Win Ireland retro training top

Top pro pic

 

“We will march with O’Neill . . . “

Umbro Ireland recently ran an online competition and The Shamrock was the lucky winner of the training top (as shown above) inspired by the kit worn by the squad during the Republic of Ireland’s unforgettable 1990 World Cup campaign.

The training top is size Large and has a cracking ‘EIRE’ labelling on the back of the collar.

To win the training, top simply answer this question:

How much % possession will the Republic of Ireland get in today’s game v France in Lyon? 

Answers by email please to theshamrock@outlook.com with a note of your name and address.

  • % Possession will be that measured in the BBC online post-match report
  • If more than one correct answer, winning names will got in a hat for selection
  • If % Possession not guessed accurately, the next closest answers will count
  • Only answers received before the 2.00pm kick off will be considered

 

 

in bag

 

 

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Issues 1 and 2 of THE SHAMROCK

Available for sale here:  Buy The Shamrock

Covers of Issue 1and 2 together small

The Decider

 The Decider  header

Nothing wracks the nerves of a football fan quite as much as a closely fought Championship run-in.  In living memory, Celtic have been involved in some nail-biting end-of-season encounters in April and May.  Some have ended in utter anguish while others – especially last day victories such as Love Street in 1986, Stopping the Ten in 1998 and the Tannadice party in 2008 – will evoke joyful memories until this mortal coil is finally shaken off.

 

Season 1904-5 was different.  It was worse, much worse, from a supporter’s perspective.  Willie Maley, Celtic’s young manager, later referred to the League campaign of that season as “the great tug-of-war”.  It would prove to have a finale unlike any other before or since.  For the first and only time in Celtic’s history the League title was decided by one game: a winner-takes-all play-off at Hampden.

 

 

A NEW APPROACH

In the summer of 1904 Willie Maley was a man under pressure.  The club had embarked years earlier on a youth and scouting policy designed to ensure that talent would be nurtured rather than bought.  This was a major departure in approach from the club’s first decade when huge attendances helped fund significant under-the-counter wages and latterly transfer fees to bring in the best players from Scotland and England.  By developing players from an early age and picking the best from the junior ranks, Maley – with former team-mates James Kelly and Mick Dunbar on the club’s board – were also attempting to develop a particular style of football based on a strong defence but which emphasised swift passing and attacking, free-flowing play.

 

The problem with any youth policy is the time it takes to bed in – there was a yawning gap of six years since Celtic had last won the League flag, the season that Maley had taken charge of team affairs.  It was now time to deliver, the support would not tolerate continued failure to return the League flag to Celtic Park.  Maley could point to the fact that the average age of his squad was just 22 and they had –  just a few short months earlier – secured the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1900 in a remarkable final against Rangers at Hampden.  Despite going 2-0 down in just ten minutes and before a then record attendance of 64,323, the young Celts didn’t buckle.  Instead, one of Maley’s starlets announced his arrival on the big stage in unforgettable style.

 

Two goals before half-time and a third 10 minutes from the end meant Jimmy Quinn’s hat-trick won the cup for Celtic – a feat which would not be equalled until Dixie Deans against Hibernian in the 1972 Final.  The Croy bhoy was only played at centre-forward because Alec Bennett was withdrawn (it later transpired he had been ‘tapped up’ by Rangers).  Moving Quinn to the central position proved a Maley masterstroke.  The Celtic comeback demonstrated that his team were a match for Rangers – at least in a one-off tie.  Whether they could sustain a challenge over a whole season was another matter.  It was make-or-break time for Maley and his squad of raw recruits.

 

THE EMERGING RIVALRY

Celtic’s main challengers in Season 1904-5 were a relatively new force in Scottish football.  While Queen’s Park had dominated the game north of the border since the 1870s, Celtic’s arrival on the scene in 1888 – and the subsequent introduction of professionalism – heralded the end of the amateur team’s glory period.  Reaching the final in the club’s first-ever season, the Scottish Cup came to rest at Celtic Park in 1892.    In contrast, success had long eluded their emerging rivals -Rangers – despite being one of Scotland’s earliest football clubs.  Their nomadic early years had seen them move from Glasgow Green to various sites in the West End and ultimately the South Side of Glasgow where a base was established in the Ibrox district of Govan.  It took Rangers two decades to win Scotland’s premier competition.   (That is why the name of ‘Rangers’ does feature on the Scottish Cup itself – only on the base).

 

After winning the League for the first time in 1893, Celtic went on to dominate with three further titles in the next five years.  Rangers had shared the first-ever League title with Dumbarton in 1891 but did not win it again until 1899.  The Ibrox club won four titles in succession from that point, setting a new benchmark and establishing themselves as a leading club for the first time – and principal challengers in the Scottish game to Celtic.

