Angels, Uddingston and Four Celtic Legends

Hail Hail, the Celts are here, in Angels, Uddingston…

There was a lovely photo posted earlier today by Nicky Hood, Harry’s son, as Tommy Callaghan, John Fallon, Dixie Deans and George McCluskey – four of his dad’s old Celtic teammates – met up for lunch in the stunning Angels Hotel in Uddingston, one of the flagship venues owned by Lisini, a company started five decades ago and still managed by Harry’s family. Incidentally, Lisini is the name formed by the first two letters of Harry and Kathleen’s three children, a lovely touch.

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It was my absolute pleasure and privilege to write Harry’s official biography Twice As Good in conjunction with his family last year, one of many thrills arising from that project being the opportunity to meet and speak with his former teammates, Parkhead idols from my childhood including Denis Connaghan, Kenny Dalglish, David Hay, Willie Wallace and, of course, that lovely gent Tommy Callaghan. Tommy turned 78 years young earlier this week and he mentioned in conversation that he was getting together with some of the Bhoys for lunch today. I would have loved to have been a fly on that wall, as the conversation would have been superb.

Here is a brief summary of how and when the careers of the four great Celts in Nicky’s photo aligned with that of his dad at Celtic Park.

Well two of them actually featured in Harry’s Celtic debut. On Saturday, 29 March 1969, John Fallon kept a clean sheet as Harry marked his first appearance in the Hoops with Celtic’s third goal in a 3-0 victory over St Mirren at Love Street.

Jim Craig had opened the scoring for Celts just before the break with the late John Hughes adding a second within 10 minutes of the restart. Tommy Callaghan was the one named substitute allowed back in those days and he replaced Yogi with 15 minutes remaining. Tommy had been Jock Stein’s previous big-money signing prior to Harry – they joined Celtic from Scottish clubs within four months of each other – and they would remain firm friends in later years, only a couple of months apart age-wise. Tommy very kindly wrote a moving tribute for Harry’s biography last year.

The full Celtic line-up in Paisley that day was as follows.

John Fallon; Jim Craig & Tommy Gemmell; Bobby Murdoch, Billy McNeill & Jim Brogan; Jimmy Johnstone, Harry Hood, Willie Wallace, Bobby Lennox & John Hughes.

Substitute; Tommy Callaghan.

Harry and John Fallon would appear together 40 times as Celtic players between March 1969 and December 1970. Those included wonderful European victories over Basle and Benfica at Celtic Park – with Harry on target and John enjoying a shut-out on both occasions – and a League Cup final success over St Johnstone at Hampden.

Their last outing together was also a memorable occasion, albeit perhaps for the wrong reasons, as Aberdeen seized the title initiative by winning 1-0 at Celtic Park in front of an incredible 63,000 crowd. John had an excellent game and had no chance with Joe Harper’s headed winner early in the second half, whilst Celtic’s best spell came with the introduction of Harry from the bench on the hour mark. That would turn out to be John’s 195th and final first-team appearance for his beloved Celtic, and the Hoops line-up was as follows.

John Fallon; Jim Craig & Tommy Gemmell; Bobby Murdoch, Billy McNeill & Jim Brogan; Jimmy Johnstone, George Connelly, Lou Macari, David Hay & John Hughes.

Substitute; Harry Hood.

At the other end of Harry’s Celtic career, he would play just three times with promising new talent George McCluskey. The first of those was George’s senior debut, a first-round tie in the European Cup-Winners’ Cup on Wednesday, 1 October 1975, Harry scoring twice in a 7-0 romp over Iceland’s Valur Reykjavik at Celtic Park, with both Dixie and Tommy also on target. George came off the bench to replace Paul Wilson at half-time as Celts cruised through to the next round. The Celtic team read as follows.

Peter Latchford; Danny McGrain & Andy Lynch; Pat McCluskey, Roddie MacDonald & Johannes Edvaldsson; Paul Wilson, Kenny Dalglish, Dixie Deans, Tommy Callaghan & Harry Hood.

Substitutes; George McCluskey & Jim Casey.

