This day in Celtic history: 13th December, John Colrain

13th December 1958 Celtic 7 Stirling Albion 3 John Colrain HT

As Celtic tried to emulate the success of the Busby Babes at Manchester United with the Kelly Kids at Parkhead in the late 1950s, quite a number of young men got a chance in the first-team. Centre-forward Jim Conway was one such player, 43 appearances and 13 goals in his Celtic career; inside-right Mike Jackson was another, with 30 goals in his 74 games; and the likes of Dan O’Hara, Ian Lochhead and Malcolm Slater also got some chances.

On this day in 1958, another young star, John Colrain , one of the few Celts to make his debut against Rangers – was at centre-forward as Celtic faced Stirling Albion in a league match at Parkhead. There was certainly plenty of experience in defence, Dick Beattie was in goal, Neilly Mochan at left back, Bobby Evans at centre-half and Bertie Peacock at left-half.

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It was Colrain, though, who caught the eye, with a hat-trick, the goals coming in 13, 52 and 70 minutes. In fact, it was a day for the youngsters, Celtic’s other goals in the 7-3 win coming from 18-year-old John Divers, 19-year-old Mike Jackson and Matt McVittie, almost a veteran at 21.
Two years later, John Colrain or ‘Big Colly’ as he known, left Celtic, and after spells with Clyde and Ipswich, became player/ coach with Glentoran. On a visit to New York while manager of the Northern Ireland side, John was introduced to Frank Sinatra in a restaurant. It was just a casual meeting, the type of contact that many top stars are obliged to make with their fans. Big Colly, though, was a man of considerable charm and soon he and Ol’ Blue Eyes were seated beside other and talking away as though they had been friends for years.

John Colrain died at his home in Glasgow in 1987, at the age of 50.

Jim Craig

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