 

Celtic had initially developed a rivalry with the widely-acknowledged ‘establishment club’ Queen’s Park and early matches between had been fiercely fought and there were a number of controversies over refereeing decisions that caused bad blood to develop.  There was also a clear division in identity.  Although Celtic were commonly referred to as “the Irish combination” or “the Irishmen” in the media (as had been Hibernian before them), the ethnic distinction between the Irish club and Queen’s Park was highlighted by the headline of the match report in the September 1889 sports newspaper Scottish Referee: ‘Celt v Saxon’.  As the challenge of Queen’s Park began to fall away, it was seen desirable by many at the time that a ‘purely’ Scottish club rise up to challenge the Irish upstarts from Glasgow’s East End.

 

Towards the end of the 1890s it became increasingly apparent to Celtic and onlookers where the new challenge would come from.  Up until season 1904-5 Celtic and Rangers had met frequently in finals and other ties and the competition between the two clubs was growing in intensity.  The print media was instrumental in promoting the emerging rivalry between the two Glasgow clubs and cartoons were the primary vehicle used to convey issues and identities to the large readerships.

 

The weekly Scottish Referee was the most influential sports newspaper in Scotland at the turn of the 20th century.  The daily newspapers paid little attention to football but the Referee and its rival the Scottish Sport increasingly focused on the game and the thousands who were developing an avid interest in it.  That these publications were influential can be gauged from looking at one key issue affecting football at the time.  The frequency of encounters between Celtic and Rangers – and particularly replays – encouraged the idea of a conspiracy between the two clubs to inflate the proceeds from ever-increasing match takings, which the media happily promoted.

 

Patronise THE OLD FIRM Cartoon Scottish Referee 1904

In 1904 the Scottish Referee had written that “we have a notion that the clubs themselves and the public, not to mention ourselves, would like to see them less often, and less seldom monopolise.”   The monopoly was referred in a cartoon in the Referee as ‘The Old Firm’ and, over a century on, this is a label which the Scottish media (now in various forms) persevere with to this day even after the liquidation of Rangers in 2012.  (Celtic fans had been resistant to the use of the tag long before that happy event and the club have, in its official publications and statements, refrained from using the label for a number of years.)

 

As season 1904-5 developed, with both teams vying for the League flag, cartoons were increasingly used to dramatise the unfolding battle between Celtic and Rangers.  Some of them contained imagery which reflected the Celt/Saxon division originally applied to Celtic and Queen’s Park, with Rangers taking the place of the amateur team.  The characterisation of Celtic players – and by extension their supporters – was unfavourably reminiscent of anti-Irish caricatures from an earlier age in British print media.  They reflected – and in the minds of some encouraged – an ethnic distinction between the clubs whose rivalry would develop in the next two decades into one of the greatest in world football.

 

 

THE ‘GREAT TUG OF WAR’ GETS UNDERWAY

Celtic started season 1904-5 in great form with a 5-0 victory over Partick Thistle Firhill in August quickly followed with a 4-1 win away to Port Glasgow (at this time it was 2 points for a win, 1 point for a draw).  The impressive start soon faded though with a defeat and a draw to Hearts in September meaning three points lost.  A boost in Celtic morale came when they faced Rangers for the first time that season in the Glasgow Cup Final on the 8th October, before a crowd of 55,000 at Hampden.  (At this time both the Glasgow and Charity Cups were still considered majored competitions in Scottish football).

 

A 2-1 victory was secured “by an all round exhibition of pluck and determined play.”  The first major honour of the season was Celtic’s but when the same teams met a week later at Celtic Park in their first League encounter it was Rangers who emerged happier after a hard-fought 2-2 draw.  Maley could take heart from defeat having been avoided and his team then went on an unbeaten run in the League from mid-September through to the year’s end.

 

At the beginning of December 1904 the Scottish Referee reported “Celtic and Rangers still keep each other close company and the race between the two for the championship is most exciting.”  Four wins and a draw in December left Celtic four points clear at the top of the League (having played one more game).  All eyes were now fixed on the next meeting between the two scheduled for Ibrox on the 1st January.  A win would give Celtic a significant lead in the race for the League title.