The second match was exactly one month later, as Celtic hosted Rangers in a League match on Saturday, 1 November 1975. This time George making his first Celtic start with Harry listed as a substitute. Playing on the right wing, George set up Paul Wilson’s late equaliser before making way for Harry in a 1-1 draw. Both Dixie and Tommy also featured in the Hoops that day as Celts maintained their lead at the top of the table in the inaugural Premier League season.

The roles were reversed again in the third and final match George and Harry played together. That was seven days later, as Celtic travelled to Dens Park to face a Dundee side skippered by Tommy Gemmell and featuring a teenage Gordon Strachan in midfield. Harry started the game at outside-right and was replaced by George as a late Bobby Robinson goal kept the points on Tayside and knocked the Hoops off the top of the table. The Hoops line-up on Tayside was as follows.

Peter Latchford; Danny McGrain & Andy Lynch; Pat McCluskey, Roddie MacDonald & Johannes Edvaldsson; Harry Hood, Kenny Dalglish, Dixie Deans, Jackie McNamara & Bobby Lennox.

Substitutes; George McCluskey & Tommy Callaghan.

In contrast, Harry Hood and Dixie Deans played together for Celtic on no fewer than 132 occasions. The first of those was Dixie’s debut, a 5-1 win over Partick Thistle at a packed Firhill as Jock Stein’s men took a degree of revenge for the 4-1 League Cup final defeat the previous month. Both men were on the scoresheet, Harry completing the remarkable feat of opening the scoring directly from a corner-kick and Dixie finishing things off with Celtic’s fifth in the closing moments. The following team played that day.

Denis Connaghan; David Hay & Jimmy Quinn; Tommy Callaghan, Billy McNeill & George Connelly; Jimmy Johnstone, Kenny Dalglish, Dixie Deans, Lou Macari & Harry Hood.

Substitute; Jim Brogan.

Harry, Dixie and Tommy would all be on the field to witness perhaps Dixie’s most celebrated achievement, the striker scoring six goals against Partick Thistle on Saturday, 17 November 1973 to create a post-war club record, with the all-time record-holder Jimmy McGrory watching on from the stand, no doubt nervously!

And the three men were together again as more history was made at Brockville on Saturday, 27 April 1974, a Kenny Dalglish goal sealing Celtic’s first nine-in-a-row success. Seven days later, Harry and Dixie would score at Hampden as the Bhoys made it three Doubles in four seasons with a 3-0 victory over Dundee United. Tommy set up Dixie’s late goal that afternoon, having replaced Danny McGrain early on.

Dixie would again be on the scoresheet at Hampden five months later, hitting his second cup final hat-trick against Hibernian in Celtic’s 6-3 League Cup final win of Saturday, 26 October 1974. The Leith men must have been sick of the sight of him, as Dixie had hit a treble in the League against them just seven days earlier at Celtic Park. Harry was involved in a couple of Celtic’s goals, whilst Tommy missed out on this occasion.

Dixie and Harry lined up together for the final time at Tannadice on Saturday, 10 April 1976. A Kenny Dalglish double was not enough to prevent Celtic going down to a costly 3-2 defeat which would ultimately prove fatal to their hopes of regaining the League title. This was Harry’s final match for the club before leaving for San Antonio Thunder, and the following Celts took the field.

Peter Latchford; Danny McGrain & Andy Lynch; Pat McCluskey, Roy Aitken & Johannes Edvaldsson; Harry Hood, Kenny Dalglish, Dixie Deans, Ronnie Glavin & Bobby Lennox.

Harry would later be joined in Texas by Tommy Callaghan, the two men having forged a strong friendship following 213 appearances together for their boyhood team. The first of those we have already covered, Harry’s debut in Paisley back in March 1969, and the pair would enjoy title success by the end of that month, joined by John Fallon as four-in-a-row was clinched at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock. They would win their first cup final as Celts against St Johnstone in October, thanks to Bertie Auld’s early strike and John Fallon’s excellent display between the sticks as the Hoops made it five successive League Cups.

Both men would bounce back from the disappointment of that European Cup final defeat in Milan to enjoy their best spells as Celts in season 1970/71. Tommy’s tremendous performances in midfield allied with Harry’s goals took the Celts to a League and Cup double, Tommy’s exquisite disguised pass in the Scottish Cup final replay at Hampden leading to a penalty kick challenge on Jimmy Johnstone, following which Harry sent Rangers keeper Peter McCloy the wrong way from the spot to win the cup for Celtic.

