If you know the history – Celtic at birth, 50 & 100, Part 2 – May 1938

May 1938. For most of the month, Celtic were inactive, having clinched a 19th League title at Love Street on Saturday, 23 April, with a 3-1 win over St Mirren.

On the same day, Kilmarnock manager, Jimmy McGrory had led his side out for the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden in front of 80,000 fans for the game with Second Division, East Fife, the sides drawing 1-1.

Incredibly, there was an additional 12,000 on the gate for the midweek replay, as the Methil club became the first second-tier side to win the famous old trophy by winning 4-2 after extra-time (Hibernian would repeat this feat under Alan Stubbs in May 2016).


Kilmarnock had beaten Rangers 4-3 in the Hampden semi-final, whilst East Fife were seeing off Edinburgh-side, St Bernard’s, after a replay. Killie had also knocked Celtic out of the cup at Parkhead in March, as the legendary McGrory took a degree of revenge for his first match in charge after leaving Paradise to take up the reins at Rugby Park in December 1937, a Christmas Day 8-0 hammering by his old club!

Merry Christmas, Jimmy!

Following the final League match of the season, a 3-0 home victory over Hibernian on 30 April, with John Divers, Willie Lyon and Jimmy Delaney on target, champions Celtic finally returned to action on, ironically, 25 May, for the first game of the Empire Exhibition Cup at Ibrox.

English giants, Sunderland, were the opponents, having failed to defend their FA Cup after a semi-final defeat by Huddersfield in Blackburn in March. A Preston North End side featuring seven Scots, including Bill Shankly and future Scotland manager, Andy Beattie, would beat the Yorkshire side in the Wembley side thanks to a penalty converted in the last-minute of extra-time by another one of the tartan colony, George Mutch.

The game between Sunderland and Celtic finished goalless, in front of 55,000, with the Englishmen, driven by Wearside legend, Raich Carter, having the better of things. The following day, only 20,000 were present on a miserable afternoon to watch Celts come back from a goal down to win 3-1, with a Divers double following Johnny Crum’s first-half equaliser. Celts would now face the winner of the Hearts v Brentford tie in the last four on 3 June.

All of the games would take place at Ibrox.

This month saw the arrival in the world of another man who would play his part in the Celtic story. Winger, Bobby Carroll was born in Glasgow on 13 May 1938. He would join Celtic from Ayrshire Juniors side, Irvine Meadow, in September 1957, making his debut in the 2-1 home League Cup defeat by Partick Thistle two years later, as the talented but inconsistent ‘Kelly Kids’ tried in vain to end the trophy famine following ‘Hampden in the Sun.’

Bobby Carroll

Bobby’s claim to fame is that he scored Celtic’s first goal in European football (and the second for that matter), as the Hoops went down 4-2 to Inter-Cities Fairs Cup-holders, Valencia, in the Mestalla, on 26 September 1962.

His reward for doing so?

Dropped for the second-leg, as the sides drew 2-2. He left to join St Mirren just four months later, before moving to Dundee United in 1965. His first game for the Tayside club was a League Cup tie against Celtic at Tannadice, Carroll scoring the opening goal in a 2-1 win, although the Hoops would go on to win the section then the trophy at Hampden in October, thanks to two first-half Yogi penalties, in a game perhaps best remembered for the pitch invasion by Rangers fans, as Celtic did a lap of honour with the cup.

Despite that great start, Bobby’s United career never really took off and he moved to join former Hoops teammate, Bertie Peacock, at Coleraine in 1967, before finishing his career at Queen of the South and Irvine Meadow. Sadly, Bobby passed away three years ago this week, on 11 May 2016, just two days before his 78th birthday. God rest you, Bobby.

Two months before Carroll’s birth, on 23 March 1938, baby Robert Auld was born in Maryhill. Bertie would be the third of the Lions’ squad to make his entrance. The ‘faither’ of the team, Ronnie Simpson, was already a schoolboy, having been born on 11 October 1930. At seven years-old plus, incredibly he was closer to his senior debut than his christening robe, the son of Rangers defender Billy making his debut for Queen’s Park before his fifteenth birthday!

On Boxing Day 1935, Thomas Stephen Chalmers was born in the Garngad, the third Lion to join the fray.

Whilst we lost Ronnie in April 2004, the day after Stan Petrov’s goal at Rugby Park clinched a third and final title for Martin O’Neill, and sadly said goodbye to Stevie, the scorer of the winning goal in Lisbon, just last week, the man known as ‘ten thirty’ is still going strong at 81, a regular in the Jock Stein Lounge on matchdays, as he chats with young and old alike.

Dedicated to the memory of Billy McNeill and Stevie Chalmers, Lisbon heroes who brought so much joy to those Celtic supporters of a certain vintage. Rest in peace, Cesar and Stevie.

Hail, hail!

Matt Corr

Part 3, May 1988 to follow later later today. You can catch up with Part 1, May 1888 HERE.

Follow Matt on Twitter @Boola_vogue

Credit to Brendan Sweeney’s excellent book, ‘Celtic, The Early Years’ and to the Celtic Wiki on Kerrydale Street, both invaluable sources of information.

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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