Coronation Cup – Part Four – 12th May 1953

On this day in 1953, the Scottish sporting press were full of praise for the performances of their representatives in the first round ties of the Coronation Cup the previous evening. The Dundee Courier and Advertiser’s Colin Glen was quite frank in his assessment of the clash at Hampden;

‘Celtic brought off one of the biggest upsets of the season last night, when they beat mighty Arsenal, English League Champions, in the first round of the Coronation Cup. The English were never in it after a Collins goal had given Celtic a half-time lead, and the Scots should have made their win more decisive’.

In his report of the match under that heading, Glen again makes some valid points;

‘Celtic’s win was no fluke. Arsenal perhaps took to the field in over-confident mood. Perhaps their changes were responsible but at no time did they boost English football. Had the Celtic front rank been on a par with the men behind them, then the Gunners’ rearguard would have been riddled four, five, six times.

When the goal did come along in the 24th minute, it was entirely unexpected. Collins hit hard a head-high corner. The wind swerved it into goal and Swindon could do little more than punch the ball into the net. So it went on until the interval – a green and white barrage punctuated with sporadic Arsenal attacks that caused Bonnar little trouble.

With wind advantage in the second period much more was expected of Arsenal, but it was not so. A magnificent defence thwarted all their attacks. So Celtic went forward to the semi-final. Their heroes – the whole defence, Walsh and Peacock’




The correspondent for the match at Ibrox was also impressed by the performance of the Scottish side. ‘It was early evident at Ibrox that here were two of Britain’s best footballing teams. Hibs, however, were the better side.

Over the 90-minute period a draw was a fair result, but in the extra time Hibs came away with a great onslaught on the Tottenham goal’.

They failed to get the winner, though, so another game would be played, which by the rules of the competition, would be played the following day, in fact, on this day in 1953, when a disappointing crowd of only 15,000 turned up for the match.

A combination of a bare, bumpy pitch and what seemed to be a light ball did little for the standard of the play, although, as in the first match, the Scottish side was much superior to the English. Typically, though, Spurs opened the scoring in 28 minutes through outside-left McLellan and then tried to hold on to that lead by packing their defence. Gradually, though, Hibs raised their game. Lawrie Reilly equalised

in the 60th minute with a header from a Jock Govan free-kick and, just when the crowd was expecting the match to go into extra-time, he repeated the effort, this time from a Bobby Johnstone cross, to give his team a 2-1 victory and a place in the semi-final.



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