If You Know The History 31st May 1931 Fall River 1 Celtic 0

31st May 1931 Fall River 1 Celtic 0

On this day in 1931, Celtic played the 4th match of their first-ever tour of North America, the repercussions of which would have an important bearing on the club’s future success.

Celtic had already beaten Pennsylvania All-Stars 6-1 on May 23rd; narrowly overcame New York Giants 3-2 on 24th May; and lost 3-4 to New York Yankees on 30th May. So, this game against Fall River, the club’s fourth match in 9 days, might just have been a match too far.

Certainly the players gave their all but the Massachusetts side held out, got the goal they wanted and then defended for their lives. No one put up the shutters more than their goalkeeper, Montreal-born James ‘Joe’ Kennaway, 26 years old at the time, who had a magnificent match, undoubtedly playing a major part in Fall River’s 1-0 victory.

Celtic on tour 1931

Only three months later, after the tragic collision at Ibrox which cost John Thomson his life, manager Willie Maley gave two keepers their chance in league matches but neither Joe Coen or Johnny Falconer lived up to expectations. Then, somebody at Celtic Park remembered the keeper from Fall River. They got in touch with Joe Kennaway, brought him over, agreed terms and Joe took over as Celtic’s number one, a position he would hold till the outbreak of war in 1939.

Jim Craig

If You Know The History 28th May 1888 Celtic 5 Rangers 2

28th May 1888 Celtic 5 Rangers 2

It was a wonderful start for a new club, a 5-2 victory over a city rival which had already been in existence for some 15 years and both the committeemen and the small but loyal group of supporters were really pleased with the outcome.

A lot of hard work had been put in. After the proposal to start the new club had been passed the previous November, a whole crowd of people had put in a real shift to get the new stadium ready and this they had achieved by the end of April. On 8th May 1888, came the inaugural match, when Hibs and Cowlairs fought out a 0-0 draw in front of 3,000 spectators.

Then, on this day in 1888, came Celtic’s first big moment, when an invited group of players ran out in the club’s first strip- a white shirt with a green collar and Celtic cross in red on the breast – to face Rangers in the club’s first-ever match. Rangers, perhaps apprehensive about all the publicity regarding the new club and its ground, put out their second eleven – the Swifts – which was duly dispatched by five goals to two. So, Celtic were on their way.

Jim Craig

Celtic team wearing the first strip


If You Know The History: 27th May 1995 Scottish Cup Final Celtic 1 Airdrie 0

27th May 1995 Scottish Cup Final Celtic 1 Airdrie 0

It was a tough job being a Celtic supporter in the decade of the 1990s; disappointment was a constant companion. By the middle of the decade, Rangers had won all five league titles , the Scottish Cup had been picked up by Aberdeen, Motherwell, Rangers (2) and Dundee United, while the League Cup had gone to Rangers (3), Hibs and Raith Rovers.

Then, on his day in 1995, came a ray of light for the Celtic faithful making up the majority of the crowd of 36,519, as their side ran out as favourites to face Airdrie in the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden. The fans were also a bit apprehensive as they could recall, only too clearly, the shattering blow of losing just months before to Raith Rovers in the final of the League Cup.

The team on the day was Bonner, Boyd, McKinlay, Vata, McNally, Grant, McLaughlin, McStay, van Hooijdonk, Donnelly, Collins and they took charge from the start as the Diamonds seem to freeze on the big occasion. In the 9th minute, left back Tosh McKinlay sent a lovely inviting cross into the middle and new boy Pierre van Hooijdonk, all 6 feet 5 inches of him, rose above the Airdrie defence to head home the only goal of the game.


It was Celtic’s 30th win in the competition, the first since 1989 and also the first time an Albanian player – Rudi Vata – had played in a Scottish Cup Final.

