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Deans, John "Dixie"
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PersonalFullname: John Kelly Deans
aka: Dixie Deans, Hammer of the Hibs
Born: 30 July 1946
Birthplace: Johnstone, Scotland
Signed: 30 Oct 1971 (£17.5k from Motherwell)
Left: 17 June 1976 (£20k to Luton)
First game : Partick Thistle 5-1 League away 27 November 1971
Last game : Hearts 0-1 League away 3 May 1976
First goal : Partick Thistle 5-1 League away 27 November 1971
Last goal : Ayr United 1-2 League home 24 April 1976 (penalty!!!)
International Caps: 2 caps
International Goals: 0
BiogGoal machine John ‘Dixie’ Deans would prove to be one of Jock Stein’s most astute signings. The Celtic manager caused a sensation in Scottish football when he signed the controversial Motherwell forward in October 1971 for £17.5k in the aftermath of the disastrous defeat to Partick Thistle in the League Cup Final. The robust and gutsy forward had earned himself a reputation as a troublemaker for his on-field antics with the Lanarkshire club and at the time of Stein’s surprise swoop Deans was serving a six week ban.
However under the guidance of Stein the player cleaned-up his act and although he would remain a ferocious competitor his discipline improved beyond recognition. He made a scoring debut for the Hoops at Partick Thistle as the Bhoys cruised to a 5-1 league victory on November 27th 1971. From that moment on, lovable rogue Deans was an idol to the Parkhead support and he repaid their devotion in the best possible way – by scoring goals.
Before going further, to clarify from various rumours, Dixie Deans was NEVER a Rangers fan. As he stated himself he was a St Mirren daft supporter going to all their matches as a boy, and he'd never been to Ibrox until he played against them for Motherwell.
He made an immediate impact at Parkhead and formed a devastating partnership with Kenny Dalglish throughout his time at Celtic. In his first season he won league and cup medals however his bleakest moment as a Celt was to come in the European Cup semi-final of 1972 when on April 19th he missed his spot-kick as the Bhoys went out 4-5 on penalties to Inter Milan at Parkhead. Ironically, he said that days before he had been practising penalty kicks repeatedly, and never missed one despite taking over a hundred. He sadly has the ignominy to have bee the first player to miss a penalty kick in a shoot-out that sent their team out of European Competition. He deserves to be remembered for far better and he will.
It was an error the Celtic support was only too willing to forgive Deans for, recognizing as they did the player’s devastation at his miss. Deans bounced back in typically gutsy and prolific style and in the Scottish Cup final less than a month later he smashed a hat-trick as Celtic destroyed Hibernian 6-1. That afternoon he scored one of the most spectacular goals ever seen at Hampden when he dribbled past John Brownlie on the bye line and lashed home a shot past Jim Herriot in the Hibs goal.
He continued to score goals and he was part of the Celtic team at Easter Road which clinched their 8th successive title, scoring in a 3-0 win in front of an incredible 45,000 crowd with the duo of Dalglish and deans doing the damage on the day and it was their goals in the main that was responsible for the league returning to Parkhead.
The small, squat Deans possessed incredible strength and energy and he continued to terrorise defenders during the mid 70's. On November 17th 1973 he hit six goals in a 8-0 thrashing of Partick Thistle when he ran Jimmy McGrory's record of eight goals in one game very close. On December 22nd he also scored four against Falkirk in the 6-0 thrashing of Falkirk at Parkhead. Sadly, he was injured for the League Cup final that month and his absence was crucial as Celtic sank to a 1-0 defeat, Paul Wilson being his ineffective replacement at number 9. Celtic won another league and cup double and Dixie scored the third goal in the 3-0 Scottish Cup Final against Dundee United in 1974.
Dixie was named in the 40 man provisional Scotland squad for the 1974 world cup finals in West Germany but did not make the final cut of 22.
