Belfast Celtic 1891 - 1949


Celtic vs Celtic


The Irish News Tuesday 3 May 1927 Page 3

Belfast Celtic 4 Glasgow Celtic 2


The Rival Celts - Locals Give Glasgow Friends a Football Lesson -  Well-Earned Victory

The Game Described               Mr Devlin             Ben Madigan

It was a thousand pities that an incessant downpour from midnight on Sunday swept the city, and so almost cut in half the attendance which assembled at Celtic Park last evening to greet the Scottish cupholders. Glasgow Celtic in their annual visit to play their Belfast namesakes in aid of Belfast charities.

Nevertheless, a crowd of 12,000 despite the heavy rain, which, as Mr Devlin, in the appropriate after the game speech said might have deterred anyone except the most enthusiastic football follower turned up to pay their mite to the Nazareth Lodge Funds, and the receipts of more than 400 proved an agreeable surprise considering the inclemency of the weather. Give a good evening-with the added attraction of two attractive greyhound races, the attendance would have probably reached the 20,000 mark, and drawn close on 1,000. It was certainly one of the most eventful evenings in the history of the Belfast Celtic Club.

Noble Earl's victory in the flat race for the Ring Cup came as no bigger turn-up to the punters than the defeat of the Scottish Cup Holders, who were taken clean out of their stride by the fast moving and confident local Celts. It was a surprising victory, but thoroughly well deserved on the run of the play. Early in the game Belfast Celtic, one could plainly see, declared to win. They set reputations at nought and, confident that they would be given a chance to play football as the ethics of the game insisted, provided a really splendid exhibition of the finer points. 

I am paying them a big-but not an undeserved in stating that the Glasgow Celts were at no period on equal terms with the Irish League Champions. It was something apart from the usual "friendly" game. It was a cup-tie between two great rivals fighting out the issue with the spirit of chivalry uppermost, and as an instance of the fine sporting spirit of the visitors, it may perhaps be stated that no spectators in the ground cheered harder-or louder than Johnny McFarlane, or Jimmy McGrory, two famous Glasgow Celts, who were unable to play through injuries, when Sam Curran drew out Thomson to score Celtic's fourth goal, and his century of goals for the club. Glasgow Celtic were without Hilley, McFarlane and McInally of their Scottish Cup winning team. Callaghan, Donoghue and McColgan deputised.

The Scottish Cup holders played six players who have represented their country in International and Inter-League games in W. McStay, Wilson, J.McStay, Connolly, A.Thomson, and McLean.

Scott reappeared after a month's absence in the Celtic defence and the usual forward formation was reverted to.  Mr W.Cowan had charge of the following teams:-

Belfast Celtic - Diffin, Scott, Ferguson, Moore, Hamill, Inch, McGrillen, Ferris, Curran, S.Mahood and J.Mahood.

Glasgow Celtic - Thomson, W.McStay, Callaghan, Wilson, Donoghue, J. McStay, Connolly, A.Thomson, McColgan, McMenemy and McLean.

Referee. Mr W.Cowan.  Linesmen: Messrs. T Liggett and Matt Loughlin.

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The Game Described

The first noteworthy incident was a delightful Ferris movement in midfield, in which he neatly tricked McMenemy, Thompson and McStay, and sent forward a deft pass to Curran which the latter was a fraction of a second too slow in picking up. The game gave early promise of exceptional interest, as the locals proved both fast and clever, and were by no means overawed by the reputation of their famous namesakes.

Belfast Celtic in fact, might have taken an early lead but for sheer bad luck.  First Curran tried his luck with a first-time shot but skimmed the bar. Next Stanley Mahood headed a cross from McGrillen just outside the posts.  Diffen then, after a great McMenemy run, scooped out a shot which McLean was running in to clinch.  An ugly situation was averted at the expense of a corner. 

Ferris, who was in International form, after fifteen minutes set McGrillen moving.  The latter rounded Callaghan, raced along and crossed a low ball in front of goal.  Curran, running in, just missed, but Jack Mahood arrived on the spot to pilot the ball home,

For the First Belfast Celtic Goal, Amidst Deafening Cheers

Then was seen the real Glasgow Celtic.  For ten minutes they kept Diffen on tenderhooks, and the local Celtic keeper was nearly beaten by Connolly after a great run by the latter.  He fell on the ball, turned on it, and scraped it clear.  At this stage, and for the remainder of the game, no player excelled Ferris in footwork.  He played the Scots at their own game and beat them.   Every movement of the Irish team was initiated by him and he showed form which would have sent a cross-channel agent, had there been one present, into raptures over him.

This was no mere friendly game.  It was a battle between rival Celts of Glasgow and Belfast, and there was an appreciable element of clean sporting "needle" rivalry introduced.

For conditions underfoot - a quagmire in places - did not suit the short passing Scottish Champions.  The ball ran short for them, and left them guessing, and Scott and Ferguson intercepted on many occasions when things looked bad for the locals.  After half an hour, Callaghan, in a desperate effort to stop a winning shot from Ferris, handled in the penalty area and Curran netted from the spot kick.  Five minutes later from a cross by McLean near the corner flag, McColgan headed through for Glasgow Celtic's opening score.  At this period, Connolly, showing amazing speed raced through the Celtic defence, but Diffen cut the air like a bird, landed at the Celt's foot and effected a spectacular clearance.  Half-time Belfast Celtic 2 Glasgow Celtic 1.

