Green, White and Peter Goldie – The Bhoy who lived the dream

Catch up with the first instalment of Matt Corr’s tribute to former Celtic Star Peter Goldie….Green, White and Goldie – Celtic take on English champions, Manchester United, the ‘Busby Babes’

Green, White and Goldie – Part 2

Two nights before the Cup final, Peter recalls that Parkhead trainer Alex Dowdells advised him that he was in the team for Hampden, and indeed his name was duly printed in the match programme as Celtic’s right-half. Sadly, there was to be huge disappointment for the 21-year-old Goldie. When Jimmy McGrory read out the team as the players enjoyed a pre-match lunch in a Glasgow restaurant, Eric Smith would be in there rather than Peter. No explanations were ever forthcoming.

One can only imagine the crushing disappointment as he sat in the stand with his family to watch his teammates go down 3-1 in front of 133,000 spectators, although a gentleman to the end, he says he would have chosen Smith ahead of himself in that position!  A bizarre team selection saw left-back Frank Meechan picked at right-back, whilst the normal occupant of that slot, Mike Haughney, was listed at inside-right. It was yet another sign of the haphazard management style of the era, which would cost Celtic a realistic chance of success.

As an aside, the Hearts captain that day was Freddie Glidden. He would be the last surviving member of their 1956 cup-winning team until his death on New Year’s Day 2019, aged 91.

To add insult to injury, Celtic’s visit to Firhill on League duty two nights after the Scottish Cup Final saw Mike Haughney restored to right-back, Eric Smith to inside-right and Peter Goldie at right-half! With Sean Fallon and Frank Meechan both hurt at Hampden, former Duntocher Hibs defender Jim Kennedy would come in for a debut at left-back, again to face Johnny MacKenzie and again with much credit, as had Peter Goldie in his debut five months earlier. The pantomime season would continue, though, as Haughney sent a passback beyond his own keeper Dick Beattie for Thistle’s second goal, six minutes from time, in a 2-0 defeat. This was Peter Goldie’s first defeat as a Celtic player, in his ninth competitive game in the Hoops.

There would be two more before the week was out, as a League campaign which had earlier promised so much was concluded with a whimper. On Wednesday, 25 April 1956, Hibernian ensured they would finish above Celtic in the table by winning 3-0 at Parkhead, ‘Last-minute Lawrie’ Reilly becoming one of the select players to net a hat-trick for a visiting team at the old ground. And three days later, a Queen of the South side fresh from a 9-1 mauling at the hands of Partick Thistle survived the loss of a first-minute Jimmy Walsh goal to bounce back with three of their own, beaten cup-finalists Celtic slumping to a fourth successive defeat.

Peter would be displaced at right-half by Alec Boden for the final match of the season, Falkirk the visitors on Monday, 30 April 1956. A ‘crowd’ quoted as 2,399 would see Willie Fernie score the only goal of the game just before the break. Celts would thus end the season in fifth place in the table, having led at the halfway stage, whilst a third successive Scottish Cup final had yielded a second consecutive defeat. It was not really difficult to understand the reasons why.

The close-season saw Peter’s former Duntocher Hibs colleague Jimmy ‘Peam’ Docherty make his loan spell at Alloa Athletic a permanent arrangement, whilst his old hero, John ‘Hooky’ McPhail, retired having last played for the first team the previous September due to injury. McPhail’s younger brother Billy had impressed the Celtic management whilst with Clyde and he would sign up to continue the family tradition. Indeed, Billy would do that and then some.

Despite making 11 competitive appearances in his debut season 1955/56, the next campaign would be a frustrating one for Peter Goldie, spent almost exclusively in the reserves. Celtic’s Jekyll & Hyde performances would continue with vastly contrasting League and Cup form. The campaign kicked off with a ridiculously tough League Cup section, which included three-time winners East Fife, holders Aberdeen and perennial group opponents and League champions Rangers. The first decade of the new competition had seen Celts manage to qualify from this stage on only two occasions, beaten in the quarter-final by eventual winners Motherwell in 1950, then in the last four by the Govan club the following season. Thus, there was no real expectation of progress from those with Celtic in their heart when this draw was announced.

