Celtic’s Sixth Manager (1983-87) – The manifestly likeable Davie Hay

Davie Hay was a very unfortunate Manager of Celtic. He had two successful and two unlucky seasons, his first and his last. It has also to be said that the two seasons in the middle were glorious at the end, but sometimes a little painful in the middle.

His appointment was sudden and Davie found Celtic at the start of the 1983 season without Charlie Nicholas. He also was the first Manager for a long time to face three major threats, and none of them were Rangers! Aberdeen, Dundee United and Hearts continued to be strong challengers and then Rangers rose again in 1986.

Davie Hay new Manager of Celtic Football Club with Chairman Desmond White July 1983

In Europe he had the scarcely believable cheating of Rapid Vienna to deal with and then in his final season, no fewer than four of his first team wanted to leave, one of them being the poisoned chalice that Hay had brought to the club and was called Maurice Johnston.

His first season saw Celtic nowhere really close to Aberdeen in the League race, and two very unfortunate domestic Cup finals where Celtic were the victims of some strange refereeing decisions and some sheer bad luck.

Hay’s bad luck continued into the next season, and he approached the Scottish Cup final of 1985 knowing that a defeat would probably spell curtains for his managership. However he made the inspired (and unpopular) decision with 15 minutes remaining to hook Paul McStay and bring on a defender to allow Roy Aitken to move forward and take a grip of the game.

1985/86 saw the terrific Albert Kidd finale to the season, but that did not disguise the fact that this season had also seen one or two distinctly ordinary performances, and then season 1986/87 was the season of the inevitable Rangers fight back.

SEASON 1983/1984 Celtic manager Davie Hay presents the “Shoot” trophy to his midfield player Paul McStay.

Rangers bought players from England while Celtic and Hay now floundered, and the cause was not helped when, in a move that suggested either ingratitude or pessimism about the future of Celtic, Johnston, McClair, McInally and MacLeod announced that they wanted to move on. The season finished with a whimper, and it was no great surprise when the ill-starred four year tenure of the manifestly likeable David Hay came to an end.

David Potter



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About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

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