When the 2nd World War got underway, professional football was regarded by the authorities as something of an irrelevance and some restrictions were put in place. These included matches only being allowed at week-ends or public holidays; these matches had to be confined to regional or district groupings; and crowds could not exceed 8,000 or, for large stadia, 15,000.
For season 1941-42, Celtic Football Club had been placed in the Southern Division of the Scottish League, alongside Dumbarton, Queen’s Park, Rangers, Clyde, Hamilton, Morton, Motherwell, Hibs, St Mirren, Partick Thistle, Third Lanark, Airdrie, Falkirk and Hearts. Of the first 16 matches, Celtic had won 8, drawn 5 and lost 3.
Curiously, though, in spite of the restrictions regarding the size of crowds mentioned above, the league match against Rangers at Ibrox on 6th September 1941 – which Celtic lost 0-3 – attracted a crowd of 60,000, while there were also 5-figure turnouts for the matches against Hearts ( 15,000 ; 0-3 (A); 9th August), Clyde (11,000 ; 5-2 (H) ; 13th September), Hamilton (10,000 ; 3-3 (A) ; 20th September), Motherwell (12,000 ; 1-2 (H) ; 4th October and Hibs (15,000 ; 3-1 (A) ; 11th October).
On this day in 1941, in front of a crowd of 6,000 at Parkhead, a Celtic eleven ran out to face Albion Rovers in the second league meeting of the season, having won the first game 4-2 at Cliftonhill in Coatbridge. Manager Jimmy McStay had chosen a side of Hunter, Hogg, Dornan, McDonald, Waddell, McLaughlin, Delaney, Conway, Lynch, Divers, Murphy and right from the start both teams set out to entertain the crowd, moving the ball around and trying to get it into the box as much – and as quickly – as possible. The outcome was that the game finished in a 4-4 draw, the Celtic goals coming from Delaney (2), Murphy and MacLaughlin.
NB Of the team that afternoon, Bobby Hogg, Malky MacDonald, Jimmy Delaney, John Divers and Frank Murphy had been in the side which won the Empire Exhibition Trophy in 1938, beating Everton 1-0 in the final at Ibrox.
NB2 Albion Rovers, of course, was Jock Stein’s first senior club but at the date of the above match, he was still a junior player, turning out for Blantyre Victoria.