If You Know The History – 31st January Jimmy McColl’s last game 1920

For any player, the least comfortable role to take over is replacing a man who was an obvious star in the position.  Jimmy Quinn was very definitely a star for Celtic. Between the years of 1900 to 1915, the centre-forward played 331 times for the club, scoring 216 goals in the process, a tremendous record. 

Just as Quinn’s career was tailing off, a less powerful-looking young man called Jimmy McColl arrived at Celtic Park, having been signed by Willie Maley from St Anthony’s. After the exploits of Quinn, nobody was expecting too much from the new boy but he soon showed that he knew the way to goal and the fans had found another idol.

Over the years from 1913 to 1920, Jimmy McColl was the centre-forward in the sides which won the League Championship in 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1919; held his place for the vast majority of matches in the fabulous unbeaten run of games between November 20th 1915 and April 21st 1917; and scored twice as Celtic beat Hibs 4-1 in the Scottish Cup final replay of 1914, the last year the competition was held before the advent of war. 


In total, Jimmy McColl scored 123 goals in 169 matches, making his final appearance for Celtic against Dundee in a league match at Dens Park on this day in 1920. He then moved to the east to join Hibs, where he continued to knock in the goals, becoming the darling of the Easter Road crowd.

Willie Maley / Peter Johnstone


This photograph was taken in the first weeks of the season of 1909/10. The surroundings would make one think that a match was in progress or about to start and at that time Celtic had played the following games;-

17th August 1909               Hamilton Academicals   (H)          3-1

21st August 1909               Falkirk                                (H)             2-0

29th August 1909               Hibernian                         (A)             0-1

4th   September 1909       Motherwell                     (H)             2-2

11th September 1909      Morton                                             (A)             1-2

My own guess is either the Hibs match or the Morton game and for this reason.

Willie Maley (on the left) is holding under his arm what looks like a flag. Now, originally linesmen consisted of one official from each team but in 1900, the Scottish Football Association put forward a motion that they should be independent and entitled to a fee of 10 shillings and 6 pence (52 and a half pence in today’s money) and a 3rd Class ticket to the ground where the match was taking place.

The idea was undoubtedly a fine one, designed to cut out any bias on the part of linesmen. Unfortunately, as it was a proposal rather than an order, nearly every club ignored it. The poorer ones could not afford it and the richer ones decided to keep in step with their less well-off rivals. So, in 1909, Willie Maley still had the linesman’s flag under his arm, a duty he would undertake only at away matches, hence my reasoning that the photograph was taken either at Easter Road or Cappielow.

The figure on the right of the main photograph is Peter Johnstone, who joined Celtic from Glencraig Celtic in 1908, originally as an inside-forward. He stepped into the first team in 1909 as a left-half, played an important role in the Scottish Cup wins of 1911 and 1912, then moved to centre-half as Celtic did the ‘double’ in 1913/14, the last Scottish Cup before the completion was withdrawn during the 1st World War.

The advent of the war in 1914 made a considerable difference to the life of a professional footballer. As well as the scrapping of the Scottish Cup, international matches were also stopped. Players’ wages were reduced by 25% and later fixed at £1 per week. No wages were paid during the close season and footballers were expected to take their place alongside the other workers in the munitions factories and shipyards. League matches were only confined to Saturdays and holidays; and players could only take part if they had worked the rest of the week.

Peter Johnstone, who had started off his working life as a miner, returned to the pits to help the war effort. At the same time, he helped Celtic to the league title in 1914/15 and 1915/16. Obviously, though, Peter’s social conscience felt the need to do more than that and in March 1916, he signed up and soon joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. While in training in the south of England, he managed a couple of trips back to Scotland, firstly to help Celtic knock Rangers out of the Glasgow Cup ( 23rd September 1916) and then, in his last-ever game for the club, pick up a Glasgow Cup winner’s medal when Celtic beat Clyde 3-2 on 7th October 1916.

Wanting to see more action, Peter transferred to the 6th battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders and was soon in France, where his regiment was heavily involved in the fighting. Tragically, between the 12th and 16th May 1917, Peter was killed at the Battle of Arras, leaving a wife and two children.  His body lies in an un-marked grave but his name is listed on Bay 8 of the Arras Memorial in the Faubourg d’Amiens cemetery in the west of Arras.


Peter Johnstone made 233 appearances in the league and Scottish Cup for Celtic. While training in the south of England with his regiment, he also managed to come back up to appear in a specially-arranged match at Hampden ( 16th May 1916) between a Scottish League X1 and a Celtic X1. The sum of £938 was raised for the Belgian Relief Fund and the teams are shown in this group photograph.

