Sign in or
Celtic & the Scottish Cup(written by TheHumanTorpedo)
Celtic have always enjoyed a special relationship with the Scottish Cup. No club has won the old trophy as often as the Bhoys. Indeed it is perhaps only natural that a club with Celtic’s background should do so well in a tournament which revels in the achievements of the underdog.
While all Scottish Cup final victories are special some are unquestionably more so than others. While winning the Cup is in itself a joy, it is made all the sweeter by a rousing comeback and a dramatic last-gasp goal. And when it comes to a cup final fight back no one does it better than the Bhoys.
In 1904 a Jimmy Quinn hat-trick against Rangers inspired the Celts to Cup glory as an early 2-0 deficit was turned into a 3-2 victory. Then in the final of 1925 Patsy Gallacher – with his famous somersault! - and Jimmy McGrory scored late goals as the Hoops came from behind to defeat Dundee 2-1.
As scintillating and memorable as these games and goals were, in terms of sheer drama none can compare with the events of Saturday April 11th 1931.
It was on this date a crowd of 104,803 gathered on the dusty and sun kissed slopes of Hampden in anticipation of a classic final as an impressive Motherwell side faced twelve times winners Celtic.
The Lanarkshire side may have been playing in their first cup final but they were most people’s favourites to lift the silverware. While the Bhoys had cup tradition on their side it was the Steelmen, regarded as the best footballing side in Scotland, who were the form team.
On a dry, quick and bumpy pitch Motherwell settled quickly and showing no signs of nerves put the Celts under early pressure. Within six minutes they had taken the lead. A long range shot had ricocheted off Celtic defender Peter McGonagle into the path of Motherwell’s Stevenson whose well hit drive was deflected off Jimmy McStay’s boot into the Celtic goal.
Boosted by that early strike, and with the winds at their back, a confident Motherwell pressed on. Time after time their slick passing game cut through the Celtic defence. Several gilt edged opportunities were missed before they deservedly doubled their lead on 20 minutes. After a double save from John Thomson the Celtic defence could not clear their lines and the ball fell to McMenemy who finally netted with the help of another deflection off the unlucky McStay.
As the first-half neared completion an out-of-sorts Celtic finally began to exert more pressure on the Motherwell defence. But it was the Lanarkshire side who remained the most likely to score thanks to some swift and incisive counter-attacks.
When the second-half got underway Celtic had no option but to attack. In contrast Motherwell were content to now play a containing game and the opening exchanges saw the Steelmen cope comfortably with Celtic’s rather direct and unsubtle approach. The Bhoys simply hadn’t clicked and it appeared nothing would prevent Well from taking the Scottish Cup for the first time.
Celtic were now dominant in terms of possession and territory but they seemed to lack the creativity to break down the stubborn Well defence. But just as the game was entering its final stages the pressure at last caused some creaking in the Motherwell’s rearguard. The attractive football and assured defending of earlier was now replaced by desperate long punts out of the play. Free-kicks were being conceded at an alarming rate by the increasingly anxious favourites.
Encouraging as these signs were a comeback remained unlikely, so much so that thousands of Motherwell fans left early to catch the train home to relay news of a historic victory back to those eagerly waiting the result in the Lanarkshire town.
With just seven minutes left Celtic won another free-kick. Charlie Napier stood over the ball and with everyone expecting a shot on goal he cleverly lobbed the ball over the wall where the onrushing Jimmy McGrory stetched out his right leg and guided the ball into the net. Brushing off the congratulations of his team-mates McGrory collected the ball from the back of the net. As he raced back to the centre circle the inspirational centre-forward pointed up to the clock on the terracing – there was still time, there was still hope.
Roared on by a rejuvenated support Celtic began to swamp the Motherwell defence. The Steelmen’s earlier assurance and confidence was now replaced by sheer panic. With the match entering its final seconds a long clearance had made its way back to John Thomson. The keeper’s kick found Bertie Thomson out on the right-wing and after beating two men he sent a swirling high ball into the Well goalmouth.
With McGrory poised to pounce Motherwell centre-half Alan Craig laeaped high to challenge, but his attempted clearance saw the ball glance off his forehead, past the out coming keeper and into the roof of the net. There had been just three seconds remaining. Craig was left in tears. The Celtic support jubilant.
Celtic had not only won a replay they had reiterated in the most dramatic fashion the club’s never-say-die attitude. Celtic would deservedly win an entertaining replay 4-2.
The magic of 1931 would return with the club to Hampden many years later. In 1985 Frank McGarvey’s late header capped a stunning fightback and claimed the 100th Scottish Cup final for the Bhoys. Just three years later Frank McAvennie hit a brace – including a last minute winner – as the Hoops fought back to seal a Centenary season double.
The Celtic tradition of playing until the final whistle has never been more clearly and gloriously illustrated than on these Hampden occasions. Indeed nothing sums up this fighting spirit of the Bhoys better the image of McGrory running back to the centre circle and pointing up to the Hampden clock. While the clock is long gone, the spirit of 1931 remains.
Latest page update: made by joebloggscity
, Jun 24 2012, 7:46 AM EDT
(about this update
About This Update
Edited by joebloggscity
3 words added
- complete history)
Keyword tags: None
More Info: links to this page