Charlie Shaw is one of the most remarkable goalkeepers never to have played international football and a legend in Celtic goalkeeping. Born in Twechar in Dumbartonshire in 1885, a very small goalkeeper (remarkable enough in itself) at only 5 foot 6 inches tall, little is known of his early days but he started his professional career for Queens Park Rangers, for whom played 223 games over 7 years missing only 3 matches for before signing for Glasgow Celtic in May 1913 for £250. Over the next 12 years at Celtic he amassed 436 appearances, six league titles (1914-1917, 1919 and 1922) and two Scottish Cups (1914 and 1923), including 240 shut outs. Despite never playing for Scotland, he did represent The Scottish League 3 times in matches against The Football League. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about Charlie is his incredible record of consecutive clean sheets from 13 December 1913, when he and his defence did not concede a goal for an amazing (estimated) 1,287 minutes. The duck was finally broken on 28 February 1914 when Falkirk at home defeated Celtic 1-0, a record that stood nearly 100 years before it was broken by Edwin Van Der Sar with 1311 minutes. Below is a breakdown of the 1,287 minutes Shaw went unbeaten:
- Raith Rovers 1-2 Celtic League Sat 13 Dec 1913 66mins (Raith scored in the 24th minute)
- Celtic 0-0 Motherwell League Sat 20 Dec 1913 90mins
- Ayr United 0-6 Celtic League Sat 27 Dec 1913 90mins
- Celtic 4-0 Rangers League Thu 01 Jan 1914 90mins
- Partick Thistle 0-0 Celtic League Sat 03 Jan 1914 90mins
- Clyde 0-1 Celtic League Mon 05 Jan 1914 90mins
- Celtic 4-0 Dumbarton League Sat 10 Jan 1914 90mins
- Dundee 0-1 Celtic League Sat 17 Jan 1914 90mins
- Celtic 1-0 Airdrieonians League Sat 24 Jan 1914 90mins
- St Mirren 0-3 Celtic League Sat 31 Jan 1914 90mins
- Clyde 0-0 Celtic Scottish Cup Sat 07 Feb 1914 90mins
- Celtic 2-0 Clyde Scottish Cup Tue 10 Feb 1914 90mins
- Celtic 3-0 Greenock Morton League Sat 14 Feb 1914 90mins
- Forfar Athletic 0-5 Celtic Scottish Cup Sat 21 Feb 1914 90mins
- Falkirk 1-0 Celtic League Sat 28 Feb 1914 51mins (Falkirk scored in the 51st minute)
Even more outstanding, is that until Raith had scored against him (in the match on 13 Dec 1913) he had gone the following games since playing Aberdeen on 4th Oct 1913 (who scored in the 2nd minute in that match) and about 900 minutes without conceding:
- Celtic 2-1 Aberdeen League Sat 04 Oct 1913 88mins
- Aberdeen 0-1 Celtic League Sat 11 Oct 1913 90mins
- Celtic 1-0 Dundee League Sat 18 Oct 1913 90mins
- Rangers 0-2 Celtic League Sat 25 Oct 1913 90mins
- Celtic 4-0 Kilmarnock League Sat 01 Nov 1913 90mins
- Queen’s Park 0-2 Celtic League Sat 08 Nov 1913 90mins
- Dumbarton 0-4 Celtic League Sat 15 Nov 1913 90mins
- Celtic 1-0 Hamilton League Sat 22 Nov 1913 90mins
- Airdrieonians 0-1 Celtic League Sat 29 Nov 1913 90mins
- Celtic 3-0 Third Lanark League Sat 06 Dec 1913 90mins
If only Raith hadn’t scored (but they did), he would have went at least 2,203 mins in all comps and 1,933 mins in the league without conceding!!!
He was an excellent reader of the game and he developed a great understanding with Alec McNair and his other defenders. “Get it back tae Charlie!” was a common call.
According to legendary Celtic manager Willie Maley: “Shaw, McNair and Dodds understood one another so well that they developed the pass-back into a scientific move of which there have been many imitators but none to equal the originators. It was indeed a spectacle to see either McNair or Dodds passing, with unerring accuracy and cheeky coolness, the ball to Shaw two yards away, with the opposing forwards almost on top of them. That was their method of getting out of a corner, which in all probability would otherwise have been fatal.” (Weekly News 25 July 1936)
He became Celtic captain in September 1916 following “Sunny” Jim Young’s retirement (1916) and his commanding voice was heard throughout games offering encouragement and instructions to his team-mates. The captaincy even today is a rare honour for a goalkeeper, and this shows how highly thought of he was by his peers and coaches.
He was also immensely popular with the supporters!! Notably, the fans at one game in 1922 were singing his name and praises to him, which is said to have struck one reporter as an “extraordinary stupid idea” to sing for a goalkeeper. It reflected more just how out of touch that journalist was, and also his clear lack of knowledge of Shaw and his reputation & achievements.
In 1925 he went to join ex Celtic legend Andy McAtee in the United States and played for New Bedford Whalers, and he died of pneumonia in New York City in 1938.