Empire Exhibition Trophy – Part 7 – 29th May 1938

Two games played, two Scots teams – Celtic and Aberdeen – through to the semi-finals. A rest day in the tournament but at Celtic Park at least, training went on as usual with two players in particular, Jimmy Delaney and Joe Carruth, receiving treatment from the trainer for injuries received in the opening match of the competition.

It is difficult to find out what exactly the injuries of the two players were but in any case, the treatment they would have received would have been fairly primitive by modern standards. Most aches, strains and pulls were treated with a combination of hot and cold water, plus the application of some heat to the area via some form of lamp. Cuts could be pulled together and covered with some form of bandage or the deeper ones could be sutured. If an infection resulted, then that created a serious problem. The antibiotic penicillin had been discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928 but it was only in the early 1940s that it was put on the market in extensive numbers. Until then, deep cuts would have been cleaned with some form of powerful antiseptic…….and of course, there was always the power of prayer?


Those treatment plans might sound a little primitive but they were symptomatic of the age and this was reflected in various ways. Take a look at the photograph above, for instance. It was taken in the early to mid-1930s and shows Jimmy McGrory – with the hunched shoulders – doing some track-work at Celtic Park with some of his colleagues. There are several points to note.

Firstly, just look at the size and weight of that jersey, which would have been made of wool. If a player did not have a shirt underneath, it would make the skin itch like mad; and if he did wear a shirt underneath, the sweat would be dripping off him in no time! Then we come to the shorts, long and baggy, very warm in the winter months, absolutely roasting in warm weather. You will also notice that no two players are wearing the same socks; that some are in spikes and some in sandshoes, or ‘gutties’; and it would appear impossible to get up any head of steam on that cinder track, which looks as though it needs a good rake!

Anyway, while the Celts got ready for the semi-finals, the four teams involved in the other two first-round ties were getting ready for their big day and we will deal with the first of these tomorrow.

Jim Craig


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