Belfast Celtic 1891 - 1949

The Grand Old Team 


Belfast Celtic Football and Athletic Company Ltd

Published 1949. Publisher unknown. Irish News Ltd Printers. 11 pp. Author unknown. This pamphlet would seem to have been written for the 1949 Tour of North America. 

This is CelticFormation of Celtic Notice of Prospectus The Men Behind the TeamHonours HighwayNames That Brought Fame

Notable TransfersPlayers on Tour

This is Celtic

Belfast Celtic is more than just an ordinary soccer team. It is an institution; and it excites the attention of fans from Belfast to Bombay and from Buenos Aires to the African Bush. For Celtic fans carry their team support to the ends of the earth. They have certainly carried it to the American Continent. Every football team has a beginning in place and time. Fifty-eight years ago three men sat down in Belfast and prepared to launch a club called Celtic. The club began life with the equivalent of two dollars.

History tells of football rivalry in the Falls area of Belfast. The three men with a purpose -Frank Laverty, James Keenan and Alec Begley - decided that football needed a club which would rely for its playing strength on young players from the district. This upstart club called Belfast Celtic was not taken seriously by the established clubs. Who would, with only two dollars subscribed on the club's first meeting? But with that sum the club began the first step to success.

It is almost a saga the story of the club's early days, of the drift from borrowed ground to borrowed ground; of a young tearn playing good football, winning support and laying the foundations of that team success which has brought to the club, down the years, the highest prizes in Irish football. The nomadic existence of Celtic's early days did not dampen the team's spirit and the records are sprinkled with stories of fine endeavour on nondescript pitches.

There is, for instance, this three-season record when the Celtic club was playing in Junior football :

P W L D F A Pts
1893-4  18  15 1 2 56 16 32
1894-5  18  15 0 3 61 15 33
1895-6 14 11 1 2 47 13 34

In 1896 the club was admitted to the Irish Football League and two years later won the League Championship. The Belfast Celtic Club had arrived. In July, 1901, a Company was formed to take over the existing Belfast Celtic.

Formation of Celtic

Notice of Prospectus

Irish football was then still in the toddling stage. Celtic had experimented with one or two Scottish players in the team. The results were disappointing and the club decided to await a young player's arrival at senior efficiency. They would take the young footballer into their ranks and mould him in the Celtic way. This remains the Celtic policy today and the club's encouragement of the young player matches his own endeavours. The team is fed continually with young players of ability to play football in the Celtic tradition. Does this policy pay? Look at Irish Cup and League records. Ask the football fan. Ask Elisha Scott, the Celtic team manager.

The answer always is an unequivocal Yes, in Celtic's case. For the Celtic team is an attraction and is welcomed by those who delight to see good, tactical football. For further proof, look at the famous names who first began playing football in the Celtic manner and carried their abilities into the light of English League Football. In every season this Celtic team provides and purveys clever, attractive football, unhurried sometimes, but always calculated to stir the pulse and brighten the eye of those who seek for football perfection.

The story of Celtic football teams is the good football story. The impact of Celtic on football playing has been great in many ways, on teams and spectators. Down the years a top-class tearn of the calibre of Celtic has made football entertainment and created partisanship. Today, as yesterday, Celtic excite envy, incite opposition; and most certainly, they excite the hearts of club treasurers, for a visit from Celtic means a merry click of the turnstiles.

There is no secret about the success of Belfast Celtic which has enabled them to win cups and medals and trophies go leor. High ideals in the boardroom, tact in team management and harmony in the dressing room and on the field have helped to make Celtic the team that it is. Wise handling, from the top downwards, is reflected in the team's endeavours always to play football with a capital F, in victory or defeat.

This fundamental lesson is hammered home by word and action and the players are quick to learn. Their own skill, plus this lesson enunciated by directorate and manager, are the recipe for Celtic's years of success.  There is harmony in the team's action and advance from goal outwards.

Clean handling and clever anticipation from McAlinden and forceful full-back play by McMillan and Ahearne ensure defensive solidarity. The immaculate endeavours of Walker, Currie and Lawler are matched with skill in providing service for their forwards. The wing flights of Campbell and Bonnar and the football brains of Denvir or Hazlett, O'Neill or McAloon, cut lanes in opposing defences and make straight the path goalwards for sharp-shooting Jimmy Jones, a scourge to cill defenders.

They take victory in quite handsome style ; but if they are forced to yield - as is the way in this unpredictable game of football - the team's balance is such, that they yield but seldom, and then by narrow margins. In sum, a team of much talent and a football attraction of cornpelling quality.