Perhaps Dixie's greatest Celtic achievement came in the 8 days between 19th and 26th October 1974. In the first game, in the league, at Parkhead Dixie scored a fine hat trick in a 5-0 win over the fine Hibs team of that period and seven days later he repeated the feat, again against Hibs, this time in the League Cup Final when Celtic persevered by 6-3. He again scored a spectacular effort when he dived full length to divert a wayward Jimmy Johnstone volley high into the net. His form at this time earned him a call up to the Scotland side and he played against East Germany (3-0) and Spain (1-2) in late 1974. Despite these feats Dixie could not steer Celtic towards their 10th successive title and unfortunately missed the Scottish Cup Final victory over Airdrie in May 1975 with injury.
Dixie's last season was in 1975/76 and Celtic were now in transition due to Jock Stein's absence after his car accident and Dixie's appearances became less regular although he continued to score vital goals including a last minute clincher against Boavista in the ECWC when he raced clear and coolly placed the ball past the Portuguese keeper. In May 1976 he moved to Luton Town much to the sadness of the Celtic fans who loved his goals and the effort that Dixie gave in Celtic's green and white. He left the support with some great memories and after scoring 124 goals in 184 appearances and while with Celtic he collected three league championship winners medals, two Scottish Cup winners medals, a League Cup winners medal and a miserly two Scotland caps.
People often point out that Dixie never once scored for Celtic against Rangers. It's a curious point, but however there was poor luck involved. He once struck a great shot which was slightly deflected by Dave Smith past Peter McCloy at Ibrox on January 6th 1973. These days it would clearly be marked as the forward's goal but the history books are mixed over who was the actual scorer, Deans or Smith? We say Deans! In another game, John Greig handled a Dixie Deans' shot on the line for a penalty (from which Celtic scored but it wasn't Deans taking the penalty).
If anyone ever questions his commitment to the club, then they will have to counter that performance against St Johnstone in Jan 1976. On losing his two teeth, rather than go off like any sane person would, he spat them out and played on (with marked blood dribbling down his shirt). He game his all in every game, playing as well even in the air despite lack of height. Don't take it that he was petulant though, he was only ever sent off once for Celtic (and that was a reserve match). A great Celt.
At time of writing, Dixie is now a match-day host at Celtic Park, where he entertains corporate facility guests along with other Celtic legends. He is also involved with business interests in Glasgow, owning "Dixie's" pub in Rutherglen as well as being involved with former Celtic player Tommy Callaghan in the firm Esperanza Property Development, a company that buys, renovates and sells properties throughout Central Scotland.
Dixie Deans is a Celtic great, and one of the most recognisable characters we'll ever likely have.
Anecdote1) At the banquet after the testimonial v Man U for Bobby Charlton (match), then Prime Minister Harold Wilson told Dixie he commended him to Huddersfield whilst he was a Motherwell player!
|APPEARANCES||LEAGUE||SCOTTISH CUP||LEAGUE CUP||EUROPE||TOTAL|
Honours with CelticScottish League
Quotes“The match ball from the game where I got six against Partick Thistle is one of my favourite mementos from my playing days. I didn’t know anything about records or anything that day and when I found out that I had actually broken the post-war record for goals in a game, I was actually quite annoyed, because I had missed three or four good chances that day! You are there as a striker to get on the end of things though and you never bury all your chances. If you take a few of them in a game you should be happy and I got six that day. It was actually Jimmy McGrory who told me about the record though. He came down from the stand, grabbed me in the tunnel, shook my hand and said: ‘I thought you were going to break my record, Dixie, and you should have!’ He had got eight in a game and that was the pre-war record, but I had no idea. Jimmy was a gentleman, a great man and he signed the ball as well that day, along with my team-mates, the backroom staff and all the Thistle players and coaches."Dixie Deans on scoring six v Hibs in 1972 Scottish Cup final (2013)
‘So Bob Marley asked me... Are you the Dixie Deans who used to play for Celtic?’
By RUSSELL LEADBETTER
7 Oct 2011
REGGAE superstar Bob Marley’s secret ambition was to visit Celtic Park – and play on its turf.
