Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5 September 1931 - The Death Of John Thomson

On 5 September 1931, Celtic goalkeeper John Thomson died after colliding with a player during an Old Firm match. He was 22.

Thomson signed with Celtic in 1926 at the age of 17 and, by February 1927, he had become the team's first-choice keeper, helping them win that year's Scottish Cup. Only 5 feet 9 inches tall, he was small for the position, but made up for it with an impressive leaping ability and a willingness to challenge for any ball.  His assertive style of play led to severe injury in 1930, as a diving save left him with a broken jaw, several cracked ribs, and two lost teeth. In that same year, he received his first call-up to the Scottish national team.

Then, in September 1931, an undefeated Celtic visited Ibrox to play Rangers in the first Old Firm derby of the season. Early in the second half, with the match scoreless, Thomson went for a loose ball and collided with Rangers striker Sam English, whose knee struck the keeper in the head. The incident left Thomson with a fractured skull and a ruptured artery. He was rushed to the hospital where he underwent an operation to reduce swelling in his brain, but it was unsuccessful and he died later that night.

Approximately 30,000 people attended his funeral in Cardenden, with many of them reportedly walking there from Glasgow, 55 miles away.

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