The Men Behind the Team

The task of putting the Celtic team on the field; of tapping youthful talent sources and turning the youngsters into a Celtic player falls to Elisha Scott, the team manager since 1934. Elisha Scott learned his task in the hard school of football experience. An old Celtic player himself, he is remembered in the football annals as Ireland's goalkeeper for so many years that his selection became monotonous. His name is still spoken of with football reverence in Liverpool, for which club he played for nearly twenty years and kept out the goals with a brilliance that surpassed the goalkeeping arts of the giants before him in either of the city's two League teams.

He retired from English football ripe with honours and rejoined Celtic as player-manager in 1934. in 1936 he assumed the full burden of team management. Scott, dark, fiftyish, vital, is still as lithe as when he stood between the posts and earned from the crowd the sobriquet of "The Cat". Scorns publicity, is popular with his players and sees that the best only is good enough for them. Scott holds record number of Irish International Caps, 33 in all.  

A good team needs fit men . . . . in charge of muscle and morale at Celtic Park is quiet, genial, white-haired Joe Devlin, and Paddy McGuigan, small men with big hearts and as big a fund of patience of all the ills that footballers are heir to. Cheery personalities, both turn out a team trained to the minute.

First Irish club to provide covered accommodation for unreserved public.

First Irish club to play football on the Continent, Austria, 1912, and Copenhagen.

First Irish club to appoint a Team Manager.

In January, 1912, Mr. Winston Churchill was billed to address a meeting in Belfast, in the Ulster Hall, a building belonging to the Belfast Corporation. A number of the opposition held a meeting in the Hall the evening previous, barricaded themselves in, and refused to come out. The late Mr. Joseph Deviin, M.P., an official of the club, come to the rescue end Celtic Park was secured through his influence, and a most successful meeting was held on the grounds.

Honours Highway

There are milestones in Celtic's Honours Highway, such us the winning of the Irish League Championship in six successive seasons in 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940 and 1941, and on four successive occasions in 1926, 1927, 1928 end 1929.

In the 1939-1940 season the Celtic team played thirty-seven successive games without a defeat.

Last season, 1947-1948, they won thirty-one games in a row, the thirty-second match being drawn, and were defeated in the thirty-third game by the odd goal.

The list of cups and trophies won is a proof of the team's consistent play. Let's take a glimpse at the record chart. The victory list is formidable.

Irish League Championship

1899-1900, 1914-1915, 1919-1920, 1925-1926, 1926-1927, 1927-1928, 1928-1929, 1932-1933, 1935-1936, 1936-1937

1937-1938, 1938-1939, 1939-1940, 1940-1941

1941-1942 Regional League Championship.

1943-1944 Regional League Championship.

1946-1947 Regional Lecigue Championship.

1947-1948 Regional League Championship.

Irish Challenge Cup

1917-1918, 1925-1926, 1936-1937, 1937-1938, 1940-1941, 1942-1943, 1943-1944,1946-1947

Irish Gold Cup

1911-1912, 1925-1926, 1934-1935, 1938-1939, 1939-1940

1940-1941 Regional Gold Cup.

1943-1944 Regional Gold Cup.

1945-1946 Regional Gold Cup.

1946-1947 Regional Gold Cup.

1947-1948 Regional Gold Cup.

Belfast City Cup 

1905-1906, 1906-1907, 1925-1926, 1927-1928, 1929-1930, 1930-1931, 1932-1933, 1939-1940, 1947-1948, 1948-1949 

County Antrim Shield

1894-1895, 1909-1910, 1926-1927, 1935-1936, 1936-1937, 1938-1939, 1942-1943, 1944-1945

Names That Brought Fame 

A quick, look back at Celtic teams of the past brings up names that once made news and brought fame to the Celtic club. They cannot all be named; they are embellished in the club annals and enshrined in the minds of those fans with a gift for remembering. Many of them are without peers. Their prowess spelled Celtic; they created the Celtic tradition and brought lustre to the club.

Jimmy Connor, Mickey Hamill, Sammy Moore, Jimmy Ferris, Harry Laverty, the Mahood Brothers, Sammy Curran. Their names ring bells and bespeak Celtic battles of long ago.

As a half-back, Hamill was peerless and tireless. Moore, Ferris and Curran were streaks of football art and prolific goal scorers. Bertie Fulton was an automatic choice for Ireland and one of the best full backs in the history of the game. No two brothers played so long and consistently together as the Mahoods. "Surefoot" Ferguson upheld the Celtic tradition for sparkling full-back play. So too, did Fred Barrett. To their names can be added those of the Lavertys of the very first Celtic team; of goalkeepers Oscar Trainor and Jack Diffen. Later days saw deeds as brave from players like McCullough, Feenan, Coulter and Breen.

