Legends - Jimmy Binning

Jimmy Binning (born Blantyre, July 25, 1927) was a quick and intelligent left back who played 288 games for Queen of the South. As well being capped by the Scottish League, Binning is the only Queens player to be selected for the finals squad of a major international football tournament while still at Palmerston.

 
From season 1948-49 until his departure Jimmy Binning scored six goals in his 84 league games for Arbroath. He was remembered by future QoS team mate, Bobby Black:-
 
"I remember him in the days he played for Arbroath because I used to play for East Fife in those days. He was a good player; I played directly against him then."
 
In 1951 Binning was a close season signing for newly re-promoted Queen of the South. Binning debuted impressively in the pre season St Mungo Cup 3-0 win over East Fife. Another ex team mate, Charlie Brown said of him:-
 
"Jimmy Binning played left back. He was a quiet fellow, rather serious about things. He was always very quiet with a personality that didn’t draw attention, he was always very quiet and reserved. He was very quick. The trainer, Neil Gibson, would say to some of us, ’You shouldn’t be going in like that, you’re going to break your leg’. Jimmy didn’t get into much trouble and he consequently didn’t seem to have much damage done to him where as one or two of us used to get a bad ankle or knee or something. Jimmy was a very measured player, he knew his strengths and he used them to the best of his abilities."
 
All of the most notable results in Queens’ 10th placed first season return to the top flight were at home; Draws against Rangers (2-2) and Hearts (1-1), the 4-0 win against Celtic but the best by a mile was the 5-2 triumph against the Hibs side that motored on to their third title in five years.
 
The next season (1952-53), Queens signed Black who said this of Binning:-
 
"He was a star man, Jimmy Binning. Jimmy was a quiet man. But on the park he could make some amazing sort of… He’s a bit like some of these modern left backs now who resort to run down the wing, don’t they. He was capable of doing that, he used to bring the ball from his own half into the opposing half."
 
Black added, "He seemed to develop, he seemed to pick and chose the times to do it. I can never remember him leaving the team in trouble. I think there was an understanding developed between him and the rest of the defence that when he set off on one of his forays they covered it. He was a good player. He was one of the most difficult backs to play against at that particular time. He got a Scottish League cap so he couldn’t have been a mug."
 
That season Queens again finished tenth, again picking up some notable results along the way. 3 points out of four were taken from Celtic, Hearts were beaten 4-2 and Aberdeen 4-0. Queens had an impact on the destiny of the two horse championship race. Queens had taken 2 points out of four from reigning champions Hibs with a 3-1 win. Rangers had beaten Queens at Ibrox earlier in the season and travelled to Palmerston for the last game of the season, a fixture re-arranged to May 7th that had become the championship decider. Queens were ahead until Rangers equalised 17 minutes from time giving them a finish equal with Hibs on 43 points.
 
As with Hearts in 1965, the stronger-in-attack Edinburgh side lost out on goal average (goal average as a tie breaker favoured defensively stronger teams). The 1965 title race led bitterly disappointed Hearts to drive strongly the rule change for goal difference to be the decider in the event of a level-on-points finish. With massive irony in Hearts strongest league campaign since (1985-86), if the goal average tie break rule had remained then Hearts would have been champions. As it was two goals by Dundee’s Albert Kidd conceded with seven minutes of the season to go cost Hearts the title on goal difference.
 
And so to 1953-54, a World Cup season. The first half of the season saw the best start to a league campaign in Queens’ history. In an impressive season opener Stirling Albion were beaten 4-1 at Palmerston. Even better was a 4-1 win in the next game away to Hearts putting Queens top of the table. The only other side with 2 wins from 2 games was St Mirren, Queens’ next opponents and 4-0 victims of Queens’ fire power. Partick were then beaten 2-1 in Glasgow. Next was the visit of Hibs who were beaten 3-2 in Dumfries before Queens’ 100% record ended with a visit to Dundee.
 
After 9 games Queens were 4 points ahead of the pack on 15 points with 26 goals scored. Celtic had been beaten 2-1 and in a defence-terrifying display of biblical proportions against Raith, rocket Queens scored 5 and hit the woodwork the same number of times. Rovers notched one goal in reply. On November 7th Hamilton Accies suffered an even worse result, a 5 - 0 defeat in Hamilton, to put Queens on 17 points and 31 goals from 10 games.
 
On December 5th Hearts, title contenders like Queens at this point of this season, visited Palmerston - the outcome was honours even in a 2-2 draw. On December 12th it was the turn of reigning champions Rangers to visit the upstarts from the South.
 
