Jim Craig – Celtic defence was “wide open as a barn door”

Towards the end of 1896, Celtic football club was in some disarray. The 15-man committee in charge, under the presidency of John Glass, was having serious discussions about the future of the club.

In November, three players, Barney Battles, Peter Meechan and John Divers, refused to play against Hibs at Parkhead, unless journalists from certain newspapers who had been criticising them were removed from the press box. All three were suspended.

It was hardly the ideal preparation for the first Scottish Cup tie of the season, which took place on this day in 1897. Non-league Arthurlie were the opposition and the game was played on a pitch in Barrhead known locally as ‘The Humph’ as it was anything but level.

Reports of the match suggest that Celtic – who had several players injured plus those three suspended – and a star in Dan Doyle who just failed to turn up at all – started several men short and were 2-down before utility player Barney Crossan turned up and was thrust on to the field, still wearing his everyday trousers!

Arthurlie eventually won 4-2, the Celtic defence, even with James Kelly at centre-half, being described in the press as “wide open as a barn door”.

The day after a Celtic side lost to Inverness Caley Thistle on 8 February in the year 2000, the headline in a tabloid read SUPERCALEYGOBALLISTICCELTICWEREATROCIOUS!

What would they have come up with in 1897, when Celtic fell to a non-league side?

Many Happy returns to Denis Connaghan, born on this day in 1945.

Jim Craig

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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