1980 Scottish Cup Final Riot: “I still reflect on the level of hate that lies barely below the surface in Scotland”

Some additional stories relating to the Scottish Cup Final on 10 May 1980…

Aged 16, this was my last Celtic game before joining the RAF the following month (still in!!).  Anyway, me and my mate John Dalton, both from Winchburgh, were in the North Enclosure and when we scored the scenes of joy were absolutely incredible.  At the end of the match some good natured Celtic fans entered the pitch in a celebratory mood but this was a red rag to the great unwashed who ran towards our fans with violence and mayhem clearly their aim.

We watched this scene unfold for a couple of minutes before having bottles and other projectiles lobbed at us over the fence by the Neanderthals supporting the team openly operating a policy  of religious apartheid!  Back in the day you were literally hemmed into the pen you are standing in so me and my mate scaled what appeared to us as 16-yer-olds as a huge fence to get to the relative safety of the Celtic End.

On exiting the stadium (a kind description – place was a dump) there was a full on charge by the other lot so we ran like hell passing some poor bloodied and beaten Celtic fans lying on the ground, unfortunately we were in no position to help our fellow supporters such were the scenes.  Having served in many overseas locations, including war zones, to this day I still reflect on the level of hate that lies barely below the surface in Scotland for those of us who follow the Green.

Tom Devlin

These is my memories of the game. My mate and I Brian Sundstrem were members of the Edinburgh & District CSC and we set off from Edinburgh Ryries bar at Haymarket after a few jars plus a carry out for the bus. We stopped at Billy McNeill’s parents’ pub in Bellshill, as we always did, before the games. Arrived at Hampden on a very hot day. It was a cracking game when George McCluskey diverted Danny McGrain’s shot. Joyous scenes as they were the favourites and Celtic didn’t have their two centre halves when the final whistle went.

Celtic players came to the Celtic end as was the fashion in those days. A few young fans ran onto the pitch to celebrate with the team, their fans came on to attack the Celtic players, so the Celtic fans invaded to ‘protect’ the players. We decided to get out of there rapid making our way back to the bus to find a lot of broken windows.

Terry Dolan

Photo – Celtic Wiki

My recollection of the start of the riot was that , as the players were leaving the field , a young Celtic fan aged about 12/13 chased a balloon which was blowing about the park towards the Rangers end goalmouth. He tapped it into the goal and raised his arms in triumph.

This enraged a handful of Rangers fans who charged onto the park to take retribution on the young lad. Fans from both sides then ran on to confront each other and the rest is well known. It was a sorry end to the final and denied us the usual lap of honour but, as we’ve seen on many occasions, you are not supposed to beat Rangers as other occasions and cities have discovered.

Gerald O’Donnell

The real shame of the 1980 Scottish Cup final was that the nonsense at the end prevented people talking about what was actually a very good game of football – unlike the 1977 Cup final which was poor – and Celtic just edging it over a Rangers side who played that day away above themselves. But so too did Celtic.

1979/80 had been a very poor season. The throwing away of the League at the end of the season had been coming. There had not been a great deal of good football, attendances had been low, the weather had been bad and, frankly, apart from our isolated first leg triumph over Real Madrid, there had been little to be happy about.

The collapse in form at the end of the season had been a collector’s item for those who study the Celtic death wish. (I was around in 1963 and 1964, and 1980 is well worth a place down there with them).

So we needed a good Cup final – and we got it! Good weather, a hard, fast game and the right result at the end with George McCluskey flicking Danny McGrain’s hopeful drive into the net.

And then came the madness. The Celtic invasion was benevolent, but still should not have happened and indeed would not have happened if there had been any kind of stewarding or police presence.

The other end’s invasion was hostile, and was duly met with hostility, and the whole world on their TV got a perspective on Scotland that was quite different from lochs, mountains, Grannie’s Hieland Hame and Robbie Burns!

As bad as anything was the obvious relish of the TV commentators, even the Scottish ones,who turned into war correspondents for a while with “Here comes another charge!” and “Battle has been joined”. But this was Hampden in 1980, not Culloden in 1746! Me? I’m glad I watched it all on TV while babysitting my 2 year old daughter! The important thing, though, was that the Scottish Cup had been won for the 26th time.

David Potter

‘It’s like a scene from Apocalypse Now!’ Archie Macpherson said almost in disbelief as he commentated on the aftermath to Celtic’s Scottish Cup Final victory over Rangers on this day in 1980.

I knew a guy in his early twenties at the time, who was at the front of the Celtic end and due to the crowd surge after the game, ended up on the park battling the Hordes for ten minutes before escaping.

Three years later, he had qualified as a joiner and joined the ludge. Soon after that he was professing himself one of the biggest ‘Gers’ men around. By the time Souness arrived and their cheating began in earnest he was a fully knuckle-season-ticket holding Bear.


Met him a couple of times after that, the most amusing being about 25 years ago during their 9-in-a-row when he sidled into a pub where I was drinking with pals. Always pleasant, he was up to me saying hello and asking after a few folk. He was in with his ludge buddies for a drink after a meeting.

But it soon dawned on him he was sat with me and two other Uber-Celts at the bar and was the subject of scrutiny from his goat-pumping cohorts. The banter between us had naturally segued into football and with their domination of the time, the hubris was never far from a conversation with any of them.

However, his brash remarks about his nouveau-heroes had solicited the obvious responses from me; it was with a beautifully horrific drain of the colour pallet from his face that he realised I alone in the pub held the secret of his battling Celtic past.

He manage to choke out a sheepish plea for mercy from his drying throat, and seeing he had always been a decent guy with me, I did manage to stifle any revelations during my almost uncontrollable mirth. The schadenfreude was great, though, as he squirmed back into the throng of suspicious brethren. And so were the two rounds he put up for me and my mates; the price of silence.

I haven’t met him for a couple of decades. I sometimes wonder if he’s now regretting his lifestyle choices. Here’s to you, ya turncoat mug.


About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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