…But The Legend Lives On
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 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.”
“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.”
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.
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…”
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.
Dick Beattie – Born 24th October 1938, Died 15th August 1990 – 43 clean sheets from 156 games with Celtic between 1954 and 1959.
John Donnelly – Born 17th December 1936, Died 31st July 2009 – 43 appearances (no goals) for Celtic between 1955 and 1962.
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).
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)
Bobby Evans – Born 16th July 1927, Died 1st September 2001 – 11 goals in 549 appearances for Celtic between 1944 and 1960.
Bertie Peacock – Born 29th September 1928, Died 22nd July 2004 – Scored 50 goals in 543 appearances for Celtic between 1949 and 1961.
Charlie Tully – Born 11th July 1924, Died 27th July 1971 – Scored 47 goals in 319 appearances for Celtic between 1948 and 1959.
Bobby Collins – Born 16th February 1931, Died 13th January 2014 – Scored 116 goals in 320 appearances for Celtic between 1949 and 1958.
Billy McPhail – Born 2nd February 1928, Died 4th April 2003 – Scored 38 goals in 57 appearances for Celtic between 1956 and 1958.
Sammy Wilson – Born 16th December 1931, Died 8th November 2014 – Scored 46 goals in 70 appearances for Celtic between 1957 and 1959.
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).
Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy.