Lochgelly, Fife born right half Charles ‘Chic’ Geatons, signed for Glasgow Celtic in October 1927 from Lochgelly Celtic as a raw youngster who legendary Celtic manager Willie Maley believed would go on to be a top class defender. Geatons eventually made his Scottish League debut as a right back when Celtic drew 2-2 in a clash with Aberdeen at Parkhead on March 16th 1929. At first lacking pace, he worked on his game and gave his all, a whole-hearted player who endeared himself to the supporters. He would eventually establish himself as the regular right half but his versatility allowed him to slot into any position in the defence.
As a stalwart in the Celtic defence Geatons was a tough tackling player who played the game with the minimum of fuss and with maximum efficiency. He would typically win the ball from attackers and then in just a few touches would play an accurate pass to his forwards and set up a Celtic attack. There have been few players in the history of Celtic who were as consistently reliable and solid as Geatons and few have fought so hard for the cause. Geatons was also the Celtic player who took on the unenviable role in goal at Ibrox on 5th September 1931 after John Thomson tragically received his accidental and fatal injury.
Geatons played five times for The Scottish League, first representing them in a 3-0 win over The Football League at Maine Road in November 1932, winning his last inter league cap in a 3-1 defeat to the same opponents at Molineux in November 1938. Despite this recognition he never won a full cap for Scotland.
One of his finest Celtic moments came against Dundee on 10th December 1932, when he beat man after man then hit a raging shot into the net from outside the penalty box. He was a fine striker of the ball, and chipped in with a fair share of goals for a full back. Celtic hit the buffers after that match, and Geaton’s career suffered too until the return of Jimmy McMenemy as assistant manager (and actually the de facto manager). Celtic then went on a purple patch of form and won silverware that was long out of reach beforehand.
What also benefitted Geatons was that first Peter Wilson left for Hibernian in 1934, and with McMenemy now in charge and a great tactician, Geatons was moved to the right half spot he craved (albeit sometimes deputising as a centre half). Success soon followed at Celtic, benefiting from the defensive unit of Geatons, Lyon and Paterson. To illustrate how much Geatons loved Celtic, once when he was playing for the reserves on 5th March 1938 he heard that Celtic were losing 2-0, he feigned injury so he could come off and go over to the first eleven game to support them (the reserves themselves ended up losing 4-2).
In 1938, when the first team started to decline Geatons is said to have doubled his work rate and “played like a youngster. His amazing running power put hair on his bald bits”. When he went off injured in a match v Clyde in the Glasgow Cup on 11th September 1940, it was said that “it was like the loss of a cotter pin to the Celtic machine”.
Age was creeping up and, he eventually retired as a Celtic great in 1941 after 319 appearances and 13 goals. Sadly, his last match was a humiliating 4-0 defeat by Hibs. In his Celtic career, Geatons won two Scottish League Championship titles in 1936 and 1938, and three Scottish Cups (1931, 1933, 1937) plus the 1938 Empire Exhibition Trophy. Geatons became a coach at Celtic Park in October 1946 – a position he held for four years before resigning in August 1950.