Nov 102014
 

…But The Legend Lives On

 

1957-10-19: Celtic 7-1 Rangers, League Cup - Pictures - Kerrydale Street

 

Earlier today, it was publicly announced by Celtic Football Club that the last surviving member of the 1957 Scottish League Cup Final winning side, Samuel “Sammy” Wilson, died on Saturday at the age of seventy-two.

Sammy’s sad passing, which comes less than a year on from the death of “The Wee Barra” Bobby Collins, means that from the playing perspective at least, the famous seven-one victory over Rangers Football Club has officially passed into the annuls of Celtic history, undoubtedly as one of the Club’s finest achievements. With that in mind, this article – which shall discuss the match itself as well as some of the reactions to such an unexpected result – is dedicated not only to Sammy, but to the eleven men who pulled on their jerseys that day and gave the Celtic support present a memory to savour and those Celts yet to come a story to relish. This was “Hampden in the Sun” – a highlights video of the match can be found at the bottom of this page.

 

Celtic goal against Rangers 1957 LCF

 

“Celtic Put On The Style – And The Agony”

These were the words of one Hugh Taylor of the “Evening Citizen”, as he recalled the events of that day in his newspaper column. I will leave it to Mr Taylor to describe each of the eight goals that day, before carrying on with the article. He continued:

“Rangers were left tattered and gasping by Celtic’s magnificent brand of soccer. Hat-trickster Billy McPhail was brilliant, with Mochan not far behind with his two goals. Wilson and Fernie (penalty) made it a seventh heaven for the Parkhead fans. Billy Simpson’s goal was just incidental.”

“On an afternoon of golden sunshine Hampden was at its glittering glamorous best for the League Cup Final between Rangers and Celtic. Half an hour before the kick-off the ground was filling rapidly. Brave martial music filled the air. It was a gay scene, with banners being flaunted – Union Jacks at one end and the green, white and orange flags at the other.”

“It was the perfect football picture – a green pitch, brilliantly white lines and goal posts and an excited crowd.”

“Celtic took a well deserved lead in 23 minutes. Tully put the ball over, it came back to him, again he sent it over – and again one of those graceful McPhail backheaders. This time the ball dropped right at the foot of SAMMY WILSON and the inside-forward took the chance, gratefully, lashing the ball into the net.”

“No doubt about it, it had been Celtic, Celtic, Celtic nearly all the way in the first half. This was soccer in the real old-time Celtic style. Rangers were lucky not to be at least three goals down. A minute before the interval, MOCHAN scored a wonder goal for Celtic.”

“He cut in from the by-line, flashed past Shearer then beat Valentine and lashed an amazing shot into the net from an acute angle. A really beautiful goal and one that only a dead shot like Mochan could score. It was, however, no more than Celtic’s due. Half-time: – Celtic 2; Rangers 0.”

 

Tully hits the post in 7-1 game.

 

“In eight minutes [of the second half] Celtic scored a glorious third goal. Collins sent over a beautifully placed cross, up rose MCPHAIL above everyone, even the desperately groping arms of Niven, and in a flash the ball was headed neatly into the net. This was a terrific blow to Rangers. They were really bang in trouble.”

“In 13 minutes Simpson revived Rangers’ hopes with a spectacular goal. McColl sent over a fine cross and up soared SIMPSON to head into the net”.

“In 23 minutes McPhail put the issue beyond doubt when he scored a fourth goal. Niven stopped a shot but he couldn’t hold it and MCPHAIL stepped in to slam the ball home. Yes, this was Celtic’s day!”

“Cocky and confident Celtic toyed with their opponents in the late stages of the match. In 30 minutes MOCHAN made the defeat of Rangers even more humilating when he scored a fifth goal from a fine first-time drive from a pass from Wilson.”

“Celtic kept rubbing it in and MCPHAIL made it six with a superb goal. He beat Valentine to the jump, ran on and shot into the net. It was an overwhelming victory for Celtic.”

“In the last minute McPhail darted through, he was brought down by Shearer and a penalty given to Celtic. Fernie made it 7-1 with a neat shot from the spot. The whistle went before the ball could be re-centred.”

 

Beattie, Richard - Pics - The Celtic Wiki

 

To truly grasp the significance of this event, one must understand the situation which Celtic found themselves in at the time. Rangers, then Champions of Scotland two times running, were generally regarded as a footballing force to be reckoned with, scoring lots of goals but conceding relatively few. Whilst they had amassed fifty-five points (two points for a victory) during the previous league campaign, Celtic had finished in a fifth position with only thirty-eight points to their name. The Parkhead side’s double winning team of the 1953-54 season now seemed like a distant memory, representing their only league win in almost two decades. Undoubtedly, there were talented individuals within the current squad, but for a variety of reasons, they failed to enjoy as many successes as they could (and debatably should) have.

