Davie Meiklejohn: A Hall of Fame Legend.
By The Govanhill Gub
Updated Wednesday, 18th November 2009
As Davie enters the SFA version, the Gub presents a wee reminder of the great man.
I see our very own Davie Meiklejohn has been inducted into the SFA's Hall of Fame. Whilst it is not before time I still feel it is sickening that a man once described as possibly Scotland's greatest centre half, has been introduced at the same time as the bigot Maley and that sleekit, over the ball merchant, Bertie Auld.
But enough of my 'Holy Willieness', let's talk about Davie Meiklejohn!
The 'Meek' joined Rangers in 1919 straight from junior football, Maryhill Juniors to be exact. He made his name and broke into a team that embraced both the end of the Wilton era and the start of the Struth one. A team that still trips off the tongues from the 'greybeards'; that ever dwindling band of supporters who follow followed way back then.
Robb, Manderson, McCandless, Meiklejohn, Dixon and Muirhead. Archibald, Cunningham, Henderson, Cairns and Morton. This would slowly evolve, with a little tinkering here and there, into the sides of the late twenties and early thirties that would win the grand slam: not once but twice.
Davie, centre, with Scottish Cup in Grand Slam season 1929-1930, flanked by cup final goalscorers, Doc Marshall (l) and Tully Craig (r).
Davie Meiklejohn had made his breakthrough, becoming an all-important key in Bill Struth's first great Rangers team. Alongside Alan Morton, possibly THE lynchpins in Struth becoming Scottish football's managerial Aristocrat. .
I've been fortunate in that I've had a great founding in the history of our club. That is due to my old man and his old man. Not that they always saw eye-to-eye on matters, Rangers you understand. They had a theological debate over who was the greatest Rangers player they ever saw, a debate that lasted for years. My old man said Baxter, my granda said Davie Meiklejohn.
We have TV evidence, well some, to show us what Baxter was all about. Unfortunately we don't have much to tell us what 'Meek' could do. But there are the stories and the facts that we should never forget, that we should laud and we should pass on to future generations.
An obvious standout would of course be that penalty in the 1928 Scottish Cup final, when Rangers banished their 25 year blues in the country's premier cup competition with a second half, five star, four goal display. But it may never have happened without the personal tenacity of Davie Meiklejohn.
Think about the enormity of what must have been going through his mind when he stepped up to take that penalty. Since last winning the Scottish Cup in 1903, Rangers had been in the final five times, had been banished at the semi final stages on a few occasions. Whilst we could win everything else at the drop of the proverbial hat, our failure to win the Scottish Cup had become something of a music hall joke.
Even on that fateful far off April day, it would seem that the fates were still mocking us. Jimmy Fleming had scored what was thought to be a legitimate goal, but his shot was stopped on the line by a Celtic defender. Later the referee would admit that he thought the ball had crossed the line, but awarded a penalty to Rangers instead. (Masonic refs, eh?)
Therefore, instead of being a goal to the good, Rangers had the lottery of a penalty instead. Who should take the penalty? Now there were two other bona fide Rangers legends on the park that day in Alan Morton and Bob McPhail, but Davie Meiklejohn, captain for the day in Tommy Muirhead's absence, decided it was his responsibility.
As the man described it himself: “I saw at a glance the whole picture of our striving to win the Cup. I saw all the dire flicks of fortune, which had beaten us when we should have won. That ball should have been in the net. It was on the penalty spot instead. If I scored we would win; if I failed we could be beaten. It was a moment of agony.”
Davie Meiklejohn scored and the hoodoo was banished. ''We can win it again'' he said at the after-match banquet. And that Rangers did, another five times in 'Meek's career.
Davie Meiklejohn's last Scottish Cup badge came in 1936 and he started that particular year off with a bang. Rangers at one time being 3-1 down at CP came back to win that particular OF Ne'erday encounter 4-3. His philosophy that day was, ‘All we can do is go forward.’
Shaking hands with opposite number before 1934 Scottish Cup Final.
Now back then The (Catholic) Observer had a football correspondent called 'Man in the Know'. In reality MITK was a succession of Priests who hid behind the nom de plume to vent their own peculiar brand of apartheid-educated religious hatred.
Back in January 1936,even Man in the Know couldn't hide his admiration for Davie Meiklejohn's performance that New Year's Day. 'Good enough to be a Celt' he wrote. Self delusion right enough.
There was also Meek's part in the Sam English/John Thomson tragedy. When Thomson went down injured it is recorded that Rangers fans cat-called as he lay prone on the ground. Davie Meiklejohn, having assessed the situation and realising the seriousness of it, went behind the goal at the Rangers end and hushed down the Rangers support.
The fact is, as tragic as that accident was; Rangers fans did not know the extent of the injury, and behaved exactly as football fans the world over behave in the same circumstances. Exactly as Celtic fans behaved in March 1997, over sixty-six years later at CP when a Rangers player, Erik Bo Anderson was stretchered off with, ironically, the exact same injury as John Thomson all those years before, a depressed fracture of the skull.
There is also a more personal wee anecdote to tell. At one time, my paternal granny had a cousin who played for Dunfermline and they were due to play Rangers at some holiday period. Now my granda had went through to East End Park for that match and was talking to my gran's cousin before the match (possibly he had got him a couple of comps?) when up rolled the Rangers team bus.
From all accounts, Davie Meiklejohn, came off the bus, slightly the worse for wear, three sheets to the wind in fact. (Bill Struth must have been in a benevolent mood that day) ''Look at 'Meek'' said my gran's cousin. ''I'm going to take him to the cleaners today'' he added. According to my granda, passing the story down to my old man, who in turn passed it down to yours truly, 'Meek' never gave him a kick of the ball that day!
Davie Meiklejohn also played for Scotland 15 times. He made his debut in a 2-1 defeat at Wrexham in 1922. Perhaps his most famous performance came as captain of the all-tartan side that defeated the English by two goals to nil at Hampden on March 28th, 1931.
When Davie Meiklejohn hung up his boots he took up a job with The Daily Record. (I’d wager it was a far different beast, back then) He then took up the job as manager of Partick Thistle in 1947.
Under ‘Meek’s management they finished up ahead of Rangers in the league for the only time in their history. The season in question being 1953/54. Mind you his former mentor was an old and failing man by then. He also steered his club to the League Cup finals of 1956/57 and 58/59 although both would end in heavy defeats.
It was as manager of Partick Thistle that he collapsed and died at Broomfield on August 22nd, 1959. He was 58 years of age.
Davie Meiklejohn played over 600 times for Rangers. He won 12 championship medals and five Scottish Cup badges. There will have been few men in our history have served the club as well as he did.
He was described by John Rafferty in his book;’One Hundred Years of Scottish Football’ as perhaps Scotland’s greatest ever centre half. But then again my granda and those of his generation could have told you that all along.
Makes you wonder why it has taken so long for The SFA to get round to giving him the nod. Still, better late than never, I suppose.
No matter let’s raise a wee glass to the memory of David Ditchburn Meiklejohn, one of the greatest players ever to serve our club.