The teams on the night were;-

Scottish League; Stewart (Falkirk), Manderson ( Rangers), Wilson ( Hearts), Gordon(Rangers),

                                Mercer (Hearts), Nellies (Hearts), Simpson (Falkirk), McTavish (Falkirk),

                                Reid ( Rangers), Cairns (Rangers), Morton (Queen’s Park).

Celtic: Charlie Shaw, Alec McNair, Joe Dodds, Jim Young, Peter Johnstone, John McMaster, Andy McAtee,

             Patsy Gallagher, Joe O’Kane, Jimmy McMenemy, John Browning.

Peter Johnstone is in the middle row, the 6th figure from the left.

If You Know The History: 29th Jan: Davie Hay born in Paisley

On this day in 1948, Davie Hay was born in Paisley.

Davie signed for Celtic in March 1966, making his debut almost exactly two years later in a league match against Aberdeen at Parkhead. The season after that, he became a regular in the first-team, originally at right-back ( in my place, unfortunately, although it has never affected the fine relationship between the two of us), then moving into midfield, which – and please do not read anything into my next few words – I always thought was his best position in the first place!

Above: Davie Hay

Over the next five years, Davie made 230 appearances for the club, knocking in 12 goals. He also became a regular in the Scotland side but some relationship difficulties behind the scenes at Celtic Park saw him sign for Chelsea in the summer of 1974. And that, it appeared at the time, was the end of Davie Hay’s time at Celtic Football Club.

However, after five years on the playing side at Chelsea, a spell punctuated by five operations on an eye plus cartilage trouble with a knee, Davie moved into coaching, initially with Chelsea and then with Motherwell, where he took over as manager in September 1981. In July 1983, as Billy McNeill moved south, Davie came in as Celtic manager for a four-year spell, the highlights of which were the Scottish Cup win of 1985 and the League title success in 1986.

Jim Craig

If You Know The History: 27th January: Ally Hunter

The relationship between Jock Stein and goalkeepers – not any particular one just keepers in general – was an open secret. He seldom trusted them! His feelings were summed up by a throw-way comment I heard him come out with one day when he thought no one was listening; “You can plan for everything that happens on a football pitch barring an error by a keeper”.

It was not as if he had poor keepers to deal with during his Celtic career. Most of them were top-notch, like Ally Hunter, who was signed from Kilmarnock on 24th January 1973 and made his debut on this day of that year against Airdrie. Over the following three years, Ally made 91 appearances for Celtic, with 43 shut-outs, a 47% record, well up among the best in the club’s history. He had some competition for his place as well, with Evan Williams and Denis Connaghan also in the frame.

Above: Ally Hunter

Ally was a worrier and his career was – to an extent – blighted by the loss of a soft goal at Hampden when Scotland played Czechoslovakia in a World Cup qualifier in September 1973. But he managed to overcome the venom that such a mistake can bring from the public and continued his excellent career with Celtic and later, Motherwell and St Mirren.

Jim Craig

When the Brazilians came to Scotland


This is one of my favourite sporting photographs. It is taken on either the 23rd or 24th of June 1966, when the Brazil national side, at that time World Champions ( Chile 1962), having arrived in the UK to defend their title at the finals in England, came up to Scotland to play a friendly at Hampden.

The venue is obviously Troon Juniors football ground on the Ayrshire coast, the very un-prepossessing structure of the pavilion making up the background to the shot. And the main man is one of the world’s best-ever players, Pele – complete with minder – right in the middle of the picture. Surrounding him is a cross section of Scottish life at that time.

To the left, is a young boy carrying on his back a satchel-type of schoolbag, one very common in that era but almost never seen today. To Pele’s right, are two other ladies, one in long trousers, one in the shorter version, this one ready with pen and piece of paper hoping for the great man’s autograph. On either side of the main door, are several older men, all wearing the flat caps so beloved of that generation (I have one but Elisabeth will not come out with me if I wear it!); and to the extreme right, is a lady who had no doubt heard of all the commotion and had come along for herself to see what all the fuss was about. She has got herself up on what are surely terracing steps for a good gawp and is carrying one of the ubiquitous two- handled shopping bags of the era, well before the advent of supermarkets and plastic bags!

What I really love about the photo, though, are the shoes on Pele’s feet. No trainers for him, nothing but the best of shiny lace-ups. The training session is obviously finished, so could he be on his way to ‘ra dancing’?

Jim Craig