David Potter’s Celtic Player of the Day, No.44 – John McPhail

John McPhail joined Celtic in the dark years of World War II and was with the club for 15 years. He could play all over the forward line and even at wing half, but eventually settled down to be a centre forward.

He was big, strong, bustling and awkward but he had a tendency to put on weight and to suffer from injury. It was difficult enough in the war years, and things did not really improve even after the war, for Celtic, frankly, had a dreadful team.

John McPhail: Scottish cup final – Celtic v. Mothervell at Hampden. Goal scorer McPhail – Captain of the Celtic team – Holds the Scottish cup Aloft. – Players faces from left: Weir, Boden, Fallon and Peacock. April 1951 P012441

John was made captain but the quality players were not there in sufficient numbers to make a difference. They won the Glasgow Cup in 1950, but it was the Scottish Cup in 1951 which at last brought welcome relief to the beleaguered Celtic support, and it was “big captain John” who scored the only goal of the game against Motherwell that sunny and windy April day to give Celtic their first major honour since 1937.

Glasgow Celtic captain John McPhail (right) with his American counterpart prior to the match against the American All Stars soccer team at Triborough Stadium in New York City on 20th May 1951. Celtic won 5-1. (Photo by Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

After that, his appearances became more sporadic, missing out on the Scottish Cup final of 1954, for example. He lasted until the 1955/56 season, but his contribution to Celtic did not finish there, for he became a journalist for The Celtic View under the pseudonym of Kerrydale.

He played five times for Scotland, and died on November 2000.

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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