Signed for Celtic by Willie Maley from junior club Smithston Albion on New Year’s Eve 1900, Croy, Lanarkshire born centre forward Jimmy Quinn was a quiet and reluctant hero. His impact on The Bhoys was immediate – scoring on his debut at St Mirren as Celtic ran out 4-3 winners in a Scottish League clash on 19th January 1901 although he took several seasons to truly make his mark, playing at outside then inside left before being moved to centre forward where he went on to be an undisputed Celtic legend. Uncompromisingly tough and with the strength of a buffalo Quinn was an explosive talent with both pace and a ferocious shot.
He scored 216 competitive goals in 331 appearances, 187 in the League from 273 appearances, and 29 Scottish Cup goals in 58 appearances, 8 of those goals in Finals (winning in 1904 when he bagged a hat-trick at Hampden as Celtic came from 2-0 down to defeat Rangers 3-2, 1908, 1909, and 1911). Even as a winger he knew his way to goal. In his first Scottish Cup Final of 1901 he may have ended up on the losing side but not before stealing the show with a wonder goal which saw his pace and strength beat six Hearts players before scoring. He won six successive Scottish Championship and five Scottish Cup medals with Celtic.
For Scotland he was capped eleven times between March 1905, when he scored on his debut against Ireland at Parkhead, and March 1913, scoring seven times for his country in total, including four of five goals against Ireland in 1908. Quinn also scored 7 goals in 8 games for the Scottish League between April 1904 and February 1912.
His strike rate of 0.65 for Celtic – almost two goals every three games – is surpassed among Celtic goalscorers only by Jimmy McGrory, Henrik Larsson and Sandy McMahon. As a scorer of League goals, his total of 187 is surpassed only by McGrory’s.
The foundations of Quinn’s enduring fame were laid in the 1904 Scottish Cup Final, when Celtic faced their Old Firm rivals Rangers. At half-time Rangers led by two goals to nil. In the second half, however, Celtic came back to win 3-2, Quinn scoring all the goals. This was the second hat-trick in a Scottish Cup Final. It was 68 years before the feat was repeated by John “Dixie” Deans in Celtic’s 6-1 defeat of Hibs in 1972.
That Cup Final hat-trick was the first a Celtic player scored against Rangers in a major competition. Quinn also scored the second, in a 3-0 League victory on New Year’s Day 1912. He was the only player from either side to have twice scored a hat-trick in an Old Firm match until Ally McCoist emulated him when scoring all three goals in Rangers’ Glasgow Cup Final victory in May 1986 to add to the treble he’d netted against Celtic in the League Cup Final two years earlier. He was the first Celtic player to score 200 goals for the club, and only four others have done so: McGrory, Bobby Lennox (273) Larsson (242) and Stevie Chalmers (228). Over 90 years after his retirement, he remains the club’s fifth highest goalscorer.
Knee trouble eventually brought an end to this most memorable of careers but even as he headed to his playing retirement, he couldn’t help but score. In his single League match in the title winning season of 1913-14 he scored a double over Morton in the League, and in his final season in 1914-15, he scored four goals in six League games as Celtic retained the League title.