Celtic empty Ibrox! Slogans like “Sinn Fein Abu”, “Cassidy 2 Black and Tans 0” and “Patsy Gallacher, the King of Ireland”

ODDLY enough, although Ibrox may be the home of our greatest rivals, we have had some great games there. Our very first Scottish Cup win was there in 1892, we lifted the Empire Exhibition Trophy there in 1938 and as recently as 1997 we won the Scottish League Cup there when we beat Dundee United 3-0. Oh yes, and in 1967 that year of years, a 2-2 draw was enough to win us the Scottish League.

But one of our most famous wins there was New Year’s Day 1921. Times were hard. They were also tense for everyone was aware of what was going on in Ireland now that Lloyd George had unleashed his venomous Black and Tans “the gangsters from Dartmoor and Peterhead” in the words of the song, on the people of Ireland.

There were also some ex-soldiers who had enjoyed rather too much the slaughter of the Great War and couldn’t cope with civilian life. Ireland provided them with another opportunity. Cork’s Lord Mayor had died on hunger strike a month or two before, and stories abounded of repression and executions.

Glasgow was on edge, and there was no guarantee that the conflict wouldn’t spread to Scotland. There were those in places like Jimmy Quinn’s Croy who openly advocated armed rebellion. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that. A triumph on the football field was enough to prove the point.

Tommy McInally

70,000 were at Ibrox that “dreary New Year’s Day” (in the words of another song) but there was nothing dreary about the Celtic performance that day, nor the lavish celebrations after. Rangers were a strong team of Robb, Manderson and McCandless; Meiklejohn, Dixon and Muirhead; Archibald, Cunningham, Henderson, Cairns and Morton while Celtic had Shaw, McNair and McStay; Gilchrist, Cringan and McMaster; McAtee, Gallacher, McInally, Cassidy and McLean. The referee was Tom Dougray of Barrhead.

The tackles were fierce and the pace was hot, with, if anything, Rangers with the benefit of a larger support at their home ground slightly on top, but Willie Cringan was in total control of George Henderson and the famous left wing of Tommy Cairns and  Alan Morton foundered on the rock of the great Eck McNair, called not without cause “the icicle” for his calm demeanour on the field, while gradually as the first half progressed, wing halves Johnny Gilchrist and Johnny McMaster “he of the melancholy countenance” began to take control of the midfield, supplying loads of quality balls to Celtic’s two great tricksters Patsy Gallacher and Tommy McInally.

Joe Cassidy

It was Joe Cassidy who scored first, though. The ball came to him on the edge of the penalty area at the Copland Road end of the ground, and he did not hesitate to hammer home. This was just before half time and the result was that half time was spent with the Celtic area of the ground in uproar with “The Wearing Of The Green” and “God Save Ireland” being belted out and a few flags of the Irish Harp in evidence, and even one or two of the as yet unofficial green, white and gold tricolour, still in 1921 looked upon as the rebel flag of the “Shinners”, the supporters of Sinn Fein.

Patsy Gallacher

It was Joe’s second goal that earned him immortality. Patsy Gallacher got the better of McCandless, and passed the ball to Tommy McInally who feinted to shoot, but at the last minute shouted “Joe” (a cry heard apparently even in the Press Box, it was claimed) and left the ball for the incoming Joe Cassidy to hammer home spectacularly from a good 25 yards with Robb nowhere near it. It was a goal of genius.

With the Celtic fans now raucous and jubilant, Rangers rallied but McNair and McStay remained firm, and in any case, behind them was Charlie Shaw. Alan Morton may on one mythical occasion, have put the ball past Charlie Shaw (in fact it was Tokey Duncan of Raith Rovers who did it first) but the “wee blue deil” had no luck today as Charlie dived at his feet, tipped the ball over the bar and came out to clutch corner kicks with all the confidence of a man who had seen it all. It was Charlie at his best. He radiated safety and security to the rest of his team and to the supporters at the far end of the ground.

Charlie Shaw

Mr Dougray’s dramatic pointing to the pavilion at full time was the catalyst for Celtic rapture and euphoria on a scale not seen for years, with many accounts of the “Cassidy Cavalcade” of brake clubs on their way home with their flags, bugles, raucous singing and sheer joy from a people whose sufferings in the last few years had been intense and painful on battlefields and in work places.

What a sight it was to see the ragged children, ill clad and some of them wearing shoes with holes in them, with smiles on their faces!

This however was their day, their revenge on King George V and Lloyd George and the detested Ulsterman Bonar Law. They were now what Padraig Pearse would have called “the risen people”, and Glasgow that New Year’s Night belonged to them with slogans chalked on the side of their brake clubs like “Sinn Fein Abu”, “Cassidy 2 Black and Tans 0” and “Patsy Gallacher, the King of Ireland”.

David Potter

About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

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