 

In the Balance  cartoon  cleaned

 

The peculiar feature of that New Year’s Day game is that it often isn’t recorded in listings of that season’s games even though the match took place.  Interest in the fixture was at fever pitch and this was reflected in the attendance.  The Scotsman reported that Ibrox held “about the largest crowd that ever witnessed the encounters between these clubs.”  It estimated that 60,000 were in the ground when the teams took to the field – but not for long.  A gate was forced and The Scotsman estimated that “between 10,000 and 15,000 persons thus got in without paying admission.”  With over 70,000 crammed in, the terracings could not contain the crowd and hundreds ended up watching the game pitch-side.  The crowd for this Scottish League game had surpassed that which usually attended the Scottish Cup Final – a sign that the times were changing.

 

The result of the massive crowd squeezed into Ibrox was that “the game assumed a farcical order” with constant stoppages.  Twenty-five minutes into the second-half, with the score still tied at 0-0, the referee “was reluctantly forced to order the players to the pavilion and abandon the game.”

 

Writing over three decades later, Willie Maley recalled that the game had to be stopped “because the crowd, breaking in, made play impossible.”  However the atmosphere the game was played in was by no means unpleasant, as this story of Maley regarding Celtic forward Peter Somers – a noted joker in the team – reveals:

As the players pressed their way to the pavilion through a seething mass of humanity, bottles and flasks in profusion were offered so that they could drink to the New Year in the usual Scottish way.  Of course, all offers were declined.  But in the dressing room Peter had something to say.  “Good heavens, what a chance to miss.  If some o‘ you blokes could on some pretence or ither ha’e ta’en the manager” – meaning myself – “oot o’ the wey for a wee, I could ha’e got enough tae start a pub.”  And Peter glanced at his pals disapprovingly.  “But here Peter,” said wee Davie Hamilton, “ye couldna ha’e carried the booze awa’.”  “Am nae speakin’ aboot booze,” snapped Somers.  And scorn was in his voice.  “I’m thinkin’ about the pennies on the bottles.  Didn’t I ha’e tae decline as mony as wid ha’e made me rich?!”

 

Maley’s hopes that his team could deliver a decisive blow in the title race were dashed.  That disappointment deepened two days later with an unexpected 3-2 defeat at home to Airdrie while Rangers won comfortably at Firhill, 4-1.

 

On the 14th January Celtic travelled to Dens Park while Rangers played Motherwell at home.  The Scottish Referee cartoon illustrated how the two clubs were fishing for points at the side of the respective rivers – and was the first to incorporate a crude stereotype much loved by certain areas of the British press:

 

The Rival Fishers  cartoon

 

A 2-1 loss to Dundee, coupled with a narrow 3-2 victory for Rangers, meant that Celtic were seriously faltering in the title race at a crucial stage.  At the end of January the lead over Rangers had been reduced two points – and Celtic had played 2 more games.  On the 3rd February the view of the Scottish Referee, with Celtic sitting on 35 points to Rangers’ 33, was that “the Championship is confined to Rangers and Celtic, and the slightest slip on the part of one will give the flag to the other.”

 

Scottish Referee   Celtic v Rangers  Snooker cartoon  Irish bogman

 

Celtic only had three League games left to play which Rangers had five.  Cup competitions were given prominence over League fixtures during this period which meant delays in concluding the League programme, especially when replays were necessary.  Celtic’s position at least was clear:  win the remaining three games and they could not be overtaken to the title.

 

This was no easy task for Maley’s team however.  Of the three games remaining one was at home (Morton) and the other two away:  Fir Park and Ibrox (the abandoned New Year’s Day game).  The Greenock team were comfortably beaten 5-2 which meant Celtic returned to Ibrox on the 18th February with the two-point lead over Rangers intact.  What happened that day would be crucial in determining the outcome of Celtic’s season.

 

On the Eve  Scottish Referee  Celtic Rangers cartoon  St Mungo

 

It was not a day for the faint-hearted.  The Glasgow Herald reported that “A fearful storm of wind and rain prevailed through the whole game.”  This undoubtedly affected the attendance as a crowd of 25,000 – less than half of that which had viewed the abandoned game in January – watched on as Rangers won the toss and opted to play with the strong wind behind them in the first half.  This appeared a wise move as Celtic keeper Davie Adams was quickly called into action, foiling four different attempts on goal in the early stages.  Celtic survived the early onslaught thanks to the Dunipace man in goal and it was their turn to go on the front foot, as The Scotsman reported: “Celtic imparted a dash into their work which delighted their supporters and completely enervated the home defence.  Quinn, Hamilton and Bennett led on the attack in fine style and it was but fitting that they should open the scoring, Quinn diverting a square pass from Bennett into the net.”

