Willie Bulloch
Willie Bulloch
Willie Bulloch
● Willie Bulloch, 1921 (HA)

born in Scotland

William Bulloch was born on Sunday, 18th February, 1883, in Larkhall, South Lanarkshire.

The 5' 9 (10st 2lbs) defender signed for George Easton's Thistle on Wednesday, 25th May, 1910 (after a trial period), having most recently been with Kilmarnock.

Aged 27, he made his debut appearance on Wednesday, 4th May, 1910, in a 1-0 defeat at home to Clyde in the Glasgow Charity Cup.

Willie scored his first goal for Thistle on Saturday, 9th December, 1911, in a 3-1 win at home to Aberdeen in the SFL First Division.

He scored the last of his 8 goals on Saturday, 18th March, 1916, in a 4-1 win at home to Hibernian in the Scottish Football League.

He played his last game for the club on Saturday, 17th March, 1923, in a 2-0 friendly win away to Falkirk, having clocked up a mighty 476 appearances as a Jag.

His club-list included Royal Albert, Port Glasgow Athletic, Tottenham Hotspur, Kilmarnock, Partick Thistle and Third Lanark.

Willie died on Wednesday, 10th February, 1954, in Linthouse, Glasgow, aged 70.

Bio Extra

Poetic observers of Partick Thistle history might label the 1910-1923 period as the great renaissance, whilst pragmatic students will astutely note that these dates precisely bookend the Willie Bulloch era. Pre-Firhill, Thistle had been near-dead on the ropes, but bounced back determinedly after resettling in the North West.

Larkhall-born Willie was a twin with Mary, each of them named after their parents. He started out as a half-back with his local team, Royal Albert, and was a big hit when he moved to Port Glasgow Athletic, so much so that he (and team-mate Bobby Steel) were snapped up by Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 1908. However, the 25-year-old Willie never got out of the reserves at Spurs, and soon returned home, where he landed at Kilmarnock, even sliding backwards to Royal Albert for a short loan spell. In the springtime of 1910, Thistle director Willie Lindsay was one who was paying attention, and persuaded the board that Bulloch was yet a real prospect, only temporarily down on his luck, and that he could be the answer to our full back problem, the recent experiment of playing McGregor out of position as a replacement for Bennett having been deemed unsuccesful. Talk about a visionary; to that director a debt is due!

Bulloch's first season at Thistle, playing as a left back for the first time, was a revelation as he and Archie McKenzie solidified the backline, and Thistle ascended to the heady heights of fourth place at Scottish football's top table. Incredibly, the Jags went through that entire top-flight campaign unbeaten in their new home, most certainly fit to be labelled 'Fortress Firhill'. It's a feat which still stands today as a unique occurrence. The Bulloch-McKenzie partnership went from strength to strength in the 1911-12 season which followed, Thistle again finishing fourth but this time returning 17 clean-sheets in competitive action, a new club-record at the time. In 1913, Willie inherited the captaincy from Alec Raisbeck, and would become one of the longest-serving in the role, culminating in his great honour at Celtic Park, 16th April, 1921. In September, 1919, Willie had been granted a benefit, receiving a share of the gate in the 1-0 League win at home to Kilmarnock. Sound the clean-sheet klaxon!

9 of our best defensive seasons in the top-flight were in the Willie Bulloch era, and never was this more in evidence than in season 1920-21, the only top-flight season in Thistle's history when less than 1 goal per game was conceded. In competitive action, a phemomenal 23 clean-sheets were kept, Thistle presenting an extremely tough proposition for any club side, any time, any where. Going into this classic season, Willie was at the "veteran" stage of his career, but was still very much able and close to his peak. He was carrying a few more pounds these days, but this seemed to be of benefit, if anything. Willie Bulloch captained the team with marked ability this season, with a steely determination that truly personified the class of 1921. In the second replay against Hibs, the 37-year-old put the club's cause before himself, playing through the pain of a broken nose, as Thistle held on grimly to their single goal advantage in "the battle of Parkhead". This led to him missing the East Stirlingshire game, but stand-in Borthwick and protégé Crichton did him proud, and the Jags remained on course.

Naturally, I'm pleased for all participants in the Scottish Cup campaign of '21, but if I had to single out two, it'd be the gaffer, George Easton, and the captain, Willie Bulloch. In Willie's case, he had given his all for 11 years, and had come close to first-team gold medals on several occasions, being so unlucky not to at least land one of them. All of that graft was justified on the day of days when Partick Thistle took possession of the national cup, reaching the height of their ambition and creating headlines all around the world.

He was quoted on occasion, but Willie never quite broke into the national team, although he represented the Scottish League in 1911 and 1914, and was selected for Third Lanark's "Scotland XI", playing in 15 of their 25 tour matches in the US and Canada in June & July 1921. He made 476 appearances as a Jag, had 7 "Top 6" finishes, was 4 times runner-up in the Glasgow Cup, twice runner-up in the Glasgow Charity Cup, oh, and was a Scottish Cup winner. After retiring as a 40-year-old player in 1923, Willie remained engaged at Firhill in a coaching capacity, cementing his status as a true club legend. His was a mighty chapter in the annals of Partick Thistle history.

(WS)



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