After a fine 5-0 demolition of Rangers in the semi-final, when the attendance at Hampden of 101,714 was the first-ever six-figure crowd for a game between two Scottish clubs, Celtic were confident going into the 1925 Scottish Cup final to face Dundee. By contrast, the Dark Blues had needed a replay in the other semi-final before disposing of Hamilton, so for most punters, the money was on Celtic, who fielded a team of Shevlin, W McStay, Hilley, Wilson, J McStay, McFarlane, Connolly, Gallagher, McGrory, Thomson and Mclean.
On the afternoon at Hampden, though, in front of a crowd of 73,317, it was Dundee who dominated the first half, taking the lead with a goal from Davie Mclean- ironically an ex-Celt who left Parkhead in 1909 partly because he could not get on with Willie Maley – on the half-hour mark. The fans from the city of ‘jute, jam and journalism’ were delighted and were even more happy with their side as the half-time whistle blew with Dundee still ahead, Celtic having had little chance to equalise.
As you might imagine, Willie Maley must have said a few things at the interval, since Celtic started the second period brightly and assumed some form of control but it was a ‘quiet-ish’ hold on the game and Dundee soon were making life difficult for the Celtic players again and the fans’ enthusiasm became more muted. Then came the breakthrough.
A poor free-kick by Paddy Connolly was controlled by Peter Wilson and he slipped the ball along the edge of the penalty area towards Patsy Gallacher, who somehow managed to evade some challenges from the Dundee defence and get the ball over the line for the equaliser (see NB). That gave Celtic hope and near the end, a John McFarlane cross was met with a full-length diving header by Jimmy McGrory to score the winner and give Celtic its 11th Scottish Cup success.
NB. Patsy Gallacher’s goal was something special or even extraordinary. There were no cameras or videos there, of course, so we have to rely on the evidence of those present. Willie Maley said “he finished it by literally carrying the ball into the net”; The Glasgow Herald reported that Patsy ended up “by throwing himself bodily into the net and carrying the ball with him”. Sir Robert Kelly ( in his autobiography written in 1971) states that “He must have beaten six opponents as he dribbled and swerved towards goal; several times he must have been nearly on the ground as opponents made contact with him if not with the ball. His final, almost superhuman effort came barely six feet from the line, when, having tricked the goalkeeper and again almost having been grounded by an attempted tackle, he somersaulted, with the ball edged between his boots, right into the net from which his delighted team-mates had to extricate him”.
From the above, and other reports I have read, it would appear clear that Patsy did score some form of wonder goal, that he went on a great run inside the box beating a few opponents in the process and that somehow, with the ball between his feet, he did manage to get it over the line. If TV had only been invented a bit earlier!