When Celtic first competed in the Scottish Cup – in season 1888/89 – 138 teams took part in the first round of the competition. They included names such as Bellstane Birds, Champfleurie, Cambuslang St Bride’s, Carfin Shamrock, Adventurers, 5th Kirkcudbright Rifle Volunteers (5th KRV), United Abstainers and Temperance Athletic
By season 1893/94, the number of teams in round one had dropped to 32, although some unusual names like 5th KRV, Black Watch, Broxburn Shamrock and Orion were still involved. Celtic had been drawn at home against Hurlford and a crowd of around 2,000 turned up on this day in 1893 to see the action.
Hurlford FC was a junior club from Ayrshire, founded in 1875, which had already featured in the Scottish Cup on several occasions. Unfortunately, in their first venture into the competition, in season 1879/80, after beating Catrine 2-0, Maybole Carrick 8-1, Cumnock 1-0 and drawing with Kilbirnie – after a replay, both teams went into the next round – Hurlford made the long trip outside their native country to Glasgow, where they lost 1-15 to Queen’s Park at Hampden.
This first-round tie in 1893/94 would have been regarded by everyone at Celtic as a ‘formality’ yet the committee which picked the side gave full respect to the visitors by choosing a full-strength eleven for the occasion, comprising Cullen, Reynolds, Doyle, McEleney, Kelly, Curran, Divers, Blessington, Cassidy, MacMahon and Campbell.
Right from the first whistle, Celtic went on the attack and never gave Hurlford a chance. By half-time, they had scored three and by the end of the 90 minutes had reached six without reply, the scorers being John Campbell (2), Jim Blessington (2), Joe Cassidy and Sandy MacMahon.
NB The John Divers named in the team listed above was the first of three players of that name who wore the Hoops, although he was no relation to the other two. In 87 matches, he scored 40 goals.
NB2 There have been three players by the name of J Cassidy to play for Celtic and all of then were either centre-forwards or outside-lefts. The one in the side listed above had come in from Newton Heath ( the future Manchester United) in June 1893 and spent two seasons at Parkhead, scoring 17 goals in 36 matches.