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Young, James 'Sunny Jim'
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Fullname: James Young
aka: Jim Young, Sunny Jim
Born: 10 January 1882
Died: 4 Sep 1922
Birthplace: Kilmarnock, Scotland
Signed: 1 May 1903 (released free by Bristol Rovers in 1903)
Left: 12 May 1917 (retired)
Debut: Celtic 0-0 Hibernian, -Charity Cup, 16 May 1903
International Caps: 1
International Goals: 0
BiogJames 'Sunny Jim' Young is one of the greatest names in the rich history of Celtic FC.
Born in Kilmarnock the dour faced but big hearted half-back joined Celtic in May 1903 on a free transfer from Bristol Rovers and began a love affair with the club which was to last 14 incredible, trophy-laden years. He is said to have not come from a Celtic background, so continues the curious irony of great Celts with a non-Celtic background (e.g. Alec McNair etc).
Prior to becoming a Bhoy, Young had been a self-confessed football mercenary quite prepared to play for any club which paid him a decent wage. But from the moment of his arrival at Parkhead Young developed an amazing affinity with a club in which he previously had no links with. It was to be a relationship which Celtic supporters would treasure forever.
Young made his debut in a goaless Charity Cup tie with Hibernian on May 16th 1903 and although originally played in defence he was soon moved to midfield from where he would orchestrate numerous wonderful Celtic successes for more than a decade.
Immensly hard working and tough tackling Young was to forge the perfect link between defence and attack and he was both the heartbeat and lungs of the Celtic side. His tireles running and battling runs were simply the inspiration for success after success.
A natural born leader it was no surprise when Willie Maley appointed Sunny Jim captain in 1911. He would roar his team-mates on to victory and his pride in wearing the Hoops was obvious every second he was on the pitch.
With Young in the side Celtic won an amazing ten league championships and five Scottish Cups and no player contributed more to that glory than Sunny Jim. He may not have possessed the skills of some of his contemporaries but there was no one in the game who offered the effort and commitment of Young. Bizarrely he only received one international cap!
If anyone is to question his ability, then they should note that he was our captain through many of the game in the 66 games unbeaten in the league from Nov 1915 - Apr 1917. An incredible achievement. However, his role in his run was ended early when he sustained a serious knee injury in Sep 1916 which he couldn't shake off and so curtailed and ended his football career.
He was to eventually retire in 1917 due to the injury but not before playing 443 games for his now beloved Celtic and scoring 13 goals. During his time at Parkhead Celtic enjoyed a level of success they were not to witness again until the arrival of Jock Stein as manager. It was no coincidence that Young's departure saw a dramatic dip in Celtic's fortunes after 1917.
As for the nickname of "Sunny Jim", it came from a cheesy advertisement for a breakfast cereal!
Tragically the magnificent James Young was to die on September 4th 1922 at the age of just 40 following a motorcycle accident involving a bike on which he was the passenger. His life will forever be cherished by the supporters of Celtic and in many ways he has a fair right to be called our greatest ever Celt and his place in the pantheon of Celtic greats must be referenced more often than has been to date.
James Young - a true Celtic great.
| APPEARANCES ||LEAGUE||SCOTTISH CUP||LEAGUE CUP||EUROPE||TOTAL|
Major Honours With CelticScottish League Titles
- 1904-05, 1905-06, 1906-07, 1907-08, 1908-09, 1909-10, (six in a row)
- 1913-14, 1914-15, 1915-16, 1916-17, (four in a row)
- 9 times
Quotes"I am only captain in carrying out the ball. When we get on the park they are all Captains!"
Sunny Jim Young
By David Potter (from KeepTheFaith website)
"Oh, Sunny Jim
Oh, how I envy him"
"Vigour, Vim, Perfect Trim
That's what made him - Sunny Jim"
Sadly, there is no-one left alive who saw Sunny Jim play. He was born in Kilmarnock in 1882, and like many an early Celt, had no Catholic or Irish connection. Like many an early (and later) Celt however, he ended up with his heart no place other than at Celtic Park , having imbibed the Maley ethos of the way that the game is to be played and the way that one's life is to be led.