But Celtic are Celtic for a reason. The Hoops would storm through the section, dropping only a single point at Ibrox, before eliminating Dunfermline Athletic after a 6-0 victory at Parkhead left the second leg of their quarter-final a dead rubber. The semi-final with Clyde at Hampden was won with a Billy McPhail double against the club he had left just months earlier. He would repeat that scoring feat in the replayed final against Davie Meiklejohn’s Partick Thistle, as the Hoops finally got their hands on the trophy at the 11th attempt with a 3-0 win after a goalless draw. Billy and the Bhoys would be back for more the next season, with devastating results.

The League had been a different matter entirely, with three defeats adding to a clutch of uninspiring draws before things picked up at Christmas, a 7-3 win at Broomfield including four goals for winger John Higgins being a highlight. Inconsistency of selection and availability of personnel were again key factors, star man Bobby Collins breaking an ankle whilst there was still no sign of a return for club skipper Jock Stein who had played just one game since January.

That win against Dundee on St Patrick’s Day at Celtic Park would sadly turn out to be the great man’s last in the Hoops. Other players had left in the autumn, Alec Boden to Ayr United and Jimmy Walsh to Leicester City, however, as the year drew to a close, Peter Goldie would be lining up with Benny McCreadie and Jim Kennedy against Hibernian reserves at Celtic Park, whilst the first team shared six goals at Easter Road, then losing 3-0 to the Rangers second-string at the same venue on Hogmanay, 24 hours before the first teams clashed at Ibrox.

The mini revival would come to a halt with a dreadful run of three away defeats in January, a 2-0 loss at Ibrox on New Year’s Day followed by a similar reverse to Queen’s Park at Hampden three days later. The amateurs’ defence that afternoon featured Bob Crampsey’s younger brother, Frank, in goals, together with a centre-half called John Valentine. More on John later. Things went from bad to worse a fortnight later, as the other Queens led 4-1 at Palmerston before two late goals put a semblance of respect on the scoreline, a John Jack own goal and another blunder from goalkeeper Dick Beattie only adding to the Celtic misery in Dumfries. A difficult month ended with bittersweet injury news, long-term absentees Bobby Collins and Sean Fallon returning for the 4-0 win over Falkirk before Jock Stein finally conceded defeat in his own battle to overcome an ankle injury, sadly announcing his retirement as a Celtic player.

Forres Mechanics and Celtic line up together

The quest for a fourth successive Scottish Cup final appearance for Celts began in the unlikely surroundings of Mosset Park, Forres on Saturday, 2 February 1957. The Highland League side had eliminated Jock Stein’s old club Albion Rovers in the previous round, however, they would be no match for Celtic on the day, the green-and-white variety of the Hoops licking their chocolate-and-gold clad hosts by 5-0, Billy McPhail helping himself to a first cup hat-trick. Some fabulous images of this match are shown below courtesy of The Celtic Wiki.

The contrast for the next round a fortnight later could hardly have been greater, a full house inside Parkhead as Celtic hosted Rangers. McGrory’s Bhoys would fight back twice to equalise through Billy McPhail and John Higgins within the first 15 minutes, and would then seize the advantage as McPhail turned provider, setting up Bobby Collins and Willie Fernie to give Celts one foot in the next round at 4-2 with just seven minutes remaining.

Fate would then intervene. John Jack was in Jock Stein’s old central defensive berth between Bobby Evans and Bertie Peacock, and he would now make two costly errors of judgement. First, he clumsily challenged Ibrox winger Johnny Hubbard in the box, referee Jack Mowat awarding a penalty later described in the media as both soft and fortunate. The South African would dust himself down before adding to a conversion record which would reach 65 from 68 attempts. Within two minutes, Jack was holding his head once again in despair, his misplaced passback to Dick Beattie conceding a corner from which Max Murray converted Hubbard’s centre for 4-4. It would no doubt feel like a defeat as the Celtic support made their way home. They would get to enjoy another cup tie between the sides later that year where eight goals were shared.

