Chic Charnley was a one of a kind character in Scottish football. Famed for his erratic behaviour, the midfielder was a gifted player on his day, with a career spanning over 22 years and several clubs.
Whilst off the pitch he wants to be known as “loyal”, football was “a totally different thing that was about the will to win”. It’s something that Charnley lived by, with his urge for victory becoming very apparent on the park.
Blessed with technical ability, the 55-year old is best known for his spells at Partick Thistle and a period with Hibs. He played for the likes of Dundee and St Mirren too, but it’s at Firhill where his name will be remembered most.
He will also be known as a no nonsense midfielder. Charnley picked up a name for being a bad tempered player, picking up 17 red cards during his career. The midfielder laughed off the suggestion he was a booking waiting to happen, but admits his discipline problems were “his own fault”.
He’s always been a popular character, with a vast amount of stories from his time in the professional game, including samurai swords and Christmas nights out. Growing up in the working class area of Possil, Charnley believes his upbringing kept him grounded during his time in the Scottish game.
He told NTOF: “Possil was rough, but it was all you were used to. I’ve still got all the friends I had then when I was growing up but it was a good place to grow up. It was a brilliant place to live.
“I never thought I was better than anyone. You never forget where you came from.”
John Lambie and Billy Connolly
The former Jags midfielder had the pleasure of becoming good friends with the late John Lambie. The former Thistle and Hamilton manager first signed him for Accies, before bringing him to Partick on multiple occasions.
Charnley spoke of his great friend with fondness, including a time where they met Scottish comedy icon Billy Connolly after a Partick vs Celtic clash.
“People don’t realise how good a manger he was. Because of the way he was and the way he spoke, people never gave him the credit he deserved. He had a great eye for a player, but I can’t speak highly enough of him.
“It wouldn’t matter if you were the Pope or the Queen, he spoke the same. What I used to love about him is when people seen him, people were in awe of him, but he just treated everyone the same no matter who you were.
“I remember the time we were in Martin O’Neil’s office together and Billy Connolly came in. I was playing for Partick against Celtic in cup competition. It went to a penalty shootout and Celtic eventually beat us. Connolly came into the office and said to Lambie ‘your wee team did well there John’ and he replied to Connolly with ‘ well your wee team were f*****g lucky’.”
“What made it even better was Connolly had big pointy shoes on and Lambie turned to him and said ‘look at your shoes’. Connolly then said to him ‘I’ll ram those shoes up your a**e’. Me and O’Neil were in stitches. Lambie really was brilliant. ”
Sweden and Hibs
Whilst the Partick Thistle legend was well travelled, he never really ventured outside of the UK. He did have one experience abroad though, turning out for Djurgårdens IF Fotboll in Sweden.
Charnley describes how he got there and how it improved his discipline: “I was at St Mirren at the time and an agent got in touch and said would I like to go over to Sweden. So I went over, spoke to them, and trained with them for a couple of days. I said to the wife do you fancy it and she said yes, so off we went.
“I was playing so well at the time that they had to sell me, because of my contract expiring in July. They were offering me all sorts of money to leave and I didn’t want to go. Lambie got wind of this though and I was back at Partick. When I went over there though there was no pressure, nobody knew me and I wasn’t getting wound up because of it.”
Another club he spoke highly of was Hibs. Charnley believes this was the biggest stage he managed to play on, and recalled his unfortunate Edinburgh derby moment.
“Hibs were definitely the biggest club I played for. I wish I went to them earlier in my career. I was 34 when I joined them. They were a massive club.
“There was one Edinburgh derby memory I remember. I missed a sitter from about eight yards out and we lost 1-0. That being said they were terrific games to play in.”
The referees were in for him
A familiar name in the referees notebook, Charnley was no stranger to a booking or dismissal. Whilst he sometimes didn’t help himself, there are other times he felt like they were treating him unfairly.
Charnley recalled what one referee said to him, and hopes to be remembered for something more than his disciplinary record.
“It’s like anything in this walk of life. If something annoys you like the referees did, word got round and they just sought me out. There was a time I got hit with a coin at Easter Road playing against Rangers. The ref was Bobby Tait and I said they’ve just hit me with that coin. He turned round and said ‘Chic that’s all your worth’ and turned away laughing.
” As a footballer, I’d only like to be remembered as someone who put a smile on the fans’ faces. I think I did that.”