 

Having taken the lead ten minutes before half-time, Celtic now had to soak up more pressure.  From kick-off a Rangers attack ended up with Adams pushing the ball onto the woodwork and defender McLeod having to clear the ball away.  This was nerve-wracking stuff.  Just a few minutes later though and it was all square after Kyle slotted the ball past Adams, leaving him no chance.  The teams left the field at the interval with the score tied at 1-1 although Celtic had the consolation of knowing they would have the wind behind them when they returned.  It was to prove a whirlwind forty-five minutes.

 

The Herald described Celtic full frontal attack at the outset of the second half in these terms: “With the wind in their favour the visitors quickly became very aggressive and, after Sinclair’s goal had ran many narrow escapes, Quinn scored.”  Yet again, The Croy Express proved his worth to Maley in the centre-forward position.  Celtic had a goal advantage but more than that, they now had belief – in stark contrast to their opponents: “From this point to the end of the game the Rangers played like a beaten team” according to the Herald’s reporter.  Celtic kicked up a storm.  Davie Hamilton made it 3-1 to the Celts and it was ‘The Dancer’ again who scored a fourth soon after.  Celtic had routed their main challengers in their own backyard.  “Seldom have the Light Blues given such a mediocre display” was the unforgiving comment of The Scotsman. 

 

With confidence supremely high, Celtic went to Fir Park in their last League game a week later and trounced Motherwell 6-2 – with the mighty Quinn grabbing a hat-trick (he would end the season as Celtic’s top scorer with 19 goals in just 22 League appearances).  Celtic had amassed 41 points from 26 games.  Rangers were sitting six points behind with three games still to play.  They saw off Port Glasgow convincingly at home, winning 5-1, and the points difference reduced to four.  They now had to play Morton both home and away and required to win both games to catch Celtic.  Before those games could be played though there was the small matter of a Scottish Cup semi-final to play – at Celtic Park.

 

Celtic had home advantage as both teams chased the first ever League and Cup Double in Scottish football history.  Celtic also had one-eye on a potential clean sweep of silverware, with the Glasgow Cup having already been won and the Charity Cup still to be played.  That dream died on the 25th April 1905 though.  Celtic were two goals down and trying desperately to get back into the tie when Jimmy Quinn was alleged to have struck his direct opponent Craig – and was sent off.  The Celtic players protested, convinced that no actual offence had taken place.  The obvious injustice sent the Celtic support into a rage and hundreds flooded on to the park in protest and the referee was physically attacked.  The semi-final required to be abandoned following the on-pitch chaos and Celtic quickly conceded the tie.  Even though Craig testified at a subsequent SFA hearing that Quinn had not assaulted him it made no difference – Quinn was banned from playing for a month.  The League was still not finally settled and Quinn’s ban could yet prove crucial in preventing Celtic from taking the flag.

 

The mood of the Celtic support did not improve a week later when Rangers easily overcame Morton 5-0 at Ibrox.  They now required victory in Greenock to equal Celtic’s points tally at the top of the League.  Again though, the Scottish Cup took precedence.  At Hampden on 8th April 1905, a dour no-score draw was played out between Rangers and Third Lanark. This meant a further delay in the outstanding Morton tie being played.  In the Scottish Cup Final replay on 15th April the Warriors pulled off a surprise with an impressive 3-1 win, denying Rangers the chance of the ‘Double’.

 

The Victor   Third Lanark bt Rangers in the SCF

 

It was 29th April before Rangers travelled to Cappielow.  Almost two months had now passed since Celtic’s last League game against Motherwell.  The long, drawn-out nature of the League saga was being reflected in the crowds – supporters were losing interest.  Only 3,000 turned up to watch Rangers beat Morton 2-0 and finally catch up with Celtic.  The League Championship was now tied with each team on 41 points.

 

 

THE DECIDER

Until 1920, the Scottish Football League made no provision for a Championship to be decided either on goal difference or goal average when teams finished the season on equal points at the top.  Rangers had a goal difference of +18 and if either of those systems were in play at the time then they would have been crowned Champions.  Instead, both teams were required to play a one-off deciding tie at Hampden Park.  This truly was a decider in every sense.

 

Although the play-off rule had been in place since the League started in 1890, it had only been invoked once – in that very first season when Dumbarton and Rangers finished in joint first place.  That Hampden play-off ended all square at 2-2 and the League administrators decided, in their infinite wisdom, that rather than have a replay the two clubs would simply share the honour of the being Champions.  It would be very different in 1905.

 

Arrangements were hastily made after Rangers’ win at Greenock.  Celtic and Rangers were due to play the following Saturday in a Glasgow League fixture, a largely forgotten summer tournament.  It was decided to change the venue of the tie to Hampden – and to double it up as a Championship play-off.  Because of the lengthy delay in settling matters, Jimmy Quinn was now free of suspension and could play in the deciding tie.  This must have pleased the SFA (and Rangers) no end.

