Today’s edition of Back to the Fixture sees one from way, way back in yesteryear – in one of Celtic’s first ever years as an existing club. We travel back to 1893, to the first ever game that the Bhoys’ played on today’s date in their history, against then Glaswegian rivals Third Lanark at Cathkin Park; just 500m north of current day Hampden Park.
The Bhoys’ side at the time were the current holders of the Scottish top flight for the first time in their soon-to-be illustrious history. Having beaten bitter rivals theRangers to the title in 1892-93 by a single point, the Hoops’ were once again baying for blood in their quest to retain the title ahead of their bitter rivals, and at the start of play against Third Lanark their season was looking promising. They were five points ahead of next best Hearts, and a second title was looking likely – given that they were on a seven game winning streak. Meanwhile, Third Lanark were languishing near the wrong end of the table – and the Bhoys’ faithful demanded nothing less than excellence to prolong their spell at the top of the table.
They were of course rewarded by Willie Maley’s men, in front of 12,000 fans – the fourth biggest crowd involving Celtic that season. The dismayed Third Lanark support looked on in considerable anguish as goals by the impressive James Blessington, Alex McMahon and John Divers – who scored his first goal in the famous Green and White at just nineteen years of age – secured a much needed win at Cathkin Park to keep Hearts at a five point distance.
Celtic eventually did go on to complete their retention of the title that year, albeit only by three points over Hearts – and almost went on to complete a first ever Scottish Football double, although they were halted 3-1 by theRangers in the final; eventually completing the feat in 1907.
The Celtic team that day was: Joseph Cullen, Jeremiah Reynolds, Dan Doyle, John Curran, Thomas Dunbar, Willie Maley, John Madden, James Blessington, Joe Cassidy, Alex McMahon, John Divers.