“Oh Harry, Harry…Oh Harry Hood”: Part 22: Harry’s Game. An historic Hampden hat-trick…and it should have been four!
On the Monday after Celtic’s victory at Ibrox there was some sad news to emerge, as Bobby Murdoch joined Jack Charlton’s Middlesbrough after his release from the club. Bobby would then go on to make himself a hero to a whole new generation of football fans in the industrial north-east of England, future Scotland captain Graeme Souness one of the youngsters to learn his trade under the great man. This meant that from the team who lined up in the Hoops in the heat of Lisbon, only Billy McNeill, Jimmy Johnstone and Bobby Lennox now remained.
Jock Stein’s Class of ’73 would commence their quest to emulate the Lions in Turku, in south-western Finland, two days later, Wednesday, 19 September. Three years earlier, Harry Hood had bagged a hat-trick as the current Finnish champions KPV Kokkola were beaten 14-0 on aggregate at the same stage, still a record European victory for Celtic.
Hood would be on target again in the 6-1 first-leg win over TPS Turku, putting Celts 2-1 up midway through the first half before making way for returning fractured jaw victim Dixie Deans on the hour. Tom Callaghan had opened the scoring in the first minute and he would complete his double just before the end. Jimmy Johnstone, with a superb curving shot, substitute Deans with a trademark diving header and George Connelly from a twice-taken penalty were the other yellow-clad Celts on the scoresheet, whilst the hosts would enjoy five minutes of parity after their own spot kick was converted by Andalmin, following a Danny McGrain handball.
With five Celts in the Scotland team due to play Czechoslovakia in a vital World Cup qualifying match the following midweek, the scheduled League fixture with Morton that Saturday was postponed. I was fortunate enough to be taken to Hampden by my brother to join the 96,000 supporters on what would be an era-defining evening. The quintet of Bhoys all started and played their part in a memorable 2-1 victory, which secured a first place in the finals for 16 long years, the first of my 12-year-old lifetime. Only negative note was the loss of the Czech goal by Ally Hunter, something I felt he never truly recovered from, having been our best shotstopper since Ronnie Simpson. Ivo Viktor was the man beaten by the late Jim Holton then Joe Jordan, who had earlier replaced Kenny Dalglish. The great Czech keeper had been at the opposite end of the pitch to ‘Faither’ during Celtic’s epic clashes with Dukla Prague in 1967.
All five Scottish heroes would come back to earth with a bump three days later, Saturday, 29 September 1973, as the Hoops lost 2-1 at Muirton, so often a problematic venue for Celtic. Dixie Deans had given the visitors the perfect start by scoring within two minutes after Steve Murray had cleverly headed the ball back from the byeline, only for a lack of communication between Ally Hunter and Jim Brogan to allow John Muir to equalise for St Johnstone just three minutes later. The remaining goal action was reserved for the closing minutes following a lethargic display by the champions, Jim Pearson heading past Hunter from John Lambie’s cross before Deans had a second goal ruled out by the referee. Meanwhile, 60 miles south of Perth, Rab Prentice had continued his excellent start to the season after his release from Celtic by scoring as Hearts went top of the table following a 3-0 victory over Rangers at Ibrox.
Harry Hood had sustained a back injury against St Johnstone and would not be risked for the midweek dead rubber against TPS Turku at Parkhead. With Celtic leading 2-0 at the interval through goals from Dixie Deans and Jimmy Johnstone, Jock Stein took the opportunity to hand Jackie McNamara a first-team debut. Jinky would add a third early in the second half as the Bhoys cruised through to the next round of the European Cup in third gear.
Hood would sit out the first part of the home double-header with Ian St John’s Motherwell, late goals from Deans and Paul Wilson securing a 2-0 League win, but he would then replace Wilson from the bench as John Goldthorpe’s first-half goal levelled the League Cup second round aggregate score at 2-2. With 20 minutes to play, Harry was brought down for a penalty, Motherwell keeper Keith MacRae saving George Connelly’s spot kick to take the tie to a third match, as Dundee had done at the quarter-final stage the previous season.
