Celts at the Double but a horrific world war beckons

Charlie and the Bhoys: A step back in time with two unsung Celtic heroes

Part 4: Celts at the Double but a horrific world war beckons

A proud Will Quinn appeared in the Celtic squad photo produced for the 1912/13 season, a campaign where despite beating Rangers home and away in the League, Willie Maley’s men finished four points behind the Ibrox club as they racked up a third successive title, thus eating halfway into our record six-in-a-row achievement, completed in 1910.

Celtic’s own quest for a third consecutive Scottish Cup had ended once again at the hands of Hearts, this time in a home quarter-final tie in March. Ironically, it would be over a century later when that achievement was finally secured by Celtic and then extended to an unprecedented four-in-a-row, in both cases against the Gorgie club. There would be some consolation as the Glasgow Charity Cup was retained, Celts fighting back from two goals down to beat Rangers 3-2 on 10 May 1913 with a new goalkeeper who would go on to become one of the all-time Parkhead greats, Charlie Shaw.

Charlie Shaw in Charity Cup final of 1913

By that time, Will and his family were living in a tenement flat at 148 Crail Street, at the junction of Tollcross Road, just a short walk from Celtic Park. He and Annie’s next three children would all be born there. A second daughter, Rosina Mary Quinn, named after Will’s late mother, had arrived on 27 April 1913. She would be the first Quinn child to have her father’s occupation listed as Football Club Trainer.

A third daughter Nora Quinn was born on 2 October 1914, then after a gap of almost four years, a fifth and final child Michael Quinn, called after Will’s dad, would complete the family on 6 June 1918. Much would have changed in those four years, as we will soon discover.

The 1913/14 season would see the balance of power swing back to Celtic Park, as the Hoops completed a third League and Scottish Cup double. An incredible defensive performance, as the legendary Holy Trinity of Charlie Shaw, Alec McNair and Joe Dodds conceded just 14 goals in 38 League games, included a spell of more than two months where not a single goal was lost, a record which stood for decades. Frustratingly for Celts, the last goal conceded before that wonderful run commenced saw them lose out to Third Lanark at Cathkin in October 1913 to exit the Glasgow Cup in a semi-final replay.

Both major trophies were secured in April 1914 following two victories over Hibernian within 36 hours, a 4-1 Scottish Cup final replay win at Ibrox on the Thursday evening – featuring doubles from Jimmy ‘Sniper’ McColl and winger John Browning – followed by a 3-0 triumph over the Leith men at Celtic Park on the Saturday, this time Jimmy McMenemy with a brace to add to future Hibernian star McColl’s solitary counter. Celts would then retain the Scottish Cup for six years, albeit sadly that had little to do with football. A third trophy was added in May with a 6-0 mauling of Third Lanark in the Glasgow Charity Cup final at Hampden, as Celts completed their best season since the ‘Team of all the talents’ swept the boards in 1907/08.

Celtic’s Double-Winning side of 1913/14
The Budapest Cup of 1914

Expectant dad Will Quinn and the Celtic squad would then embark on one of the most momentous tours in the club’s history, with six games to be played in Austria-Hungary then Germany by the beginning of June. Perhaps the most famous of those was a hastily arranged match-up with English FA Cup-winners Burnley, who had defeated Liverpool at Crystal Palace in the April final, with the winners of this ‘Battle of Britan’ clash due to be awarded the Budapest Cup. A bad-tempered game ended 1-1 and with the clubs failing to agree on the playing of extra-time and unable to fit a replay into the schedule, the destination of the trophy would be decided by the playing of a second match in Burnley in the autumn.

Ferencvaros v Celtic, May 1914
Ferencvaros v Celtic, May 1914
Celtic v Burnley, May 1914

The game with Burnley had taken place on 21 May 1914 at the home of Ferencvaros, on Ulloi Road, and it had been there that Celts had opened their continental tour four days earlier with a 2-2 draw against the hosts, runner’s up that season in the Hungarian top division.

The Celtic party then moved on to the Austrian capital Vienna, the Hoops enjoying a 6-2 win over Wiener AC, who had finished third in their national championship, on 24 May 1914.

The final three games of the tour took place in Germany, which would turn out to be hugely significant as events played out on the global stage over the coming months. Hertha BSC had finished in second place in their regional Brandenburg division, so would miss out on a place in the 1914 German national championship. They were no match for Maley’s side, who won 6-0 in a canter on 27 May 1914.

Three days later, Celtic suffered their only defeat on tour, a single-goal loss to Leipziger Sport Verein with match details curiously at a premium. I believe the opposition may have been the 1914 Central German champions, sometimes referred to as SpVgg Leipzig.

Fortunately, the final match of the tour – a 5-0 win over Berliner FC Preussen in Berlin on 1 June 1914 – has been recorded for prosperity, as photos provided by my ‘Celtic Pal’ Charlie Doherty appear to relate to that game, with Charlie Shaw and Alec McNair to the fore. The distinctive badge of the Prussian team can be quite clearly viewed on the white shirts of their opponents.

Rare photo of Celtic in action in Berlin in June 1914

As the Celtic party headed home, they would be blissfully unaware that the next time they took the field, their country would be at war with those they had just visited. Before the end of the month, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir-presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. And by 4 August, Britain, France and Russia would find itself drawn into a war with Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Site of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, taken by Matt Corr when Celtic visited Sarajevo in 2019.

Things would never be quite the same again for anyone involved.

To be continued…

Hail, hail!

Matt Corr

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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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