottish Qualifying Cup game rings a bell, it’s because this was the first match at Firhill Stadium. Alex Raisbeck scored Thistle’s first goal at Firhill, a penalty after Harp had gone 1-0 up. Tom put the Jags 2-1 up in 55 minutes, with Alex Raisbeck scoring a second penalty to wrap up the game. Tom went on to play for Thistle on 98 occasions. He spent the 1909-10 and 1910-11 seasons at Firhill, moved to St Mirren for the 1911-12 season, but returned to Firhill for the 1912/13 season.

He enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry, but moved to 1/20 London Regiment (Blackheath and Woolich). This regiment saw action at Aubers Ridge, Festubert, Loos and Vimy Ridge, where Canadian forces were heavily involved in a hard won victory. There is an elegant memorial to the Canadians at the Ridge, which can be seen for miles around. The regiment moved to the Ypres Salient, and during a trench raid at Hill 60 on 20 February 1917, Tom was killed by shellfire during what was regarded as a successful raid.

We commemorate his life in our feature piece, The Partick Thistle Fallen →.


Historian's notes (see 'Scrapbook' tab above for sources):

The birth details for Thomas have proven to be elusive so far. Our birth year is based on age quotes at the time of death, so may not be correct. We have a number of established facts so far. In the census of 2nd April 1911 he was a lodger at 7 Clarendon Street, just off Maryhill Road and within easy walking distance of Firhill. On the census, Thomas was described as a single man, aged 22, and it was stated that he was a football player, born in Birmingham. (Co-incidentally he was lodging with another English Jag of the day, George Keenleyside!)

The positive I.D. is undoubted, but the age is problematic. If 22 was correct, that'd mean he'd be born between 3rd April 1888 and 2nd April 1889, but Dec 1889 is the closest hit we can find for his name in the birth records, so right away we're left wary. Seems someone just scribbled any old guessed age down to get rid of the census man, which is maddening in the extreme. If the December 1889 was correct, we'd be looking at him starting his playing career at 14 or earlier, so something is far wrong!!!

The Evening Despatch's obituary (12 March 1917) reported that Tom lived at 72, Ladywood Road in Birmingham. It was reported that a sergeant wrote to Tom's brother in Birmingham to report the death and commend Tom's bravery. However, confusingly, the War Graves Commission site has an entry regarding gravestone inscriptions to be. On it, Tom's wife is named (only as Mrs. T. Callaghan) and her address is given as 119 Osler Street, Birmingham.

To fix this we need a proper investigation to locate his census records in 1891 and 1901, thereby locating family. We could also do with getting in and amongst the newspaper reports for his early footballing career to see if the information we're parroting is true i.e. him starting at Small Heath 1903-04 (and possibly earlier) then playing at Halesowen Town & Glossop in 1904-05.

For an excellent base point for more background information on Tom's life, refer to the entry at Football and the First World War external-link.png

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