It was 0-0 at half time. Early in the second half Jackie Brown had a header cleared away by George Young with Bobby Brown beaten in the Rangers goal. However Jackie Brown was not to be denied and four minutes after the restart he had Queens ahead. A minute later, Rangers equalised through future Scotland manager Ian McColl. In the 58th minute Jackie Brown capitalised on a defensive mistake from Willie Woodburn to round the keeper and slot home. Final score, 2-1 to Queens. Fifteen games played, 22 points on the board, three ahead of second placed Hearts.
 
For the only time in history when Santa was on his annual round and knocking back the sherries, he was able to toast Queen of the South as leaders of the Scottish football league pyramid. The Boxing Day visitors to Dumfries were the fine East Fife side of the time, still under the management of Scot Symon. With only a 5-0 defeat to show for the Fifers, Queens stayed top through Hogmanay.
 
Having been top since the second game of the season, it was great while it lasted. However Hearts overhauled the Doonhamers as Queens’ league form tailed off following a New Year’s Day 5-3 defeat at St Mirren. Queens heavy league wins weren’t over for the season though as Dundee (5-1) and Airdrie (6-2) discovered at Palmerston.
 
Queens played East Fife in the Scottish Cup in January. Despite the Methil men’s impressive cup pedigree of the time, Queens notched an excellent 3-0 win against that season’s League Cup winners. Forfar were despatched by the same score line bringing the next round visit of high flying Hearts.
 
In a game of plenty of action Queens were very much on top in the first half but failed to fully capitalise on the many chances created. Queens scored with Jimmy Greenock dispossessing Jimmy Wardhaugh. Bobby Black and Jackie Brown were then involved in the build up before Wattie Rothera howitzered in a 12 yarder that only ever had one outcome. It stayed 1-0 to QoS at half time. Hearts’ John Cumming shot against Roy Henderson’s cross bar in 57 minutes. In 61 minutes Hearts equalised with Wardhaugh’s header atoning for his earlier error. A minute later Hearts hit the bar again this time from ex Hibs’ Jim Souness. Hearts took the lead in the 79th minute with Willie Bauld setting up Wardhaugh again. Jackie Oakes then hit the bar for Queens but Hearts went through 2-1.
 
Queens eventually finished the league in 10th place for the third straight season. In a tight finish to the middle section of the league table, Queens were only 2 points behind fourth placed Rangers and only one further behind third placed Partick Thistle.
 
Queens’ first half of the season form had been eye catching. However in terms of player world cup selection it was the half furthest from the World Cup. Of the 6 players of the Queens early 50s to attract the attention of international selectors Billy Houliston had retired. Dougie Sharpe, Bobby Black and Jim Patterson all represented Scotland once each below full international level. However the player who could have felt genuinely aggrieved at his omission from the 1954 Scotland World Cup squad was Roy Henderson.
 
Two years had passed since the last of the 25 caps of Jimmy Cowan, the most capped Scottish keeper of his generation. Cowan’s spot in the international side went to the reliable and commanding George Farm. However Farm’s international career was put on hold in April ‘54 after the first game of new manager Andy Beattie. Tommy Younger of Hibs and Liverpool didn’t break through as Scotland goalie until season 1955/56. Rangers offered no keeper for the squad as they declared all their players unavailable due to a club tour to North America. Similarly Hearts were on tour in South Africa.
 
Scotland selected two keepers for the three pre-finals warm up games who both like Henderson were uncapped at the time. Aberdeen’s Fred Martin played in the home and away games against Norway. In a trip to the far side of the Baltic, John Anderson of English Division 2 champions Leicester City earned his only cap against Finland. Martin and Anderson were selected as the goalies for the 22 man finals squad. Martin is fondly remembered at Aberdeen for the fine club performances he put in there. It didn’t work out for him like that playing for Scotland. Martin played in the finals and was adjudged to have been at fault for three of Uruguay’s seven goals. Earning six caps in all, Martin also conceded seven for Scotland against England.
 
Thus the Queens player to receive the greatest recognition that season was Jimmy Binning. Binning was given a Scottish League cap on 28th April 1954 against the English League at Stamford Bridge. Binning was then selected shortly after for the 22 man squad for the 1954 FIFA World Cup. However he was among those denied a trip to the finals by one of the most gargantuan pieces of baffling blundering buffoonery in Scottish Football history - the Scottish Football Association only taking 13 players to the finals in Switzerland. Binning was one of the players who stayed at home on reserve.
 
