Just how good was the Celtic side of this time? How talented were the players? Those are the types of questions that fans everywhere love to hear about, especially when the team in question went on to have a memorable victory in an all-British competition. One man who has given us some views on the quality of this side was Malcolm MacDonald, a member of this exceptional team. ‘Malky’ played 147 times for Celtic in every position except goalkeeper and scored 37 goals; the following is his assessment of the Empire Exhibition Trophy-winning team, taken from an interview in 1998;
Q The forward line had changed from the one which won the Scottish Cup in 1937?
A Yes, although the defence was much the same.
Joe Kennaway was in goal, always a good keeper… but he also always had an excuse when he lost a goal. Bobby Hogg, dead keen and fit at right-back.
Jock Morrison was at left-back. He didn’t have much skill but was just an old-fashioned back of the time. No left foot but that didn’t stop him. He used to get on to me when I was having a wee dribble in the penalty area. He used to come after me when I did that and say “Malky, Malky” and give me a mouthful.
Chic Geatons was also defensive but a very talented player and we worked well together. Willie Lyon was an out-an-out ‘stopper’; he couldn’t play football but he could stop. George Paterson – he and I formed a great friendship as we arrived at roughly the same time. Jimmy Delaney was very direct. He could catch pigeons but you had to play to him or in front of him, seldom with him. He was an out-and-out winger, as was Frank Murphy on the other flank. Johnny Crum played up front. He was a fly wee man. He was great at dragging centre-halves out of the middle and leaving space for me and others. I was the one who played the deeper role and I was more of a defensive player. Johnny Divers was the one who played up. He had good height and was good in the air. I was hopeless in the air. Frank Murphy was another good player but he never forced himself on the play. When he wasn’t there, we missed him but he just did things so naturally that you took him for granted.
Q If the manager did not say very much, how did you know what to do in a game? Did you discuss it among yourselves?
A He didn’t discuss that sort of thing, for example, how to play. He only discussed what you were doing wrong!
Q At the Exhibition Cup Final, for instance, would someone have been to see Everton?
A No, you had to find out for yourself just what type of players you were playing against. You didn’t know beforehand what your opponent did. There was just a player in front of you and you got on with the job and he got on with his.