Saturday, 13 October 1973 would be a strange day in the career of Harry Hood at Celtic Park. As rumours abounded of his inclusion in a transfer package proposed to Dundee to secure the signing of striker John Duncan, Hood would turn in a man-of-the-match display at Dens Park against his suggested new employers, setting up the only goal of the game for Tom Callaghan in the third minute.
In the Dundee ranks, Harry’s old teammate Tommy Gemmell rolled back the years with an excellent performance in central defence, the Lisbon Lion now skipper at Dens Park following his move from Nottingham Forest via Miami Toros three months earlier. I recall that game well, for the strangest of reasons. We were standing at the Provost Road end of the ground and had to endure the constant rants of a fellow supporter for the 85 minutes which he managed to witness. Problem was, he had arrived after TC’s goal had been scored at the far end and having had one or two sherberts he only discovered that Celtic had actually won the match rather than drawn after letting rip with his final volley of insults at the full-time whistle! I suspect my memory of that afternoon will be better than his.
It was back to Celtic Park the following weekend for one of my favourite fixtures of that era, the Battle of the Greens with Hibernian. Jock Stein named the following team as he sought to keep the pressure on League-leaders Hearts, ahead of the imminent visit to Tynecastle.
Ally Hunter; Danny McGrain & Jim Brogan; Steve Murray, Billy McNeill & George Connelly; Harry Hood, Kenny Dalglish, Bobby Lennox, Davie Hay & Tom Callaghan.
Substitutes; Dixie Deans & Pat McCluskey.
The two teams served up a feast of football for the 34,000 supporters who braved a constant downpour. Celts suffered a blow just before the interval as skipper Billy McNeill was helped from the pitch following an accidental collision with goalkeeper Ally Hunter. Stein would bring Pat McCluskey on to play in midfield, with David Hay going back to partner his good friend George Connelly in central defence. When the breakthrough came on the hour it would go the way of the visitors, and in controversial fashion. Arthur Duncan looked to all the world offside as he received the ball on the main stand side, however, as the home players stopped in anticipation of a flag which would not come, the lightning-fast winger made ground before picking out Alan Gordon with a perfect pass, the blond striker adding yet another to his collection of goals scored against Celtic to put Hibernian one up.
With 20 minutes remaining, the Hoops finally fashioned an equaliser, Kenny Dalglish’s sublime chipped pass finding Pat McCluskey charging into the Hibs penalty box. The substitute’s finish was unerring, the net bulging behind Jim McArthur as another crucial point was added to the Celtic tally.
McCluskey would remain in the team in the skipper’s continued absence for the midweek European tie at home to Danish champions Vejle, Jimmy Johnstone given a rare opportunity to lead out the side after a decade in the Hoops. The Danes had caused the major sensation of the first round by holding French champions Nantes 2-2 at home before following in the footsteps of giants by winning in the Stade Marcel Saupin, thanks to a second-half strike from Knud Norregaard.
On one of the most frustrating European nights that I can recall, they very nearly added a win in Glasgow to that record, only Ally Hunter’s legs preventing Jorgen Markussen from giving Vejle an early lead. As Celtic toiled to break down the amateurs’ defence, Jock Stein changed his formation several times then eventually his personnel, Paul Wilson replacing Harry Hood on the hour, however, a combination of bad luck, poor finishing and great goalkeeping would see the players leave the field to a chorus of derision after a disappointing goalless draw, all to play for now in the Jutland return in a fortnight’s time.
The performance against Vejle had hardly been the ideal preparation for the top of the table clash with Hearts at Tynecastle three days later, the critics piling the pressure on with the usual nonsense regarding burst bubbles etc. This is another of those matches which I can recall, albeit unlike midweek, for all the right reasons. Teenage Highlander Roddie MacDonald was given a League debut, thrown in at the proverbial deep end by Jock Stein as Billy McNeill again missed out following that accidental clash against Hibernian. MacDonald had been a promising striker at Brora Rangers under former Celt, Sammy Wilson.
The Hampden in the Sun goal hero had then converted him to a central defender, before recommending the player to his old Parkhead skipper Stein. After one League Cup tie at Arbroath, he would now face a different test entirely against a Hearts attack which included former Airdrieonians striker Drew Busby, perennial scorer Donald Ford and the in-form ex-Celtic winger Rab Prentice.
