Pat Quinn: When the Mighty Quinn went to No 1 at Motherwell and Hibs

Pat Quinn made 251 appearances for MotherwellPat Quinn made 251 appearances for Motherwell
Pat Quinn made 251 appearances for Motherwell
‘The quintessential Scottish inside forward’ dies, aged 84

While undeniably catchy, Bob Dylan could hardly have imagined his song Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn) becoming a football terrace anthem when he wrote it in Woodstock in 1967.

But that is what happened on account of two things. Firstly, the British band Manfred Mann opted to record a cover before Dylan had even released his own version. It was soon being hummed on the high street after reaching No 1 in the British charts in 
early 1968.

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Secondly, although he was reaching the end of his successful Easter Road chapter by then, Hibs had a player for whom the song could have been written: “Come on without, come on within, you’ll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn”.

Pat Quinn, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 84 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, had burrowed his way deep into the affections of Hibees – and also Motherwell fans – long before the song came out.

A mercurial, intelligent inside forward, he was the sort of player Hibs fans like to think represents the Hibs way.

In the space of a few short weeks in the autumn of 1967 he struck a famous hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle before then scoring past Dino Zoff as Hibs crushed Napoli 5-0 in the Fairs Cup to overcome a 4-1 first-leg defeat.

It was little wonder he became the subject of hymns of praise from the fans. “I have just been looking through the Hibs forum,” said his son, Paul, yesterday. “It’s incredible how warmly people remember him after all this time.” That “Mighty Quinn” chorus continued to be heard on the Hibs fans’ jukebox years after he had finished playing although Quinn did later return to Easter Road as Bertie Auld’s assistant for a spell in the 
early 1980s. Quinn also assisted
Auld at Hamilton Accies and Partick Thistle.

As well as finishing a distinguished playing career at East Fife, he managed the Bayview club – initially while continuing to play – for a successful period in the early 1970s. He brought top-flight football back to Methil after a 13-year absence in 1971 and kept the team up for two seasons, finishing as high as ninth in an 18-team league in 1972-73. He also managed at Icelandic club FH Hafnarfjaroar.

Quinn’s place in Easter Road history would be secure even without such achievements as listed above after he became the club’s first-ever substitute
in a competitive game. He replaced Joe Davis near the end of a 5-1 defeat against Clyde at Shawfield in November 1966.

He was already a star even by the time he turned up at Easter
Road in 1963, following a short spell at Blackpool where he played alongside England skipper Jimmy Armfield. Quinn had headed south from Motherwell in October 1962 for a reported £34,000 – a huge fee at the time. When Walter Galbraith, pictured inset, brought him back to Scotland in 1963, Hibs paid £30,000.

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Blackpool manager Ron Suart said: “Pat helped us out of the doldrums last season and was well worth the difference of a few thousand pounds between what we paid for him and Hibs’ transfer fee.”

Quinn was a Scotland internationalist although by the time he joined Hibs he had already won the last of just four caps, which came against Uruguay in 1962. He made three appearances the previous year, with his debut coming in the infamous 9-3 defeat by England at Wembley. It was originally reported that he had scored Scotland’s third goal to make it 5-3. However, the strike was later credited to Davie Wilson.

Ian St John was one of those who wondered why Quinn did not win more caps. St John and Quinn were two of manager Bobby Ancell’s “Babes” at Motherwell, where they formed a talented, if diminutive, front five made up by 
Billy Hunter, Sammy Reid and Andy Weir.

As St John later described them in his autobiography, The Saint: “Five little wizard boys all in a row”. Although he always wanted to play for Celtic – he was rejected for being too small – Fir Park is where Quinn made his name and he is rightly regarded as a Motherwell legend. He scored 119 goal in 251 appearances
between 1955 and 1962. St John, for one, was often in awe of his slightly older team-mate. “Pat Quinn….was the quintessential Scottish inside forward – small, tough and creative,” he wrote in his autobiography.

“He won a few caps for Scotland but it always seemed to me that he was worth more. He was hugely popular in the dressing room, no doubt for several reasons but the overwhelming one was that he was the only one of us to own a car.

“It was a big old Ford Zephyr
into which most of the team crowded from time to time. How was it that a young professional footballer afforded the extraordinary luxury of a car? His father was a bookie.

“Quinn set the tone of our team with his intelligence… 
On Quinn’s best days it must have appeared that we were operating at the end of his string.”

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