The history of Celtic Football Club is one laced with success and triumph. From the earliest days, the club was competing in Scottish Cup finals and breaking records. Over 50 league titles have followed, Empire Exhibition and Coronation Cups, Quadruple trebles and the biggest achievement of all – the European Cup.
Yet, in the 1940s the club was left in the doldrums. A poor run in the WWII years saw fleeting moments of joy, before Jimmy McGrory took the reins, having been the manager of Kilmarnock.
On this day in 1948, Celtic travelled to Dens Park assuming that they would need a final day victory over Dundee to avoid relegation. Results elsewhere ultimately meant that the scoreline at Dens would have been academic, but Celtic weren’t to know at the time.
The Hoops took to the field with Bobby Hogg among their ranks for the last time. The Gallacher brothers, Patsy’s sons, faced off against each other; and Bobby Evans played in an unfamiliar half back role which he would eventually make his own.
31,000 fans paid entry. They witnessed Jock Weir put the Hoops ahead inside 15 minutes, but the teams went into the break level. The game was turned on its head on the hour mark as Dundee took the lead. However, Weir’s second and then third goals (67th and 88th minutes) guaranteed safety in dramatic fashion.
It was an incredible story for Weir to score such an important hat trick – or so Celtic thought at the time. He remarked at full time: “One with my left, one with my right and one with my head. The perfect hat-trick to win the match and guarantee safety from relegation.”
Queen’s Park and Airdrie were relegated that year. Celtic remained in football obscurity for the next decade and a half, bar the odd success, but fortunately never plunged to those depths again.
It is fitting that we reflect on such moments today – 75 years on. The club is now breaking records, swatting aside all before them and on the brink of lifting their 16th trophy from the last 20 available to them. What a journey.