 

The Celtic team that ran out at Hampden on this never-to-be-repeated occasion was Adams; Watson and Orr; McNair, Loney and Hay; Bennett, McMenemy, Quinn, Somers and Hamilton.  Both teams were greeted by a noisy crowd on the terracing as the Referee reported: “There was no mistaking the enthusiasm of the spectators who exerted a vast amount of lung power in encouraging their favourites.”  The stage was set for the winner-takes-all encounter.

 

Having lost the toss Celtic played with a breeze behind them in the first half.  The forward line was quick to apply pressure, helping Celtic to monopolise the early play.  It was RS McColl though – known as ‘Toffee Bob’ and who at the time owned the first of what would become a nationwide chain of newsagent shops – who had the first clear-cut chance for Rangers, trying to beat Adams with a strong shot which the Celtic last-liner was equal to.  Jimmy McMenemy, Celtic’s ‘Napoleon’, was the next to threaten with a “fast shot from the penalty line” which Sinclair foiled.  Celtic launched a series of attacks, most of which resulted in offside calls “which were none too well received by a section of the crowd.”  Jimmy Quinn became increasingly prominent with a number of long-range shots and then, in a role reversal, he went on a dodging run on the left wing and set up Alex Bennet for a header which he failed to convert.  The Scotsman said of the first half: “Of the goalkeepers, Sinclair had perhaps more to do than Adams, but at the interval neither side had scored.”

 

It was – in the truest sense – all to play for at the start of the second half.  The entire League season had come down to forty-five minutes.  Celtic made the early running: “The Parkhead forwards resumed with the same dash as had characterised their work in the first half.”  Sinclair foiled Quinn after “clever work” by Celtic’s inside men.  Celtic’s forward line were knitting well together and forcing Rangers on to the back foot.  Twenty minutes into the second and after several “splendid attempts” the deadlock was broken.  Pouncing on a mistake by a Rangers defender, Jimmy McMenemy fired a shot past Sinclair from a difficult angle – and Celtic were in the lead!

 

The Celtic support celebrated wildly – and with good reason according to The Scotsman: “The cheering and excitement which greeted this success was only equally by that which followed a couple of minutes later, when, following a corner, Sinclair was beaten for the second time by a deceptive shot from Hamilton from the vicinity of the corner flag, the keeper striking the ball against the inside of the post.”  Two- nil to the Bhoys!

 

It was no surprise that wee Davie Hamilton, known to the Celtic fans as The Dancer, would have them jigging with joy on the terracings.  His quick thinking in striking the ball from the corner flag had flummoxed the Rangers keeper, forcing him to fumble the ball off the post and in to the net.  After a long, drawn-out campaign, the glittering prize was hovering into view for Willie Maley and his men.

 

The second half was now at its mid-point.  With a two goal cushion Celtic could afford to ease back on the attacks and concentrate on retaining possession.  If that was the plan it was soon thrown into disarray as Robertson converted a pass from McColl past Adams to make it 2-1.  The young Celts now required to hold their collective nerve.  Captain Willie Orr, the only survivor from the 1898 Title-winning team, led by example.  The Scottish Referee noted that after their goal “the Ibrox men had the best of the exchanges and seemed likely to equalise, but the Parkhead middle line was excellent and prevented further disaster.”  Celtic had ‘keeper Adams to thank yet again when he superbly tipped the ball over the bar from a long-range free kick, preserving Celtic’s lead.  One match report stated “play was fast til the finish” and it was in the heat of battle that “Gourlay and Quinn came forcibly together.”  Few people came away from a Jimmy Quinn challenge feeling the better for it and the Rangers man had to retire ten minutes from the end (no substitutes were allowed at that time).

 

The final whistle blew – and Davie Hamilton was first to grab the match ball for himself.  He may have had an inkling that this was history in the making.  Celtic had won the Championship decider.  The season was finally at an end and the young Celtic squad had won the greatest prize on offer.  They wouldn’t stop there though.

 

Maley’s men won the League title the following season.  They did it again in season 1906-7 and won the Scottish Cup also, the first ever Scottish team to do the League and Cup ‘Double.’  Not satisfied with that accolade they went out and did the Double again the following season – and won two further League titles in succession.  ‘6 in a row!’ was the cry as Celtic dominated Scottish football in a way that had never been witnessed before.

 

The Scottish League marked Celtic’s achievement with a unique shield bearing the names of every Celtic player who played during the monumental run.  It continues to adorn the modern Celtic Park trophy room today.