 

 
Binning’s fellow selected compatriots makes interesting reading.
 
Celtic over took Hearts in the run in to lift the 1954 title. Adding the Scottish Cup to their season’s trophy haul, the double winners provided three players of the 22 in Bobby Evans, Neil Mochan and Willie Fernie (all three travelled, Evans was one of two players who travelled to Switzerland who did not play).
 
With their ‘terrible trio’ strike force (Willie Bauld, Alfie Conn and Jimmy Wardhaugh) Hearts were a match for anyone throughout the 50s never finishing outside the top four. The establishment of Dave Mackay (half Zidane, half The Terminator) in the side in 1954/55 catalysed the side into trophy winners (seven in nine seasons including 2 league titles, one title that included a scorching 132 goals). Hearts’ tour to South Africa didn’t help the Scotland cause – no Hearts players were available for the World Cup squad.
 
Third placed Partick Thistle did not finish outside Scotland’s top 9 in the 1950s. 1954’s third place equals their best ever finishes (1948 and 1963). Also that season’s League Cup runners up, The Jags contributed three players – Jimmy Davidson, John MacKenzie and non traveller Davie Mathers. Another Glasgow side, Fourth placed Rangers supplied no players but if available George Young would have been a certainty to travel as captain (a true giant of the Scottish game, of his 53 caps Young was captain in all but the first five). However, the history books clearly state that Queen of the South provided more players in 1954 for the Scotland 22 man World Cup squad than Rangers and Hearts combined.
 
Fifth placed Hibs were one of four teams to equal Rangers on 34 points. Of their ‘famous five’ internationalist forward line Willie Ormond and Bobby Johnstone were selected to travel but Johnstone was denied by injury from a warm up match at Ayr. Lawrie Reilly (22 goals from 38 full caps) missed out through long term illness (pleurisy). The remarkable Gordon Smith (Smith won Scottish Championships with three clubs - all non ‘old firm’; Hibs, Hearts and Dundee) missed out through a long term injury. Eddie Turnbull had been overlooked for over three years after a disagreement with an international selector. Hibs half back Bobby Combe was selected in ‘54 as a non traveller.
 
6th placed East Fife provided no players for the finals despite having been a solid source of internationalists in the post war decade. One of their ex players, Allan Brown of Blackpool did play in Switzerland. The successful Blackpool side of the era contained three other Scottish internationals. The 1954 and 1958 finals both passed before George Farm regained his international place. Jackie Mudie’s international debut did not arrive until 1956 (Mudie played in the finals in 1958 and in total scored nine goals in 17 Scotland internationals). Hugh Kelly gained a solitary cap in 1952.
 
1954 Scottish Cup runners up were Aberdeen (they had beaten Rangers by a jaw dropping 6-0 in the semi final). League champions the season after, Aberdeen, provided 2 players. They were Fred Martin and ex Queens George Hamilton. Like Martin, Hamilton travelled to witness the appallingly prepared Scottish venture first hand. Further info on the 1954 Scotland world cup expedition is contained in the ‘Queen’s Legends’ article on George Hamilton.
 
Raith Rovers were ever present in the top flight in the 50s, their finest decade. They provided one player for the 22 in Ernie Copland, another non traveller. With Binning, Copland was the only other in the squad who never gained a full international cap. Another Raith player, Willie McNaught from Dumfries, collected five full Scotland caps but was out of favour internationally at the time of the finals.
 
Jock Aird of Burnley was the left back who played in the ’54 finals for Scotland. Of the other ‘Anglos’ in the squad 2 were from FA Cup finalists Preston (Half back Tommy Docherty and right back Willie Cunningham) and 2 were from Portsmouth. The Portsmouth side of the time had clearly peaked with the back to back league titles of 1949 and 1950. However the South coast club finished third the season after the World Cup. Their two players for the ‘54 squad were both non-travelling; Jackie Henderson and Alex Wilson.
 
Jimmy Binning gave Queen of the South seven years great service. He was part of the 1955/56 campaign when Queens finished in their post war best – sixth. Details of the 1955/56 season are listed in the Queens Legends feature on Dougie Sharpe. Binning played 288 senior games for Queens - this places him 20th in the club’s appearances list. This included 221 league games (scoring once) with the Doonhamers in the top tier throughout. His full back partnership with Dougie Sharpe is arguably the finest in the club’s history.
 
Kirk McLean