And Marley was such a fan of the club that he could even recite its 1967 European Cup-winning team in full.
Marley, who died in 1981, stunned Celtic legend Dixie Deans when the pair met in Australia.
But Deans, who was playing for Adelaide City as his career wound down, didn’t know who Marley was.
Writing in his new autobiography, which starts an exclusive three-day serialisation in the Evening Times today, Deans says he was introduced to Marley during a training session.
Says Dixie: “I didn’t know him from Adam. Our manager said he was a musician and a keen footballer but the name didn’t register. I remember he was quiet-spoken, almost shy, and his hair was long and looked, frankly, as if it was matted together and needed a good wash.”
But Marley floored him when they got talking about Celtic, saying: “Oh, you know I’m a big Celtic fan. I would love to go to Scotland to see Celtic Park and maybe even kick a few balls there. I know all about Jock Stein.
He added: “I love reading about British football teams and Celtic has always been my team. And now it is my son Rohan’s team. He’s only six but he loves Celtic. I can’t tell you how much I envy you having played at Celtic Park.”
Added Dixie: “We had a chat about all things Celtic and I was greatly impressed by the great man’s football knowledge. And when we got down to training, I was just as impressed by his football ability.”
In the book, co-written by Evening Times’ journalist Ken McNab, Dixie recalls his footballing apprenticeship at Motherwell before the glory-laden years with Celtic.
He lifts the lid on his relationship with Jock Stein, life with Celtic’s nine-in-a-row team and the ‘brotherly bond’ he shared with Hoops icon Jimmy Johnstone
Both players were famously friendly with music superstar and Celtic fan Rod Stewart, who Dixie light- heartedly calls a ‘millionaire tightwad’.
“Rod was never flash with his cash – and that was because he never carried any,” says Dixie. “He was like the Queen. Whenever it came to his round, he always used to say: ‘Sorry lads, I’m on the bell next time’.”
But Dixie has harsher words for another Scots star, Sean Connery, who, he says, switched his support from Celtic to Rangers.
“In the early seventies, when he was at the height of his fame, Sean would tell anybody and everybody how much he loved Celtic. And it’s true that he often came to our games.
“But I was disappointed when Sean seemed to ‘change sides’ in the 1990s after David Murray took over Rangers. I think Murray kind of bought Sean’s patronage of the Ibrox outfit in a way and tried to make it out that Celtic were the poor relations of the two clubs.
“It seemed to me that Sean was like an item of jewellery on Murray’s arm, a piece of Hollywood bling. I could understand why so many Celtic fans were hacked off when they used to see James Bond sitting in the directors’ box at Ibrox as Murray’s VIP guest.”
Dixie Deans proudly displays his autobiography alongside co-author Ken McNabEvening Times
7 Oct 2011
Dixie Deans of Rangers. Doesn’t sound right, does it?
That, though, doesn’t mean it might never have happened... because it almost did. More than once.
I first came to the attention of the Ibrox scouts when I hit 60 goals in one season for Neilston Victoria Juniors.
I had heard some talk that Rangers might be interested but rarely gave it a second thought.
Rangers’ chief scout at that time was a guy called Jimmy Smith and I knew he had watched me in a good few games.
In fact, he turned up at six Neilston matches on the trot to run the rule over me, so he was obviously trying to make a judgment of one kind or another.
I remember the games and I did pretty well in them. Eventually I was told they wouldn’t be following up their interest in the boy Deans. The reason? He’s too wee to be a professional footballer.
I was well hacked off. This was a time of Jimmy Johnstone and Rangers’ winger Willie Henderson and I don’t remember anyone slagging them off because they weren’t six foot two with eyes of blue.
And if you score 60 goals in a season – a good few of them with the head, remember – I think a lack of height has nothing to do with things.
The fact that Motherwell manager Bobby Howitt – and later Jock Stein – had faith in my five foot seven inch frame says it all really.
About a year after Smithie’s snub, Motherwell reserves took on Rangers’ second string in a match at Fir Park. Standing behind the dugout was Jimmy and beside him was Rangers manager Scot Symon.