All these players left their mark upon the Celtic edifice, as did Hugh McAlinden, Dan McCann, Dave McCloskey and Bob Barr in the club's boardroom. They all helped to create the Celtic tradition.

Notable Transfers

A successful team like Celtic inevitably draws to itself the eyes and the cheque books of English club managers, for whom the search is endless for clever young footballers. Football in England is high in entertainment value; few clubs can wait to mould a youngster into their ranks. They must seek out the tried and trusted player. With Celtic, player and club suffer the blandishments of cheque on the one hand, and career on the other. Between the two, Celtic have transferred many notable players, all of whom carried their footballing abilities into teams that are household words. Here is a list


W. Clay Sheffield United, 1903  
John Walker            Bury, 1910.

M. Hamill            

Manchester United, 1911  
W. Crone Glasgow Celtic, 1913.  
W, Laverty     Middlesbrough, 1913.  
F. Barrett    Chelsea, 1920.  
J . Ferris     Chelsea, 1920.  

M. Hamill       

Manchester City, 1920.  
P. Kelly  Manchester City, 1920.  
J. Mulligan  Manchester City, 1920.  
D. McKinney   Hull City, 1920.  
F. Carroll  Manchester City, 1920  
G. Frewen    Wrexham 1932.  
W. Scott  Darlington, 1933.  

Tony Carroll             

Clyde, 1933.
J. Coulter  Everton, 1934.  
D. Martin             Wolverhampton, 1934.  
J. Brown             Wolverhampton, 1934.  
K. McCullough             Manchester City, 1935.  
J. Feenan            Sunderland, 1936.
T. Breen             Manchester United, 1936.  
J. McAlinden             Portsmouth, 1938.  
J. Vernon            West Bromwich Albion, 1946.  
E. McMorran             Manchester City, 1947.
C. Tully              Glasgow Celtic, 1948.

The last four players in above list were transferred for the sum of forty thousand pounds, a record for an Irish club.

English club managers are as constant as any lover wooing Celtic players. At every home match this season at least one manager has been there, cheque book in hand, anxious to sign the player of his club's fancy. Jones, particularly, has caught the eye of sevetal clubs and offers of 10,000 have already been rejected by Celtic.

Bonnar, Denvir, Campbell, Lawler, Currie end Ahearne have also been noted by English clubs end offers mode.

Players On Tour 

Kevin McAlinden (Goalkeeper). A worthy successor in a line of famous Celtic goalkeepers. Kevin originally was a Gaelic player and betrays this in the sure, safe way he catches the ball. His soccer career began in the Celtic second eleven, where he earned a reputation for ability, courage and daring. The team's only amateur, he has collected Irish senior and junior cup medals and Junior International caps. Represented Great Britain in lost year's Olympic Games and has appeared in inter-league games for both Irish Football Associations.

Billy McMillen (Right Back). One of the most consistent defenders in Irish football. Joined Celtic from the Belfast amatuer club, Cliftonville. He has gained many senior cup medals. Represented Ireland in war-time internationals against England, Scotland and Wales. Honoured by the Irish League against the English and Scottish Leagues and was capped by the League of Ireland Football Association against Portugal and Spain. Has been a most faithful servant of the Celtic club and his wholehearted displays have often meant the difference between success and defeat.

Tom Ahearne (Left Back)  A stylish defender, " Bud " (to the Celtic fans), came to the club in 1944 from Limerick and quickly established himself as the outstanding full back in the Irish League. His honours include full caps for Ireland against England end Scotland and a Victory international cap against Wales. Represented the Irish League against the Scottish League and the League of Ireland, and was honoured by the League of Ireland in international matches against Spain and Portugal. An unfortunate succession of injuries has robbed him of many representative honours; but he is fit again and displaying brilliant form for the club.

Harry Walker (Right-half and Captain). Now in his seventeenth season with Celtic but gives no indication in his play of his length of soccer years. Joining Celtic in 1932, he starred with the second eleven until the transfer of McCullough, the regular right-half, to Manchester City gave him his chance and he quickly made the right-half position his own. With his many Cup medals, he adds war-time international honours for games against a British Services eleven and against the English League and the League of Ireland. A reposeful wing half with style in the tackle and a clever dribble to get in his pass. Has proved a model for younger half-backs to copy.

Charlie Currie (Centre-half). Another graduate from the amateur team, Cliftonville. Is in his fifth season with Celtic. Had to play second-fiddle to Jack Vernon until Jack's transfer from Celtic to West Bromwich Albion. Once in the first tearn Charlie quickly earned representative honours. He has played for the Irish League against the English and Scottish Leagues and against the League of Ireland. Is a powerful defensive pivot with a high sense of keeping his position and of quick clearance.

