WILLIE CALLAGHAN, The Wee Fella'.
Aye, the wee fella' with the big heart. That pretty well sums up Dons right winger Willie Callaghan. It was sheer tenacity that got Willie a hat-trick on his 20th birthday last Saturday against Airdrie when he played in his first Scottish Cup-tie. Although only 5ft. 2in. tall, Willie has a 40in. barrel chest, immensely strong legs, quick reflexes and the determination of a terrier. Being a wee fella' maybe, at one time, had its drawbacks for Willie, but now he finds that it often has advantages.
Born in Glasgow, Willie played for Glasgow Schools Select on ten occasions - at left back! Then when he left St. Francis School to go to Holyrood Secondary School he was converted into a prolific goal-scoring centre.
It was then, at 14 years of age, that he spent a couple years in a coaching class at Celtic Park while playing for St. Francis Juveniles. At 16 years he joined Arsenal but became homesick a year later and returned to Glasgow. Twice he played trials for Celtic but it would seem that his height, at that age before he had broadened out and matured physically, was against him and he was not offered terms. Then after a year as a reinstated juvenile he joined East Stirling. At last Willie began to make real headway.
Last season he was seen playing at Firs Park at inside forward by manager Tommy Pearson, who had gone south to see a couple of second division games. Willie's energy, enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment of the game impressed the Dons manager, who decided he must watch his progress. The result - a surprised and delighted Callaghan found himself an Aberdeen player at the beginning of October this season. "It has been a season full of surprises for me," says Willie. "I didn't play a great game by any means the night Mr. Pearson saw me this season, but I suppose he saw something that pleased him. Anyway I signed the next day and found myself in the Dons first team against St. Mirren on the Saturday. That was another surprise. Last season I scored only two goals playing in every forward position and also at left half. Now I've seven goals to my credit since coming to Pittodrie Park. Yes, life can be full of surprises."
If Willie has a worry it is in sometimes being over-praised. Like most of us Willie likes praise. "But it's not always easy to live with when you know you have still got a lot to learn," he says. Before last week's cup-tie Willie livened up the Dons dressing room with a comic dance and other antics. "He's just the type to have in a team when the strain's on," says trainer David Shaw.
FOOTNOTE.-" If Willie plays well he is sure to become a personality," says Tommy Pearson. Says Willie: "It's the first bit that worries me!"
Source: Pittodrie Match Programme, 23rd December 1961