Celtic v Motherwell: Grinding out a Scottish Cup Final win

Quite a lot had happened to both Celtic and Motherwell since they had met in the 1931 Scottish Cup Final.

For Celtic of course there had been the tragic loss of John Thomson and the no less intense agony of Peter Scarff slowly dying of tuberculosis in a Bridge of Weir sanatorium.

On the playing side, Celtic were taking a long time to fight back from all this and the Scottish Cup Final of 1933 represented their only chance of an honour. Motherwell on the other hand had deservedly won the Scottish League in 1932 and were most people’s favourites for the 1933 Cup Final.

On the broader front, Scotland was now in the grips of a huge economic depression with countless unemployed, and in Germany, this funny little man with a moustache seemed to be establishing himself as a dictator. It would be a few years before he’d have his flag flown over at Ibrox by the SFA.

Celtic’s path to this final had been undistinguished with struggles against Falkirk, Partick Thistle and Albion Rovers but they had done well to beat Hearts in a replayed semi-final. And they had Jimmy McGrory, now the hero of Scotland for his wonder goal against England a couple of weeks previously, the goal that was said to give birth to the Hampden Roar.

And there were so many good players like Peter Wilson, Alec Thomson, Bertie Thomson and Charlie Geatons that supporters were often mystified that they did not do better. They would have the overwhelming support – the Celtic fans came in their tens of thousands – of most of the 102,339 crowd.

The day was dull, and so was the play.

The ball-players on both sides were subdued by resolute defending, and the only goal of the game was a poor one. After an unproductive first half, Bertie Thomson worked the ball down the right and sent the ball across.

It was blocked but not cleared several times and eventually the ball came to McGrory curiously unmarked on the six yard line. McGrory then miskicked, but the ball still tricked over the line. Not the greatest goal of McGrory’s collection and called “the saftest o’ the familie” after a well known Harry Lauder music hall song, it was nevertheless well feted by the huge Celtic support.

It was now a long second half as Motherwell inspired by John McMenemy, the son of the great “Napoleon” and himself an ex-Celt who had won a Cup Final in 1927, piled the pressure on, but the mighty half back line of Wilson, McStay and Geatons held firm and Canadian goalkeeper Joe Kennaway was seldom called upon for any heroics. The full time whistle came with the ball where it had seemed to be for most of the game – the centre of the field.

For the Celtic support, this triumph cannot be underestimated, for if any group of people needed a pick-me-up, it was the Glasgow Irish and their many sympathisers in 1933, now feeling the full blast of the economic depression and the hypocritical cant of the so-called National Government.

David Potter


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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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