Tommy Langan – ‘Goalscorer & Air Gunner’

Tommy Langan with poppy

On Sunday 11th October 2020 Glenafton Athletic withdrew from the WOSFL for Season 2020/21 and effectively “suspended operations” during the current global pandemic.

This is second time in the club’s history that it has had to resort to such drastic action. During Season 1939/40 Germany invaded Poland on the Friday 1st September 1939; the next day Glens travelled to Coalburn and returned victorious after a 3-2 win in the 1st Round of the Scottish Junior Cup and the day after that Britain and France declared War of Germany. Foorball continued to be played on and off through the season. At the club’s Annual General Meeting on 5th May 1940, a few months shy of Glenafton’s 10th anniversary –

Sam Dickson, president of the football club then motioned that Glenafton Athletic Football Club suspend operations for the duration of war or until football is resumed in our district and that the balance of the Supporters Club along with the balance of the football club be put in the Co-op Bank. Seconded by J. Ferguson the motion was accepted and Trustees were duly appointed, namely Sam Dickson (President) & Jimmy White (secretary) for the football club and Hugh Brown & (secretary) & Henry Brown (treasurer) for the supporter’s club.

In June 1940, one of their former players and prolific goalscorer Tommy Langan joined the R.A.F. and four years was lost in action and presumed dead. This is a tribute, in his memory, to his footballing years at Glenafton Atheltic

Personal Profile

NAME:Thomas Langan
D.O.B.29 Aug 1915
PLACE OF BIRTH:Galston, Ayrshire
POSITION:Centre Forward

Previous Teams

SchoolSt. Joseph’s, Kilmarnock
JuvenileGalston Cessnockbank
JuvenileLongpark United

Glenafton Athletic Record

1934/35Western League Champions
Western League Cup Winners
Ayrshire Consolation Cup Winners
1935/36Ayrshire Cup Winners
SJFA Jubilee Shield Runners-up
Scored 7 goals in one game
International Cap for Scotland v Ireland
1936/37Irvine and District Cup Runners-up

Clubs after Glenafton Athletic

1937/38Arthurlieplayed 4 games
1937/38Johnstone AthleticWestern League Champions
Moore Trophy Winners
Irvine & Dist. Cup Runners-up
1938/39Johnstone Athletic
1939/40Muirkirk Athletic

THOMAS LANGAN (1915-1944)

Family Life

Tommy Langan was born at Hamilton’s Row, Galston on 29th August 1915, the first child of Tommy Langan, coal-miner and Euphemia Clark. Three years later his sister Euphemia was born and three years after that brother William completed the family.  The family later settled at Brewland Street in the town and it was here in 1929 that Tommy’s father died leaving his widow to bring up three children, aged between 8 -14 years old.


Tommy found worked as an assistant to a local storekeeper while his spare time was taken up by playing football. He played at Juvenile level with local side Galston Cessnockbank and from there progressed to playing centre-forward for Longpark United.  The team were based at Hillhead Park, in his father’s home town of Kilmarnock and played in the Kilmarnock and District Juvenile League.  In February 1934, 18 year-old Tommy’s performance in home cup-tie, 4-2 win over Hurlford caught the eye of the Kilmarnock Herald.

Young Langan was a source of continuous worry to Hurlford’s defence. We had heard glowing reports concerning young Langan, Longpark’s centre-forward. Now we have seen him, and Longpark have made a most promising capture, but we would like to see this lad under less strenuous circumstances.”

A month later the paper was reporting Tommy’s decision to step up to the ranks of Junior football

Longpark United’s promising young centre Langan has taken the Junior ‘shilling’. We would have advised further Juvenile experience before such a step, but nevertheless, we wish this lad every success in his new sphere.”