 

 Celtic 6 in a row Scottish League shield

 

Willie Maley and the Celtic Board had been vindicated for pursuing their youth policy.  They had built a top-class team from players who came largely from the lower leagues and junior ranks.  The 6-in-a-row squad was forged in the fire of Season 1904-5.  They held their nerve through a series of high-pressure matches, matching Rangers blow-for-blow, holding onto their lead despite various and carrying it to Ibrox where they recorded a famous victory.  They then had to go again, after weeks of inaction, into a one-off decider to settle who would win the League.  Never again has the Scottish League been decided in this way.  The tension surrounding the winner-takes-all encounter must have been unbearable at times.  The young Celts withstood it all and triumphed.  At the end of the month of May they won the Charity Cup also – making it the club’s most successful season in over a decade.

 

As Willie Maley wrote in his book The Story of the Celtic published in 1939: “It was a victory worth waiting for, and accomplished under conditions which left no doubt in the minds of the public that it was the forerunner of many more.”

 

It would take Rangers a number of years to fully recover from the outcome of Season 1904-5.  The rivalry between the clubs grew in its intensity, undoubtedly fuelled by the negative connotations which the media tried to associate to Celtic’s Irish identity.  Celtic’s relationship with the Scottish media remains prickly to the present day.  In the season ahead it is undoubtedly the case that Scottish journalists will attempt to breathe new life into the tired ‘Old Firm’ label that they love so much now that newco Rangers have finally completed their long, much-delayed journey to the top flight of Scottish football.  While Celtic, under new manager Brendan Rodgers, chase the club’s 48th top title, various media cheerleaders will be right behind the new club’s attempt to win its first.   Plus ça change.

 

————————

 

 

POSTSCRIPT

It is curious that, the despite the significance of Season 1904-5 and its incredible finale, it rarely rates more than a passing mention in The Celtic Story.  The reasons for that appear to relate to the low-key atmosphere in which the season finished which, over a century on, is difficult to comprehend.  Just under 30,000 fans witnessed the Hampden play-off.  This is peculiar given that over 70,000 attended the abandoned game at Ibrox five months earlier as the Championship race was reaching its climax.   What had changed?

 

The answers can only be guessed at from this distance.  The Scottish Cup remained the most important tournament and took precedence in the fixture list – as did the other cup competitions – even though the League had been running for over a decade.  The Cup Final was also the established end to the football season – and there was certainly extensive criticism in the sporting press for the way that the League competition dragged on beyond the cup final through to May (when it would usually be finished in early March).  One cartoon made the point with an illustration of a child playing football being forced off the playing fields to make way for a cricketer:  summer was not the time for football. The governing bodies had also been hindered by the number of cup games (and replays) to be scheduled in an era when midweek matches were not held due to the absence of floodlights, which effectively meant football matches were only played on Saturday afternoons.

 

The Turn of the Cricketer  cartoon

 

Those same governing bodies though – the SFA and Scottish League –had allowed much of the excitement built up in the Title race to simply fizzle out (although the SFA were unlikely to have been too disappointed at the state of affairs, given that it reinforced the importance of their competition – the Scottish Cup – over the League’s).  Celtic’s last League game had been on 4th March, two full months before the deciding tie.  The League fixed the decider for a day when Queen’s Park were playing local rivals Third Lanark in the Glasgow League at Cathkin Park, just over the hill from Hampden.  This local south-side derby always attracted decent crowds and this undoubtedly impacted on the Hampden game’s attendance.  The shambolic and sorry conclusion to the football season couldn’t have been handled any worse if Messrs Regan and Doncaster were involved.  Many supporters, especially neutrals, simply lost interest as the league competition dragged on and on.

 

For Celtic though, the events of May 5th 1905 would prove a landmark in the club’s history, the starting point of its first truly golden era.

 


 

Celtic’s Squad of Season 1904-5

Here are the men who made a first team appearance that season for Celtic along with their position, age at the season’s start and previous club.