Another 88,000 packed into Ibrox for the midweek replay, and this time the unchanged Hoops would build and hold the two-goal lead gained for them by first-half strikes from John Higgins and Neil Mochan. The prize was a home quarter-final tie with St Mirren on the first Saturday in March, Celts again emerging victorious by 2-0 with goals from Higgins and Bertie Peacock.

Winger John Higgins was again the main man as the shamrock-shirted Celts faced Kilmarnock in the last four at Hampden before an incredible 109,000 crowd on Saturday, 23 March 1957. He would earn the Bhoys a replay in a game they dominated after going behind late in the first half. A mere 77,000 spectators rolled up to Mount Florida for the replay four days later, the match a personal disaster for Celtic goalkeeper, Dick Beattie. He would be penalised by our old friend R H Davidson of Airdrie for a challenge on Killie striker David Curlett midway through the first half, Beattie almost redeeming himself by saving Gerry Mays first shot before being beaten by the rebound from the same player.

Bobby Collins would finish off a fine move to equalise 10 minutes later, before Beattie’s second error saw the Ayrshire side regain the lead on the stroke of half-time, the keeper completely missing a cross from that man Curlett, allowing Mays a free header for his second goal. Within six minutes of the restart, it was all over, this time Beattie losing out to Kilmarnock inside-forward Bertie Black in a challenge at the edge of his box, leaving an open goal tap-in for 3-1.

There would be no fourth successive Scottish Cup final for Jimmy McGrory’s Celts, as his old teammate Malcolm MacDonald led his blue-and-white Hoops into a Hampden clash with Falkirk. The Bairns would win that one.

The dismal away form in the League in 1957 had continued with defeats at Kirkcaldy, Methil, Tynecastle and Firhill, whilst the injury crisis showed no sign of early respite, an ankle injury sustained by top-scoring Billy McPhail in the 1-1 home draw with Dundee in early March sadly ruling him out of the rest of the campaign. That would be particularly felt in the two semi-final matches with Kilmarnock, when a barrowload of goal opportunities had been passed up. At the other end of the pitch, an injury to Dick Beattie saw John Bonnar return between the sticks after a 12-month absence then young Benny McCreadie receive his senior debut on Easter Monday at Pittodrie, celebrating with a shut-out as a John Higgins goal won the points. That clean sheet would presumably convince the Parkhead board to release him 10 days later!

The final League game of a hugely disappointing season took place at Parkhead on Monday, 29 April 1957, and marked a first sighting in the top side that campaign of Peter Goldie, almost a year to the day since his last appearance, coincidentally also a home fixture with struggling Queen of the South. Jimmy McGrory named the following team, hoping to give the long-suffering Hoops support a parting victory before the summer break.

John Bonnar; Mike Haughney & Peter Goldie; Bobby Evans Frank Meechan & Bertie Peacock;
John Higgins, Willie Fernie, Alec Byrne, Bobby Collins & Neil Mochan.

The Dumfries side had beaten Celtic in a seven-goal thriller back in January but had struggled for the most part all season, requiring a point to survive in the top Division. They would pick a great time to record their only clean sheet of the campaign and, thus, achieve the objective, a Celtic side littered with legendary players unable to score even a single goal as Dunfermline Athletic took the dreaded plunge instead of the Doonhammers.