Jim Craig

If You Know The History: 25th May 1967 Celtic 2 Inter Milan 1 European Cup Final

25th May 1967 Celtic 2 Inter Milan 1 European Cup Final

It was, without doubt, the biggest moment in Celtic’s playing history and it took place on this day in 1967. Celtic became the first team from Britain to win the European Cup, they won it at their first attempt, the team was made up of guys who all lived not too far from Celtic Park, they broke the domination of Latin sides in that particular tournament and they won the Cup with a domineering performance against one of the best-known names in Europe.

For those of us involved, it was a wonderful day and it has been a privilege to go through my life being referred to as a ‘Lisbon Lion’. On the day itself, all those 45 years ago, I think I played my part, giving the square pass from which Tam Gemmell blasted in the equaliser, although in the early moments of the match, I was also involved in an incident which nearly blighted my evening in Portugal. I was ‘supposed’ to have given away the penalty from which Inter opened the scoring.
Now, I have always regarded this decision as one of the worst ever in the history, not only of European football but of the world game. Others, including some of my team-mates, are not quite so sure and, as talk about the decision comes up at every anniversary, I have to fight my corner. The whole day remains, though, undoubtedly the best in my football career and one of the most memorable days of my life.

Above: taken at the end of the final training session before the match

Another of these great days occurred in 1982, when Pope John Paul II came to Scotland. He was due to visit St Andrew’s College in Bearsden, to the north of Glasgow, to meet with the students there and the local parish, also St Andrew’s, was asked to provide a number of men to act as stewards to help control the expected crowds.

I was one of the chosen ones and was in position in the driveway as the Popemobile drove past, so I got a good look at his Holiness as he waved to everyone. At the top of the driveway, he came out of the vehicle, again waved to the crowds and entered the main college buildings. The stewards could then relax a bit and most of us took the opportunity to grab a bite to eat. Suddenly, a priest I knew well came up to me and asked if I would like to meet the Pope? “Yes, please” was my very definite answer and he motioned to a rear door of the building and I followed him with anticipation.
The priest pushed open the door of a fairly small room and asked me to wait; I sat down and tried to get my thoughts into some sort of order. Only a few moments later, the door was pushed open, rather slowly and the figure of the Pope appeared, his white soutane and biretta rather dazzling against his tanned complexion.

“How are you, my son”, he said, holding his hand out; “I’m good, your Holiness” I replied, kissing the ring on his hand.

“The bishops were telling me you used to play football”.

“I did, your Holiness”.

“For Celtic, wasn’t it?”

“It was, you Holiness”.

“Did you play in that final in –where was it, Lisbon I think – against, wasn’t it Inter Milan?”

“It was, your Holiness, and I did play in that final”.

“Your team was very good; I remember the match well. But you boys got off to a bad start; that was never a penalty!”

Now there was a man who knew his football!

Jim Craig

Above: taken back at Celtic Park a few days after the final

If You Know The History: 23rd May 1902 Charity Cup Final Celtic 5 St Mirren 2

23rd May 1902 Charity Cup Final Celtic 5 St Mirren 2

The Glasgow Charity Cup was launched in season 1876/77 and continued right through to season 1960/61. It was competed for at the end of each season by the clubs of Glasgow, although for two seasons – 1901/02 and 1902/03 – clubs from outside the city took part to help raise money for the Ibrox Disaster Fund.

Hibs actually won the 1902 Charity Cup, beating Celtic 6-2 in the final at Hampden on 31st May before a crowd of 8,000. In the following year’s competition, however, when the teams met again, this time in the first round, Celtic won after a replay. And that put them through to the final, held on this day at Ibrox in 1903, with another of the ‘non- Glasgow’ clubs, St Mirren, as the opponents.


15,000 turned up on a beautiful summer’s afternoon to see the Buddies take an early lead before Celtic took over the play to go in 4-1 up at the interval. By the end, the score had risen to 5-2, so Celtic took the Charity Cup back to Parkhead for the 6th time in their history. The team on that afternoon was McPherson, Watson, Battles, Moir, Young, Orr, Loney, Somers, Bennett, McMenemy, Quinn.

Jim Craig