The Club’s first Scottish League Cup triumph, which came only a year earlier as the Hoops saw off Partick Thistle in the final, had been a welcome boost, but when one considers that prior to the seven-one victory over Rangers, Celtic had only managed to win five of the last eighteen clashes against their fierce rivals, losing nine, it becomes clear why the Celts were not considered the favourites by many prior to the League Cup Final of 1957. Of course, it must be said that Celtic were buoyed by the fact they had won their first league match at Ibrox in 22 years less than a month earlier, with Sammy Wilson scoring the winning goal in a pulsating three-two win, but those of a light blue persuasion were still very confident they would achieve success at Hampden Park.

Regardless, the last time upon which the two sides had faced off in a major Cup Final had been in 1928, when Rangers won the Scottish Cup convincingly, seeing off their opponents by four goals to nil. In fact, Celtic had not beaten the Ibrox side in such an encounter since the legendary hat-trick of Jimmy Quinn in the final of the same competition away back in 1904, some fifty-three years previously. It is therefore likely that the majority of the Celtic support who traveled to Hampden on the 19th October 1957 had never seen their team defeat Rangers in such an affair. The prospect of this undoubtedly added to the atmosphere that day.

It is no wonder then that not only the result of the match that day, but the utterly supreme Celtic performance sent shock waves not only around the footballing word, but around Glasgow. At a time when many members of the Celtic support – and their families, not all of whom had an interest in the sport in particular – were still notably poor and repressed, looked down upon by those in positions of power and authority, this victory was celebrated by everyone even vaguely allied to Celtic in the city. It was the loudest message any Celtic side had sent to their rivals for a generation to say we were as capable as any other, and as such it is recalled today with great fondness, even by those like myself who were born many years later.

 

Fernie scores 1957 LCF

 

A selection of some of my favourite newspaper quotes regarding that day can be found below, before the article continues:

“Wonderful, wonderful Celtic. They took Rangers apart at Hampden in a glorious 60 minutes of football, in which they paraded all the skill and craft of the game to 100,000 fans – and kept the Scottish League Cup at Parkhead for another season…But it wasn’t a tough game, Celtic were too far ahead and too good in their football for that. And so they went on to a wonderful win with their supporters roaring with joy and the Ibrox end of the ground stunned to silence.” – George Aitken

“The Rangers support could take no more and violence flared [after Celtic’s sixth goal] with supporters fighting among themselves and bottles being hurled into the air. The trouble spilled over on to the pitch and the police had to move swiftly to prevent it getting out of hand.”

“Celtic 7 Rangers 1 … that fantastic score is going into history in letters of gold. Don’t imagine that this is just a bit of flowery writing. Here’s how it will happen. Celtic – after their League Cup final win on Saturday – were the first team to win official cup medals from the Scottish League. Previous clubs could – and generally did – give medals of their own to their winning elevens. And when Parkhead defender Sean Fallon got his he said: “There’s room on the back for my name AND the score. And I’m going to make sure the score goes in. This, after all, is historic.” Quite right, Sean. Right well did you and your mates earn those medals!” – Tommy Muirhead

“The once famous iron curtain [nickname for the great Rangers defence] is now no more than a tattered remnant.” – Charles Shankland (Sunday Pictorial)

“The terracing became a huge sea of green and white waves…”

 

1957-10-19: Celtic 7-1 Rangers, League Cup - Pictures - The Celtic Wiki

 

And so, in closing, I would ask you all to take a moment to remember not only Sammy Wilson but the entirety of the Celtic team who beat Rangers by seven goals to one, in what remains the record scoreline for any major British Cup Final. As such, a picture of each man and their relevant career statistics can be found below, before the previously referenced highlights video.

Rest in peace gentlemen, the story of your triumph will outlive us all.

 

Goalkeeper: 

Dick Beattie – Born 24th October 1938, Died 15th August 1990 – 43 clean sheets from 156 games with Celtic between 1954 and 1959.

 

Beattie, Richard (Pics) - Kerrydale Street

 

Full-backs:

John Donnelly – Born 17th December 1936, Died 31st July 2009 – 43 appearances (no goals) for Celtic between 1955 and 1962.

 

John Donnelly

 

Sean Fallon – Born 31st July 1922, Died 18th January 2013 – Fourteen goals in two hundred and fifty-four appearances for Celtic between 1950 and 1958 (assistant manager 1962-75).

 

Fallon, Sean - Pic

 

Half-Backs:

 

Willie Fernie – Born 22nd November 1928, Died 1st July 2011 – 74 goals in 317 appearances for Celtic between 1948 and 1958, then 1960 and 1961 (reserve team coach 1967-73)

 

Willie Fernie

 

Bobby Evans – Born 16th July 1927, Died 1st September 2001 – 11 goals in 549 appearances for Celtic between 1944 and 1960.