The Second Half

After a prolonged interval during which the hurdle race took place for the Glasgow Celtic Cup, the game was resumed.  Belfast Celtic took up the running on the resumption, and Ferris inside five minutes, initiated the movement which brought the third goal.  Back heeling down the left wing when pressed by W.McStay and Wilson; he left Inch nicely placed to send over to McGrillen on the other flank.  The ball was returned across the Glasgow goalmouth, was scrambled for by half a dozen players, and ultimately driven home by Jack Mahood.

Five minutes later following a free kick awarded for an infringement by Ferris upon McMenemy, McStay dropped the ball into the home goal, and Hamill in attempting to clear headed into his own goal net. The game still continued as keen as any Cup tie and Celtic exploring the "W" formation in disconcerting fashion went further ahead.  From a long swinging pass Jack Mahood touched across to Curran.  The latter beat Callaghan, drew Thomson, and as the goalie advanced shot past him into the empty net.  He was hurt in the effort but must have felt heartened by the terrific outburst of cheering from every part of the ground which greeted his hundreth goal in the Celtic colours.  The Belfast team now did as they liked.  Curran, had he been sound, must have surely scored another when McGrillen crossed low and invitingly across the goalmouth.  He dived headlong into the net but was just a fraction of a second too late.  Hamill later struck the crossbar from 25 yards range.

Glasgow Celtic made a last despairing rally, and in the last five minutes, Hamill broke up a clever McColgan and Connolly movement and kicked towards the corner flag.  The ball was returned, and the game finished in a scramble, with Diffen clearing on the goal line with two or three Scottish players on top of him.

Result:-  Belfast Celtic 4  Glasgow Celtic  2

Scorers - Belfast:  J.Mahood 2, Curran 2 Glasgow :   McColgan, Hamill (own goal)

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Mr Devlin's Thanks

In the Pavilion after the match, Mr Joseph Devlin, M.P., expressed warm gratitude to the directors and players of Glasgow Celtic for their characteristic kindness in coming across to play the match.  When they considered the inclement weather, he was sure the visitors would realise to the full how profoundly everybody appreciated their visit and their high position in the football world by the magnificent attendance.  They all hoped that Glasgow Celtic would long occupy their position of pride and pre-eminence which they now held.  He especially welcomed Mr Tom White, chairman of the Glasgow Celtic Club, and President, Scottish Football Club.

Mr White, in reply, said it was only a delight to them to come over at any time they could and play for such a deserving charity.  He hoped they would soon be able to come back again and enjoy such another pleasurable time despite the defeat of their team. 

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By Ben Madigan

When one sees the Scottish Cup and the Glasgow Cup carried round the ground in triumph, prior to the start of the game, and looked at the composition of the cupholders' team, one wondered at the temerity of the Belfast Celtic eleven in tackling such doughty opponents.

Yet the local Celts were quietly confident. They remembered the narrow Glasgow victory in the closing minutes of last year's game, and gambled on reversing the verdict.  At the outset they shaped as confidently as their famous Glasgow brethern.  No player afield excelled Ferris in neat dainty movement, no Glasgow half-back bettered Hamill's craft and anticipation. No Scottish winger - neither McLean or Connolly - knew half the tricks which McGrillen brought forth.  Nor did Billy McStay, the Scottish International back, outshine either Scott or Ferguson.

The locals were the more evenly balanced team-not a weak joint in the armour-while Callaghan was never at home against the Celtic right wing.  He was early left guessing by the clever inter-passing movements of Ferris and McGrillen, and after a bad start never recovered his balance.

James McStay was so busily occupied in defence covering up this weakness that he was never seen as an attacking force.  The result was that McMenemy and McLean were neglected.  Donoghue was only a breaker-up, nothing more.  McColgan was a poor leader, and never got out of the grip of Hamill,

Who in Last Evenings Game was the Hamill We Knew Ten Years Ago

Celtic owed their victory in great part to the experience of Hamill and Ferris.  The younger players nobly performed their parts, and there was not a weak spot in the team.  They demonstrated that, given the chance to play a game as it should be played, there is more ability than is generally imagined in Irish football.  The victory brings me back to a suggestion very much scoffed at, but true nevertheless, that the Irish League selectors in their representative games might have fared much better had they selected the Celtic team en bloc.  At the finish of the game the referee, Mr Cowan, and the linesmen, Messrs. T.Liggett and Matt Loughlin, handed back their fees.


Jimmy McMenemy ("Napoleon") the old Celtic international was surprised at the display of the locals.  He had no idea, he said, that the standard of Irish football was so high.  He thought that there was real talent in the Belfast Celtic team if properly developed.  He thought them a well-trained lot and a credit to their club.

Harry Callaghan: "McGrillen is a regular bag of weasels.  I did not know what new trick he was going to pull off next.  We have few better outside men in Scotland".

Jimmy McGrory: "Sorry, I am not playing.  The Belfast boys seem to improve every year.  Was delighted to see Sam Curran scoring his hundreth goal although it was against my own club. A fellow-feeling makes wondrous kind".

Billy McStay:" A real good team. Not much, if any, behind the standard of the old days. Ferris is still a great player.  The Glasgow Celtic boys look forward to their annual visit as one of the prizes after season's work".

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