The summer of 1957 was a catalyst for Celtic captains of the past, present and future. Jimmy McStay was appointed as Chief Scout, whilst Bertie Peacock was announced as the new club skipper, taking over from Bobby Evans who, in turn, had been covering for the injured Jock Stein for the bigger part of the past two years. The recently retired Stein would now be Celtic’s reserve team coach, and so would be working closely with Peter Goldie and the new crop of youngsters arriving at the club. These would include two others from the prolific junior nursery that was Duntocher Hibs, John Colrain and Paddy Crerand, plus a promising 17-year-old centre-half from Bellshill called William McNeill. I wonder whatever happened to him?

Peter would later recall in his interview with St Anthony on Celtic Underground that he played with Cesar in the ‘Greens v Whites’ pre-season trial and the reserve teams and was hugely impressed with his ability even at that early stage. Both would have to wait patiently for their chance as the new season began with the task of retaining the League Cup, Celtic Park looking different with the new cover at the west end of the stadium. Goldie’s case for first team football would not be helped by the inclusion of Willie Fernie and, on one occasion, new signing Sammy Wilson, in the right-half role. Both men would normally be considered and utilised as forward players.

Bobby Evans and Billy McNeill

On his return from injury, Billy McPhail would be amongst the goals again as Celts progressed from a League Cup section which included Hibernian, Airdrieonians and East Fife, the hitman scoring five in the two games against the Methil outfit. The Hoops would drop points only at Easter Road, whilst giving competitive debuts to Wilson, John Donnelly and Bertie Auld.

Inside-forward Sammy Wilson had been freed by St Mirren at the end of the previous season, whilst full-back John Donnelly had arrived from junior outfit Armadale Thistle in January 1956 but would now get this opportunity after the decision by regular right-back Mike Haughney to retire and emigrate to the USA at the end of the 1956/57 campaign.

Teenage left-winger Bertie Auld had been on the books since signing provisional forms back in April 1955 and had actually played against Celtic whilst on loan to Dumbarton. That was in a match played at Boghead in January 1957 to inaugurate the Sons’ new floodlights. Interestingly, Bertie’s teammates that evening would include a full-back pairing of former Celt Alex Rollo, a serial winner in the early 1950’s, and future Parkhead captain Dunky MacKay. A strong Celtic team had won 5-2, Charlie Tully completing the scoring after both Billy McPhail and Neil Mochan had netted doubles.

Bertie had been given a taste of Celtic first-team action in a Glasgow Charity Cup tie at Ibrox played at the beginning of May, on the eve of the club’s latest trip to the USA. This would be the last match in the Hoops for the aforementioned Haughney, who, coincidentally, would be making the same trip as his now former teammates.

Three months later, Haughney’s place would be taken by John Donnelly in a Glasgow Cup clash at the same venue. Both matches had been lost, and Celtic’s record at Ibrox was such that the players would presumably travel for the League clash there on Saturday, 21 September 1957 more in hope than expectation, despite the 9-goal aggregate mauling of Third Lanark which had taken them into the last four of the League Cup for the second successive season. The Bhoys had not won a League match in Govan since that very day in 1935, exactly 22 years earlier, when a Hoops side minus top scorer Jimmy McGrory had come back from a goal down to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Frank Murphy and Johnny Crum, Joe Kennaway saving a late penalty from Davie Meiklejohn. But such records are there to be broken, and broken it was by the following team.

Dick Beattie; John Donnelly & Sean Fallon; Willie Fernie, Bobby Evans & Bertie Peacock;
Jim Sharkey, Bobby Collins, Billy McPhail, Sammy Wilson & Charlie Tully.

The hosts included two new signings in their half-back line, Alan Austin from Kilmarnock and John Valentine from Queen’s Park, as they sought a third consecutive home victory over Celts.

A superb solo effort from Bobby Collins gave Celtic the lead within 20 minutes, Billy Simpson heading an equaliser just before the break. Ten minutes into the second half, Billy McPhail nodded the visitors in front from a Collins free-kick, to the delight of the huge Celtic support behind Billy Ritchie’s goal. They would be celebrating again just after the hour mark, McPhail turning provider as Sammy Wilson met his cross perfectly to make it 3-1. Simpson would quickly reduce the leeway, however, Celts would withstand late pressure to record a rare and much welcome victory at the home of their fierce rivals.

