Willie Gowans
Willie Gowans
Willie Gowans
● Willie Gowans, 1914 (AM)

born in Scotland

William Bain Gowans was born on Sunday, 9th September, 1894, in Alloa, Clackmannanshire.

The forward appeared as a guest for Thistle in January, 1914.

Aged 19, he made his only appearance on Tuesday, 6th January, 1914, in a 7-5 friendly defeat at home to an International XI.

There were no goals for Willie in his one-off game with Thistle.

His known club-list included Cambuslang Rangers, Petershill, Partick Thistle and Benburb.

Willie died in 1973, in East Renfrewshire, aged 79. *

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

Bio Extra

The son of William Gowans (signal fitter) and Jane Gowans (née Ferguson) who were married on boxing day 1889, in Alloa.

Willie, a right wing specialist, had played at Cambuslang Rangers, but really started to get himself noticed with Petershill. He and Partick Thistle flirted with each other for a number of months in season 1913-14. “We hear that Gowans of Petershill assisted Partick Thistle 'A' at Ayr on Saturday last. He played quite an effective game” said the Scottish Referee in early September. The positive reports continued throughout the year… “Gowans the Petershill right-winger is in great form at present. He is a big, powerful fellow and his dash and determination has a lot to do with the club’s success” (Referee, 8 Dec 1913)… “the play of Gowans was a revelation” (Referee, 29 Dec 1913).

Willie was invited to play for Thistle in the high profile game arranged for the benefit of Alec Raisbeck on 6th January 1914. 10,000 were at Firhill to see it - it was a real big-time occasion for Willie who took up his usual position on the right wing, where he'd pit his wit and skill against Celtic stalwart Thomas McGregor who was representing an “International XI”. There was a decent pedigree to them, and Liverpool's Jack Parkinson (an English internationalist) bagged a hat-trick in their 7-5 win! “The men wisely did not risk too much” said the Daily Record, although try telling that to poor Willie who got injured and didn't shine to his best on the big stage.

Despite this, the Referee was still convinced that he was about to sign: “It is understood that Gowans, the Petershill outside right, will join the Partick Thistle shortly. He is big, fast, fearless, and has all the qualities that go to make a first-class senior player. In the junior ranks his play has been remarkably fine all season.” However, 2 weeks later the paper had changed its tune reporting that he was likely to stay with Petershill till the end of the season. That was true, and Willie's next move was made in July 1914 when he signed for Benburb. This was somewhat anticlimactic given that 2 or 3 senior clubs had reportedly been showing an interest previously.

As it transpired, all of this was fairly academic, as Willie soon joined with the Highland Light Infantry and set off to join the war efforts. On 9th January 1915 the Daily Record reported that “HLI Gowans 376 Private W” had been wounded in action. Later that year, in August, the same paper reported that “W. B. Gowans who played in turn with Cambuslang Rangers, Petershill and Benburb is still alive and kicking somewhere in western France. Willie has a game now and then behind the lines just to ‘keep his feet in’”. Well that was a relief. He clearly was well thought in the press, as the Daily Record kept tabs on him. In October 1917 they reported that “Willie will turn out for a first league club one day soon. He has seen much active service in the last three years”.

We're not quite sure how Willie's career or life developed from there, but he never played senior League football in Scotland, that much is certain. And a certain Mr. Raisbeck was once most grateful to him: “It was very good of the players and officials of the other clubs to do so much for me without receiving a halfpenny for their trouble” said Alec from his sick bed in 1914.

On account of his service during WWI, Willie is included in our feature piece, The Partick Thistle Returned →.


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