The early 1920s was a problematic time for Celtic Football Club. After 30 years of being the most successful and dominant side in the country, Celtic were now finding Rangers – under new manager Bill Struth – much more of a handful.
There were also some problems behind the scenes. The great inside-forward Jimmy McMenemy had left in June 1920, on the grounds of ‘unreasonable difficulties’. One year later, he guided Partick Thistle to their one and only Scottish Cup Final Victory. In 1922, the Board made the fateful decision of withdrawing the Reserve Team, apparently on the grounds of cost. The predictable outcome was that the assembly-line of young talent coming into the first team dried up.
Season 1923/24 had not gone too well. The team had finished a poor third in the league, 13 points behind Rangers, although both Old Firm clashes had been drawn. Celtic had been knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Kilmarnock in the first round down at Rugby Park, while at Ibrox, they had lost to Rangers in the first round of the Glasgow Cup.
On this day in 1924, the players of Celtic and Rangers ran out at Hampden for the final of the Charity Cup. The Celtic side was a strong on paper at least – Shaw, McNair, Hilley, W McStay, J McStay, McFarlane, Connolly, Gallacher, Cassidy, Thomson and McGrory – but Rangers were firm favourites to take the trophy. Celtic got the opener, though, thanks to a Patsy Gallacher header and although Rangers made many chances, they only took one, 13 minutes before the break, Alan Morton getting his name on the scoresheet.
Shortly into the second half, Willie McStay grabbed the winner after a goalmouth scramble and then, along with brother Jimmy and John McFarlane, formed a half-back line which Rangers could not breach.
NB. The final turned out to be Joe Cassidy’s final match for Celtic. Joe joined Celtic in 1912, made his debut against Motherwell in a league match a year later but then headed for off for the front with the Black watch. In his ‘interrupted’ Celtic career, ‘Trooper’ Joe Cassidy scored 104 goals in 204 appearances