When the going gets tough, well, you know the rest. Written off in so many quarters, and minus their inspirational skipper, Celtic came out of the blocks like the champions they are against the would-be contenders. George Connelly beat Hearts keeper Kenny Garland with a long-range rocket within seven minutes to open the scoring, Kenny Dalglish adding a double to finish the match as a contest before the interval. Ford would get his goal in the second half, however, the points were never in doubt, Celtic reclaiming leadership of the League table by a solitary goal, whilst still having that postponed Morton game in hand. It was a huge result.
There was no time to reflect on that win as Celtic faced the possibility of two League Cup ties in three days that midweek. Monday, 29 October 1973 saw Motherwell return to Celtic Park for the third time that month, Billy McNeill having guessed the coin toss correctly as he had in Lisbon four years earlier, albeit this time only home advantage was at stake. The Hoops legend would once again be missing through injury for the second-round play-off, MacDonald again given the nod, if you pardon the pun. Another exciting clash would go right to the wire, Jimmy Johnstone grabbing the fifth and winning goal with just 15 seconds remaining, Motherwell’s defenders protesting furiously that the winger was offside. The visitors had twice recovered from a goal down following strikes either side of the interval by Steve Murray and Dixie Deans before Jinky’s last-gasp finish set up a quarter-final clash with Aberdeen.
The first leg would take place at Celtic Park just 48 hours after the victory over Motherwell. Back into the side came Billy McNeill, Harry Hood and Davie Hay, with Roddie MacDonald, Jimmy Johnstone and Tom Callaghan dropping out. Celts were rocked when Drew Jarvie gave the Dons the lead in the third minute, however, a quickfire double from Kenny Dalglish had the Hoops back in front within the opening quarter, a lead they held until the break. Jarvie would complete his double 10 minutes into the second half, however, within seconds, Pat McCluskey would again come to Celtic’s rescue, as he had done against Hibernian, this time cracking home a wonderful drive from outside the box which flew past Bobby Clark for 3-2.
The series of six games in 14 days continued with a 4-2 victory over East Fife at Celtic Park on Saturday, 3 November 1973. The scoreline is slightly misleading, the Hoops four goals clear before easing off in the final 10 minutes and paying the price as the Methil outfit grabbed two consolation strikes. The match was finished as a contest in the opening quarter, by which time Dixie Deans and Kenny Dalglish had continued their deadly partnership by putting Celtic 2-0 up. Deans would grab his second and Celts third with 20 minutes remaining, allowing Jock Stein to replace Dalglish and Jim Brogan with Tom Callaghan and Andy Lynch. The former Hearts winger’s first contribution was to set up Harry Hood for Celtic’s fourth goal, before the late rally from the Fifers put a slightly different complexion on the final score.
On the Monday, the Celtic party travelled to eastern Jutland for the return European tie with Vejle the following night. There was a huge scare within 14 seconds of the kick-off when a George Connelly error allowed Jorgen Markussen in to score for the hosts, only for the Swedish referee to rule it out for offside. Jock Stein had shuffled his team again, bringing back Bobby Lennox and Davie Hay whilst Jimmy Johnstone and Harry Hood dropped to the bench. Yet again his selection would appear to be vindicated, midfield powerhouse Hay having a goal harshly disallowed for offside before the veteran hitman Lennox pounced on a mistake in the Danish defence to score what would prove to be the only goal of the tie.
Whilst Celtic had been anything but convincing over the two legs, in cup football only one thing matters, qualification, and a place in the quarter final of European competition had been secured for the seventh time in the nine seasons under Stein. Other contemporary giants had not been so fortunate. Last season’s beaten finalists Juventus had been eliminated by the East German champions Dynamo Dresden in the opening round, and they would now be joined on the sidelines by holders and three-time winners Ajax, extra-time losers to CSKA in Sofia. Ujpest Dosza, Celtic’s conquerors from 12 months earlier, knocked out the great Eusebio and Benfica in Budapest, whilst Liverpool suffered home and away defeats to Red Star Belgrade.
