After winning their 16th League Championship in season 1921/22, Celtic headed off to the Continent for a series of matches. This shot shows the Celtic party outside the Central Hotel in Glasgow just prior to departure.
The tour was ridden with rough play. Against SK Slavia in Prague – ironically the team coached by ex-Celt Johnny Madden – they were beaten 3-2 and had two men sent off. This was followed by a 1-2 defeat by Sparta Prague, then a draw with the Prussian Select team at Grunewald.
Attendances for the three matches were 52,000, 51,000 and 26,000 respectively, with admission prices ranging from one shilling (5p) to £1. Celtic had negotiated a good guarantee before the tour began and called in at Cologne on the way home, where this photograph was taken.
At that period of Celtic’s history, the ground looked entirely different from the one of later years. The changing rooms were not in the South Stand but in the Pavilion, at the north-western corner of the ground. This had been damaged by a fire in 1904 – at a time when the club was on its first tour of the Continent, playing matches in Vienna and Prague – but it was repaired, unlike the North Stand immediately beside it, which was destroyed.
Inside this building were changing rooms for the two teams – with toilets, plus hot and cold baths – and a separate office. The area at the front of the pavilion was terraced and covered, to be used by those who paid slightly higher prices than spectators elsewhere in the ground. The upper balcony was reserved for directors and their guests.
The team which had won the title in 1921/22 was only one point clear of the field at the finish……
P W D L F A Pts
Celtic 42 27 13 2 83 20 67
Rangers 42 28 10 4 83 26 66
…yet the Board seemed happy enough with the squad, only bringing in one player during the summer. Even more worryingly, they made the decision to do away with the reserve team, so the whole of the playing staff for season 1922/23 is shown in this photograph;
There are some interesting points to note. Firstly, look how small and frail Patsy Gallacher appears. In the middle of the back row, he seems dwarfed by right-back Willie McStay ( 5 feet 9 inches) on one side and right-half Jock Gilchrist ( the same height) on the other.
In the middle row, Alec McNair ( 2nd from left) was in his 40th year and doesn’t Willie Cringan (extreme right) look like the type of centre-half you would not want to run into if you could avoid it!
In the front row, outside-right Andy McAtee, (extreme left ) looks much older than 34; goalkeeper Charlie Shaw by that time was 37; while Joe Cassidy ( 3rd from right), in his final season of a career interrupted by a stint in the Black Watch in WW1, could still point to an excellent record of 104 goals in 204 matches.
The player 2nd from right in the front row is Willie Crilly, a centre-forward just arrived from Alloa, whom he had helped to promotion from the Second Division the previous season, having scored 49 of their 81 goals. Unfortunately, in the higher division, his lack of stature (5 feet 3 inches) caused him to be easily knocked off the ball by the combative defenders of the time and by September he was back with Alloa.
Of the two Murphys in the photograph, James B (back row- extreme right) was a full-back who made 38 appearances between 1920 and 1923; while James F ( front row; third from left) played seven times between 1921 and 1924 as an inside-left. And I always love looking over the records of Hugh Hilley’s career (back row-extreme left). In 195 games at left-back, he was noted for classy performances but never scored once! That puts my six goals, Danny McGrain’s eight and Tommy Boyd’s two into perspective!