Celtic’s greatest team: Pre-World War 2 – Two attacking midfielders

Celtic’s greatest team: Pre-World War 2 – Two attacking midfielders…

Patsy Gallacher

In today’s article, we will be looking at the options for our two attacking midfielders, to provide the supply of quality passes for our four forward players to convert into goals. Once again, we have some absolutely outstanding candidates, so here is our shortlist, as always displayed in chronological order.

Note that the number of appearances does exclude Charity Cup matches and friendlies and can occasionally differ by a small margin in different record sources, however, it will give you a sense of length and consistency of service etc.

Remember, we are looking for TWO candidates to be selected from the shortlist below.

Peter Somers

Debut for Celtic: v Third Lanark, December 1897
Final game: v Airdrieonians, January 1910
Total appearances: 247

Celtic’s ‘Powder Monkey’ was one of the creative stars of Willie Maley’s first great side of that century. Another to be taken far too soon, Peter was just 36 when he passed away following a leg amputation.

Jimmy McMenemy

Debut for Celtic: v Heart of Midlothian, September 1902
Final game: v St Mirren, April 1920
Total appearances: 558

‘Napoleon’ is considered by many as the club’s greatest-ever player. Following a glittering medal-laden career, Jimmy returned to assist Willie Maley as first-team coach in 1935.

Patsy Gallacher

Patsy Gallacher

Debut for Celtic: v St Mirren, December 1911
Final game: v Clyde, October 1925
Total appearances: 491

The Mighty Atom. The Donegal-born genius is renowned for his ‘somersault’ cup final goal of 1925 and is another who lays claim to the accolade of Celtic’s greatest-ever player.

Tommy McInally

Debut for Celtic: v Clydebank, August 1919
Final game: v Clyde, November 1928
Total appearances: 230

One of Celtic’s all-time great characters, talented forward Tommy was the ultimate on-field joker who often fell foul of Willie Maley, yet the Celtic manager indulged him in a way he rarely did with others.

Alec Thomson

Debut for Celtic: v Clyde, November 1922
Final game: v Hamilton Academical, April 1934
Total appearances: 479

The quiet but brilliant inside-forward from Fife weas the first of the three unrelated Thomsons of that great cup-winning team of 1931 to arrive at Celtic Park.

Peter Scarff

Debut for Celtic: v Arthurlie, January 1929
Final game: v Leith Athletic, December 1931
Total appearances: 119

The second of the fabulous Scottish Cup-winning team of 1931 to die as a young man. Peter took ill in the wake of John Thomson’s tragic death that autumn and lost his long battle with Tuberculosis two years later, aged just 24.

Willie Buchan

Debut for Celtic: v Queen of the South, August 1933
Final game: v Hamilton Academical, October 1939
Total appearances: 142

Inside-forward Willie made a huge impression in his short stay at Celtic, before being sold to Blackpool against his wishes in November 1937. A few months earlier, he had set up one goal then scored the winner in the Scottish Cup final. He returned to play one match as a guest player following the outbreak of war.

What an incredible list of candidates for these roles. Which TWO will be chosen?

If you’re just catching up with this intriguing selection, here’s a very brief reminder of the story so far, a recap of the shortlists already published exclusively in The Celtic Star, which you can check-out HERE.


Dan McArthur, Davie Adams, Charlie Shaw, John Thomson or Joe Kennaway

Right-sided defender 

Barney Battles, ‘Sunny Jim’ Young, Alec McNair, Willie McStay or Bobby Hogg

Central defender 

James Kelly, Willie Loney, Peter Johnstone, Jimmy McStay or Willie Lyon

Left-sided defender 

Dan Doyle, Willie Orr, Jimmy ‘Dun’ Hay, Joe Dodds, Willie ‘Peter’ McGonagle or Jock Morrison

Defensive midfielder 

John ‘Jean’ McFarlane, Peter Wilson, Chic Geatons, Malcolm MacDonald or George Paterson

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About Author

Having retired from his day job Matt Corr can usually be found working as a Tour Guide at Celtic Park, or if there is a Marathon on anywhere in the world from as far away as Tokyo or New York, Matt will be running for the Celtic Foundation. On a European away-day, he's there writing his Diary for The Celtic Star and he's currently completing his first Celtic book with another two planned.

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