Ye'll No' Believe Who Scored It!

by William Sheridan
Top 12




Saturday 16th August 1975
League Cup Section 4 - game 3
St Johnstone [a] W4-2


On 13th March 1982 Jackie Campbell, for the last time, re-set the all-time club record for the longest one-spell playing time-span. This could possibly rest forever with the great man at an incredible 18 years and 2 days.

This was the team line up when the 18 year-old lad, then a right-back, made his debut at home to Celtic on Wednesday 11th March 1964:
George Niven, Jackie Campbell, Hugh Tinney, Davie McParland, John Harvey, David Closs, Ian Cowan, Billy Hainey, Norrie Davidson, Neil Duffy, Jim Fleming

By the time of that game in October 1971, only one player, by now a centre-half, survived:
Alan Rough, John Hansen, Alex Forsyth, Ronnie Glavin, Jackie Campbell, Hugh Strachan, Denis McQuade, Frank Coulston, Jimmy Bone, Alex Rae

When Jackie netted for the first time in August 1975, the team had a new-look:
Alan Rough, John Hansen, Danny Kellachan, Benny Rooney, Alan Hansen, Jackie Campbell, Denis McQuade, Dougie Somner, Joe Craig, John Craig, Bobby Houston

Fast forward to the team line up at Tannadice when the 36 year-old bade his farewell on Saturday 13th March 1982:
Alan Rough, Dave MacKinnon, John Lapsley, Ian McDonald, Jackie Campbell, Kenny Watson, Donald Park, Iain Jardine, Maurice Johnston, Alex O'Hara, Tony Higgins

Incredible, isn’t it? We’re talking about four distinctive eras there – all the way from Neil Duffy to Mo Johnston! What longevity. What loyalty. What an adventure! Had he not been side-lined for two long stretches, in the late 60s / early 70s (on physical grounds) and in 1972 (over a dispute on terms), then we’d almost certainly be looking at the man who was top of the all-time Thistle appearance table, rather than third. When he walked out in the summer of 1972 as a result of a dispute over personal terms, Jackie knew that Thistle were entitled to hold on to his registration. He wasn’t bluffing when he said that he was prepared to give up football entirely. A draughtsman by trade, he already had a secure job in Cumbernauld. He stayed away until just before Christmas, and kept fit by playing in office five-a-sides. Thankfully for all, Davie McParland was able to smooth things over and persuaded Jackie to return, with terms having been improved for the player. Davie’s man-management skills ensured that there were no hard feelings on either side and no damage was done. Interviews suggest that, if anything, the bond between player and club was strengthened. Jackie was renowned for his composure and strength on the park – and clearly he had the steely mental resolve to go with it. Quite possibly, this was the key ingredient to his longevity.


When Jackie set his time-span record in 1982, it wasn’t the first time that he’d bagged himself such a mind-boggling stats accolade. When he scored his one and only goal for Thistle in August 1975, he was smashing Jimmy McGowan’s long-standing record for the longest time gap between debut and first goal by some 6 months. To this day the record stands with Jackie at 11 years, 5 months and 5 days! And what a goal it was…

By rights, Partick Thistle were League Cup Section underdogs to our Premier League opponents, St Johnstone and Dundee United. However, the Jags had started the campaign brilliantly with 3-1 wins over both Kilmarnock at Rugby Park, and Dundee United at Firhill. Pre-match, the talk was of the return of young defender Andy Anderson who had walked out on the club in the close-season, only to return several weeks later after some misadventure in Greece. He was finally allowed out of the dog house and Bertie Auld had him on the bench for this one.

After just 60 seconds, Thistle were shell-shocked to find themselves behind – ten minutes later it was 2-0 to St Johnstone, with Thistle’s pleas for offside eventually being denied after much to-do. Bertie Auld was rattled – but he knew just what was required. After just 19 minutes he sent on Andy Anderson in place of Denis McQuade, completely changing the shape of the team, as John Hansen was pushed up into midfield. Within a minute, Thistle scored! Dougie Somner took on two and slotted home. Bertie’s master-stroke had worked wonders – Thistle had kept up the frantic pace set by St Johnstone, and flipped it ‘round by playing them at their own game. We then blitzed our Premier League opponents with another two goals in quick succession as our attack “began to prosper with conveyor-belt efficiency”. The equaliser on 25 was a cracker, with Bobby Houston setting off on a mazy midfield run, beating three, before a defence-splitting pass which teed up John Craig to unleash a beauty into the top corner.


This was one of these inspired periods when just about anything seems possible. In this goal-getting atmosphere, it was JACKIE CAMPBELL, of all people, who was next to shine. For a moment it seemed as if he was possessed by the spirit of Denis McQuade as he beat two men in a great run into the box before shooting low past Derek Robertson in the St Johnstone goal; St Johnstone 2, Partick Thistle, 3. What an amazing come-back by the First Division boys! Thistle weren’t finished there – Joe Craig completed an amazing first half when he shot Thistle into a two goal lead on 39 minutes.

At half-time, two St Johnstone supporters were frog marched out of the ground after a mild fracas in front of the main stand. Mind you, they weren’t the only ones getting hot and bothered in this intoxicating atmosphere. The determination and passion of Bertie Auld’s Partick Thistle was perhaps highlighted in the goal-less second half when St Johnstone were pressing hard to get back into the game. The referee had to intervene when Alan Rough and Jackie Campbell had a bit of a bust-up on the Thistle goal-line – no player was ever immune to some of Jackie’s famous “encouragement” techniques.

Alan Hansen got man of the match – but I think it’s fair to say that it was Jackie Campbell who left us with the best look-back buzz! The Thistle fans who were present certainly got their full 60 pence worth.


One goal in some five hundred and eighty appearances has got to be one of the wildest club records ever set – the poorest goals to games ratio of any Thistle scorer ever! Much more important than that, however, would be the goals that Celtic never scored in 1971. Or those majestic aerial leaps which thwarted the ambitions of many a Premier League striker over the years. Or the time in 1975 when John Arrol broke his leg in a Scottish Cup tie at Fir Park, and Jackie kept Thistle in the Cup with more than an hour of goalkeeping heroics in a 0-0 draw. Or the seemingly constant marshalling and cajoling of the team mates who came and went as the years passed by.

Jackie Campbell was a total rock” ~ Denis McQuade.

He has been overlooked as far as the headlines go and I don’t think he has received anything like the credit he certainly deserves, but the players in the game respect him.” ~ Bobby Houston.

Jackie was a players-player – and in 1980 the Firhill faithful also showed their appreciation by digging in to support one of the most occasion filled testimonial years in the club’s history, all of which was richly deserved.

General Campbell, we salute you Sir. #1

Publishing date Originally published on 24-Dec-2014 (WAT).
Thistle Archive publishing date Republished here on The Thistle Archive, 25-Dec-2020.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 24-Dec-2014.

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