I played a blinder and grabbed a couple of goals. The story I heard later from Bobby was that Symon had been hugely impressed with me that night. He glanced down at the team sheet to name-check me and then turned to Jimmy with a puzzled look on his face and said: “Is that the boy Deans from Neilston? Didn’t we take a look at him? Why didn’t we take him on, he looks good to me?”
Sheepishly, Jimmy had to admit I was the same player he’d given the thumbs down to several months earlier.
Three years later, in 1969, I was again linked with Rangers. By this time, I had three full seasons under my belt at Motherwell and had been doing okay in a team that could be brilliant one week and awful the next.
Davie White, who had taken over the Ibrox hot seat from Symon in 1967, had made no secret of the fact that he was on the lookout for a new striker... and he had money to burn.
Motherwell chairman Willie Millar put me in the picture that Rangers were interested.
Then out of the blue Rangers forked out what was then the astronomical and Scottish-record fee of £100,000 to take Colin Stein from Hibs to Ibrox.
For me, that was the end of the matter. But I later learned Rangers’ decision to sound the retreat, where I was concerned, had nothing to do with football.
This time around, someone had gone as far as to carry out background checks and discovered my mum was a Catholic.
And in those days, that was reason enough to scrawl a big ‘X’ through your file. Case closed.
Isn’t that garbage? My mum might have been born a Catholic, but we all went to church most Sundays, I went to a Protestant school and I had been in the Boys’ Brigade.
I was probably as much Protestant as all the guys already at Rangers.
Let’s be clear about this...we’re not talking about a Maurice Johnston moment here. I wouldn’t have been crossing any so-called sectarian divide.
And let me tell you something else, no one would have been more proud than my mum if I had signed for Rangers.
Growing up, religion was never an issue in our house. I hated the stench of sectarianism then and I hate it just as much today. But it cuts both ways, doesn’t it?
I’ve lost count of the number of books that assumed I was a Rangers fan growing up just because I went to a Protestant school. I didn’t follow Rangers at all.
Coming from Linwood, I was a St Mirren fan and if people don’t believe me, that’s tough. I hadn’t even set foot inside Ibrox until I played there for Motherwell in 1967.
However, I would have had no problem whatsoever in signing for Rangers. They were a big club with some fantastic players like John Greig, big Ron McKinnon, Willie Henderson, Colin Jackson and, of course, Jim Baxter in the twilight of his career.
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.
However, 132 goals later, I think I’m entitled to stick my tongue out and say Rangers’ loss was Celtic’s gain.
Fans in the Jungle went crazy when I tried to KO Jinky...Dixie Dean, Evening Times
10 Oct 2011
THE first time I came face to face with Jimmy Johnstone I tried to punch his lights out.
The last time I saw him, as he bravely battled motor neurone disease, I was desperately wishing the light in his eyes would shine just a little longer.
Jimmy and I had a bond that went beyond mere football friendship. And any of the guys who played alongside him and witnessed his heroic battle against that awful illness would say the same.
You see, we weren’t just team-mates of Jinky, we were fans, too. Any of us would have shelled out good money to see him play. And to think we got it free.
From the minute I walked into Celtic Park, Jimmy and I just clicked. We were a couple of gallus so-and-sos who refused to take life too seriously. Oh, and we liked a bevvy. Sometimes we liked it too much, and that often put us on a collision course with Jock Stein.
The strange thing is I think Jimmy and I actually became closer after he was struck down by his illness and long after we had stopped playing.
I’m not for a second trying to claim a special kind of kinship with Jimmy.
Some of the other guys quite rightly had links with the wee man that went back a good bit before my time. But my admiration for Jimmy as a man increased every time I visited him.
I lived in Mount Vernon in the east end of Glasgow, only five minutes’ drive from the house he shared with his wife Agnes in Viewpark, Lanarkshire. So it was nothing to hop in the car and go and see him. Quite often Bertie Auld or Jim Brogan would come along. Jimmy loved those visits.
