David Potter’s Celtic Player of the Day, No.39 – Billy McPhail

It would be a mistake to describe Billy McPhail as a true Celtic great. He did have his great moments, one in particular, but his career was a short one lasting only two seasons. He played only 57 games for the club, but scored 38 times, and his moment of glory was an immortal one which will be spoken about as long as the club lasts.

He was the younger brother of John McPhail and they more or less collided with each other at the front door in 1956 when John left and Billy arrived from Clyde where he had had a disappointing injury prone career.

He started well enough with Celtic who were making a belated attempt to join the ranks of League Cup winners, and scored twice against his old club Clyde in the semi-final. This put Celtic into the final against Partick Thistle. The first game was a shocker with Thistle unlucky not to win, but McPhail scored twice in the replay as the League Cup was lifted for the first time.

But that was nothing compared with the following year where Billy scored a hat-trick in the 7-1 tanking of Rangers. It was his big moment, but within a year his career had ended because of a damaged knee. “Short and sweet” sums up his career.

He died of dementia in 2003.

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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