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.
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.