There would be a Groundhog Day feel as the Celtic fans made their way in their thousands to Ibrox again seven days later, albeit this time the opposition was Clyde in a repeat of the last-four clash in the League Cup 12 months earlier. Celts had won that day by 2-0 and they would again finish two goals clear by the end of play in Govan, the déjà vu sensation continuing as the three Hooped goalscorers from the previous week were on the mark again, Wilson and McPhail building a two-goal lead which was lost before Collins edged Celts back in front before the hour, Willie Fernie completing the scoring with the sixth and final goal of the afternoon. Celtic manager Jimmy McGrory had made two changes as his men booked a return trip to defend their trophy at Hampden with a 4-2 win, Eric Smith and Bertie Auld coming in on either flanks in place of Jim Sharkey and the injured Charlie Tully.

Their opponents at Hampden in the sunshine three weeks later would be two-time winners Rangers, no doubt smarting from their recent defeat by Celtic at Ibrox. They had enjoyed a comfortable passage to the final having been paired with Second Division Brechin City, the Angus club appearing in their first-ever national semi-final going down by four goals to nil. An international break meant there was only one fixture played between the two final rounds, Celts 1-1 draw with Raith Rovers at home hardly the ideal preparation as they chased just a third national trophy in the decade since competitive football had returned after the war.

Thus, Celtic were widely considered underdogs against the reigning League champions as the following team ran out in front of 82,000 spectators at 2.40pm on Saturday, 19 October 1957.

Dick Beattie; John Donnelly & Sean Fallon; Willie Fernie, Bobby Evans & Bertie Peacock;
Charlie Tully, Bobby Collins, Billy McPhail, Sammy Wilson & Neil Mochan.

Just as Peter Goldie had suffered before the Scottish Cup final the previous year, so would Bertie Auld that afternoon. The young winger had featured in all of the League Cup ties since making his breakthrough halfway through the sectional stage. He would now give way to the experience of Tully and Mochan, and thus be unable to add this match to the wonderful list of iconic and historic Celtic events in which he would participate later in his career. The 1965 Scottish Cup final, where it all began. Lisbon, the Quintuple and World Club Championship final two years later. Six League titles in a row, another Treble and a further Double. And a second European Cup final, following the historic victories over Leeds United in front of the largest attendance ever at a UEFA match. Bertie would have his days in the sun in the future.

He would not add the 7-1 game to that incredible list, on an afternoon which will never be forgotten by those whose blood runs green-and-white. Both Bobby Collins and Charlie Tully had already struck George Niven’s woodwork before Sammy Wilson’s rasping shot gave Celts the lead midway through the first half, Collins crashing a 30-yard free-kick off the crossbar and Neil Mochan firing past the Ibrox keeper on the stroke of half-time for 2-0 when in truth it could have been anything. The procession continued after the interval, Billy McPhail beating Niven in the air to add a third before Billy Simpson took advantage of an injury to Bobby Evans to claw a goal back on the hour.

The best was yet to come. Within 15 minutes, both McPhail and Mochan had completed their personal doubles to take the tally to 5-1, the former Clyde striker then toying with Rangers centre-half John Valentine to add a sixth with 10 minutes remaining and claim a cup-final hat-trick against the Ibrox side. That had been achieved by the mighty Jimmy Quinn at the same venue in the Scottish Cup final of 1904 then again at Hampden in 1950 by someone a bit closer to home, his brother John, in the Glasgow Charity Cup final ‘in front of Danny Kaye,’ as the song goes. John and Billy McPhail remained the only brothers to achieve that feat in over 120 years of competition in this fixture before the liquidation of Rangers in 2012.

