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Season Review 1951-52
|Matches: 1951 - 1952 | 1951-1952 Pictures | League Table | Statistics|
Another Poor League Performance
The 1951-52 season started off with the St Mungo Cup - won against Aberdeen on 1st August 1951. However controversy then ensued when it was discovered that the trophy was in fact a second hand trophy. Robert Kelly offered to replace it but this fizzled out as the season proper got under way with the League Cup.
Celtic had a good run in the League Cup qualifying by topping their section then beating Forfar in the quarter final but going on to be well beaten by Rangers in the semi-final at Hampden.
After a decent start to the League the season took a down turn through the latter half of 1951 and into 1952. In fact it was only a decent performance in the last month of 1952 which saw them escape the relegation battle that proceeded to grip Third Lanark, St Mirren, Morton and Airdrie. The team eventually finished 9th but managed to win only two games away from home the whole season. It is hard to believe a team graced by Tully, Collins, Evans and Peacock could play so poorly and finishing yet again proved to be a problem. On top of that the Celtic defense were getting a name as lightweight. Rarely did the team excel and performances were such as to draw the comment that "....rarely has a Celtic team been seen with such a lack of conventional skills." There were also goalkeeper woes. George Hunter was sent to recover from TB and in his place Bonnar was reinstalled as No 1. Alex Devanny then replaced him only to be dropped for Bonnar again. Andrew Bell signed with a view to the future and made 3 appearances this season.
Of the other players coming in Giles Heron signed after coming over from Detroit to a loud media trumpeting - and became the club's first black player. After a few games, though, he was dropped and played out most of the season with the Reserves. Sean Fallon was played at centre forward - an experiment tried on USA tour at the end of the previous season - and though he showed some success he eventually reverted to right back to accomodate Heron. Walsh was very successful at centre forward - young, keen and quick and willing, but he too was dropped with the return to fitness of McPhail, who continued to miscue and underhit. There was a carefree attitude to the play which should have been an anathema to the Celtic side. The thinness of squad was starting to become apparent - particularly for a centre forward and a fully reliable goalkeeper. McPhail in particular appeared to be fighting a losing battle with weight and fitness and his finesse was replaced with a muscling of defenders. There was a lack of fire power. The Celtic scouts worked full time to identify someone available without success. Various players were tried as well as Fallon. On the defensive front Jock Stein was bought from Llanelli. His first season proved to be reasonable but of no great shakes but he would go on from here.
As Scottish Cup holders much was expected of Celtic and they duly obliged by falling at the first hurdle, losing to Third Lanark after an extra time replay.
There was also the Flag controversy which went on throughout the season. This was brought on by the Scottish Football Association's attempt to curb the unrest and outright violence which was being seen at games. The brouha continued into the next season but basically the SFA put themselves in a position which they desperately wanted to back down from having come up against a strong Robert Kelly who refused to back down and take the flag down.
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