Empire Exhibition Trophy – Part 8 – 31st May 1938

There were some interesting headlines in the sports press on this day in 1938 concerning the third tie in the Empire Exhibition Trophy, played the previous evening. There was the blunt;


There was the more reflective;



Then we had the emotional side;



And finally the national aspect;

Scotland out – England through

48,000 had been at Ibrox on the night, the vast majority of them Rangers fans, all of whom were expecting that their heroes would go through. Unfortunately, they witnessed the exact opposite of that.

Rangers were under the lash for most of the first-half against a talented Everton side which was one-up at half-time thanks to a goal by centre-forward Tommy Lawton. After only 14 minutes of the second half, Everton got another, through inside-left Cunliffe. He collided heavily with Rangers’ keeper Jerry Dawson as he shot and that necessitated the keeper leaving the field; he was replaced by centre-half Jimmy Simpson ( the father of future Lisbon Lion Ronnie) and from that point on the by-now ten-man Rangers side could not make any impression on a strong Everton rearguard.

Rangers 0 Everton 2


This was a fascinating time for Celtic manager Willie Maley. He was very interested in this tournament, having often seen Celtic in terms of British football rather than purely Scottish. That was one reason why, right from the beginning, he had been interested in his club playing matches against English and Irish sides. He personally would have loved to see a British League or British Cup, although he would have been aware that the travelling involved would have been an issue, both for club and fans. Still, this competition was the closest to a British Cup that one could imagine; and even without the top four teams in the league that season in England – Arsenal, Wolves, Preston and Charlton – those representing our neighbours would be tough opposition.


There was also the question of Maley’s age. In April 1938, he had reached his 70th birthday, well past the normal retirement time in most occupations. He and the Celtic directorate had not always had the smoothest of relationships in recent years and there was apparently a belief among the Board that Maley would announce his retirement around the time of Celtic’s Golden Jubilee in June of that year.

Maley, though, kept his feelings to himself and merely prepared his team for the next round of the Empire Exhibition Trophy.

Jim Craig


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