In the final weeks of season 1933/1934, Celtic were once again not in the title race. This, unfortunately, was a regular occurrence in the late 1920s and early 1930s for the club, which had not won the league championship since season 1925/26. Since then, they had finished 3rd (1926/27), 2nd (1927/28), 2nd (1928/29), 4th (1929/30), 2nd (1930/31) – in each of these seasons Rangers won the title – then 3rd (1931/32; Motherwell champions) and 4th (1932/33; Rangers winners).
By early April 1934, Celtic were in 3rd place in that season’s competition, well behind Rangers and Motherwell and being pushed hard by Queen of the South, Aberdeen, Hearts, Kilmarnock and Ayr United. On this day in 1934, the players, management and directors left Celtic Park by bus for the trip to Airdrie, where they would face the Diamonds, struggling third from bottom, at Broomfield.
Jimmy McGrory had been injured in the previous match against Clyde, so manager Willie Maley had to shuffle his squad a little. On the afternoon, the team which ran out on to the field was Kennaway, Hogg, McGonagle, Wilson, McDonald, Hughes, Crum, Divers, F O’Donnell, H O’Donnell and Murphy. Outside left Frank Murphy had joined Celtic from Croy Celtic in April 1932, was then farmed out to junior club St Roch’s for season 1932/33 before going full time with Celtic at the start of season 1933/34.
At around 5 feet 8 inches and only 11 stone, Frank needed to be quick and elusive and he showed those qualities that afternoon, scoring twice as Celtic won 4-2, the other goals coming from Frank O’Donnell.
NB1. Frank Murphy’s Celtic career lasted until 1942, by which time he had made 243 appearances and scored 77 goals, a very healthy return for a winger.
NB2. Centre-forward Frank O’Donnell was the older of the two brothers who played that afternoon. In a five-year Celtic career, he scored 58 times in 83 appearances but with McGrory banging in all those goals, Frank’s chances of playing in his favourite position were limited to when the great man was injured. As a more cerebral player than McGrory, his style was not always to the liking of the Celtic support and he eventually decided to move south to Preston.
NB3. Frank’s brother Hugh, an outside-left, had a style much more to the liking of the support and it brought the club a fine reward, with 27 goals in 90 appearances. Hugh was very unhappy with the treatment his older brother was receiving but was also quite happy at Parkhead. However, when Frank made his decision to move, Hugh decided to go with him and both brothers were transferred to Preston on the same day, 19th May 1935.