Best I had ever seen
The best goal scorer I have seen at Celtic recently was Henrik Larsson, until then i kept remembering someone that graced Celtic park, and who I thought was the best striker I had ever seen in the hoops, the guy came broke records, and seemed to just always know where the goal was, and couldn’t stop scoring, at times I thought I’d never see anyone like that again.
Of course I had favourite players throughout the years Jimmy Johnstone, Tommy Burns, Paul McStay, to name but a few, but this guy, relatively unknown to me, just seemed to appear in the 70’s and bring a goal fest much like Henrik would repeat later, the likes of which I had certainly not witnessed before.
Dixie deans was signed for Celtic, by Jock Stein in 1971 from Motherwell, and it was widely thought Dixie was too rash a character for Celtic, as he had discipline issues, and was at the time of his signing, serving a six match ban. Jock however had a way with people and could spot a striker. Dixie’s behaviour improved immensely. Dixie wasn’t a big forward at only a fraction taller than Jinky or Buzzbomb. Dixie however was a tough player with great strength and I never seen him shirk a tackle. Scoring on his debut in a 5-1 win at Firhill, the Celtic fans almost immediately took to him. his lack of height never stopped him scoring headers either.
Dixie played alongside some greats at Celtic, among them, McNeill, Johnstone, Dalglish, Callaghan, Hood, and spent 5 years at Celtic until 1976, and during this time he scored 125 goals in 186 games, and set quite a few scoring records. In his first season he scored 27 goals (more than a goal a game). In his second season he scored 32 times, 33 the following season, while storming on to eight-in-a-row. Dixie also scored 2 goals to complete eight-in-a-row against hibs at Easter Rd, Kenny getting the other in a 3-0 win.
The six goals he scored in an 8-0 demolition of Partick Thistle in the 1973-74 season is a post-war record for a single game. Maybe not so surprising when you consider the jags goalie on that day was Alan Rough, to be fair roughie saved a few that day, it was the closest anyone had ever come to Jimmy McGrory’s record of eight goals in one game.
Dixie is the only player in Scottish fitbaw history to score a hat trick in two major cup finals, 1972 Scottish Cup Final and the 1974 Scottish League Cup Final, both against Hibernian, he was at the time christened “The hammer of the hibs” having scored 19 times against them in 14 games.
The League cup final on 26 October 1974 between Celtic and Hibernian was rather special in that a player from both sides each scored a hat trick. Both Joe Harper and Dixie scoring for their teams. Celtic ran out eventual winners with the score at 6-3 quite a cup final with 9 goals eh ? Incidentally he had scored a hat trick against Hibs eight days earlier in the league when Celtic won 5-0.
Dixie was once asked why he always did so well against Hibs, while playing for the hoops, and he joked “Coz i hated their colours !”
Cup final hat tricks are kind of special if you look at the few former Celts who have achieved them.
Jimmy Quinn, against Rangers 1904 Scottish Cup.
Billy Mc Phail against Rangers in 1957-58 League Cup.
Bobby Lennox against Hibernian in 1968-69 League Cup.
Dixie Deans against Hibernian in 1972 Scottish Cup.
Dixie Deans against Hibernian in 1974-75 League Cup.
Henrik Larsson against Kilmarnock 2000-01 League Cup.
To do it once is quite something, to do it twice though is bloody astonishing.
The lowest point in Dixies Celtic career came in the 1971–72 European Cup, when Celtic were again paired with Inter Milan, who they had beaten in the 1967 Final. The two legs produced no goals and went to penalties. Dixie missed his, and Inter scored all of their penalties and went to the final against Ajax.
Dixie’s penalty miss (like Paul Mc Stay’s penalty miss) was soon forgiven as the fans quickly realised how dejected he was, and he continued to score in the next games, his commitment to Celtic was so absolute, that in one game against St Johnstone in 1976 he lost two of his teeth during the game, and unlike any sane person rather than go off, he just spat them out and played on.
Injuries struck Dixie in 74-75 and in his last season with Celtic 1976 Dixie’s Celtic appearances became less, this was around the time of a downturn in Celtic’s history, Jock’s car accident, and although his appearances dwindled he still scored vital goals including the last minute winner against Boavista in the European Cup Winners Cup.
He had won three league winners medals, two Scottish Cup medals, a League Cup winners medal and like most great Celtic players a bloody disgraceful only two caps for Scotland. And ‘they’ say we’re paranoid !
Why he was never signed by Rangers remained a bit of a mystery for years, as the Rangers scout Jimmy Smith had watched him consistently, as he had scored 60 goals in a season with Neilston juniors, but Smith decided Dixie was too small to be a professional footballer, this decision would later come back to bite Smith in the ass. In a reserve game later Dixie played for Motherwell against a Rangers second string and scored two goals, and Scott Symon the Rangers manager asked his scout Jimmy “Isn’t that the guy from Neilson you looked at, he looks good, why did we not sign him ?” Dixie himself believes the real reason was his Mother was a catholic, and Rangers then still had a sectarian signing policy.
There were rumours that he was a rangers fan because of his religion but Dixie say’s that’s all nonsense. “I did go to St Mirren games when i was younger and I suppose they were my team, but I had never been to Ibrox, until i played against them with Motherwell in 1967”. Some sources claim Dixie worked at the Evening Times newspaper, possibly before full time football.
Dixie left Celtic in 1976 for Luton Town, and later moved to Australia, to Adelaide City, where he became the top goal scorer, and won the Australian Cup, Dixie is still regarded as something of a hero there with Adelaide fans.
Whilst in Australia, he met reggae musician Bob Marley, during a training session, who asked him, “Are you the Dixie Deans that used to play for Celtic ?” Apparently Bob and his son were fanatical Celtic supporters, and could even recite the 67 European Cup Team (big packy must have taught him, another true story). Dixie says he had no idea who Bob Marley was at the time, but stated Bob wasn’t too bad a player, when he joined in the training session.
The final words comes from the man himself – John Kelly “Dixie” Deans: Curiously, I never scored for Celtic against Rangers. The nearest I came was one strike that was given as an own goal. In another game, John Greig handled a shot on the line for a penalty. Thanks, Greigy. But I have no reason at all to complain about the way it worked out. I’m a Celtic man through and through and joined a wonderful club with the best fans in the world. (this part from celtic wiki).
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