What Was On This Day? 25th February 1905 Celtic 4 Rangers 1 League

The winning of the Scottish Cup in 1904 gave everyone connected with Celtic a real lift, as the lack of a major trophy since the year 1900 had been causing some concern.

The win obviously had given the players a boost too, as they went on to show good form and determination in the league campaign of 1904-05. The results also turned out to be impressive, so much so that with only two matches left, Celtic found themselves only two points behind Rangers.

On this day in 1905, a strong Celtic side – Adams, McLeod, Orr, McNair, Loney, Hay, Bennett, McMenemy, Quinn, Somers, Hamilton – ran out at Ibrox to play their penultimate match of the season. It was a crucial afternoon; the match was against Rangers, so it gave Celtic a chance to pull level with their strongest rivals.

During the first league game between the two biggest Glasgow clubs that season – on 15th October, a 2-2 draw – there had been some crowd trouble. Unfortunately, similar problems surfaced in this second game but it seemed to bother the home team rather than the visitors, the Celtic players raising their game to win the contest 4-1, the goals coming from Jimmy Quinn (2) and Davie Hamilton (2).

1907 team

NB Celtic went on to win their final match – 6-2 against Motherwell at Fir Park – which meant that Celtic and Rangers were both locked on the same points total – 41 – at the end of the campaign. At that time, there was no method like goal average or goal difference to decide the final placings. This was just as well for Celtic, as Rangers were superior in both. The preferred method then was the play-off, which took place at Hampden (with an English referee) on 6th May 1905, when Celtic won 2-1, picking up the first of what would be 6 consecutive league championships.

NB2 On the same day, 65 years later, Celtic lost 1-2 to Feyenoord in the final of the European Cup in Milan.

What Was On This Day? 21st February 1981 Celtic 3 Rangers 1 League

By February, 1981, the state of Scottish football was in the process of change. Since Kilmarnock had won the league championship in 1964-65, the league title had been shared between Celtic and Rangers for the following 15 years. Then Aberdeen broke the monopoly in 1979-80, winning the competition for the first time since 1954-55; and in this season of 1981-82, they were again pushing to take the title, joined this time not only by Celtic and Rangers but Dundee United as well.

At the turn of the year in 1981-82, Aberdeen were in fact in top spot, beating Celtic 4-1 two days after Christmas. Since then, though, as the Dons started to mis-fire, Celtic went on a good run, against Kilmarnock (2-1; A), Morton (3-0; H), Dundee United (2-1;H) and Hearts (3-0; A) to take over at the head of the table.

On this day in 1981, a crowd of 52,800 was at Celtic Park for the clash with Rangers, both teams virtually at full strength;-

Celtic – Bonner, McGrain, Aitken, Lynch, McAdam, Reid, Sullivan, Burns, Provan, McGarvey, Nicholas.

Rangers – McCloy, Miller, Jardine, Jackson, Dawson, Cooper, Bett, Redford, Johnstone, McAdam, Johnston.

Celtic gave Rangers a good start as a hesitant defence allowed Derek Johnstone to score the opener in 11 minutes but Celtic then went on to dominate play, although the home fans had to wait till the second half to see some goals. These came from Charlie Nicholas in 57 and 73 minutes to give Celtic a 3-1 lead.



With only three minutes to go and Rangers pushing for an equaliser, Roy Aitken broke forward on a strong run. He tried to cut the ball back for Frank McGravey but it deflected off Colin Jackson. Fortunately for Roy, the ball landed right in his path and he fairly blasted it into the net to make it 3-1.

NB This was a pleasing result to the Celtic fans, as the two previous encounters that season had gone the way of Rangers, the Light Blues winning 2-1 at Parkhead on 23rd August 1980 and 3-0 at Ibrox on 1st November 1980.

NB2 Both McAdam brothers were in action that afternoon, Tom at centre-half for Celtic and Colin in the striker role for Rangers.

What Was On This Day? 17th February 1900 Celtic 4 Kilmarnock 0 Scottish Cup

In season 1899-1900, Celtic’s league form was inconsistent, although the team did eventually finish second to Rangers. However, a comparison of the respective stats shows Celtic’s weaknesses quite clearly;-

P W D L F A Pts

Rangers 18 15 2 1 69 27 32

Celtic 18   9 7 2 46 27 25

Obviously, the defence was doing its job but not enough goals were being scored.

Ironically, in the opening rounds of the Scottish Cup, the goals rained in. Celtic rattled 7 in against Bo’ness in round one and then 5 against Port Glasgow Athletic in round two. On this day in 1900, a crowd of around 8,000 was at Celtic Park for the visit of Kilmarnock in round three. In the two meetings between the sides in the league campaign, there had been two draws, 3-3 (Rugby Park) and 2-2 (Parkhead) but on this occasion, Celtic took control of the play and scored four times without replay, the goals coming from John Bell, John Divers, Sandy MacMahon and Pat Gilhooley.


