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Hall of Fame - Tommy Ring

Tommy Ring

The famous Tommy Ring spent almost 10 years with The Bully Wee and his achievements in that time - in both domestic and international football - can scarcely be summarised in this short essay.

Tommy signed for Clyde in 1949 from Ashfield Juniors and we got his signature in the nick of time it seems! Whilst stationed in Blackpool on National Service, Tommy was approached by a representative of that club with a view to him signing for the Seasiders, who would go on to be one of the top clubs in England over the next few years. The representative, on being told by Tommy that he was already committed to Clyde, didn't even try to change his mind. Instead he congratulated Tommy, it being none other than Danny Blair, our former club and Scotland captain!

Tommy finally returned to Glasgow and made his Clyde debut against Celtic in the Glasgow Cup on the 22nd of August 1950. A 0-3 defeat wasn't the best of starts, but four days later The Bully Wee met Aberdeen at Shawfield in a League Cup match and one minute into the match Tommy got the opener, his first Clyde goal, as we went on win 4-1.

Following that win over Aberdeen, Tommy, again listed at outside right, scored twice in a sensational 4-4 draw with Morton, but despite these promising results (and Tommy's 10 goals from 29 games that first season) Clyde couldn't avoid relegation to the 'B' Division at the end of the season.

By the end of the following season though, Clyde had wrapped up 'B' Division, with some great results thrown in. In October 1951 Tommy scored his first hat-trick for the club as we hammered Cowdenbeath 11-1 in what is still our record victory. Exactly a week later Tommy got his second hat-trick as we beat Hamilton 5-0 at Douglas Park and later in the season he got hat-tricks number three and four. All told, Tommy's 37 goals (out of our total of 163 goals that season) represented a great return from a winger and they all contributed to a season where we were 'B' Division Champions, won the Glasgow Cup, won the 'B' Division Supplementary Trophy and shared the Glasgow Charity Cup after a draw with Third Lanark.

Life back in the 'A' Division for season 52-53 was good and joint-fourth place with Hearts and St Mirren showed our team and form wasn't just a one-season wonder. And neither was Tommy, who, for the third consecutive season, finished second top of our goalscoring chart.

The two seasons following saw very respectable mid-table finishes, but that was all eclipsed by the Scottish Cup of 54-55. Albion Rovers, Raith Rovers and Falkirk were all dispatched with varying levels of ease to take us to a semi-final meeting with Aberdeen at Easter Road. A thrilling match saw Tommy open the scoring in 10 minutes, Aberdeen claw their way back to not only equalise but take the lead, the usually reliable Archie Robertson miss a penalty, before Tommy saved the day with a last minute equaliser. The replay saw Archie atone for his penalty miss by scoring from the spot and Clyde were through to face Celtic in the final.

Tommy Ring

The 54-55 Scottish Cup final made history for being the first Scottish Cup Final to be televised live and it looked like going the way of the bookies favourites after Celtic had opened the scoring in the first half. Until that was, Clyde got a corner in the dying minutes. Was it Johnny Bonnar's positioning, the sun, or even the famous Hampden swirl? Whatever the reason, Archie Robertson's corner famously ended up in the net and The Bully Wee lived to fight another day.

The replay was famously settled by a goal from Tommy, who prodded the ball home following a Harry Haddock free kick, thus for the second time the Scottish Cup came to reside at Shawfield, at least for a year.

Life, though, is rarely straightforward for The Bully Wee and thus it was that, around a year after winning the Scottish Cup, Clyde were relegated. Tommy did his best to avoid this for the club, ending season 55-56 as our leading marksman - for the only time in his Clyde career - with 16 goals.

Our roller-coaster ride through the Fifties saw us again stay for just one season 'downstairs', with only one defeat all season and a fine total of 161 goals in all tournaments. Tommy chipped in with 29, to give him second place in our scoring charts for the fifth time in seven seasons.

Season 57-58 back in the top league brought another fourth place finish, a League Cup semi-final place, a Glasgow Cup final defeat and a Scottish Cup run to remember!

The Scottish Cup started with victories over Dumbarton and Arbroath, then it was Celtic at Parkhead.

Tommy opened the scoring after ten minutes in that game, a goal that a tabloid journalist described thus…

“In a split-second Tommy had the ball completely tamed. He sighted with deliberate calm on Beattie [the Celtic goalkeeper] and let go the most vicious drive Paradise has seen in many a day.”

Another goal from Danny Currie ensured Clyde went through to meet Falkirk in the quarter finals.

The Bairns were duly dispatched, as were Motherwell in the semi-final, but not until we survived a fraught last few minutes. Leading three nil, with all three goals coming from Johnny Coyle, The Steelmen got two back - but couldn't get the equaliser.

