Jimmy Quinn was a shy miner from Croy who had originally joined Celtic as an outside left – it took some persuasion from the club – but converted to a centre-forward, and became the fulcrum of the six-in-a-row success between 1904-10.
More than that, he established himself as a Celtic legend, one of the best goalscorers ever to wear the green and white Hoops (and stripes too, since he joined the club in 1900, three years before the Hoops were adopted). Indeed, there are only four players who have scored more goals for Celtic than Jimmy Quinn – Stevie Chalmers (231), Henrik Larsson (242), Bobby Lennox (277) and Jimmy McGrory (468) – and three of those men played in the post-Second World War era, with League Cup ties and European fixtures added to the league and Scottish Cup.
Willie Maley, in The Story of The Celtic, stated: ‘James Quinn is recognised as the greatest centre-forward we have ever possessed, and we have had many fine leaders.’ That is, indeed, high praise.
"James Quinn is recognised as the greatest centre-forward we have ever possessed" Willie Maley
PRELUDE TO PARADISE On October 27, 1900, a crowd of 5,000 saw Celtic beat Kilmarnock 1-0 in a league game thanks to a goal from Johnny Campbell but there was a familiar face missing from the backroom staff that afternoon. Director and former captain, James Kelly was temporarily in charge of the team because manager Willie Maley had decided to take in a Scottish Junior Cup game between Stenhousemuir Hearts and Smithston Albion. The object of the mission was to check out a Croy youngster from the away side named Jimmy Quinn. That the day didn’t go quite to plan is a mere footnote in Celtic’s history but eventually the quest was fruitful. The left-winger signed provisionally on the last day of the year and on January 12, 1901 he became a fully-fledged Celtic player.
DEBUT BHOY Jimmy Quinn signed on the day Celtic put Rangers out of the Scottish Cup thanks to a Willie McOustra goal and a week later on January 19, the youngster made his debut in what was the final league game of the season. Paisley was the destination as the Celts left the East End that morning and it was the visiting side that came out on top in a seven-goal thriller. Fittingly, Quinn scored a goal in the 4-3 win, and he would score in another 4-3 game that season – the Scottish Cup final against Hearts – though, sadly, Celtic would end up on the losing side that day. It would not, however, be Jimmy Quinn’s last Scottish Cup final goal.
HIGHLIGHTS TheMighty Quinnwas the top scorer in each of Celtic’s world-record six-in-a-row championship-winning run from season 1904/05 until 1909/10, scoring 133 league goals in those six campaigns. He also picked up no fewer than five Scottish Cup medals – two of those as league and cup doubles. Perhaps the highest of the highs, though, was his first Scottish Cup victory in 1904 – Celtic’s first in the green and white Hoops as opposed to stripes. On April 16, in front of a 65,000 crowd at Hampden, Celtic were 2-0 down to Rangers within 12 minutes thanks to a double from Finlay Speedie. However, Quinn scored twice, the equaliser coming just before the break and then, just seven minutes from time, he hit the winner to claim a hat-trick for himself and the Scottish Cup for the Hoops. A week later in Celtic’s final league game of the term, he rattled in five goals in a 6-1 win over Kilmarnock.
BOWING OUT As his career reached the autumn years, the injuries were taking longer to recover from and a knee injury in particular was causing him trouble. In his last couple of seasons he only appeared in the team sporadically and it was on January 30, 1915 that he played his last game in the Hoops. Hearts were the visitors on league duty and Andy McAtee got the goal in a 1-1 draw watched by 45,000, with 10,000 of the crowd in uniform because of the First World War. His final goal was scored on Boxing Day, 1914 when Hamilton Accies lost 3-1, one of four he scored in six appearances to add to two goals he scored in only one league appearance the previous season. Celtic lifted the title in his last two seasons but his appearances tallies fell short of picking up a medal.
ALWAYS A CROY BHOY Jimmy Quinn’s last few fleeting appearances were to take the place of new scoring sensation, Jimmy McColl, when the striker was injured and Quinn did so after a working week down the coal mines of Croy. The war effort didn’t allow for full-time football and, although still on the books at Celtic, Quinn returned to the pits from whence he came. So, when he finally did hang up his boots on January 30, 1915, he returned to the coalface once more – something he had seemingly always planned on. When Celtic first signed him, Sunderland had been tracking the player as well but, aside from his Celtic allegiances, his strong desire not to leave Croy played a big part in him not straying too far. He returned to his home village but still made the trip to Paradise for every game – this time as a supporter.
FAMILY FOOTSTEPS The name of Jimmy Quinn returned to the Celtic team-sheet in the 1960s when his grandson of the same name made his debut as a substitute in a 2-2 home league draw with Rangers on January 2, 1968 watched by a crowd of 75,000. He signed on November 24, 1963 and scored one goal in 41 appearances before being freed in December 1974 and he went on to join Sheffield Wednesday. He was a forward, though converted to full-back.
THE POWER AND THE GLORY Jimmy Quinn was much-loved by supporters and much-missed too when he hung up his boots. Celtic continued to enjoy regular success, with four league titles in a row between 1913-17, though it would only be with the arrival of Jimmy McGrory in the 1920s that fans believed they had found a true successor to The Mighty Quinn.
331 CELTIC CAREER APPEARANCES League: 273, Scottish Cup: 58
217 CELTIC CAREER GOALS League: 187, Scottish Cup: 30
6 CELTIC CAREER MAJOR HONOURS League Titles: 6, Scottish Cup: 5
Date of Birth
08 July 1878
4-3 v St Mirren (A) on 19 Jan 1901
Signed For Celtic
12 January 1901
“James Quinn is recognised as the greatest centre-forward we have ever possessed, and we have had many fine leaders.”