Next up was a tricky trip down to Somerset Park four days later, to face an Ayr United side which featured future Celt Joe Filippi in defence and former Ibrox pair Alex Ferguson and George McLean up front. Both veteran strikers had been made scapegoats for cup defeats at Rangers, McLean following their shock Scottish Cup exit at Berwick in 1967 and Ferguson for his part in the 4-0 humiliation by Celtic in the final two years later. Celtic’s first three scorers at Hampden that day lined up in the Hoops, Billy McNeill, Bobby Lennox and George Connelly, whilst Tom Callaghan came into midfield in place of the injured Davie Hay. The match was settled by a controversial Kenny Dalglish goal four minutes before the interval, the home defenders claiming in vain for offside as the Scotland striker skilfully controlled a Dixie Deans head flick to beat Ally McLean in the Ayr goal.
The next week would prove to be one of the more bizarre periods of this or any other season. Harry Hood was one of several players not involved in midweek international duty who played against Highland League outfit Inverness Thistle on the Monday, Hood impressing enough to return to the first team for the Saturday visit of Partick Thistle.
Davie Hay would have been involved in the SFA’s Centenary match against West Germany at Hampden, a game I attended, however, the transfer speculation surrounding one of Celtic’s prized assets had reached fever pitch, Tommy Docherty at Manchester United, Don Revie across the Pennines at Leeds and Bill Nicholson at Tottenham Hotspur all vying for his signature. George Connelly did play at Hampden, however, he then failed to appear for training at Celtic Park on the Friday, sadly not for the first or last time. And finally, Jimmy Johnstone would again be missing, rumours of problems behind the scenes refusing to go away, despite his absence being attributed to a mystery illness. As with the build-up to the vital fixture at Tynecastle the previous month, and combined with a couple of poor displays, it did little to inspire confidence within the support.
So, of course, on Saturday, 17 November 1973, this cobbled-together team wearing the Hoops would go out and destroy a strong Partick Thistle line-up by 7-0, Dixie Deans the star of the show with a Scottish post-war scoring record of six goals, four of those set up by Harry Hood, who hadn’t featured for a fortnight! Deans, in turn, laid on a goal for Bobby Lennox, as the great McGrory looked on from the stand.
In that same arena some 45 years earlier, Jimmy had managed the all-time record, netting eight of Celtic’s nine goals against Dunfermline Athletic. He would admit later to believing that record would go, as Deans actually contrived to pass up several other opportunities. A number of players had scored five in one game, Lennox himself and Stevie Chalmers incredibly doing it in the same match – a 10-0 victory over Hamilton Academical – whilst Neil Mochan and Bertie Auld had both managed it in different games at the same ground, Broomfield against Airdrieonians, however, Deans would add the post-war scoring record to his Scottish Cup final hat-trick the previous year.
As an aside, that Thistle team included no fewer than four players who would later play for Celtic, Alan Rough, Ronnie Glavin, Johnny Gibson and Joe Craig, whilst on the left-wing was Bobby Houston, a huge Hoops supporter and lovely man I would have the pleasure of getting to know many years later, being the brother of my friend and neighbour.
Davie Hay and George Connelly would still be missing for the midweek trip to Pittodrie, as Celts defended their 3-2 lead in the League Cup quarter-final, however, Jimmy Johnstone was listed on the bench. The worsening situation in the country had led to the declaration of a state of emergency, with an afternoon kick-off to avoid the use of floodlighting during the ongoing fuel shortages. Six-shooter Dixie Deans would experience the fluctuating fortunes of football as he hobbled from the pitch injured after just 20 minutes, Johnstone returning to the fold, as a disciplined performance saw Celts achieve a goalless draw and a place in the last four of the competition for the 10th successive year.
League duty continued on the road three days later, Saturday, 24 November 1973, with a visit to Boghead to face Dumbarton, their ex-Celts John Cushley and Willie Wallace in the usual places, whilst a young Colin McAdam was on the bench. On a muddy surface, the power of Pat McCluskey and the finesse of Kenny Dalglish would prove the difference. Dalglish opened the scoring in the 10th minute after good work from Tom Callaghan, and a similar period had elapsed in the second half when the King was barged in the box by Sons defender Denis Ruddy, Bobby Lennox making his usual expert job of the conversion to end the scoring at 2-0.
