John Thomson

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:22 pm on 8th December 2005.

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Photo of Jamie McGrigor Jamie McGrigor Conservative 5:22 pm, 8th December 2005

I congratulate Helen Eadie on securing the debate. Until I read her motion, I had little knowledge of John Thomson, but since then I have found out how much he meant to so many. I was reminded of the lyrics of a John Lennon song:

"A working class hero is something to be".

This man was certainly a hero and he is a legend. It was a tragedy that he was accidentally killed, aged only 22. They say that only the good die young. The epitaph on his gravestone says it all:

"Honest and upright he played the game

Loved and respected he made his name".

People today would do well to follow that inscription if they want to live a useful and happy life.

I agree with Helen Eadie that John Thomson should be in the Hampden hall of fame. I was lucky enough to spend a day at Hampden recently, at sportscotland's annual general meeting. Afterwards, I visited the excellent museum, which includes the hall of fame, where I was asked to nominate a player. I looked at who was already in the hall of fame, and I chose wee Willie Henderson—the Rangers and Scotland right winger—who I believe was never really recognised. In the 1960s and early 1970s his dribbling and passing skills brought gasps of admiration.

I come back to John Thomson. He is the man who, as the Celtic goalkeeper, put Bowhill on the map. It is staggering to think that 30,000 to 40,000 people went to his funeral and that people from all over the world attended it. As Bruce Crawford said, the Bowhill pipe band and the Bowhill silver band were there and an aeroplane arrived and landed in Daisy park.

John Thomson's excellent record on the pitch speaks for itself at domestic and international level. It interested me that John Thomson, the miner's son from Fife, was—unlike most of his team-mates—a Protestant. I did not know that. One would think that in those days he might have found it difficult to win acclaim, but that was not the case, because people like John Thomson are bigger than religious intolerance. He inspired respect: people like him set a shining example, on and off the field, which is worth following. His huge fan club is the best testament to that. In 1993, he had a street—Thomson Court—named after him.

I agree with Helen Eadie that since we have a hall of fame, John Thomson should be in it both as a footballer and as a man.