There were 16 teams in the Scottish League, Southern Division for the 1942/43 season and this was Celtic’s third match of the campaign. Certain conditions had been laid down by the SFA and Scottish League for the playing of football during the war. Midweek games were banned; crowds had to be under 8,000 or, for larger stadia, 15,000; and players had to have a job outside of football.
Both of Celtic first two matches had resulted in 2-2 draws, the first against Dumbarton at Parkhead (5,000) and the second at Hampden against Queen’s Park (8,000). The manager, Jimmy McStay, must have been quite pleased with most of his side, as the same eleven was chosen for both opening matches; Culley, Hogg, Dornan, McDonald, McPhail, McLaughlin, Riley, MacAuley, Delaney, Long and Nelson.
However, the manager was having a problem with the goalkeeper. After spells with Hibs, Lincoln City and Alloa Athletic, Jimmy Cully had joined Celtic in January 1942 and held the number one spot for the remainder of the 1941-42 season. Unfortunately, though, Culley had been concussed in the Public Trial of 1st August 1942 and frankly, was not quite up to the mark. The problem was, though, that his deputy was also injured, suffering from tonsillitis, and the manager obviously felt that playing an experienced, if not quite 100% keeper, was better than asking a tyro with an infection to take the role. So, Culley was in goal for the matches against the Sons and the Spiders.
For this match against Hamilton, though, the deputy – a 17-year-old by the name of Willie Miller – had recovered and he took to the field for the first of what would be 265 appearances for Celtic. And 8,000 turned up for the contest, which again ended in a 2-2 draw, with Jimmy Delaney and Pat MacAuley getting the goals.
NB The ‘McPhail’ listed in the team above was John McPhail. who had arrived at Parkhead almost straight from St Mungo’s Academy in Glasgow, with a very short period at Strathclyde Juniors in between. To the fans during his time at the club – 1941 to 1956 – he was known as ‘Hookey’, due to the spin he could put on a ball.