161 teams entered the Scottish Cup in season 1888-89 and Celtic got off to an excellent start with victories over Shettleston (5-1), Cowlairs (8-0), Albion Rovers (4-1) and St Bernards (4-1).
In the 5th round, Celtic were drawn against local rivals Clyde, the match being played on 24th November 1888, at 1st Celtic Park where, in front of a crowd of around 7,000, the Bully Wee won 1-0.
Everyone connected with Celtic was bitterly disappointed but after some discussion among the management committee, the club put forward a protest. These were quite common in those early days and Celtic’s was based on three factors. Firstly, that Clyde had arrived late for the kick-off; secondly, that the start had been further delayed when three Clyde players had been ordered to remove illegal bars from their boots; and thirdly, that due to the late start, the match finished in darkness and stormy conditions.
Much to Clyde’s disgust, the protest was upheld and the match was replayed on this day in 1888 at the same venue. As a gesture of disapproval at the outcome of the protest, the Clyde players turned up on time dressed in their playing strops but refused to enter the pavilion. The Celtic side refused to be intimidated. The chosen eleven of Dunning, A Collins, McKeown, Gallagher, Kelly, McLaren, McCallum, Dunbar, Groves, Coleman and T Maley rose to the occasion and won 9-2, the goals coming from McLaren (2), Groves (4) and T Maley (3).
NB For the 4th round tie against St Bernard’s mentioned above, the Celtic committee put on a special train, which left Bellgrove Station at 1.30pm and Parkhead Station at 1.35pm. This train returned from Edinburgh Waverley at 7.30pm. A return ticket cost 2 shillings and six pence or 12 and a half pence in modern money.
NB2 Some protests in the Scottish Cup were bizarre to say the least! In 1882, Arthurlie were ordered to replay a match against Thornliebank because apparently on oval ball had been used in the first game. In 1886, Lugar Boswell beat Dalry 3-2 but the latter protested that the referee had been intoxicated. With a fully sober in charge of the re-match, Lugar Boswell won again, this time by 6-1!