Matthew Marr on Celtic’s Boxing Day games…
Hopefully Celtic’s players did not overindulge on Christmas pudding because the Bhoys are in action today. Celtic travel to Dens Park to take on Dundee and it will be the club’s 47th time playing on Boxing Day. The first was in 1891, a 2-1 home win over St Mirren (the only such match played at the original Celtic Park).
Over the years, these encounters have brought different levels of success and excitement – and once the Celts even won a cup the day after Christmas. Overall, Boxing Day fixtures have helped Celtic continue their festive cheer. Of the 46 matches played so far, 32 have resulted in wins whilst there have been seven draws and seven defeats.
In goalscoring terms, Celtic have hit the back of the net 102 times (figuratively at least, nets weren’t always used in the 1890s) whilst conceding 44 times. It is actually more than 30 years since Celtic last lost on this day; this was a 1-0 home defeat to Dundee United in 1992. Also, the club’s most recent draw was also against United, a 2-2 match in 2006.
Perhaps it is just as well that Celtic are playing Dundee today rather than their tangerine neighbours!
Boxing Day games have brought some memorable moments for Celtic. Who could forget Paolo Di Canio’s outrageous chip (and golden boots) as the Celts won at Pittodrie in 1996?
Equally, the club’s biggest win on 26 December came exactly 70 years ago today – a 7-1 league victory away to Clyde. There have also been trips outwith Scotland. In the 1890s, the Celts thrice went to England, beating Ardwick 5-0 in 1892, losing 3-2 to Everton in 1895 and winning 1-0 against Sunderland in 1898. 1901 and 1902 saw wins for Celtic in Dublin against Bohemians.
However perhaps the Bhoys’ most notable post-Christmas game came in 1955, also the only time they have played Rangers on this day. The two Glasgow sides lined up at Hampden Park in that season’s Glasgow Cup Final. The 39,078 fans that attended watched an enthralling 90 minutes.
Rangers took the lead in 24 minutes through Kichenbrand, but Bobby Collins equalised a minute later. Jim Sharkey made it 2-1 to Celtic but just before half-time a Hubbard ‘Penalty to Rangers’ meant it was 2-2 at the break.
The second half saw two more quick fire goals; Sharkey’s second put the green-and-whites ahead but within a minute a Sean Fallon own-goal brought Rangers level. As the clock ran down, it seemed a draw was most likely, but then came two more goals in two minutes. Bobby Collins made it 4-3 to Celtic and just after this Willie Fernie got a fifth to clinch the cup in the Bhoys’ favour.
So lots of exciting Boxing Day memories for Celtic. It is to be hoped that today is another such moment, ideally building up to a big win on Saturday too.
To find out the full story of Celtic’s first League title, you can buy Matthew Marr’s debut book, ‘The Bould Bhoys! Glory to their name’. It’s available now in our sale over on Celtic Star Books and is the ideal late Christmas present for yourself. You can also pick up a copy at any Celtic FC store including the superstore.
Follow Matthew on Twitter @hailhailhistory