We never talked much about the games we played in, more about the things we used to get up to.
Right to the end, he was as sharp as the proverbial tack.
It’s funny, really, how Jimmy and I became mates. When I mentioned earlier that I wanted to punch his lights out, I should have added he wanted to do the same to me.
The occasion was an old First Division match between Motherwell and Celtic at Parkhead in December, 1966.
It was the first time I had played at Celtic Park and I was desperate to try to make the right kind of impact. But we lost 4-2 and frustration was perhaps getting the better of me. In the second half, Jimmy and I raced for the same ball.
It was a 50-50 challenge, but neither of us was prepared to back down. Before you knew it, our fists were flailing at each other.
It was the battle of the little big men – I’m five foot seven and Jinky was five foot five – but I picked the wrong guy to have a square go with.
Not because I was feart of the wee man. No, because the fisticuffs happened right in front of the old Jungle and some 15,000 fans were baying for my blood.
I played with the wee man for four seasons, from October 1971 through to April 1975 and during that period I came to appreciate the true meaning of the phrase wayward genius.
I’m the first to admit that, when we got together, we were a couple of rascals up to no good.
On one European trip Jimmy came up to me and said he had a surprise for Davie Hay and George Connelly, but didn’t know which room they were in.
Very matter-of-factly, I said Room 29. Now, I knew Davie and George weren’t in Room 29. The problem was I didn’t know who really was in Room 29.
Jimmy then proceeded towards that room with a mischievous look on his face.
On his way, however, he elected to remove a fire extinguisher from its position on the wall.
The next thing I saw was Jimmy knocking on the door and pointing the nozzle straight ahead. When the door opened, he pressed down hard and out shot a high-speed jet of foam and water.
Standing there in the doorway, his top half drenched in soapy liquid, was Celtic director Tom Devlin who, naturally enough, looked nothing like Davie Hay or George Connelly.
Jock went mental and Jinky was hit with a heavy fine.
ON another occasion, we played for Celtic in a testimonial match against Manchester United for Bobby Charlton.
After the game, there was a swanky dinner in a posh hotel and Jock was at the top table alongside Sir Matt Busby and Charlton.
When the plates for the main course arrived I heard the waitress warning us all to be careful because they were hot.
I was sitting there having a *** and talking to the guy on the left when I felt my right hand move towards the plate.
Next thing I knew I’d jumped up and brought my knee crashing against the underside of the table and sent cutlery, glasses and cups flying.
There was a real commotion. Jock was furious and felt I’d embarrassed the club and hit me with a £30 fine.
Of course, it wasn’t my fault but I was hardly going to grass up the wee grinning, ginger-haired so-and-so who had landed me in it. Again.
Jinky was simply the greatest Celt of them all and he was loved all the way from Tollcross to Toronto, from Maryhill to Melbourne.
I travelled all over the world with Jimmy as a guest of Celtic fan clubs and he was in his element.
Put a microphone in his hand and he would serve up story after story. He was a born entertainer on and off the field.
Typically, Jimmy kept smiling right to the end. He taught us all something about the real meaning of courage.
By coincidence, Jimmy’s final journey took him past my old house in Mount Vernon and I couldn’t help but think of the good times we had enjoyed there.
The wee man would have loved the fact that, once again, he was centre stage as the cortege made a final poignant visit to a Celtic Park bedecked with tributes from fans of all teams, most notably Rangers, to the man rightly voted Celtic’s greatest-ever player.
I am proud to have been his team-mate at Celtic. I’m even prouder that he was a proper pal, too.
THE CELTIC LEGEND OF JOHN ‘ DIXIE ' DEANS(By David Potter, from KeepTheFaith Website)
David W Potter, reaffirmed to the rebel zones of Celtic cyber-space after his appearance as a trialist with the Sunday Herald, provides for Timdom's pleasure his article about John ‘ Dixie ' Deans, as was published in the fore-mentioned Sunday broadsheet. A MUST READ FOR TIMS THAT WANT TO KNOW THEIR HISTORY.