 

Bobby Evans 1960

 

Bertie Peacock – Born 29th September 1928, Died 22nd July 2004 – Scored 50 goals in 543 appearances for Celtic between 1949 and 1961.

 

Peacock, Bertie - Pic

 

Forwards:

 

Charlie Tully – Born 11th July 1924, Died 27th July 1971 – Scored 47 goals in 319 appearances for Celtic between 1948 and 1959.

 

Tully, Charlie - Pic

 

Bobby Collins – Born 16th February 1931, Died 13th January 2014 – Scored 116 goals in 320 appearances for Celtic between 1949 and 1958.

 

Bobby Collins

 

Billy McPhail – Born 2nd February 1928, Died 4th April 2003 – Scored 38 goals in 57 appearances for Celtic between 1956 and 1958.

 

billy mcphail

 

Sammy Wilson – Born 16th December 1931, Died 8th November 2014 – Scored 46 goals in 70 appearances for Celtic between 1957 and 1959.

 

Sammy Wilson 1957-59

 

Neil Mochan – Born 6th April 1927, Died 28th August 1994 – Scored 111 goals in 268 appearances for Celtic between 1953 and 1960 (coach from the mid-sixties through to the eighties).

 

Mochan, Neil - Pic

 

Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy.

Nov 092014
 

Resilient Celtic See Off Reds

 

pittodrie1

 

 

Those of you who have followed my Twitter feed and this website for some time will know I have not written many articles recently. Conversely, there was a time when they seemed to pop up several times a week, with topics ranging from the history of Celtic Football Club to current affairs. “Why then”, you may be forgiven for asking, “have you decided to write one today?”

Well, that is actually a fairly easy question to answer: “Ronny Deila”.

A little over five months on from the day he took up the managerial role at Celtic Park, the enigmatic Norwegian and his squad have – at times – generated many more questions than answers themselves. In fact, I don’t believe for one second that anyone within the Celtic support could have predicted the run of results and performances (which have not always complimented each other) we’ve all bore witness to since Deila’s first Celtic team took to the field away to K.R. Reykjavik back in the middle of July.

Already, there have been notable highs – such as the six-one domination of Dundee United in Ronny’s first home game, an unlikely away draw against Red Bull Salzburg and comprehensive hammerings dished out to Ross County and Partick Thistle – and yet equally, there have been some gut-wrenching lows –  two dismissals from the UEFA Champions League qualifiers (including a farcical defeat in Warsaw wherein a four-one scoreline massively flattered us) and domestic losses to the likes of Hamilton (impressive though they have been this season) – to deal with.

Perhaps it is no surprise then that on days like today, when the prospect of defeat has stared us all in the face only to be vanquished by an unlikely late victory, our manager has shown a significant degree of passion and blown off a bit of steam. Whilst I do not think his position has ever been seriously questioned within the Football Club itself, sections of the ever Celtic-friendly Scottish media have positively purred at the prospect of heaping pressure upon thirty-nine year old Deila.

Ronny’s predecessor Neil Lennon, who is already showing himself to be a capable manager south of the border with a newly resurgent Bolton Wanderers, was no stranger to this media speculation, with the press questioning his decision making at every conceivable opportunity.

Yet, with the departure of Lennon – clearly a “Celtic man” through and through – there has been a noticeable shift in strategy at both Celtic Park and Lennoxtown as a previously unknown quantity has arrived. Whilst the Irishman’s sides played a fairly typical brand of British football, with speedy wingers often attempting to reach the byline or a designated playmaker knocking balls in behind the defence to a pair of strikers, the Norwegian has a more modern, if somewhat atypical style which he wishes to see his teams play, involving several advanced midfielders and a lone striker. Improved fitness has also become a notable focus of attention.

Clearly, in an ideal world, Ronny wants us to play like one of the great European sides of the moment, attempting to emulate their intricate passing with incisive movement and deadly finishing also. Some have pondered (with due cause at points) as to whether he is currently attempting to make a squad of individuals play top class football, many of whom are simply not capable of doing so (good players though they may be). This may or may not be the case, but in truth, that is a matter for a discussion on another day. Regardless, what is clear is that if he is given time and money, Deila is likely to overhaul a large part of the squad he has inherited.

 

 

After all there is a precedent for such personnel shifts, for of the fourteen players who took to the field against Ross County in the Scottish Cup semi-final of 2010, Neil Lennon’s first ‘big’ match in charge as acting manager – Zaluska, Hinkel, Naylor, Thompson, O’Dea, N’Guemo, Brown, McGeady, Keane, Samaras, Fortune, Crosas, McCourt and Rasmussen – eight were no longer present at the Club less than one year later and only two survive to this day at Parkhead.