December 1973 brought heavy snowfall to most parts of Scotland, Celtic’s match at Arbroath the only top-flight fixture to survive on the first day of the month. Kenny Dalglish was again the main man, beating his former teammate Gordon Marshall with some style to set the Hoops on their way within the opening five minutes. The Bhoys enjoyed the vast majority of possession, however, with 15 minutes to play, they were made to pay for their failure to add a second goal, Eric Sellars running in to meet Andy Penman’s free-kick and beat Ally Hunter.
In danger of dropping a vital point, or worse, the champions were rescued in the closing minutes as Paul Wilson combined well with Jimmy Johnstone before firing past Marshall for 2-0, sending the Hoops five points clear of Hearts at the top of the table.
In midweek, Hampden was the venue for the first national semi-final meeting of Celtic and Rangers in my lifetime, a place in the League Cup final against Dundee at stake. Jock Stein had played his cards close to his chest and when the line-up was announced there was a return for Davie Hay for the first time in a month, fellow ‘bad Bhoys’ George Connelly and Jimmy Johnstone making up the substitutes’ bench. Dixie Deans was again missing with a back injury, Paul Wilson retaining his place and leading the line as the Celtic manager went with the following team on Wednesday, 5 December 1973.
Ally Hunter; Danny McGrain & Jim Brogan; Steve Murray, Billy McNeill & Pat McCluskey;
Harry Hood, Davie Hay, Paul Wilson, Tom Callaghan & Kenny Dalglish.
Substitutes; George Connelly & Jimmy Johnstone.
The match would prove to be a personal triumph in the long and wonderful career of Harry Hood, who ironically had been linked with a move to Dundee just weeks earlier. He would add another goal against Rangers to his collection as he gave Celts the lead 10 minutes before the break, perfectly positioned to head past Peter McCloy after Kenny Dalglish had seen his first attempt blocked by Willie Mathieson on the line. That scourge of Celtic, Alex MacDonald, would level things before the break when his cross-shot deceived Ally Hunter, like the Czech goal at the same venue perhaps not one that the Celtic keeper would enjoy watching again.
The Harry Hood Show would come to life in the second half, as the Hoops battled against the elements to destroy Rangers and win through to a 10th consecutive League Cup final. In 55 minutes, his striker’s instinct again put in the right position to beat McCloy following Billy McNeill’s back post header, and with 17 minutes remaining, he strode on to a sublime Dalglish pass to complete his hat-trick. Seconds later, Harry would hit another marvellous effort past the Rangers keeper, only for referee Alistair McKenzie to incredibly rule it out for offside, a call which angers me to this day. Thus, Harry Hood was cruelly deprived of the honour of being the only Celt ever to score four goals in this fixture.
He would join a select band.
Tom Maley had achieved it in Celtic’s first-ever match, back in May 1888, whilst the Mighty Jimmy Quinn would manage it twice, once in a Scottish Cup final.
The McPhail brothers would both do it in Hampden finals in the 1950s, John in front of Danny Kaye and Billy as Seven Passed Niven in the October sun.
And Harry’s teammates had also got in on the act, Stevie Chalmers bringing in the New Year with a Treble in the foggy dew of Paradise in 1966, whilst his partner-in-crime Bobby Lennox would match that feat at Ibrox in the summer of that year, as the Quintuple got underway.
If one record was stolen from Harry with the disallowed fourth, then happily one will remain with him forever. In the four decades which followed before the liquidation of the Ibrox club in 2012, no Celtic player would manage to repeat Harry’s hat-trick.
Not Dixie or Kenny in the seventies.
Not Charlie, either of the Franks or the other marvellous strikers of a decade later.
Or any of the Three Amigos who briefly graced Paradise as the 20th century drew to a close.
Not even the Terrible Trio who made Celts the dominant force in the new Millennium under Martin O’Neill, The King of Kings Henrik, the Evil Genius Sutton or Big Bad John.
No, that record is one for the Hood family to treasure for all time.
Thanks, as always, to the wonderful Celtic Wiki.
Follow Matt on Twitter @Boola_vogue