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When Brian Met The Queen

Queen Elizabeth II took on thousands of engagements during her reign and in one of those she came face to face with Clyde captain Brian Ahern. The occasion was a football match at Hampden Park on 17th May 1977, between a Glasgow Select and a Football League XI, to mark her Silver Jubilee.

It may seem odd now but in the past club rivalries were put aside and players from Glasgow’s league clubs (Celtic, Clyde, Partick Thistle, Queen’s Park, Rangers, and Third Lanark prior to their demise) came together to represent the city. An annual fixture against a similar select side from the Sheffield clubs competed in an annual intercity fixture until 1960, and then the Glasgow XI faced off against a top English club side in a season curtain raiser for the Glasgow Charity Cup, but this only lasted until 1966.

The Glasgow Football Association resurrected their team once more in 1977 to mark The Queen’s 25th year on the throne. The Glasgow team was mostly drawn from Rangers and Celtic, though a couple of Jags made the XI:

Alan Rough, Danny McGrain, Brian Whittaker, Sandy Jardine, Roddie MacDonald, Tom Forsyth, Tommy McLean, Kenny Dalglish, Joe Craig, Alec MacDonald and Derek Johnstone.

Clyde’s only representative in the pool, Brian Ahern, had to settle for a place on the bench alongside Sandy McNaughton of Queen’s Park, who would sign for The Bully Wee a year later and Doug Somner. The English Football League side included names like Trevor Francis, Joe Royle, Mick Channon and Ray Wilkins.

The Glasgow team usually played in red or white shirts in the aforementioned matches against Sheffield and Charity Cup ties, but a special kit was commissioned for this game, consisting of the colours of all five city clubs. Celtic’s green and Rangers’ blue unsurprisingly dominated the jersey with vertical stripes. The yellow collar and red neck represented Partick Thistle and Clyde respectively, whilst Queen’s Park’s colours of black and white were in the cuffs. The kit was completed with the colours of the three traditionally smaller clubs; red shorts with a yellow trim, and black & white socks. It was made by Umbro, and the Glasgow FA badge was embroidered in the middle of the shirt.

The Queen arrived by train in Glasgow Central Station that morning and following events at Glasgow Cathedral, George Square and the City Chambers her next stop was at Hampden and she took her time meeting both sets of players on the pitch before kick-off, so much so that the match started five minutes late! The Football League took a fourth minute lead through Dennis Tueart but Jardine equalised with a second half penalty, before captain Dalglish scored the winner. The Queen wasn’t there to witness the comeback though as she left at half-time due to another engagement at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

Unfortunately for Brian, meeting The Queen his only involvement on the pitch, as he remained as an unused sub on the bench. On the terraces police had to intervene to break up scuffles involving fans of different clubs, and the Glasgow FA select never came together again.

Kenny Dalglish (left) introduces The Queen to Brian Ahern (right), with Sandy McNaughton looking on.

Almost 40 years to the day earlier there was another match at Hampden with a connection to the monarchy. A Glasgow vs Edinburgh exhibition fixture took place to celebrate the coronation of King George VI. The Bully Wee’s goalkeeper, John Brown, was in between the sticks for the Glasgow side, as they recorded a 2-0 win over their counterparts from the east.