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The Fix - The Sad Demise of Dick Beattie
|Player Biog | Dick Beattie Homepage|
The history of Celtic is teeming with stories of great players and their individual achievements. Men like Jimmy Delaney, Kenny Dalglish and Henrik Larsson who represented the Hoops and other clubs in moments of intense pride and triumph. But for some who donned the Celtic shirt their career will not be remembered for individual honours. Instead it will be tarnished by dishonour. There is no better example of this than the sad demise of likeable goalkeeper Richard Beattie.
Dick Beattie signed for Celtic in September 1954 from Duntocher Hibernian. He would make his debut a year later against Falkirk in a 1-1 League Cup draw and would eventually establish himself as the successor to John Bonnar. An agile and athletic keeper Beattie was capable of spectacular shot stopping. He was not short of bravery either and his performances were typically courageous. There was however an inconsistancy to Beattie's game and the Glasgow-born keeper suffered regular problems coping with high balls delivered into the box.
Dick would be capped for Scotland at Under 23 level but in truth he lacked the consistency to become a truly top class keeper. Despite his limitations Beattie's place in Celtic history was assured on October 19th 1957. The day Celtic destroyed Rangers 7-1. Dick's role during that famous League Cup final was perhaps periphery but the image of a jubilant Beattie, arms outstretched and holding up seven fingers to the crowd, would become an iconic Celtic moment. The symbol of an unforgettable triumph during a time of frequent disappointments.
Dick Beattie would go onto make 156 appearances during five seasons at Parkhead before heading to the south coast and Portsmouth in August 1959. A popular character with team mates and supporters, Beattie departed Glasgow with no shortage of best wishes. But what happend next would sadly stain not only the career of Beattie but the whole of English football.
At Fratton Park the keeper was involved in an FA Cup tie in January 1961 against Peterborough United. Pompey would lose 2-1 with a howler from Beattie gifting Peterborough their opening goal. That mistake would be put down by fans and pundits as a costly but honest error and in 1962 Beattie would move on from the south coast with his next destination, ironically, being Peterborough.
In September 1962 Queens Park Rangers were the visitors to London Road for a Third Division clash against Beattie and The Posh. The Loftus Road side were comfortable favourites to claim both points but were stunned when the home side took a deserved lead. With just 10 minutes remaining there was little sign of a QPR fightback. It was then that Dick Beattie took possession of the ball inside his own area.
Clutching the ball in his hands he took a few steps forward. But, with the Peterborough players advancing up field in anticipation of a clearance, the former Celtic man inexplicably rolled the ball to the feet of a Rangers forward who slotted home for an unlikely equaliser. Just minutes later Beattie took possession of the ball again. He made to throw the ball out to his own full back. But yet again the keeper found the welcoming feet of an opponent who gratefully hit home the winner.
The Peterborough Evening Times match report stated: "Dick Beattie bore the brunt of the blame for the two goals. His distribution was at fault on both occasions and Rangers gratefully accepted the gifts". But even the most cynical hack could not have imagined the sinister truth behind keeper's gifts.
Dick would play just 10 games for Peterborough before returning to Scotland for spells at St Mirren and Brechin. However, the truth about his time in England would soon emerge and his career came to a sudden and shameful end.
In 1964 Jimmy Gauld - a journeyman striker who had spells with Swindon, Everton, St Johnstone and Mansfield - revealed to the Sunday People tabloid how he had fixed a string of games between 1961 and 1963. The revelations of Aberdeen-born Gauld, a compulsive gambler who had retired in 1961 with a knee injury, implicated 10 players who he alleged threw matches in which they had bet against their own team. Among them was Richard Beattie.
Gauld recieved a £7,000 fee for his story but the price of the revelations was a costly one for all involved. All 10 were charged with conspiracy to defraud - with the prosecution alleging Beattie threw several matches where he was set to pocket up to £300.
Suddenly the "mistakes" at Fratton Park and against QPR were no longer viewed as honest.
At the trial in Nottingham ringleader Gauld was fined £5,000 and sentenced to four years imprisonment. Beattie was found guilty of match-fixing and spent nine months in prison. He was also banned from football for life and on release from jail would begin a new career in the shipyards. It was a sad end to the career of a man who was commonly regarded by team mates as a hugely warm and likeable character. An ex-Posh team mate had described him simply as "..a hell of a nice guy".
In these times when even the most mediocre of players are millionaires it is easy to condemn all those involved in what became known as 'The Fix'. But it has to be remembered that these were mostly players whose short and physically demanding career was largely during the time of the maximum wages.
Richard Beattie's career should have been defined by his memorable seven finger salute. Instead the shadow of scandal is forever cast across his moment in the Hampden sun.
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