Robin Lawler (Left-half). A Dubliner, Robin joined Celtic from the Dublin club, Drumcondra in 1946, and has staked a claim for international honours by virtue of his crafty wing-half play. His style, added to his undoubted football ability, mark him as destined to uphold the Celtic half-back tradition. Catches the eye as much by his keen tackling and constructive purveying of his forwards as by his long throw-ins from the touch line which often spread-eagle a defence. His whole-hearted style has made him a big favourite at Celtic Park.

George Hazlett (Outside Right). Came to Celtic from the equally famous Glasgow Celts. A product of the famous Glasgow Boys' Guild football nursery. After a spell in Scots junior football his career was interrupted by service in the British Navy. Service duty over, he signed for Glasgow Celtic and after two seasons with them he crossed the Irish Sea to play for Belfast Celtic. Smart and clever on the ball he has already won a Belfast City Cup medal.

Johnny Campbell (Outside Right). A free scoring winger, Johnny came to Celtic in 1944 from Derry City, his first club. His clever ball control, his wing clashes and his penchant for cutting in towards goal have helped to create Celtic goal records. Has gained representative honours against the English and Scottish Leagues and the League of Ireland.

Harry O'Neill (Inside Right or Right-half). Another Gaelic player, Harry joined Celtic this season after  starring in the famous Antrim G.A.A. football team of the past few years. Played Gaelic as a schoolboy with St. Gall's, Belfast; changed to soccer and signed for Celtic ot the age of sixteen, playing many brilliant  games for the second eleven. Returned to his first love, Gaelic, and became Antrim's most dependable defensive player. Was this year persuaded to return to soccer and signed for Celtic. Made an unfortunate debut, for he was in injured in his first match and has been forced out of the game for a long spell, Fit again, he is determined to become a Celtic star.

Jimmy Jones (Centre Forward). Was a schoolboy star in his native town of Lurgan and joined Celtic at the age of seventeen. He quickly forced his way to the front as a strong, bustling leader of the attack, with a deadly shot and an ability to upset the strongest defences by his dash and fearlessness. Is now one of the most sought after players in Irish football and has kept English club managers dangling cheque books under the disinterested noses of the Celtic directors for the past couple of seasons. Is equally effective with head or feet at goal and was leading goal scorer in the Irish League last season with sixty-two goals. Bids fair to top the list this season. Is a Junior international and has represented the Irish League against the English and Scottish Leagues and the League of Ireland.

Jerry McAlloon (Inside Left). Another Glasgow Celt reluctant to lose the Celt in his club name. His departure from Glasgow to Belfast last season was keenly regretted by Celtic fans there, with whorn he was a warm favourite. His ability and experience has done much to mould a young Celtic line together. Learned his football in Glasgow Guild teams and was transferred to the London club, Brentford, at the age of seventeen. He played five seasons with Brentford and was transferred to the famous Wolves of Wolverhampton for 8,000. During the war years he was a guest player with several Scottish League clubs. Returned to Brentford at the close of hostilities and then joined Glasgow Celtic. A business appointment took him to Ireland and Celtic were only too eager to secure his signature. Is a skilful, close dribbler in the true Scottish tradition and is never afraid to risk a shot.

John Denvir (Inside Right or Left). Came to the fore with the Celtic second team at the age of sixteen and entered the senior ranks at nineteen. At home in either inside forward positions. Johnny's consistent displays have earned him inter-league honours against the English and Scottish Leagues and the League of Ireland. Is clever at opening up an attack and frequently ends a long dribble with a surprise goal.

Paddy Bonner (Outside Left). Came to Celtic from Belfast Distillery, and has now had seven season with the club. Has represented Ireland in war-time internationals against England and Scotland and gained inter-league honours against the League of Ireland. Has made the outside left position his own. Smart and clever on the ball, the bold Paddy can fire in a deadly shot with either foot. Scored twenty goals from the wing last season.

Joe Douglas (Left-half). Progressed from Larne to Linfield and then to Dublin, where he played with Drumcondra. Was capped for Ireland in a post-war international against England and has represented both Football Leagues in Ireland. Has gained many cup medals with Celtic for whom he is in his sixth season. A good tackler with a fine sense of positional play.

Jimmy Murdock (Centre-half). An up and coming young Celt who came into prominence as an amateur with Belfast Crusaders, an Intermediate League team. Turned professional in 1947 and is ready for the senior ranks any time.