With this in mind, if we now consider the team who took part in our worst defeat this season, that of the aforementioned debacle in Warsaw – Forster, Matthews, van Dijk, Ambrose, Lustig, Mulgrew, Johansen, Berget, McGregor, Commons, Pukki, Kayal, Izaguirre and Griffiths – we can already observe and dissect some clear alterations which have been made by the new manager before the January transfer window has opened.

Of course, the departure of the fantastic Fraser Forster left many pondering the fate of his replacement, Craig Gordon, but a string of exemplary performances have already made the Scotsman a favourite within the hearts of many Celtic supporters and, as time passes, one hopes any concerns of future long term injuries will begin to fade.

As for the outfield players, Efe Ambrose has found himself fall from the starting eleven to the bench (or entirely out of the squad) as both Mikael Lustig and Adam Matthews have both shrugged off the injuries which enforced their absences for a large part of the early season leaving Deila with no choice but to play the Nigerian, whilst Jo Inge Berget has disappeared from the Celtic teamsheets altogether and Teemu Pukki departed for a loan (and likely permanent move) to Danish side Brondby. A host of fresh faces, unquestionably the finest addition of which has been John Guidetti, have given Deila more options, and as such results have taken a marked upturn in the last couple of months.

Proving this point to some extent, the Celtic team who took apart Partick Thistle in the League Cup quarter final included seven faces who did not play in Poland. Clearly then, the Norwegian is beginning to consolidate his favoured squad. Including the defeat in Warsaw, Celtic only won three of ten matches thereafter, drawing another three and suffering four losses. However, if we include today’s victory against Aberdeen, we can now say Celtic’s last ten matches have brought eight wins, one draw (which would have been a victory had Leigh Griffiths’ late winner not been incorrectly disallowed) and one defeat. Now, from a standpoint focusing purely on results for the moment, that represents a clear and welcome improvement in affairs.

In terms of performances, whilst there have been some poor showings, statistics would also suggest that things are on the rise. During the last ten matches, the Celts have had the majority of possession on nine occasions, whereas the ten matches including and following the Legia Warsaw away tie only saw this happen six times.

Equally, whilst those first ten games which I have referred to saw us score sixteen goals whilst conceding fourteen, our last ten matches have  saw us score twenty-two times whilst only conceding five. Carrying on this theme, our goals scored/conceded per shot taken ratios have altered from peaks and troughs of one goal scored to every twelve shots taken and one conceded from every five opposition shots, to a much more comfortable one goal scored per eight shots taken and one conceded for every eleven shots against.

 

 

On Monday night, I sat a few seats away from Ronny Deila at a supporters’ meeting which concluded with the manager discussing what it meant to him to lead the Football Club, as well as his footballing philosophy in general. As I said after his first television interview away back in June – having never heard of the gentleman prior to his appointment – “if he manages football teams as well as he discusses the game then he will be sensational”, and to this day, that point stands. Listening to Ronny Deila talk about football, particularly in person, is immensely enjoyable. The man’s love and passion for the game, coupled with an appetite to see it played a particular way, is infectious.

To hear the Celtic manager talk of his desire to see his squad play with “commitment and togetherness”, “higher intensity, higher tempo, more running and better passing” was music to my ears, as I presume it would be to most of yours. He also stated that “we are not there yet, we have to get better”, indicating he is aware improvements are required.

Talk and action can, of course, be two very different things. Questions have been asked of Deila’s team selections at times, as well as many other aspects of Celtic’s game, and one cannot hide the fact that not all has been well thus far this season. In this sense, I am no different from anybody else, as I bemoan poor performances or disappointing results just as any other when they come along.

However, having listened to Deila and more pertinently, having seen a Celtic side of his go a goal down at one of, if not the, most difficult away ground to visit in Scotland today, before coming back to record an important victory even in the face of adversity (having been reduced to ten men), I can certainly see signs of the “commitment and togetherness” he is attempting to instill in the team. This result alone personified this better than I thought possible – that was, at least, until the Celtic team and their manager approached the travelling Celtic fans after the final whistle. Any observer could tell there and then how much this meant to everyone involved with the Football Club, and such a collective feeling is very admirable.

In that moment, Deila will have bought a lot of good will even in the minds of his detractors, answering some searching questions with some big answers.

When we look back at the tenure of Ronny Deila with the benefit of hindsight in years and decades to come, we may yet look at today as an important day indeed, and therefore I felt it was an apt time upon which to end my writing drought.

And so I, along with many others I’m sure, will raise a glass to the Norwegian and his Celtic side tonight, dreaming of bigger and better things to come. Hopefully success shall breed success.

 

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