His career was foundering at Bristol Rovers after he had gone south from Ayrshire, and it was by pure chance that he joined Celtic. Scout Mick Dunbar was in Bristol in 1903, on Maley's instructions, trying to lure Bobby Muir, an outside right, to join Celtic, and Young "happened to be nearby and overheard" and volunteered his services as well. Muir said that Young was good, Dunbar took him at his word and the result was that the two of them played in the 1904 Scottish Cup Final where Celtic beat Rangers 3-2 and launched the greatest team yet seen on earth.
Jim, Jimmy, Jamie or Sunny (so called because of an advertisement for a breakfast cereal) started off as a centre half. He was the first centre half to wear the Hoops on August 15th 1903, but by spring of 1904, the mighty half-back line of Young, Loney and Hay assembled. There were no equals to that stranglehold of a half back line then, and one doubts where there have been since.
Six consecutive League titles followed between 1905 and 1910, and in two of these years (1907 and 1908) the Scottish Cup was won as well. Only the Hampden riot of 1909 prevented another. The Glasgow Cup, much sought after in Edwardian times - indeed older and possibly more prestigious than the Scottish Cup itself - was annexed five times, and the Charity Cup twice.
Sunny's contribution was immense in the vital area of right half. Those of us who saw Bobby Murdoch in his prime may perhaps have some idea of how vital Sunny Jim was to that team of all the talents.
If there was a down side to Sunny's play it was perhaps that he dished out the raw meat rather too freely and could lose his temper. This was particularly true of the 1905-06 season when he was suspended for kicking a Partick Thistle player, but such was his relationship with Manager Willie Maley (who convinced him that he was far too good a player to be sitting in the stand) that Sunny very soon learned to keep on the right side of the law.
It was probably his abrasive nature that prevented him being capped for Scotland as often as he should have been - only once against Ireland in Dublin in 1906 - but this gave him more time to dedicate himself to the cause that he now loved to distraction - that of the green and white.
After 1910, the Club re-grouped as Maley's first brilliant side aged simultaneously, but Sunny was still there winning Scottish Cup medals in 1911 and 1912 and nourishing and developing the precocious talent of the young Patsy Gallacher.
By 1911, when Jim Hay went to Newcastle United, Sunny Jim was made captain and what an inspiration he turned out to be! By 1914 another great team had emerged with the Double winning team of 1914 possibly set to equal the achievements of the previous one - but for the beginning of the First World War. This meant that the 1914 Scottish Cup was Sunny's last, even though the League and the Glasgow Cup continued.
Celtic won the League in 1915, 1916 and 1917, but the 1917 Championship was won without Sunny, who had injured his knee in a game against Hearts on September 30th 1916, was in hospital for a long time after that and was never able to don the green and white Hoops again.
Pictures of the great man show a rugged, determined look with short fair hair - something that made him instantly recognisable - until 1914 when there is a picture of him with the team holding the Scottish Cup. The determination is still there, but the hair has turned blacker! It was the fair hair that was the attraction on Celtic's many European tours of that era. Germans and Norwegians claimed him for their own. Perhaps it was the fear of looking German that made Sunny dye his hair in 1914? Or perhaps it turned that way naturally.
As with Stein's team of the late 1960's, it is often invidious and unfair to single anyone out, but Sunny Jim was a permanent fixture at a time of unparalleled and sustained success in which even the bad years were good ones. In fact there was only one season - 1913 - when no national tournament was won, and even then the Glasgow Charity Cup was annexed in the last game of the season. Jimmy Young could not let his beloved Celtic not win anything!
Some Celtic historians, notably the venerable Eugene MacBride in his ‘Alphabet Of The Celtic', have no hesitation in naming him as the greatest Celt of them all. That is an ambitious claim, but 10 League Championship and 5 Scottish Cup medals are cogent arguments. And which supporter of has not heard of Young, Loney and Hay?
On a personal note, pupils at a Fife school one day must have been puzzled when their Latin teacher (not normally prone to eccentricity and normally not bothered where his pupils sat) insisted that Carol Loney had to sit between Ian Young and Jennifer Hay! The said Ian Young was even more puzzled to hear his teacher call him "Sunny"!
Like many great Celts, Sunny's end came suddenly only a few years after injury had forced him out of the game. He died on September 4th 1922 in a motorcycle accident at Wellington Bridge between Hurlford and Kilmarnock , not far from his home in Ayrshire. He had only turned 40, and newspapers described him as "Sunny Jim of the Celtic". He would have loved that!
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