Footballer with Celtic and St Mirren

Born: May 21, 1943

Died: December 11, 2019

IAN Young, who has died aged 76, was a professional footballer who played for both Celtic and St Mirren.

Born during the Second World War in May 1943, the young Ian, son of Renfrewshire cobbler Thomas, was educated at Barrhead High School and Camphill High School.

He quickly showed promise on the football field, representing Paisley & District Schools. He also played youth football for Neilston Waverley, a club founded by his father, who for many years was match secretary of Neilston Juniors, and in later years Saltcoats Victoria, serving on the committee of the West of Scotland Junior FA.

Waverley were a dominant force in Renfrewshire youth football with Ian playing alongside his brother Bobby (who in later years played senior football with Motherwell). They reached the semi-finals of the Lord Weir Cup (the equivalent of the Scottish Youth Cup) in three consecutive years, losing on one occasion to a late winner from a certain John Greig.

International recognition followed as Ian won Scotland Under-18 & Juvenile International Honours.

He had grown up a Rangers fan – and for a time trained with the Ibrox club under then-manager Scot Symon – but it was ironically Sean Fallon of Celtic who signed him in May 1961 at the age of 18 with chairman Bob Kelly also in attendance.

He was farmed out to Neilston Juniors for Season 1961-62 before making his Celtic debut in the Glasgow Cup Final at Hampden against Third Lanark on 4th May 1962 , a 1-1 draw, retaining his place in the team for the Celtic Park Replay seven days later, won 3-2.

Originally a centre-half, Young had now moved to full-back. His league debut arrived later that year – a goalless draw at Dens Park, Dundee before 14,000 spectators.

Ian Young established himself as a first-team regular in the 1963-64 season, taking over at right-back from regular Duncan Mackay. He would make 45 appearances during that campaign, including seven in the European Cup Winners Cup as Celtic reached the semi-finals before crashing out in spectacular fashion to MTK Budapest in Hungary where they surrendered a 3-0 first-leg lead, going down 0-4.

He played in his first major final for Celtic, the League Cup, in October 1964, suffering a 1-2 defeat to Old Firm rivals Rangers before 91,423 spectators, but the arrival of Jock Stein at Parkhead five months later would transform the club, with Ian playing in the 1965 Scottish Cup Final 3-2 victory over Dunfermline Athletic, Celtic’s first major trophy in eight years.

That same year the full-back represented Scotland against England at Under-23 international level – the outcome a goalless draw at Pittodrie before a crowd of 25,000.

An athletic, strong and tough-tackling full-back, Young added a League Cup Winners’ Medal the following season with a 2-1 win over Rangers before a record attendance of 107,609. His contribution was significant – a crunching tackle on his direct opponent, winger Willie Johnston, in the opening minutes of the game that in his own words was “a mile late”. Johnston was effectively nullified for the remainder of the game – and to this day there are Celtic historians who acknowledge that the booking administered by referee Hugh Phillips for the foul could easily have been an ordering-off. He also found the net in that final – an own goal, heading the ball into his own net.

An ankle injury suffered by the full-back a few weeks later cost him his place in the Celtic line-up, allowing Jim Craig to seize his opportunity. Ian did play against Liverpool in both legs of the 1965-66 European Cup Winners Cup Semi-Final, lost 1-2 on aggregate, and in the goalless draw of yet another Old Firm Scottish Cup Final, only to drop out for the replay, ironically won 1-0 by Rangers with a spectacular goal from Ibrox right-back Kai Johansen.

By the start of Season 1966-67 Jim Craig had established himself in the right-back position, but if injury had initially cost Ian Young his place in Jock Stein’s team, the player himself in later years would acknowledge that the manager’s preference would always have been for an attacking full-back, and he was primarily a defender.

Ian Young’s final game for Celtic was on 15th October 1966 – a 3-0 home league win over Airdrieonians. In total he had played 145 games for the club, netting three goals - each one a penalty.

He was released by Celtic on 1st May 1968, signing for his local club St Mirren for whom he would make 74 appearances in two years before injuries again took their toll.

In 1970 he returned to the junior ranks with Beith before a cruciate ligament injury forced him to retire from the game at 27, coaching junior clubs for a spell.

In later years Ian Young found peace as he dedicated his life to God, becoming heavily involved in Church activities which led to spiritual fulfilment.

His autobiography, Life with The Lions, was published in 2013; he dedicated it to his grandchildren Micah, Joel and Carlin.