Celtic 1904-5  straight and revised

Alex Bennett/ Forward/ 22/ Rutherglen Glencairn

Finlay McLean/ Outside-Right/ 24/ Hamilton Accies

Jimmy Hay/ Left-half/ 23/ Glossop

Jimmy Young/ Right-half/ 22/ Bristol Rovers (free)

Donnie McLeod/ Full-back/ 22/ Stenhousemuir

Jimmy Quinn/ Centre-Forward/ 26/ Smithston Albion

Alec McNair/ Right-back/ 20/ Stenhousemuir Hearts

Willie Black/ Half-back/ 26/ Queen’s Park

Willie Orr/ Left-half/ 31/ Preston North End

Davie Adams/ Goalkeeper/ 21/ Dunipace Juniors

Peter Somers/ Inside-Left/ 26/ Hamilton Accies

Willie Loney/ Centre-Half/ 25/ Denny Athletic

Davie Hamilton/ Outside-Left/ 21/ Cambuslang Hibs

Hugh Watson/ Right-Back/ 21/ Trabboch Thistle

Jimmy McMenemy/ Inside-Left/ 23/ Rutherglen Glencairn

 


Issues 1 and 2 of THE SHAMROCK

Available for sale here:  Buy The Shamrock

Covers of Issue 1and 2 together small

 

 

 

Artur Boruc – The Holy Goalie

Celtic's goalkeeper Boruc grabs Rangers' Weir by the throat during their "Old Firm" Scottish Premier League soccer match in Glasgow, Scotland

Back in 2006, the Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc received a formal police caution in Glasgow after blessing himself at a match.  It was his established routine to pray and make the sign of the cross at the start of each half.  In February, in a game against Rangers at Ibrox, he blessed himself in the usual way – and in the usual way, the Huns went mental.  Bizarrely, it was Boruc rather than the bigots subjecting him to sectarian abuse, who were the subject of police action.

 

 

 

The caution didn’t stop him – he kept on blessing himself.  The Holy Goalie’s failure to back down further endeared him to the Celtic support.  Many considered himself to be the best ‘keeper at the club since Ronnie Simpson.  As well as sensational saves, his obvious dislike for Rangers and their support, his public declarations of faith and occasional stunts (like wearing a t-shirt at Ibrox with fellow Pole Pope John Paul II on it) all meant that the bold Boruc will long be remembered and loved by the faithful.

 

It is believed the chant in his tribute was dreamt up in The Black Cat, a Celtic bar in Greenock, after the consumption of generous amounts of a certain tonic wine.  It was soon taken up across the country.  Simple and straight to the point!

 

Oh-oh, Artur Boruc – the Holy Goalie

He Hates the Huns!

He blessed himself at Ibrox

And the Huns off went off their nuts

He’s off his fuckin’ rocker 

And he sings ‘God Bless the Pope’!

Here is the Holy Goalie joining in with the  song in the  title celebrations at Tannadice in 2008:

 

And  here’s Homer Simpson teaching the weans the song.  It is not known  if Police Scotland are seeking an extradition warrant . . .

 

Ready for some more Celtic songs and chants?  Fill yer boots by clicking here.

Seven-One (Another goal for Glasgow Celtic)

7-1fingers

 

The 19th October 1957.  The Scottish League Cup Final.  The record victory in any senior British cup final.

Celtic fans have been singing about the legendary 7-1 scoreline for over five decades – and will always do so.  This humiliation of the old Rangers can never be bettered.  And this is one of the best songs about Hampden In The Sun, to the tune of ‘Kevin Barry’.

 

On the classic slopes of Hampden 

In October ’57

Stood the mighty Glasgow Rangers

And another great eleven.

100,000 voices singing

‘Follow Follow’ was their theme

While a gallant band of faithful

Sang ‘The Wearing Of The Green’

.

Battle joined and battle favoured

Battle favoured only one

As each glory goal was added

Seven times 

This song was sung!

.

Another goal for Glasgow Celtic

Another victory for the cause,

Another reason to be giving

Another cheer just for the Bhoys. 

For if I live to be a hundred, 

I’ll never, ever have such fun –

As the day the Glasgow Celtic 

Beat the Rangers 7-1

.

From the streets of dear old Glasgow

To the famous county Cork

From the bridge at Sydney Harbour

To the City of New York

They will sing of Celtic’s glory

They will sing it old and young

Of the day, the Glasgow Celtic

Beat the Rangers

Seven-One!

.

Battle joined and battle favoured

Battle favoured only one

As each glory goal was added

Seven times 

This song was sung

.

Another goal for Glasgow Celtic

Another victory for the cause,

Another reason to be giving

Another cheer just for the Bhoys. 

For if I live to be a hundred, 

I’ll never, ever have such fun –

As the day the Glasgow Celtic 

Beat the Rangers 7-1

(As the day the Glasgow Celtic 

Beat the Rangers 7-1)

 

There are a few versions of this great song out there – this one, by The Shamrocks, is the best.  Old school in every sense.

 

 

 

The Bhoys and Ghirls of the Gorbals know the score . . . 

Seventh heaven in the Gorbals  7 1 grafitti

 

For more Celtic songs, chants and get-it-up-yeez, click here.