Meanwhile, back at Hampden in the Sun in October 1957, there was a final act from the genius Willie Fernie. As not for the first or last time, the battles raged and the spectators fled from the Mount Florida end of Hampden as their team caved in on a big occasion, McPhail again taunted Valentine in the box and in came the challenge for a penalty kick. Resisting the urge to score an unprecedented fourth goal in the fixture, Billy would cede to the winger-come-right-half with the magic touch. Up he stepped to dispatch the seventh past Niven and make history, 7-1 beating Renton’s victory over Cambuslang back in, of course, 1888, to set a new landmark for major cup finals on this island.

Poor Valentine would be made the scapegoat for this particular massacre, his Ibrox career effectively ended that afternoon at Hampden. For the Celts who took part, however, it would be a vastly different story. More than six decades later, they are still revered in word and song for their part in creating such glorious history. New skipper Bertie Peacock would lead his team up the Hampden rostrum to lift the League Cup, just as his predecessor Bobby Evans had done 12 months earlier, and the vast legions in green would rejoice, then hope and pray that the long-awaited period of Celtic dominance would now follow.

Two men who had not enjoyed Hampden in the Sun were Peter Goldie and Bertie Auld. They were wearing the Hoops some 60 miles south of Glasgow as the reserves faced their Queen of the South counterparts at Palmerston. One can only imagine the reaction as they heard that scoreline or the conversation on the coach journey home. Peter would be drafted into the first team for the following match, replacing flu victim John Donnelly at right-back for the League clash with Third Lanark at Cathkin. He would be the only change to the cup final side, a second-half Bobby Collins double giving Celts a 2-0 victory. Remarkably, the combination of League Cup ties and international commitments meant that McGrory’s men had played just four League games by end October, half the total of some of the leading clubs.

Seven days later, Saturday, 2 November 1957, 23-year-old Peter Goldie would pull on a Celtic first-team jersey for the 15th and final time, as he continued to deputise for John Donnelly. Thankfully, the occasion has been captured in print forever, Peter captured proudly wearing the wonderful shamrock kit with the 10 members of the cup-winning team ahead of the visit of Malcolm MacDonald’s blue-and-white hooped Kilmarnock, Celtic lining up as follows.

Dick Beattie; Peter Goldie & Sean Fallon; Willie Fernie, Bobby Evans & Bertie Peacock;
Charlie Tully, Bobby Collins, Billy McPhail, Sammy Wilson & Neil Mochan.

The Hampden hitmen would be on song again, Neil Mochan and Sammy Wilson firing the Hoops 2-0 ahead by the break. With 15 minutes remaining, Mochan added a third before Charles Patrick Tully provided a fitting epitaph to Peter Goldie’s Celtic career, the Irish genius working his magic to set up Billy McPhail for 4-0. As Celtic days go…

John Donnelly would recover to reclaim the right-back berth with Peter heading back to complete the season in the reserves, playing alongside some of the finest youngsters who would ever wear the colours of Celtic, Billy McNeill, Bertie Auld and Paddy Crerand. As Cesar and Paddy were making the big step up to join Bertie as full-time Celts at the end of that 1957/58 season, sadly Goldie would be on the list of players released by the club, as was Coronation Cup hero John Bonnar, with young Frank Haffey now the back-up for Dick Beattie.

Peter would head to the military town of Aldershot in Hampshire, to combine football with the local club in the first-ever season of English League Division Four and work at an aircraft factory in Farnborough. He would later return to his native Dumbarton to teach at his old school, St Patrick’s, where he would be joined by former Celtic teammate, John Divers, not surprisingly turning his hand to coaching the football team, as the wheel turned full circle.

Peter Goldie. Another Bhoy who lived the dream…and ours.

Thanks, as always, to the wonderful Celtic Wiki, and to St Anthony of Celtic Underground for information contained in his excellent interview with Peter Goldie, published on 28 May 2020.

Hail Hail!

Matt Corr

Follow Matt on Twitter @Boola_vogue

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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