Dixie Deans was a very special player, the sort of personality player that the Scottish game frankly lacks at the moment. He was given the nickname “ Dixie ” in conscious imitation of his near namesake William Ralph Dean who played for Everton and England between the wars. John Deans however was the sort of player who developed an instant affinity with the fans, a particular achievement for Dixie whose background was anything other than “Celtic minded”. Not to put too fine a point on it, he was a Rangers supporter, but was hardly the first or the last with an Ibrox-inclined childhood to perform outstandingly at Parkhead.
He was also a player whose career was going nowhere fast in the autumn of 1971. He had been with Motherwell for five years, but had been plagued by injury and a bad disciplinary record. In his first ever visit to Parkhead as a Motherwell player, on the same day that Willie Wallace made his debut in December 1966, Dixie had enjoyed the privilege of a bath to himself before anyone else. In fact he was actually serving a suspension in October 1971 when Jock Stein offered £17,500 for the stocky but hitherto under-performing striker. Stein was rebuilding Celtic and was, of course, in a bad mood at this time, for he had just seen his team crumble incomprehensibly to Partick Thistle in that infamous League Cup Final. Willie Wallace and John Hughes had recently departed to Crystal Palace , and Stein looked to the chunky and competitive Deans to fill their place.
Stein of course was just the right type of Manager for Dixie . Stein's strict, even obsessive teetotalism was exactly what was required for a man who might have strayed in the company of some of the wilder elements of the Celtic team. Stein could spot a good striker. He had already chosen well with Willie Wallace and Harry Hood, and Dixie , he felt, might be what Celtic required. Deans would provide strength and aggression in the forward line.
His suspension served, Dixie played his first game for Celtic on November 27 th 1971 and scored a late and irrelevant goal in a 5-1 tanking of Partick Thistle at Firhill. From then on, he was a regular goalscorer that season, teaming up perfectly with the talented but as yet inexperienced Kenny Dalglish, and almost instantly earning the love of the Celtic fans for his whole-hearted approach to the game.
But Dixie 's relationship with the fans would soon be put to the test, for Dixie was the only man out of ten who missed a penalty in the European Cup Semi Final penalty shootout against Inter Milan. How Dixie suffered that dreadful night of April 19 th 1972 , particularly when some morons booed him! But Dixie had the character to come back. By May 6 th , only 2 and a half weeks after that debacle, Dixie was a Celtic hero when he scored a hat-trick in the Scottish Cup Final against Hibs. Only Jimmy Quinn had done that before, but even Jimmy's ghost would have marvelled at Dixie that day.
The first and third goals of the hat-trick were superb, but “divine” is hardly too strong a word to describe his second, as he rounded goalkeeper Jim Herriot, seemed to lose the ball, then regained it, beat Herriot again and slammed home before doing the famous somersault which endeared him even more to the exultant green and white hordes behind that King's Park goal.
Dixie had scored 27 goals for Celtic that season (more than one per game) and in the following season, he hit the net 32 times. That season, 1972-3, was the narrowest title win of the “nine in a row”. A rebuilt Rangers side, winners of the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1972, pushed Celtic hard, and it was often Dixie Deans who would notch the vital goal for Celtic, often at crucial times of the game when the opposition were threatening to equalize, or even go ahead. Many goals were simply “poachers' tap-ins”, but Deans could head a goal, had a devastating shot and surprisingly for a man of his build, had an unexpected turn of speed. He scored twice in the game at Easter Road which won the title. The first was in the first half, he then helped Dalglish score a second, then he himself scored the goal which induced the delirium of the 8 th successive League Championship and turned Edinburgh green and white.
The following season he made Jimmy McGrory tremble, but with anticipation rather than fear. Jimmy had held the record for goals scored in a single match since 1928 when he had notched 8 against Dunfermline . On November 17 th 1973 in a game against Partick Thistle as “ Dixie ! Dixie !” resounded around Parkhead, Dixie scored 6, and frankly, it might have been more. McGrory, watching from the stand would have been delighted to see his record broken, but it was “just” 6. In a rare and perhaps unprecedented burst of extravagance, the Parkhead “biscuit tin economy” allowed Dixie to keep the ball and perhaps even provided the pen for the players of both sides to sign it!