There’s only 1 Bobby Petta

Bobby Petta on the ball

 

Bobby Petta, the Dutch winger, had a miserable first season with Celtic.  Signed from Ipswich Town in July 1999, he managed only 17 games and 1 single goal (v Ayr United).  The fans were far from impressed.

When Martin O’Neill took over as Manager in the summer of 2000 it sparked a rejuvenation in Petta’s form and fortunes.  His skills were there for all to see, especially in a fantastic away performace against Ajax in Amsterdam where Celtic ran out 3-1 winners with Bobby – an ex-Feyenoord player – even getting on the score sheet.

The misgivings that the fans had about Bobby Petta were blown away in the 6-2 victory over Rangers on 28th August 2000.  He assisted in three of the goals but it was the tormenting of his countryman, new Rangers’ defender Fernando Ricksen, that remains seared in the memory:  time and again Petta turned him one way and then the other over and over again, leaving mad-eyed Ricksen more sweaty and flustered than a Rangers fan appearing on Mastermind.

Bobby’s humiliation of Ricksen was complete after only 23 minutes when the defender was hooked by boss Dick Advocaat – with Celtic already three goals up.

This remarkable turnaround in fortunes merited a tribute all of his its own, in true Glaswegian style to boot:

 

There’s only one Bobby Petta,

He was shite – but now he’s better

We sent him to Mass,

And now he’s pure world class –

Walking in a Petta Wonderland

 

 

Bobby Petta v Ricksen

 

 

A group of Celtic fans giving the song pre-match laldy on a recent visit to Amsterdam . . .

 

 

Celtic 6 Rangers 2.  ‘Bobby Petta with an early surge . . .’

 

 

More Celtic songs, chants and general Timfoolery can be found here.  

 

 

Oh, I love my Tommy McInally!

Tommy McInally portrait

Tommy McInally was a Celtic star of the 1920s who manager Willie Maley struggled to contain his exuberance both on and of the pitch.  A delightful ball player, Tommy could score them as well (bagging 39 goals in his first season).

He quickly became a fans’ favourite, renowned for his cheeky tricks and on-pitch chats with opponents desperately trying to intimidate him.  A defender once threatened to “eat”  him.  Tommy responded by saying “Well, at least that’ll get some fitba intae ye!

He scored 127 goals in 213 first team appearances over 2 spells with the club.  The love that the Celtic support had for him is apparent from this song from the ’20s terracings (to the tune of Roamin’ in the Gloamin’):

 

Tommy McInally, he’s the toast of ground and stand,

Tommy McInally, he’s the greatest in the land!

Even though I get the sack, how I love my Tommy Mac,

Oh, I love my Tommy McInally!

 

 Tommy McInally, he’s the man that makes us sing,

Tommy McInally, as he charges up the wing!

And when he gets the ball, you can hear the Celtic call

Tommy, Tommy, Tommy McInally!

 

Find out more about Tommy McInally in David Potter’s excellent book on sale here
Thanks to Maley’s Bhoys – the song is referenced in the book Uniquely Celtic on sale here – a truly great Celtic read!
More Celtic songs and chants can be found here – get singing!  

Jimmy McGrory, Prince of Garngad

 

James McGrory banner

Jimmy McGrory old age

 

It is no surprise that the greatest Celtic striker ever – yep, better than Henrik – and the best in Scottish football had his name committed to song by the Faithful.

Born in Glasgow’s ‘Garden of God’ – the Garngad – to Irish parents, Jimmy McGrory was a goal-scoring machine without compare.  Many of his records still stand today, including his incredible 8 goals in one game (read about it here).

Occasionally, at supporters functions and pubs you’ll hear someone belting out the famous homage to McGrory, to the tune of the great Irish hymn ‘Hail Glorious Saint Patrick’:

In the war against Rangers,

In the fight for the cup,

When Jimmy McGrory put the Celtic one-up,

We’ve done it before

And we’ll do it again,

In Erin’s Green Valleys look down in thy love

In Erin’s Green Valleys x 3

In Erin’s Green Valleys look down in thy love

McGrory’s biographer, John Cairney, recalled a longer verse (to the same tune) in his excellent book ‘Heroes Are Forever’:

Oh, Jimmy McGrory,

The Prince of Garngad,

The best centre-forward,

The Celts ever had,

Oh, see him rise  high in the goalmouth to score,

Oh Jimmy McGrory

Just gie us one more.

Oh, send for McGrory (x3)

Tae gie us one more.  

Jimmy McGrory boots and ball 8 goals v Dline

 

To read about more Celtic songs and chants of heroes and villains of the dim and not so distant past, click here.

 

 

 

 

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