Memory Lane – Bambi
There’s some players that just put a smile on my face, when playing and when recalling, and our old striker is one of them. Craig ‘ Bambi ‘ Beattie was a sight to behold, didnt look like a footballer at all, played with a smile seemingly delighted to be given a chance, and if he happened to score that smile multiplied by a hundred with a hefty chunk of amazement thrown in there for good measure. A cult hero might be stretching it, a great striker no, a national icon never, but what a raw talent, that stayed a raw talent forever !
We snapped him up at a mere 19 years of age when the little general deemed him not good enough. Standing at 6 foot tall he had a bit more height than most natives, good head start for a striker, and a gangly frame allied with some skills. Not many clubs would say no to that punt right on your doorstep, its no surprise at all that we bit.
And when he scored all six goals in a pre season friendly against Derry City Im sure there was some thinking we have stole a march on everyone here.
Not every day a free, quality, domestic striker knocks the door and says ‘ Looking anyone’ ?
So Mr Raw Talent finds himself at the nations top club, who have just been in a European final, and under the tutelage of one hell of a manager in Martin.
It could have went very different at another time, but hindsight tells us that 03-04 wasn’t the best time to sign as a striker considering we had Henke and Big Chris plus BBJ.
The gaffer has peaked, and would soon have other major concerns rather than football to contend with and maybe that Martin just then just wasn’t what Craig needed through no fault of his own.
But yet wrong place wrong time isn’t necessarily true as he scored some important goals, and no doubt gave his all for the team, is looked back with in fondness hence the article, and has spoken of those times and the hard training that accompanied them as very character building for himself.
“You could be on that training ground – and we only trained for half an hour, three 10 minute games – and be the best player on the park for 29 minutes.
But you could give the ball away once and get absolutely berated. Literally, strips torn off you.
For me that was all part of the character building, you had to stand up to that.
I’ve got Thommo shouting at me because I’ve given the ball away and I’ve got big Bobo (Balde) kicking lumps out of me.”
There was undoubtedly talent.
He was the first Scot since Gerry Creaney to score in three consecutive games for Celtic, grabbing seven in the first three months of season 05-06.
13 goals in 50 appearances does not suggest much, but he did tend to be stuck out on the wing a lot to use that burst of pace he was blessed with, and Martin stuck with his generals full stop so any fringe player wasn’t getting much time at all back then.
Considering he was free, and from what I recall low maintenance, thats a pretty good return for your money in my humble estimation.
But ultimately no one wants a player they just cant rely on, and WGS went down the road of the throwback little and large striking combination up front playing off each other.
To form a successful pairing you must be there consistently, and that just wasn’t our bhoy.
Big Jan and Skippy being successful also pushing chances back even further. Young Maloney was emerging as a genuine exciting talent then also.
After a few years of playing when fit, and finding himself benched heading into his prime years, he gave his all when called upon but had a decision to make regarding his future.
He was always gonna leave and in fairness it was for the best.
Did he go on to blossom upon departure?
Not at all. He went on to be a journeyman with a total of 16, yes 16 clubs of various levels, many of them short term loans with very few appearances. The classic he might keep us up punt that gets injured. My reading of his stats suggest that 18 appearances at a decent level (Dundee) was his season high though he must truly love the sport to have such a long and varied career (he only just packed it in) when clearly the body wasn’t made for the athlete’s life.
But don’t get me wrong, the man himself can walk with his head held high.
He departed the Hoops with 5 trophies, 3 leagues and 2 cup winners medals, and although appearances were limited elsewhere as mentioned, when he did play could be very much appreciated. For instance this article is even titled after him and he is credited with turning the game upon his introduction. A super sub who grabbed all the headlines and plaudits.
And as for that smile, and playing the game with fun how about this section of a match report to show what I mean…
“ It was not enough that the referee, Euan Norris, did his best Mike Dean impression when awarding Hearts penalty against Celtic at the end of a brilliantly entertaining semi-final. No, Craig Beattie had to go one better. After scoring the winner from the spot the Hearts striker whipped off his shirt, did not even bother to hold on to it and then ran off behind the goal for an impromptu lap of honour, which was as preposterous as it was hilarious.
As he wheeled away, his knees high and his arms going up and down as if he was on an invisible cross trainer, there seemed a strong possibility Beattie would not stop and would end up dashing down the tunnel ! “ Some might remember this, but then he was a local lad leading his team to a final.
So I for one would like to officially go on the record to show my gratitude to you Craig for making me smile a lot, for all you gave and done in the Hoops, and showing us the game can actually be fun. All the best and thanks for the memories.
The above is by Mahe. As usual the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and we are delighted to publish guest articles.