It was often Hibs who bore the brunt of his goal scoring talent. Indeed he scored 19 times against them in 14 appearances, saying that he did not “like the green jersey”! And the Hibs defence at this time with Brownlie, Blackley and Stanton was by no means the worst. Significantly, when Hibs beat Celtic in the League Cup final of December 1972, Dixie was not playing. But he had another hat trick to dish out to them in a Cup Final, this time the League Cup Final of autumn 1974. One of these goals was truly phenomenal. A corner kick came to Jimmy Johnstone at the edge of the penalty box. Jimmy drove hard for goal, the ball cannoned off a defender at full speed, and Dixie catapulted forward to head home the deflection! Whatever Dixie 's reactions must have been, we do not know, but the reactions of the crowd were a little slower. There was definitely a split second on the terracing before the fans could actually believe what they had just seen.
It remains a sore point that Willie Ormond did not employ Dixie in the World Cup Finals of 1974. Scotland simply did not score enough goals that summer. It is hard to believe that the presence of Dixie would not have helped, for he had scored 33 as Celtic romped away with the League and Cup of 1974. He was in fact given two caps the following season. He played well enough against East Germany but fatally did not score in the 3-0 win, then when Scotland lost the next game to Spain , Dixie was made one of the scapegoats, and was never picked again.
Injury plagued him during the 1974-5 season, and he was part of the general Celtic decline in 1975-76, the season that Stein was recovering from his road accident. In the summer of 1976, Deans was off to Luton Town and then played fitfully for Partick Thistle, Carlisle and had a spell in Australia . He will always be remembered, however, for his brief but phenomenally successful spell with Celtic.
THE BHOY IN THE PICTURE - DIXIE DEANS(Article from Celtic Underground)
A few years back I was working in a small office manned by two persons, me and a younger female. One day I had to deal with an enquiry at the counter and I recognised the face of the man in front of me. It took me a few seconds to register and then I blurted out – ‘You’re Dixie Deans !’
It has to be said it was a trifle embarrassing, a forty something man like myself behaving like a star struck schoolboy and I had to explain to my younger colleague why I was so impressed but it is a bit better than a friend of mine, who upon meeting Dixie, told him that he still had a photo of him on his bedroom wall. And he was in his twenties at the time.
John ‘Dixie’ Deans was only at Parkhead for five years but made a huge impression during that time. Despite being on the small side Dixie was ‘Larssonesque’ in the air when timing his headers and scored many goals this way and also had a physical presence which he put to good use and defenders hated playing against. Had Celtic not lost to Partick in the 1971 League Cup final then Dixie might never have been a Celt. Jock Stein felt after that game that Celtic needed more purpose up front and Dixie was procured for a small fee from Motherwell.
His Celtic career was a mixture of highs and lows although there were certainly far more highs. Dixie is well remembered for his achievements but, sadly, also for missing a certain penalty.
Picture the scene: A European semi final with Inter Milan has finished goal less over two legs and the game goes to penalties in front of a packed Celtic Park, the prize being a place in the final in Belgrade against the great Cruyff inspired Ajax team. As any Celtic fan will testify Dixie missed his kick and out Celtic went by 5-4. Painful doesn’t even begin to describe it although as it happens I don’t think we would have beaten Ajax but with Johnstone, Macari, Dalglish and Deans in the side we would have appreciated the opportunity of trying.
Part of my fascination with Dixie is that I was at an impressionable age when he was Celtic’s number 9. No squad numbers in those days and the number 9 then was expected to be in position to score goals and not to ‘run the channels’ or wander the field aimlessly a la Fortune and Samaras of the current crop. In those days Celtic players were expected, if not demanded, to give their all for the privilege of pulling on the green and white and few players surpassed Dixie for effort.