The final was against Hibs and was won by a single goal. Whether you consider Johnny Coyle's shot was deflected or not, it scarcely mattered to Clyde fans that day as, for the third time, the Scottish Cup once again came back to Shawfield and Tommy had his second Scottish Cup winners' medal.

Tommy's last two seasons with Clyde following that memorable Scottish Cup winning season weren't by any means the pinnacle of Tommy's career. He did remain in the first team picture, clocking up 61 appearances over those two seasons and scoring 13 goals in the process, until, in early March 1960, Tommy helped Clyde to a 2-0 win up at Pittodrie, his last game in the famous white jersey.

Up until now we haven't looked at Tommy's international career, however his form in Clyde's first team definitely attracted the selectors, although it's fair to say Tommy worked his way up to full international honours. In March 1952, whilst Clyde were on their way to a very successful season, Tommy was selected to represent Scotland in an unofficial international against The Army. A few weeks later a Scottish Second Division select came up against their equivalents in Ireland, with Tommy and fellow Clyde striker Billy McPhail each getting two goals in a 6-1 victory.

Tommy Ring

A year later Tommy got his first 'League' cap, against the Football League at Ibrox, then on the 6th of May 1953 Tommy made the breakthrough to full international level with his appearance for Scotland against Sweden at Hampden. That was to be a sole appearance at full international level for Tommy until after the 1954 World Cup Finals. In October 1954 Tommy was drafted back into the Scotland team for the Home International matches against Wales, Northern Ireland and England at Wembley.

A month after the Northern Ireland match Scotland played a friendly against the great Hungarians at Hampden. The Hungarians had somehow contrived to lose the World Cup Final to West Germany a few months beforehand, but aside from this anomaly they were well-nigh invincible, famous 6-3 and 7-1 wins over England bearing some testament to that assertion. The match had such a high profile that it was given the honour of being the first full Scotland international to be televised live, with a 2:15 kick-off time. Although we were two goals down at the time, Tommy's first international goal in the 40th minute of this match - “[his] left foot shot…was right in the unsaveable class” - goes down in Scottish Football history as the first Scotland goal scored in a match televised live!

The match at Wembley against England didn't take place until April 1955 and was something of a disaster - Scotland going down by seven goals to two. Tommy was one of those dropped after that game and it wasn't until two years later Tommy was recalled - to play against England at Wembley! It almost had a fairytale ending though. Alan Hodgkinson, later to be Scotland's goalkeeping coach, was making his England debut and it only took Tommy a minute to give him something to do - pick the ball out the back of the net! England clawed their way back into the match, though and eventually won 2-1. Tommy, though, had scored his second international goal - and if you were to pick two opponents against which to score surely Hungary and England would have been right at the top - and he was back in the frame for international caps.

Tommy played in vital World Cup Qualifying games against Spain and Switzerland, which were both won, before we headed to play World Champions West Germany in a friendly just before the return match against the Spanish. Tommy chose this match to turn in a masterful performance, which saw the opposition full back Gerdau play his first and last match for West Germany. Tommy set up the first goal in 21 minutes, “cutting in between the two full-backs before slipping a perfect pass to Collins” to score, while for the second “he not only beat Gerdau, but three other German defenders as well before cutting the ball back to Mudie, who scored”.

There is an uncorroborated report that the German crowd were so impressed with Tommy that well before the end of the match, which finished 3-0 to Scotland, that they began chanting Tommy's name! Incidentally, four days later Scotland lost the match in Spain by 4 goals to 1…

Tommy still had a couple of internationals left in him, against Northern Ireland and Switzerland, but despite the latter match being won and earning us the right to go to World Cup 58, this was Tommy's last Scotland match.

On the International and representative front, Tommy earned a fine total of 12 full caps, scoring 2 goals, but it must also be remembered that he also played in 8 League Internationals, scoring 4 goals and played in a number of other representative matches.

When it comes to Tommy's Clyde career, his ten years are possibly the best ten years to have been a Clyde fan. The Fifties saw players such as Harry Haddock, Archie Robertson, Albert Murphy and their ilk grace the Shawfield Turf and Tommy was right up there for many of those supporters that I've spoken with over the years.

His Clyde career, if played out in today's football, would make him a very valuable asset indeed, encompassing 417 (competitive) appearances for The Bully Wee, with 190 goals; two Scottish Cup winners medals; two Division B medals; two Glasgow Cup medals; two Glasgow Charity Cup medals; the B Division Supplementary Cup; Clyde's top goalscorer in season 55-56, second top in five other seasons, third top in a further three seasons; and of course there are the international and representative appearances and goals, summarised in the paragraph above.

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