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AFC Heritage Trust Feature | Paddy Buckley

June 7, 2019 12:00 pm Author: Derek Giles
AFC Heritage Trust Feature | Paddy Buckley


With terrific acceleration over the first ten yards, Paddy Buckley was lightning fast and at only 5 feet 6 inches tall he was also a prodigious leaper who was capable of out jumping any opponent.

Originally signed by St Johnstone from junior club Bo’ness United his signing was almost immediately challenged by Celtic who also claimed to have signed the player.

The incident caused a great deal of controversy at the time, more so when after an investigation by the SFA it was found that Celtic’s registration of the player had been related to the previous season.

In addition it had been lodged without the player’s consent so the result was that Celtic were severely censured and Saints were allowed to keep the player. Paddy would remain at the Perth club for four seasons and he was top scorer in every one making him the most sought after forward in the ‘B’ Division.

In his third season at the club he celebrated the new decade of the 1950s by scoring hat-tricks on the first two days of the New Year. By the end of January he had scored 13 goals in 6 games, including four goals against Leith Athletic in the Scottish Cup. Despite Paddy scoring 104 goals in 142 appearances over his four seasons at St Johnstone they were unable to gain promotion to the top flight and it was inevitable that they would have to sell Paddy. Despite numerous clubs being interested in Paddy, including Tottenham Hotspur it was Aberdeen who won the race to sign the striker in a £7,500 deal in May 1952.

However, despite his prolific goal scoring feats the decision to sign the player had not been as easy as it seemed as manager Dave Halliday would later relate, “We had hit a bad spell and were in sore need of a centre. Paddy had been making the headlines at St Johnstone. It took about four trips from me and the directors to go and see him. When we discussed the possibilities of making a move we just could not make up our mind. I was inclined to go with my instinct and decided that we should move for him. I liked what I saw in him with his full range of abilities and that lightening quick turn of speed.”

Despite their reservations, there was no doubt that they must have been impressed by the fact that the week leading up to his move to Pittodrie he scored eight goals in seven days.

Scoring four goals against East Fife on the Saturday swiftly followed by a midweek hat-trick against Breadalbane in the Dewar Shield and one in his last game for St Johnstone against Clyde in the Supplementary Cup.

Paddy signed on at Pittodrie by scoring a neat opening goal in the first pre-season trial match Buckley and showed what he was capable of when he repeated the feat on his debut against Motherwell. Jackie Hather beat Motherwell full-back Willie Kilmarnock for possession and cut the ball into the middle for Buckley to glide it home with his head.

Paddy would go on to score 10 goals in 10 appearances between October and December 1952. He would also go on to score four goals in nine Scottish Cup appearances as the Dons made it to the 1953 Scottish Cup Final only to be beaten in a replay by Rangers. Almost ever present he would end his first season with Aberdeen having scored 16 goals.

The following season would see Paddy score seventeen League goals including a double against Celtic in a 2-0 victory in January 1954. In the Scottish Cup Paddy would begin the campaign by claiming four goals in an 8-0 thrashing of Duns and end it by scoring Aberdeen’s only goal in a 2-1 defeat to Celtic in the Final.

In total Paddy had scored 27 goals for the season which was a quarter of the 101 goals Aberdeen had claimed in all competitive matches.

The season had also seen Paddy make his debut for Scotland against Norway in May 1954. He would appear for Scotland twice more against Northern Ireland and Wales where he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win. Unfortunately he was competing against both Willie Bauld and Laurie Reilly for the centre forward position and these three appearances would be his only representation for his country at full level.

The 1954-55 season began with Buckley scoring six goals in 6 appearances in the League Cup including four in a 5-1 victory over the eventual qualifiers from the group East Fife. He would also claim a double in a 2-2 draw against Clyde in the Scottish Cup Semi-Final but unfortunately the Shawfield club would win the replay 1-0 to end the Dons hopes of a third consecutive final.

It was to be the League however that Aberdeen would triumph and Paddy would claim a further 17 goals including a hat-trick against Rangers in a 4-0 home victory in April 1955. That season would see him score a goal that probably summed up Paddy more than any other. Aberdeen travelled to Easter Road to play Hibernian on the 3rd January 1955 and in a tight game a high clearance from Fred Martin dropped down towards the halfway line. Paddy stood there with Jacky Plenderleith breathing down his neck.

As the ball hit the ground Paddy suddenly leapt in the air, letting the ball pass below his feet. This manoeuvre took the centre half by complete surprise and the ball bounced over Plenderleith’s head! By the time he had recovered, Paddy was racing away down the slope before placing the ball behind Tommy Younger for the only goal of the game.