He had a wonderful on field relationship with a young Kenny Dalglish but was equally comfortable partnering Macari, Hood or Lennox. In November 1973 Celtic thrashed Partick Thistle by 7-0 which was a notable result considering Thistle had a decent side then, including Alan Rough, John Hansen and Ronnie Glavin. Dixie scored six of Celtic’s goals that day and but for Rough’s heroics in goal he could have surpassed the great McGrory’s record of eight goals in a game from 1928.
However you cannot have an article on Deans without mentioning his record against Hibs. The Easter Road men also had a fine side in those days but Dixie scored an impressive 18 goals against them in 13 games bearing in mind that sides only played each other twice in those pre Premier League days.
It’s well documented that shortly after the Inter Milan disappointment he scored a hat trick against Hibs in Celtic’s 6-1 thumping of Hibs in the 1972 Scottish Cup final. His goals were all impressive efforts but the main recollection is of Dixie performing a spontaneous cartwheel after his third effort which led kids all around the country trying to copy him for months afterwards.
In October 1974 Celtic faced Hibs twice in seven days in two important fixtures. In the first game in the League at Parkhead Celtic had walloped them 5-0 making them overwhelming favourites to win at Hampden in the League Cup final a week later. Despite noises made in the press by various Hibs players on how they had assembled a system to stop him, it was all to no avail as the bold Dixie cracked in another hat trick in a memorable 6-3 victory. His third goal that day was spectacular, a flying header to divert an aimless Jimmy Johnstone volley, giving Dixie another opportunity to perform the obligatory cartwheel on the Hampden turf and the papers to again churn out the headline: ‘Dixie – Hammer of the Hibs’. Dixie was actually a headline writer’s dream and I can recall ‘That old Dixie melody’, and ‘They’ll never drive old Dixie down’, being used regularly from his Celtic days.
If Dixie was prolific against Hibs then he was somewhat impotent when it came to scoring against Rangers. Arguably he scored once at Ibrox in 1973 when his thumping volley was diverted past Peter McCloy by the Rangers’ defender Dave Smith. The shot was on target and these days a striker could claim such a goal easily but at that time harsh judgement was shown and most people recorded it as a Smith own goal. For such a prolific scorer he had a poor record against Rangers although so too did Joe McBride so he is in good company. He would have scored in the cup final of 1973 against Rangers when he was only foiled by a save on the goal line by John Greig that Gordon Banks would have been proud of.
There was disappointment in 1974 when Dixie was left out of the Scotland squad for the World Cup finals in West Germany. He had made the initial 40 man squad but is said to have narrowly missed the final cut of 22. Curiously, Donald Ford of Hearts and an ageing Denis Law were taken in the squad and it’s felt that Dixie could have brought more to the table than either of those two. He was eventually capped in late 1974 in a 3-0 win against East Germany and then appears to have been a victim of the 2-1 defeat against Spain, when Billy Bremner missed a penalty, as that was his second and last cap.
There was sadness when he left Parkhead in 1976 for Luton Town and he was eventually to achieve cult status in Australia with Adelaide City with whom he played for four seasons.
In 1979 Adelaide played Sydney City who had a defender called Kevin Mullen rated the toughest in the Aussie league. With his side two nil down Dixie went into overdrive and rattled in a hat trick to give his side a memorable 3-2 victory and destroyed Mullen in the process. My Australian contact tells me that Dixie wasn’t entirely fearless….apparently he has a great fear of spiders and was in a constant state of paranoia down under that big hairy spiders might attack him at any time which was a great source of amusement to his Adelaide team mates.
Dixie lost his front teeth for the Celtic cause and photos of the period show him celebrating goals with that typical toothless grin. He was one of those players who took great joy in scoring goals and loved to celebrate with the Celtic fans with whom he had such a wonderful rapport. The fans took to him immediately and appreciated his efforts on field and it was said that he was quite a character off the park as well which endeared him even further to the supporters.
Dixie Deans was a top class striker and is an all time Celtic great.
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