Tommy Langan’s Junior “shilling” was being paid by Glenafton Athletic from New Cumnock some 16 miles south east of Galston as the crow flies. Glenafton were formed in 1930 and based the heart of to the miners’ rows at Connel Park; their pitch owned by New Cumnock Collieries Ltd. The pitch had been home to senior side Lanemark Football Club from 1875 through to 1920, taking their name from Lanemark Coal Company (who in turn took their name from lands of Lanemark where they owned the lease to work the minerals). After Lanemark folded Junior side New Cumnock United played there from 1919-1928 before they folded.

Glenafton Athletic played in the small South Ayrshire League and played in local, county and national cup competitions.  The Glens won back to back league titles and a clutch of local cups but the league struggled to survive. After several attempts Glenafton and some other South Ayrshire clubs were admitted into the prestigious Western League comprising chiefly of North Ayrshire side. The New Cumnock side gave a good account of themselves and finished 3rd in the league reached the semi-final stage of four cup competitions. In addition, one of their players, William Ferguson was capped and played for the Scottish Junior international side; the first Glenafton player to receive this honour.

Season 1934/35

Tommy Langlan was one of a number of Glenafton’s new signings for the season ahead. He was very much considered to be one for the future as the Glens looked to protect the young centre-forward in his first season in the Junior grade.  The club also paid a fee to Galston FC to allow Tommy to train with them to prevent him from travelling back and forth to New Cumnock during midweek.

The challenge of breaking through to the starting eleven was highlighted in the pre-season training match when the Glens B team, with Tommy at centre-forward, were defeated 3-0, with Serrie scoring a hat-trick for the Glens A team.  Having said that both players scored in the 3-2 league win over Kilwinning Eglinton on Saturday 18th August 1934; which appears to be Tommy’s first goal for the Glens.

The Glens had been challenging at the top of the league from the beginning of the season. Young Tommy didn’t feature in too many games as the club were eager to play their strongest team to maintain the challenge. Indeed, in October 1934 the club received a letter from player Langan “asking for his papers as he thinks he had not been fairly dealt with”. His concerns appeared to have be resolved as he was listed as a reserve for a number of games.

At the beginning of November, he was selected to play in the top of the table clash at home to Dreghorn and scored the third goal in a 3-1 win, which maintained Glens unbeaten league run of played 15, won 10, drawn 5. Tommy was picked as one of the reserves for the 3rd Round Scottish Junior Cup tie at home to Yoker Athletic and also appointed one of the linesmen for the game!

Tommy continued to be named as a reserve for a number of games but come February 1935 the club received another letter from him and an interview followed within the week. Again any issues appeared to have been resolved as Tommy appeared as a reserve and occasionally in the starting line-up. Glens league challenged had faltered slightly with Kilwinning Rangers now favourites to win the race for the flag.

The New Cumnock side turned a corner and Tommy was now a regular starter. On Saturday 13th April 1935 they hosted Ardeer Recreation, a team they had never defeated in their short history. Tommy opened the scoring on 5 minutes and although the visitors equalised a minute later the Glens went on to win 6-1 with Tommy scoring a hat-trick. The Cumnock Chronicle lauded Tommy’s performance –

Glenafton’s policy of nursing young Langan has paid off

Over 200 Glens supporters boarded the “football special train” for the league game away to Ardrossan Winton Rovers where another valuable two points were gathered in a 3-1 win, including a brace from Tommy.

The goals kept coming for the young centre-forward with another double in a 3-0 win over Cumnock Juniors in the 3rd round of the Ayrshire Charities Cup.

By this time the Glens had progressed to the Western League Cup Final where they faced Ardeer Recreation at Somerset Park on Saturday 11th May 1935. A crowd of 2,000 watched the Glens open the scoring through a wonderful goal from Tommy. Barney Jackson headed home another fine goal to secure a 2-0 victory and the Western League Cup was on its way to New Cumnock, the first silverware won by a South Ayrshire club since their admittance to the Western League.


Somerset Park, Ayr, Saturday 11th May, 1935


The weather for the Western League Cup final, played at Somerset Park, Ayr , last Saturday, was excellent from the spectator’s point of view, although it must have been very tiring for the players.

