Although no one realised it at the time, this season of 1936/37 would prove to be Jimmy McGrory’s penultimate one as a Celtic player and while certain aspects of were memorable, others were not so good.
An early exit in the Glasgow Cup was one of the low moments, especially when the victors were old rivals Rangers. And the league campaign proved disappointing too, with a 3rd placed finish, behind Rangers and Aberdeen. McGrory played in 22 of the 38 league matches scoring 18 goals but the defence would appear to have let the side down, losing 58 goals as opposed to the 32 of champions Rangers.
The Scottish Cup campaign was long and arduous. A 1-1 draw with Stenhousemuir in Round One was followed by 2-0 win in the replay, with McGrory getting all three goals. In Round Two, Albion Rovers were dispatched 5-2 at Cliftonhill, when McGrory (2), Willie Buchan (2) and Jimmy Delaney all making the score sheet.
Round Three involved a trip to Methil to play East Fife and resulted in a comfortable 3-1 victory, with McGrory (2) and Buchan again the scorers. In the quarter-finals, a home tie against Motherwell ended in a 4-4 draw and, rather surprisingly, McGrory missed out, Buchan, Johnny Crum and a penalty by Willie Lyon doing the needful. In the replay at Fir Park, Celtic won 2-1, the goals coming from, once more, McGrory and Buchan.
On this day in 1937, at Ibrox Park, 76,000 turned up to see Celtic take on Clyde in the semi-final. The team was Kennaway, Hogg, Morrison, Geatons, Lyon, Paterson, Delaney, Buchan, McGrory, Crum and Murphy. As Celtic were third in the table and the Bully Wee were mid-table, a win for the Hoops was expected by most fans but it did not quite turn out to be as easy as that. Clyde put up a most determined resistance in the face of enormous Celtic pressure but a goal by McGrory and an o.g. put Celtic into the final, where Aberdeen would be the opponents.
NB That final – on 24th April 1937 – was watched by a crowd of 147,365 at Hampden, the largest attendance for both a Scottish Cup Final and any match in Europe.
NB2 It was reckoned that up to another 30,000 spectators were locked outside the ground.