On Saturday 15 August 1903, a new tradition was possibly born at Celtic Football Club. In their formative year, the Bhoys had worn a white shirt, emblazoned with a Celtic cross against a red background. Then, in 1889 the club donned a vertical green and white striped jersey at home matches, which remained in place for 14 years.
Things changed forever in August 1903, but whether they changed on the aforementioned afternoon (15 August) is the subject of much debate. Celtic played against Partick Thistle at Paradise that day and some claim that the team took the field in the famous green and white hoops for the first ever time. Without any photographic evidence, one has to rely on match reports for such information, but all summaries are conspicuous by their absence of any mention of a kit change. Indeed, The Scotsman newspaper remarked that the Celts had “a youthy appearance about them,” but did not elaborate on that comment. Celtic won the game 2-1 thanks to late goal by Jimmy McMenemy; a fine start to the league campaign for either the hoops or the stripes!
After beating Partick, Celtic played two friendlies at Hamilton and Dunfermline (opening the new East End Park) and another league fixture at St Mirren – all without any of a new kit appearing in the newspapers, though these matches were away from home. However, on 29 August 1903, Celtic faced Third Lanark at home in the league and the press reports were awash with descriptions of an exciting new “horizontal striped” (hooped) jersey on display. The Hoops lost 3-1, but the big story was all about the team’s attire:
The Celts appeared in new jerseys on Saturday – horizontal stripes of green and white, instead of vertical. For some time, the change rather tickled one, but latterly the alteration was appreciated. The players also wore black armlets in memory of Mr Hugh Murphy, who died during the week (first time Celtic ever wore black armbands). The Scottish Referee
This information suggests that the Hoops were more likely to have been introduced to Celtic on 29 August 1903, rather than the rumoured 15 August date. It is also possible that confusion emanates from the fact that East Fife wore green and white hoops in the early years of their club, and their first ever match was against a Hearts XI, on 15 August 1903! Regardless, it isn’t 100% conclusive and sure wouldn’t it be nicer to think that the hoops were introduced with a win?!
118 years later, they remain an iconic symbol of our great club.