The game started on fast lines, Ardeer coming away with a rush, and looked like carrying everything before them, but Glen’s defence were on their toes, Gray and Brown being specially prominent, and Ferguson doing all that was required of him. Both sets of forwards were purveying football of the first order, the constructive work of both teams being one of the features of the game. Hunter, McAvoy and McGuiness were playing well in a defensive capacity for Ardeer, and on numerous occasions gave Glenafton forwards the turn-about when they threatened danger.

The game had been in progress for 25 minutes when Campbell let Hawthorn away. He careered along the wing and sent over a fast centre which Langan took in his stride and completely beat Hunter. It was a picture goal.

Ardeer had numerous scoring chances, but these were frittered away or ably dealt with by McEwan, who was on top of his game. After 40 minutes play Glen’s forced a corner which was nicely taken by Hawthorn. Jackson had placed himself beautifully, and, rising like a bird, headed into the net, to give the Glen’s a two goal lead at the interval.

Any advantage in the second half was with Ardeer, but they could not find a loophole in the defensive armour of Glenafton’s defence. In the closing stages the Ardeer forwards made superhuman efforts to save the game, but McEwan, Brown, Ferguson and Gray were positively brilliant. Glen’s thoroughly deserved their win for taking their scoring chances. The goals scored by Langan and Jackson were worthy of a cup final victor. Both teams are to be complimented on the quality of the play served up under such trying conditions.

Glenafton: McEwan; Brown & Ferguson; Devlin, Gray & Jackson; Irvine, Gilmour, Langan, Campbell & Hawthorn.

Ardeer: Hunter; McAvoy & Watson; Stewart, Evans & McGuiness; McGoogan, Keenan, Patrick, Leckie & McKenzie.

Referee: R. Benzie, Irvine

Three days later Tommy scored the only goal of the game in a precious league victory away to Saltcoats Victoria.  Glens with one league game to play were now 3 points ahead of Kilwinning Rangers who had two games to play, including one at New Cumnock in a possible show down. However, Kilwinning lost their next game and Glens were crowned Western League Champions.

On Saturday 25th May 1935 the Glens defeated Dreghorn 3-1 in the Ayrshire Consolation Cup Final at Townhead Park, Cumnock. No goals for Tommy that day, indeed he missed three good chances as he went onto win another medal.

Season 1935/36

Defending Champions Glenafton’s league campaign got off to a disappointing start when an under-strength side lost 2-1 away to Cumnock Juniors, recently admitted to the Western League, with Tommy scoring Glens’ goal. The New Cumnock side then proceeded to knock their local rivals out of three cup competitions in quick succession including the Irvine & District Cup where Tommy bagged a brace in a 3-1 win.

Tommy’s performances were beginning to attract the attention of senior sides and during October he turned out for Kilmarnock reserves and linked with Celtic Alliance side (i.e. reserves)

Celtic and Tommy Langan the Athletic’s centre-forward upon whom Kilmarnock are reported to be sweet, are the other two parties soon likely to stir the transfer market. Tommy is showing his paces with Celtic “A” in the very near future.

On Boxing Day the Glens trounced Troon 9-0 at Connel Park with Tommy opening the scoring on 30 seconds before adding two more to complete his hat-trick before half-time. The young centre-forward fired four more goals into the net after the break to take his tally to 7 and set a new club record. The Glens entered the New Year – top of the league and still in all the cup competitions.

From Boxing Day to a boxing match in January at Lochee Harp in the 4th round of the Scottish Junior Cup after Tommy and Harp’s left-back fell out on 5 minutes and both were ordered off. To add to their woes Harp’s keeper saved a penalty kick on their way to a 2-1 win. February started with a flurry a six-nil thrashing of holders Kilwinning Rangers in the 3rd Round of the Ayrshire Cup at Connel Park. A Langan double and Hawthorn single in each half doing the damage and it could have been much more if not for the heroics of Upward in the Buffs’ goal.

