Bainsford, Stirlingshire born winger Charlie Napier played junior football for Grangemouth Sacred Heart in 1926, Cowie Thistle Juveniles in 1927 and Alva Albion Rangers in 1928, from where he was signed that October by Glasgow Celtic, before they immediately loaned him out for a spell at Maryhill Hibernian. He made his Scottish League debut for Celtic in a 2-1 win over Queen’s Park on 19th October 1929. Known by the Celtic fans as “Happy Feet” because of his dazzling footwork, he also had the misfortune to be in the Celtic team the day goalkeeper John Thomson suffered his fatal accident in 1931. He won the Scottish Cup with them in both 1931 and 1933, scoring 92 goals over the next 7 years in exactly 200 appearances before Derby County signed him in June 1935 for £5,000.
By then he was in the Scotland team for whom he played 5 internationals between April 1932, when he made his debut in a 3-0 defeat to England at Wembley, and May 1937, his final cap coming in a friendly in Austria, scoring 3 goals for his country including two to beat Wales 3-2 in November 1934. He also played twice for The Scottish League, both times against The Football League, scoring twice on his debut in a 3-0 win at Maine Road in November 1932.
His Football League debut came at Everton in August 1935 and in his first season at Derby they finished runners up in the League Championship. He scored 13 goals the following season as they finished 4th. After 26 goals in 88 games at County he transferred to Sheffield Wednesday in March 1938, playing 59 games for them and scoring 12 goals. He missed only one game in his only full season for Wednesday in 1938-39, when they finished 3rd in the League Championship. But his career was effectively ended at the highest level by the Second World War, after which he also played for Falkirk in 1945 and Stenhousemuir in 1946. .
The excellent Celtic Wiki website tells a story from Eddie Hapgood’s book Football Ambassador that is amusing and a great tribute, about Arsenal’s game preparation in the late 1930’s. Hapgood tells an anecdote about his old boss at Arsenal, Mr George Allison, a man he describes as being a “rotund gentleman with a commanding presence and deep voice.” According to Hapgood shortly after Allison was appointed at the club he came into the team discussion and took charge summing up the following day’s game thus: “You are playing Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow and the danger man is Charlie Napier. You, Crayston (Jack Crayston, our international right-half) have the job of marking Napier – wait a moment, let me finish and then give me your views (this as Jack tries to break in), don’t leave him, and don’t let him have the ball. And now Crayston, what have you to say?” ………”Only this, Mr Allison,” mildly returned the player, “Napier plays for Sheffield Wednesday, but we play Blackpool tomorrow!”