Celtic’s eventful, successful USA and Canadian tour in 1951

Celtic’s second USA and Canadian tour in 1951 was just as eventful as the 1931 trip 20 years before…

Twenty years after Celtic eye-opening first ever tour across the Atlantic in 1931, the club decided to take the plunge yet again in the late spring of 1951 as they embarked on a month long tour of the USA and Canada.

Jimmy McGrory who was present as a player in the last transatlantic jaunt in the early days of the Great Depression was now going again this time as manager.

Just like the first time, Celtic were heading over as Scottish Cup winners, coincidentally having beaten Motherwell, who were also the beaten finalists in 1931.

The famous old trophy went along on the trip with the players, but unlike last time there was no massive farewell from the thousands of supporters who lined the banks of the Clyde as the players set sail from Yorkhill quay on the good ship Caladonia.

This time they set sail in the more extravagant surroundings of Southampton on board the Queen Mary. The Celtic team did get a decent send off however as supporters descended to Glasgow central as they left for the English coast.

The tour started in New York with games against New York Allstars, Fulham and Eintracht Frankfurt all held at the Triborough Stadium over a 10 day period. Celtic won all three games beating the Allstars 5-1, Fulham 2-0 and Frankfurt 3-1. The latter of these games being the most memorable and controversial. The game was played in front of a large exiled German contingent. It was ill-tempered to say the least, with the Germans being the main culprits.

Back: Charley Tully, John McGrory, John McPhail, Joe Bailey, Jimmy Mallan, Jock Weir Bobby Evans, Roy Milne, Alec Rollo, Bertie Peacock.

They caused some chaotic scenes as they felt angered by the performance of the referee who awarded Celtic three penalties two of which were missed. The Frankfurt management, players and fans all become very hostile in shameful scenes that seen the referee punched by one of the German players.

Celtic manager Jimmy McGrory was also pushed to the ground and a piper attacked by the German supporters as things boiled over. Thankfully there was no more disorder in a game that Celtic were deserved winners.

After that controversial match  it was a trip to Cahill field to take on Philadelphia all stars as the Hoops triumphed 6-2. Two days later the hoops travelled north to Toronto to take on the national soccer league at the CNE stadium with the majority of the Canadian select side made up of recent immigrants from Scotland! John McPhail quipping afterwards “we came here to play Canadians and found ourselves up against the half of Clydeside” but Celtic won the game 2-1 with goals from Charlie Tully and John McPhail.

Next up it was a trip to the university of Detroit stadium to play the Chicago Polish Eagles with a trophy called the D.Kennedy cup up for grabs. Celtic thumped The Eagles 4-0 thanks to a Bobby Collins hat-trick and a solitary John McPhail strike as Celtic lifted the trophy which to this day still sits in the Celtic Park trophy cabinet.

Then It was back to Toronto to play Fulham which finished in a 1-1 draw before a 2-2 draw with Kearney XI just 24 hours later.

The tour would end in Montreal against familiar foes Fulham. The third time the Hoops faced the English side on the trip. The game ended in the first defeat of the tour as the Londoners took the honours in a 3-2 victory, before a long trip back to Glasgow beckoned after yet another interesting trip across the pond.

Just an Ordinary Bhoy

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An ordinary everyday Celtic supporters hailing and still residing in Govan in the shadows of the enemy. I’m a season ticket holder. I Witnessed my first Celtic game in 1988 and have attended when I can ever since. Growing up in the 90s I witnessed Celtic at their lowest, and now appreciate the historic success we enjoy today. I enjoy writing about this wonderful football club and hopefully will continue to do so. I’ve always been a keen writer and initially started this a hobby. My ambition is to one day become as good an author as my fellow Celtic Star colleagues.

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