Tommy and John Reid were selected for Scottish Junior South side to the North side in an international trial match at Townhead Park, Cumnock. On Leap Day (29th Feb 1936) Tommy turned for the Celtic Alliance team in a 1-0 win over Hamilton Academical.

Back row: (from left to right): Matthew Devine (Royal Albert); Ernie Gowans (Inverurie Loco Works); James Clark (Cambuslang Rangers); William McLean (Yoker Athletic); Bobby Weir (Larkhall Thistle) (Captain) /1; George Wilson (Bridgeton Waverley( – travelling reserve).
Front row: (from left to right): Norrie Corbett (Musselburgh Athletic); Tommy Robertson (Camelon); Robert McAlonan (Royal Albert; Tommy Langan (Glenafton Athletic); Robert Nicol (Kirkford); John Reid (Glenafton Athletic).

A great honour befell all those associated with Glenafton Athletic when three of their players were selected to represent Scotland in the international match against Ireland in Belfast. Jackie Craig (right-half), Tommy Langan (centre forward) and Johnny Reid (outside left) were the men to be capped. Sadly, Craig was unable to play due to illness and the Scots went down, on Saturday 7th March, to a heavy 4-0 defeat.

No fewer than nine changes were made for the game against Wales at Rugby Park the following Saturday where Tommy was named the reserve centre-forward.

However, Tommy was back at Rugby Park on 28th March as the Glens faced local rivals Cumnock juniors in Ayrshire Junior Cup Semi-final where friends and family from the Galston witnessed another Langan hat-trick

In front of a crowd of 8,000 Cumnock’s Collins opened the scoring after only 11 minutes. Glenafton, fielding their recognised cup-team hit back with four goals before the break, a Tommy Langan double sandwiched between a brace of penalties from Harry Brown. In the second half Langan completed his hat-trick and Hawthorn added a sixth to complete the rout.

Unfortunately, an injury prevented Tommy from returning to Rugby Park for the final at the beginning of April against Irvine Victoria. Only goal-average in favour of the Glens separated the two sides at the top of the Western League while Cumnock were lurking 2 points behind – with a game in hand. A hat-trick from Johnnie Reid secured the Ayrshire Junior Cup for the first time in Glenafton’s history.

The Glens embarked on an intensive run of 16 games, 1 per every 3 days, missing the services of Johnny Reid (trials for Rangers “A”) and then later lost Tommy through injury which put a huge dent in their attempt to retain their title. Although, on his return he scored a hat-trick away at Auchinleck Talbot, it was Cumnock Juniors that went on the be crowned champions and Glens finished in 3rd position.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Scottish Junior Football Association the winners of all the regional associations competed for the SJFA Jubilee Shield with Glenafton representing Ayrshire. They defeated Lanarkshire representatives Coltness United 1-0 at Douglas Park, Hamilton before beating Fife side Thornton Hibernian 3-0 in the semi-final at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock in one of their best displays of the season. Two days later the Glens failed to reach the same heights when they went down to a heavy 4-0 defeat to Ardrossan Winton Rovers in the Western League Cup Final at Stevenston.

On Saturday 30th May 1936 Glenafton faced Renfrewshire side Greenock Morton Juniors in the SJFA Jubilee Shield Final at Love Street, Paisley. Over 1,000 supporters from New Cumnock in the 12,000 crowd saw the Glens let slip a 2-1 lead in the dying minutes. Although Glens took an early lead in the replay, at Paisley again, four days later, Morton Juniors fought back to secure a comfortable 4-1 win.

