‘That goal has brought me nothing but happiness’
STEVIE Chalmers, the scorer of Celtic’s most important goal, had a gift for upsetting the odds. Chalmers completed the comeback as 11 men from within a 30-mile radius of Glasgow beat favourites Inter Milan 2-1 to win the European Cup in 1967. But he won his biggest battle more than a decade earlier after contracting tuberculosis meningitis aged 20. His survival was hailed as a “triumph of modern medicine” and he went on to fulfil his dream of playing for Celtic, scoring 231 goals and winning 15 trophies. Thomas Stephen Chalmers was born on Boxing Day, 1935, the youngest of five siblings. Football dominated his early years in Glasgow’s East End. Chalmers left school aged 14 and worked in a tool shop and furniture warehouse, but his goal was to become a footballer. He played for Kirkintilloch Rob Roy and featured in FA Cup preliminary rounds for Newmarket Town during national service at RAF Stradishall, but fell seriously ill following his return to Glasgow. Chalmers spent six months in Belvidere Hospital, next to Celtic Park, but found a saviour in Peter McKenzie, who pioneered the treatment of draining spinal fluid. Dr McKenzie later told Chalmers he was the first of his patients to get out alive and presented the case as a “triumph of modern medicine”. After rediscovering his fitness by road running and chasing after buses, Chalmers played for Ashfield and won Scotland Juniors honours in January 1959. Weeks later he joined Celtic despite receiving bigger financial offers from elsewhere. Chalmers soon became a regular goalscorer but the early 1960s were barren years for Celtic with chairman Robert Kelly often overruling McGrory, then manager, on team matters. Things changed dramatically when Jock Stein took over as manager in March 1965, having been promised full control. Celtic won the Scottish Cup a month later – their first trophy in eight years – and kept on winning. The high point came in May 1967 when Chalmers’ deft touch in Lisbon completed a clean sweep of trophies and continued his record of scoring in every round of the club’s first European Cup campaign. Chalmers later said: “That goal has brought me nothing but happiness. My only tinge of regret is that my father never got to see it; he had passed away shortly before we got to the final in Lisbon.” Chalmers went on to play for Morton and Partick Thistle before becoming sales manager for the Celtic Pools. Chalmers retired after a stress-related heart attack in the late 1980s and later moved from Bishopbriggs to Troon, where he indulged his other passion for golf, although he continued to work as a match-day host at Celtic Park. His family announced he was suffering from dementia when he was unable to attend the Lisbon Lions’ 50th anniversary celebrations. Chalmers and wife Sadie had six children.