I was delighted that the people of West Belfast recently decided to honour one of their finest sons ‘Cheeky’ Charlie Tully. A plaque was unveiled recently to Charlie on the Falls Road.
Charlie was a legend on the football pitch both for ‘The Mighty’ Belfast Celtic and Celtic FC. As an ardent, die hard Bhoys fan I have immense respect for Charlie. Along with Jinky and Larsson and Davy Hay he is the greatest to have ever thread the football pitch at Paradise.
Celtic are immensely proud and honoured to have such a talented football colossus wear the hoops. This pride was reciprocated by Charlie, who was proud to play for Celtic and for all that this great club stands for.
Charlie’s story of his rise to become a Celtic super star is the stuff of legend. Indeed it shows the remarkable progress of a young man from West Belfast who would become one of the icons of the world’s greatest football clubs. Charlie signed for Celtic from Belfast Celtic on the 28th June 1948. The transfer documents were signed by Charlie on the window sill of The Rock Bar on the Falls!
Indeed Belfast Celtic were never the same without Cheeky Charlie. The club folded the following season after sectarian attacks on their fans and players during a match with Linfield at Windsor Park. As was common back then the so called forces of law and order adopted a ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak evil approach’ eventually forcing The Mighty to fold due to safety concerns.
Upon arriving in Glasgow the Celtic envoy were not there to meet Charlie. True to the nature of Charlie he got a tram to Glasgow and then walked two hours to the Gallowgate to Celtic Park! It was this unassuming nature, along with dazzling skill on the pitch that endeared Charlie to the Parkhead faithful.
Charlie’s skill on the pitch soon set him apart from his peers. He ran amok against Rangers at Celtic Park, and scored directly from a corner against Falkirk twice in a Scottish Cup encounter at Brockville in 1953. While playing for the 6 Counties against England in 1952, Charlie scored both goals in a 2-2 draw. Again one of the goals were directly from a corner.
Charlie’s amazing career spanned 11 years, with him playing 319 games and scoring 47 goals. Regrettably Charlie was unable to make an impact internationally. Being a West Belfast Catholic meant that Charlie was overlooked on many occasions with less talented players being opted over him.
It is great to see this Celtic legend finally being recognised in his home city.