Season 1936/37

A number of the Glens players stepped up to senior sides and a number of new faces joined the club. The league campaign got off to a good start and Tommy headed the only goal of the game to see of Ardeer Recreation in the 1st round of the Scottish Junior Cup. Tommy hit a hat-trick the following week in a 4-1 home win over Darvel to keep the Glens on Irvine Vics coat-tails in the league. Glenafton travelled to face Cumnock Juniors in the Scottish Junior Cup 2nd Round, the first meeting of the local rivals in the national competition. The New Cumnock outclassed Cumnock with some great play and Tommy scored the second goal in the famous 5-0 victory.

Glenafton were putting up a game that was a revelation to me, their positional play, quick and intelligent passing, clever and speedy wing men who could cross without wasting any time in frills was the best I have seen this season and when Langan eluded McCall and clattered on a second goal, I could see the writing was on the wall as far as Cumnock was concerned.

In November a close encounter at Connel Park saw the home side defeat Duntocher Hibs 3-2 in the Scottish Junior Cup 3rd round. The month ended with Glens on top of the league but close challengers Irvine Vics and Cumnock Juniors had played fewer games.

The New Year began with Glens earning a draw away to Yoker Athletic in the Scottish Junior Cup 4th round and Tommy opened the scoring as Glens went on to win the replay 2-1 at Connel Park.

Glens were now 8 points ahead of Cumnock in the league but had played four more games.

In February Glenafton hosted Forfar Celtic in the 5th Round of the Scottish Junior Cup and Tommy scored a hat-trick in the 5-0 victory. The Glens were through to Quarter-Finals of the Scottish Junior Cup for the first time in their history and would travel to face Arthurlie, of Barrhead, near Paisley at the end of the month. The Glens took an early lead only for Arthurlie to draw level early in the second half. Later it looked like Tommy had put the Glens ahead, only for the goal to be disallowed.

Once Langan worked his way clear of Galt, and his parting shot, which had Brown beaten to the world, rebounded from the bottom of the upright. Eventually he did get the ball into the net only to find the referee disallowing the point for some previous infringement.

The home side then scored the winner and would go on to win the Scottish Junior Cup.

By the end of March, the Glens were still top of the league, however Cumnock were 7 points behind with 4 games in hand. They had also reached the Ayrshire Cup Semi-final where they met Kello Rovers at Rugby Park. Tommy picked up an injury during the game as was pushed out to the wing and the game ended 3-3. The replay the following ended goal-less before Kello scored three goals in extra-time to knock the holders out the cup.

Meantime Cumnock had enjoyed a long unbeaten run in the league. Indeed, a victory over Glens at Townhead Park at the end of the month would have surely secured the title only for the Glens to win 3-0 and keep their hopes alive.  Into May and Cumnock completed their league games to sit top of the league. Glens needed to win all three of their remaining league games to be played over a 5 day period. Sadly, they fell at the first hurdle and would go on to lose all three matches and Cumnock retained their title with Glens runners-up. To add to their woes, they lost out to Kilbirnie Ladeside in the Irvine & District Cup Final; their remaining hope of silverware in a “What might have been” season”.

The Kilbirnie game proved to be Tommy’s last one with Glenafton. The club minutes of the 2nd June 1937 record he was released with a number of other players and was released by the club. A month later the minutes of 4th July recorded

“Letter from T. Langan and enclosing an account from McCabe masseur for treatment he received to injury he received against Kilbirnie at Stewarton. Agreed same be paid.”

Being a forward in Junior football came at a price and Tommy had many a visit to the treatment table. Tommy made his mark as a prolific goal-scorer with Glenafton and brought honour to the club and New Cumnock with his international cap for Scotland.

However, Tommy, an assistant shopkeeper, had already began a new chapter in his life having married Violet Charlesworth a nurse from the neighbouring Newmilns. The 20-year-olds were married at St. Sophia’s Chapel, Galston on 29th April 1936 and settled at 98 Brewland St, Galston. Later that year a daughter, Julia Fraser Langan was born at Newmilns, probably at Violets’ parent’s house. A second daughter Euphemia Clark Langan was born two years later in Newmilns.


