There was time in football when the ‘paired’ names of fullbacks for successful teams were well recognised. For example, Hogg and Morrison of the 1938 Empire Exhibition Trophy-winning team; Haughney and Rollo (Coronation Cup 1953); Young and Cox (Rangers’ Iron Curtain side in the years following World War 2); Djalma Santos and Nilton Santos (Brazil 1958); Cohen and Wilson (England 1966; Craig and Gemmell (Celtic 1967); or Brennan and Dunne (Manchester United 1968).
In the years between 1911 and 1918, the names of Alec McNair and Joe Dodds were almost ever-presents in the full back roles for Celtic. During that period, the club won 4 league titles between 1913/14 and 1916/17 plus another one in 1918/19, as well as three Scottish Cups in 1911, 1912 and 1914. There might have been even more Scottish Cup triumphs ha the competition not been suspended from 1914/15 to 1918/19.
The photograph shown is taken at Celtic Park in April 1912, when Celtic met Aston Villa in a friendly, the match finishing in a 1-1 draw. Alec McNair is to the left; Joe Dodds to the right. Note first of all the length of the shorts, right down to the knees if not below. Certainly, the Villa player shown seems to have rolled up the waistband of his shorts and they are still pretty long. The boots reflected the style of the time, fitting up over the ankle, the laces drawn tightly not only round the boot but underneath it as well to hold it in place; while the jersey seems a very solid affair, destined, no doubt, to last a season or two.
There are some other notable details. Firstly, the goalpost seems to be very square with sharpish edges; not much chance of the ball hitting that and slipping into the net. Secondly, there is no ‘arc’ outside the penalty box, as this was not brought in until season 1937/38. And thirdly, the referee seems to be wearing what could pass for jodhpurs, along with proper shirt – with collar and tie – plus a jacket. Ah! the good old days?