IN MANY respects Jock Weir could scarcely be considered a major Celtic player. He spent only some four years with the club and was a regular rather than a prolific goalscorer. Yet on April 17, 1948, he held the fortunes of the club in the palm of his hand.

Those immediate post-war days were grim. Relief that the war was over was tempered by the almost universal shortages of food and other essentials. Petrol was rationed, football teams travelled by coach if they could get one and by train if they could not. It therefore gladdened the hearts of Celtic supporters to see that apparently their club had realised the error of its ways in its attitude to war-time football. Celtic had at last entered the transfer market in a pretty big way. They had signed Jock Weir from Blackburn Rovers for the

highly respectable sum of (pounds) 7000.

This was taken by the supporters to indicate that their team had decided to rejoin the ranks of serious football clubs. This had certainly not been the case in the previous 10 years. Under Willy Maley and Jimmy McStay Celtic had treated war-time football with contempt and in pursuance of this policy players such as Matt Busby, Willy Buchan, and the brothers O'Donnell, Frank and Hugh, all of international calibre, all of them with the exception of Busby ex-Celts on offering their services, were turned down with scarce a word of thanks.

The one player of undoubted international class that Celtic's war years produced was goal-keeper Willy Miller, who significantly was considering his options. He would be the one player who would not be going full time on the arrival at Parkhead of Jock Weir.

The latter could not halt Celtic's dramatic slump immediately and by the end of April relegation stared Celtic in the face. Well perhaps not so much stared in the face as peeped shyly round the corner. For relegation to happen some 20 results had to work out in a particular way. There were those of us who thought it unlikely that things would be allowed to work out in that particular way. Nevertheless, a crowd of 31,000 was

sufficiently trusting to turn up at Dens Park and with half an hour to go Dundee were 2-1 up and visits to Alloa and Cowdenbeath were a distinct possibility for Celtic.

Oddly enough, Celtic used the dapper Weir better on that day than at any time afterwards. He was not a very thoughtful leader of a forward line, such as John McPhail. But Mcphail suffered from a fatal lack of pace. Weir was uncomplicated, very speedy, and possessed of a good shot but Celtic always vacillated between playing him on the right wing and turning him loose through the middle.

That spring day at Dens Park he scored two late goals to complete his hat-trick and restore the cynical smile to the faces of those who had always doubted the relegation scenario.

In football, however, there are certain transfers which are more important than their mere statistics. Such was the transfer of Pat Stanton from Hibernian to Celtic, a path also trodden by Jock Weir though indirectly. Celtic began to realise the potential of their support. Jock Weir scored two goals in the Glasgow Cup final against Third Lanark in 1948 and if that seems small potatoes let me give you the attendance. Eighty seven thousand, yes, you read it correctly, 87,000.

The adjective most frequently applied to Weir was ''dashing''. He was not a heady

player and this was the exact opposite of John McPhail. But his signing was influential. Suddenly Tully, Collins, Fernie, and Mochan were in the side. The team was still a collection of talented individuals who essentially played off the top of their heads.

A player can be unlucky and it is my contention that Jock Weir was so during his time at Parkhead. By a matter of weeks he missed Jock Stein who was to transform everything. By an even unkinder cut, he was on his way, via Falkirk to that part of south Wales which Jock Stein had briefly made his own.

Just more than 100 matches played for Celtic, 38 goals scored and no caps at a time when the direct opposition for the job included Willy Thornton, Willy Bauld, and Lawrie Reilly and we have not begun to mention the Anglos. Yet in a way he was one of the most important post-war signings. If you could get 87,000 to Hampden to watch an indifferent side, what might a good team not attract?

Football fans are fuelled by hope and the hope with Jock Weir was that an end was in sight to the policy of signing young and basically untalented players. In Jock Weir's exuberance the fans saw the possibility of a better future.