Season 1937/38

Season 1936/37 saw Tommy sign for Scottish Junior Cup winners Arthurlie and scored two goals in the four games he played for the Barrhead club who competed in the Central League.  


Season 1937/38

By October Tommy had joined Johnstone Athletic another Renfrewshire side, however they had been admitted to the Western Junior League the previous season. Johnstone had already beaten the Glens 2-1 in the league before Tommy joined. The two sides were competing for the title for most of the season. By November and half way through the league campaign the top 3 were Kello Pl 17 25pts, Glens Pl 18 24 pts, Johnstone P15 23pts.

However, it was the Renfrewshire club and Saltcoats Victoria that set the pace in the second half season, including Johnstone’s 3-1 win at New Cumnock before Johnstone finished the stronger to win the title form Vics by 8 points with Glens a further 6 points to finish in 3rd place. Johnstone also won the Moore Trophy with a hat-trick from Tommy seeing off Ardrossan Winton Rovers in the semi-final before they beat Irvine Vics 3-1 in the final.  They came close to winning a third trophy only for Saltcoats Vics to beat them in the final, after a replay, of the Irvine & District Cup.

Season 1938/39

There was a touch of déjà vu as both champions Johnstone Athletic and Glens competed at the top of the league again. Although scored on his return to Connel Park the Glens secured the points with a 2-1 win. By the end of the year Glens were top of the league on 33 points with Johnstone a point behind with both clubs having played 22 games. In February the two sides again met again with Tommy scoring in a 4-3 win that saw Johnstone leapfrog Glens in the league but by this time Ardeer were top. The race for the title went to the wire with Saltcoats and Ardeer each finishing on 58 points from 38 games while Johnstone finished in 3rd place on 53 points with Glens in 4th a further point behind.


Season 1939/40

In Season 1939/40 Tommy signed for Muirkirk Athletic and on 24th August 1939 he scored one of Muirkirk’s goals in the 3-1 home win over the Glens in the Western Junior League season. On 30th August he scored Muirkirk’s only goal in their 2-1 defeat away to Kello Rovers, crashing the ball past his former team-mate goalkeeper Matt McEwan.

Two days later Germany invaded Poland and the following day 3rd September 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany.  Football continued with stops and starts. At their Annual General Meeting of 5th May 1940 Glenafton Athletic agreed to suspend operations for the duration of the War.

The following month Tommy Langan joined the R.A.F. and four years later he was presumed to have lost his life on 7th June 1944.

SGT. Air Gunner Thomas Langan

Sgt. Air Gunner Thomas Langan

At the invasion of France in June of last Sgt. Air Gunner Thomas Langan was reported missing on operations over enemy territory and a few days before word came through about his younger brother’s death his mother received intimation that he is now presumed to have lost his life on 7th June last year. He was 29 years of age and had been in the R.A.F. since June, 1940. He was a native of Galston and was educated at the same schools as his brother. His wife and two young daughters reside at 77 Blair Avenue, Hurlford.

Followers of Junior football in the county will remember Segt. Langan as a skilful centre-forward who led the Glenafton Athletic team for a number of years. Season 1935-36 was an outstanding year one for him. Besides being capped for Scotland against Ireland he gained with Glenafton Athletic an Ayrshire Junior Cup badge and a runners-up badge in the Scottish Jubilee Shield competition. Before joining the Forces he was playing with Johnstone Athletic. During his schooldays he played with the St. Joseph’s team.

When he was called to the Colours Sgt. Langan was employed by Messrs. Blackwood, Morton and Sons Ltd., Kilmarnock and prior to that had been a motor van driver with Messrs. Ritchie Paper Products, Kilmarnock.

We are sure the whole community will with us in extending sincere sympathy to the bereaved relatives.

Obituary 1945

Tommy’s younger brother, William Langan was killed on 13th April 1945 while serving with the R.A.F.  The names of both men appear on the Galston War Memorial.

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