Team of the period. John Divers is seated left in the front row, with Sandy MacMahon in the centre of the front row.

NB The final few years leading up to the 20th century were not particularly good ones for Celtic Football Club. Eventually, a string of poor performances sparked an outburst from chairman J. H. McLaughlin, who declared that it was ‘enough to make the directors inclined to clear the whole crowd of players out if they could get an entirely fresh lot to represent the green-and-white’. (Glasgow Examiner  23rd December 1899)

What Was On This Day? 13th February 1932 Motherwell 2 Celtic 0 Scottish Cup

There can be little doubt that the surprise team of the early 1930s was Motherwell, who broke the Old Firm domination of the league to pick up the title in season 1931-32. The Steelmen had also reached the final of the Scottish Cup in 1931, losing to Celtic after a replay. So, there would have been no reason for any lack of confidence among the Motherwell players, management and fans when their side ran out at Fir Park on this day in 1932 for a 3rd round Scottish Cup tie with Celtic again as the opponents.

The latter, by contrast, had found the season of 1931-32 a most difficult one. On 5th September 1931, after a tragic accident at Ibrox, they had lost their excellent goalkeeper John Thomson, his death a shattering blow to the club and its support.



A replacement was required and two were tried out. John Falconer was given 4 consecutive league matches but lost 8 goals; Joe Coen played in 3 games and lost 5. Then manager Willie Maley remembered the name of Joe Kennaway, the keeper who had done his best to thwart Celtic during a match in the summer tour of North America (Fall River in Massachusetts) and he was brought over to make his debut against Motherwell on 31st October 1931.

On that day in 1932, Kennway was in goal when a strong Celtic side – Kennaway, Cook, McGonagle, Wilson, McStay, Geatons, A Thomson, Smith, McGrory, Napier and Kavanagh – could not cope with Motherwell’s fine play, the home side controlling the game and scoring twice to go through to the quarter-finals.

NB That league win by Motherwell in season 1931-32 was the first by a team other than Celtic and Rangers since Third Lanark won in 1903-04. And, don’t forget, the league campaign went ahead during the years of the First World War.

NB2 Joe Kennaway had an eight year career at Celtic Park between 1931 and 1939 before rheumatoid arthritis affected his form and re returned to the United States. Overall, he made 295 appearances with 83 shut-outs (28%).

On This Day: 9th February 1905..Barney Battles died in Glasgow

A play-anywhere-in-defence player, Bernard ‘Barney’ Battles joined Celtic from Hearts on 8th June 1895, making his first-team debut two months later. In November 1896, Barney was one of three Celtic players who refused to turn out just before a home match with Hibs unless reporters who had been criticizing the team and its form were ejected from the Press Box.

The club was not amused and suspended the players immediately. Over the next few months, Barney had short spells with both Dundee and Liverpool but eventually he was brought back into the Parkhead fold, much to the delight of the fans, to whom he was ‘St Barney Battles, Patron of Parkhead’.

Over the years before and after the turn of the 20th century, Barney continued to delight the Celtic faithful as the club picked up the Scottish League in 1897-98, the Scottish Cup in 1899 and 1900, as well as several Glasgow and Charity Cups. In 1904, though, as Willie Maley put together a younger side, Barney found himself surplus to requirements and moved to Kilmarnock.



Tragically, though, only a year later – and don’t forget that this was before the discovery of antibiotics – Barney was affected by a bout of influenza and died at this home in the Gallowgate in Glasgow on this day in 1905. He was 30 years of age. After his Requiem Mass in Sacred Heart Church, Bridgeton, just along from Bridgeton Cross, his coffin was carried out by four team-mates with a cortege estimated to be around 2,000 people following behind. And it was reckoned that around 40,000 lined both sides of London Road as his hearse made the trip from the church to Dalbeth Cemetery.

NB Barney played 136 matches for Celtic and scored 6 goals.

NB2 At the time of his death, Barney Battles’ wife was pregnant. A few months later, she gave birth to a boy, named Bernard after his father. Shortly afterwards, the family moved to the USA, where Bernard Jnr, or ‘Barney’ as he also became known, took up football, eventually playing 116 matches for Boston Soccer Club and also gaining a cap for the USA national team. When the club hit financial difficulties, not helped by the start of the Great Depression, young Barney returned to Scotland and signed for Hearts. He was at Tynecastle from 1928 to 1936, making 148 appearances and gaining international recognition with Scotland, his sole cap coming against Wales in 1931.

Jim Craig