Tommy was again in imperious form the following season, he and Bobby Murdoch providing the midfield platform for a back-to-back Double, immortalised in that 6-1 Scottish Cup final victory over Hibernian on Saturday, 6 May 1972, a certain Dixie Deans scoring a hat-trick, as he always seemed to do against the Easter Road men.

A few weeks earlier, Harry, Dixie and Tommy had starred for Celtic at Bayview, as Jock Stein’s men created a new record of seven League titles in a row, passing Willie Maley’s Scottish landmark created six decades earlier. Dixie scored twice and Harry the other as Celts beat East Fife 3-0.

An eighth successive title was won at Easter Road 12 months later, Tommy setting up the opening goal for Dixie, who added a second late on in another 3-0 victory. And as mentioned earlier, nine-in-a-row and a third Double in four years would duly follow in the spring of 1974. Sadly, the infamous antics of Atletico Madrid would prevent another opportunity for Celtic to compete in a third European Cup final, after a thrilling win over Swiss champions Basel in the quarter-final, with Tommy and Dixie both scoring in the second leg at Celtic Park as Harry pulled the strings in midfield.

CELTIC V ATLETICO MADRID EUROPEAN CUP SEMI-FINAL 1974 AT PARKHEAD
L/R DAVIE HAY,JIM BROGAN ,KENNY DALGLISH & HARRY HOOD (11)PIC ERIC MCCOWAT

How different might things have been in the first leg against Atletico had Harry’s early cutback not been incorrectly ruled as having crossed the line before Kenny Dalglish put the ball in the net that evening.

The 1974/75 season would see Celtic unbeaten in four cup finals – Paul Wilson scoring in all four Hampden finals – but lose the title for the first time in a decade as a great side broke up. Billy McNeill, Jimmy Johnstone and Jim Brogan all left Celtic Park in the summer after glorious careers and we almost lost manager Jock Stein after a near fatal road crash in July. With Sean Fallon at the helm, the next season would be the last in which Tommy, Harry and Dixie would all feature together.

Whilst Dixie appeared in Harry’s final Celtic match at Tannadice, the last pairing of Tommy and Harry took place a few weeks earlier, in the unlikely setting of Zwickau, East Germany on St Patrick’s Day 1976. Celts had drawn 1-1 with Sachsenring in the home leg of their European Cup-winners’ Cup quarter-final two weeks earlier, a night of so many wasted opportunities, the best of which being a Bobby Lennox penalty which goalkeeper Jurgen Croy saved. The Hoops would include new signing Johnny Doyle in the travelling party, plus an adopted Roy Aitken, who was too young to enter the country on his own passport! A flu outbreak at the club forced Celtic to field a slightly unusual line-up, which was as follows.

Peter Latchford; Danny McGrain & Tommy Callaghan; Roddie MacDonald, Roy Aitken & Pat McCluskey;
Paul Wilson, Kenny Dalglish, Johannes Edvaldsson, Ronnie Glavin & Harry Hood.

Sadly, an early goal and some controversial refereeing decisions would see Celts exit Europe for another season, Roddie MacDonald’s late strike ruled out for an unknown infringement.

So there you have it. No doubt the four Celtic pals had a thousand things to talk about today, some perhaps included in this article, as they raised a glass to Harry and other absent friends.

Hail Hail,

Matt Corr

Follow Matt on Twitter @Bola_vogue.

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About Author

Having retired from his day job Matt Corr can usually be found working as a Tour Guide at Celtic Park, or if there is a Marathon on anywhere in the world from as far away as Tokyo or New York, Matt will be running for the Celtic Foundation. On a European away-day, he's there writing his Diary for The Celtic Star and he's currently completing his first Celtic book with another two planned.

1 Comment

  1. Great trip down memory lane with legends Matt. With a few memory jolts that brought a chuckle. Played golf with a couple of those guys on a few occasions, more laughing than good golfing, as the striker took the p… out of the goalie.