However, there was always the feeling that perhaps his only fault was that he missed too many chances. On one occasion missing an open goal from two yards out in front of the Merkland Road end he turned to the crowd with a shrug of his shoulders and a huge grin. Buckley always seemed to be smiling and was the joker in the Dons pack on and off the field however his wide grin belied a burning desire to succeed.

The 1956-57 season had started well for him as Paddy scored five times in nine games to help the Dons to the League Cup Final, where despite not scoring Paddy assisted Aberdeen to their first ever League Cup triumph. Unfortunately Paddy suffered a knee injury against Raith Rovers in November 1955 which resulted in him having to have cartilage surgery and he was only able to return in April 1956.

However, it was obvious that he had returned too soon and despite scoring against Kilmarnock he was out after only four games as his attempt to regain fitness was aborted and his fragile knee was now a major concern. It appeared that he was a pale shadow of the spring-heeled forward that had caused opposing defences so much problems in the previous seasons.

As the 1956-57 season approached there was a question mark over Paddy’s fitness and whether or not he had recovered 100 per cent from last season’s knee cartilage operation. ‘Speedy Still’ was the P&J headline in August 1956 and despite the question over his fitness the reports from the games in the pre-season tour in Canada were encouraging.

There was however rumours of discontent off the pitch and that Paddy was wanting to leave the club and move back to the Edinburgh and to a house of his own. The omens were not good as Buckley was dropped against Rangers in the League Cup two games into the season in August 1956 to make way for Norrie Davidson.

The local press related to the fact that Buckley relied on two factors, speed and confidence and with his speed apparently gone forever, Paddy was finding it difficult to adapt to a different style.

However, he returned to the team for the start of the League season and scored in all of the first four games. But again his knee was seen as fragile and he was again out returning against Dunfermline in November 1956 where he looked sharper and more confident. It was reported that Buckley had been seeing a specialist as he had failed to recapture his speed in the reserves and that manipulative training had seen an improvement in his knee. It certainly seemed to have done the trick Paddy scored five times in eight games before muscle trouble meant he was a late call off against Partick Thistle in January 1957.

Although fit for the next game against St Mirren and with both Leggat and Boyd out injured Paddy found himself on the right wing. His appearance in that position was not a success and despite being fit for the next game, Norrie Davidson was chosen over him at centre forward. Paddy found himself in the reserves but unfortunately broke down with a recurrence of his knee injury and was side-lined.

Despite returning to the reserves and scoring twice in 2-1 victory against Partick Thistle at Pittodrie to win the 2nd XI Cup 6-2 on aggregate Paddy’s footballing career was effectively over and he retired at the end of the season. There was however reputedly some bitterness on Paddy’s part as there had been demands on him to play while he was evidently not fit. The fact that he had been forced to return to first team action too soon after his injury saw Paddy so infuriated that he raised a court action in Edinburgh against the club in June 1959 planning to claim damages from the club.

However, he had weakened his case by turning out in a couple of Highland League games for Inverness Caledonian and compensation was denied. The legacy from his playing days was some troubled times, and he never recovered from the physical damage inflicted on him. He returned to his native Leith and ended his working days as a car-park attendant. Paddy was latterly to be found in frail health in a nursing home in Tranent, East Lothian where he sadly passed away in November 2008.

Patrick McCabe Buckley

Aberdeen FC Heritage Trust profile click here

Role: Centre Forward (1952-57)

Height – 5’6½”

Weight – 11st.12lbs

Born –  Leith, Edinburgh 31st January 1925

Died – Tranent Nursing Home, 4th November 2008


Bo’ness United/St Johnstone 3rd July 1948/Aberdeen 29th April 1952 £7,500, Released on 30th April 1959/Inverness Caledonian circa 1958

Motherwell v. Aberdeen LC 9th August 1952 L2-5 scored. 1



Scottish Division One Champions – 1954-55

Scottish League Cup Winners – 1955-56


Caps (3):-

v Norway, Wales and Northern Ireland

League (2):-

  1. League of Ireland, English League


Aberdeen FC Career

League SC Cup LG Cup Euro Total
App Gls App Gls App Gls App Gls App Gls
 1952-53 27 9 9 4 4 2 0 0 40 15
1953-54 29 17 5 7 4 3 0 0 38 27
1954-55 28 17 6 5 6 6 0 0 40 28
1955-56 10 6 0 0 10 7 0 0 20 11
1956-57 13 9 0 0 2 0 0 0 15 9
107 58 20 16 26 18 0 0 153 92




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