If You Know The History – 31st March Celtic 1 Hibs 0 Scottish Cup Final 1923

Celtic travelled to Lochgelly in Fife for their first tie in the Scottish Cup of 1923 with their fans feeling pretty apprehensive. The club had not won the competition since 1914 and to see what the Celtic fans regarded as ‘lesser’ sides like Kilmarnock, Partick Thistle and Morton getting their names on the famous trophy in recent years was quite disconcerting. They wanted the Cup back at Parkhead…..and quickly!

Lochgelly were disposed of by 3-2 in front of 9,000; then Hurlford were beaten 4-0 at Celtic Park in round two with 5,000 watching; East Fife also came to Glasgow for round three and narrowly lost 2-1 before a crowd of 8,000. The star in all these games was centre-forward Joe Cassidy, who scored all the goals in the three matches.

In the quarter-final tie, Raith Rovers were the visitors to Parkhead, when 30,000 watched the 1-0 win for Celtic; and 71,500 gathered at Ibrox for the semi-final, when Motherwell went down 2-0, with Joe Cassidy again scoring.

And that put Celtic into the final at Hampden, which took place on this day in 1923, with Hibs as the visitors. In truth, the Battle of the Greens turned out to be rather a dour affair for the 82,000 present, the only goal coming in the second half, when a fairly harmless lob forward by Celtic left- half John McFarlane caught out the Hibs keeper Willie Harper and Joe Cassidy nodded home, his 11th goal of the campaign.


My Dad, at that time a 13-year-old boy living in Great Junction Street in Leith, was very disappointed when his Mum, my Gran, would not let him go to the 1923 final. My Grandpa was willing to take him but Gran said no!, her reasons being that with Celtic being the opposition, there would be a big crowd present and she was worried about his safety.

A year later, Hibs reached the final again, where this time Airdrie would be their opponents. As Grandma did not expect a big crowd to turn up for that game – in fact, only 59,218 did – she allowed Dad to accompany his father to the match…which Hibs lost 1-0!

If You Know The History: 30th March: Leith Athletic 5 Celtic 6

30th March Leith Athletic 5 Celtic 6

With only three matches left in the 18-game league campaign, Celtic travelled to the east on this day in 1895 to meet Leith Athletic.

Leith had been founded in 1887 and had been elected to take the place of Glasgow club Cowlairs in Division One in 1891. In the ensuing seasons, they had finished 4th, 6th and 9th; and in that season of 1894/95, they were again in second bottom spot, flirting with the prospect of relegation. They had been scoring just over a goal a game while losing well over two goals per game, so the omens were not good for the Leith players as they ran out to face the team just behind Hearts at the top of the table.

Celtic too were anything like a settled side that season and on that Saturday afternoon in Leith, injuries had again prompted some inexperienced players to be given a chance. In goal, former Benburb junior man John O’Brien was making his debut; at fullback were Jerry Reynolds and Tom Dunbar; Willie Maley, James Kelly and Charlie McEleney made up the half-back line; and the forward line read James Davidson, Johnny Madden, John Ferguson ( another debutant), John Divers and Willie Ferguson.

The Leith Athletic players certainly rose to the challenge and scored five, with goalkeeper O’Brien – in his only first-team outing for Celtic – culpable for three of them. Unfortunately for them, Celtic also rose to the occasion and knocked in six, with all the forwards scoring, James Davidson getting two. At half-time, it was 4-4; shortly into the second half, Celtic made it 6-4 before Leith pulled one back in the last minute.

The final score of 6-5 remains one of the highest-scoring matches for both sides in Celtic’s history and was particularly memorable for centre-forward John Ferguson, as it was the only time he pulled on a first-team jersey.

Jim Craig

Celtic Photos: Celtic play Lazio in Rome, 1950

Lazio Photo

It is the afternoon of 30th May 1950 and a packed crowd is gathered inside the Stadio Torino in Rome to see one of the two sides who shared the ground – Lazio – take on Glasgow Celtic in a friendly to celebrate the Italian club’s 50th anniversary.


John McPhail is leading out the Celtic side and he is followed by goalkeeper John Bonnar, outside-right Jock Weir and the inimitable Charles Patrick Tully. The atmosphere all seems a bit serious for a friendly and unfortunately, the match turned out to be like that too. Over 40 free-kicks were awarded during the 90 minutes; ‘Big Hookey’ McPhail and his immediate opponent, Tramondini, were ordered off; and inside-right Bobby Collins was later reported as saying that it was one of the most vicious matches he had ever played in! The final score was 0-0, a rather disappointing centre-piece to the trip, which included a visit to the Vatican and an audience with Pope Pius X11.

One other feature of the photograph is the huge bouquet of flowers being carried by one of the Lazio players – centre left – obviously to be presented to the Celtic team before the match. In view of the toughness of the contest, in what was nominally a friendly, I have often wondered what exactly the Celtic party did with them after the game?

Jim Craig

If You Know The History: 28th March 2004 Rangers 1 Celtic 2

28th March 2004 Rangers 1 Celtic 2

On this day in 2004, 49,909 had gathered at Ibrox Park for the third league meeting of the Old Firm during that season.

Both sides were by then reflecting the more cosmopolitan nature of that period in Scottish football. Celtic fielded only three Scots players, David Marshall, John Kennedy and Stephen Pearson; the other eight were Bobo Balde ( Guinea), Stan Varga ( Slovakia), Didier Agathe (France), Neil Lennon ( Northern Ireland), Stylian Petrov ( Bulgaria), Alan Thompson/Chris Sutton ( England) and Henrik Larsson ( Sweden).

Rangers had four Scots in the side, Alan Hutton, Bob Malcolm, Stephen Hughes and Gavin Rae; the others were Stefan Klos ( Germany), Craig Moore (Australia), Zurab Kivanishvili (Georgia), Michael Ball ( England), plus the Dutch trio of Peter Lovenkrands, Ronald De Boer and Micheal Mols.

It turned out to be really competitive match. In the 20th minute, after Gavin Rae had fouled Stylian Petrov, Henrik Larsson got his head to Alan Thompson’s free-kick to give Celtic the lead.


In 51 minutes, a fierce shot by Larsson was only blocked by Stefan Klos and Alan Thompson reacted quickest to knock the ball home. Rangers solitary goal came in 82 minutes, when Steven Thomson powerfully headed home a corner from substitute Chris Burke.

So, 2-1 was the final score, Celtic’s fourth victory over Rangers that season.

Jim Craig

If You Know The History: 27th March Kilmarnock 6 Celtic 0 1963

27th March Kilmarnock 6 Celtic 0 1963

At this time of year in season 1962/63, only around eight points separated the six top teams in the race for the league title. Rangers led the way but Partick Thistle, Kilmarnock, Aberdeen, Celtic and Hearts were pushing them all the way.

On this day in 1963, Celtic travelled down to Rugby Park to meet Kilmarnock in their second league clash of the season, the first one having been a draw at Parkhead. Unfortunately, manager Jimmy McGrory was hit by injury problems, with Frank Haffey, Billy McNeill, Bobby Murdoch, John Hughes and John Divers all pulling out. He decided to give first-team debuts to two youngsters who had been showing up well in the reserves. Richard (Dick) Madden was a goalkeeper who had joined the club from Blantyre Celtic; as had right-winger Jimmy Johnstone, a 19-year-old getting rave reviews wherever he played. Both would have a night to forget.


Celtic lost 0-6. Dick Madden, behind a very makeshift defence, could not be blamed for any of Killie’s counters; while Jimmy Johnstone, on the right wing, hardly saw the ball over the 90 minutes. At least he had the satisfaction of going on to make 515 appearances in the Celtic strip; Dick Madden never played for the first-team again. He did have the good fortune, though, just a few years later, to win the football pools!

Jim Craig