Jim Craig – Celtic return from America to face Hearts in the St Mungo Cup

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The spring and summer of 1951 were very busy and successful times for Celtic Football Club.

On 21 April, for instance, at Hampden, before a crowd of 131,943, they beat Motherwell to win the Scottish Cup for the 16th time, the only goal coming in the 14th minute, when centre-forward John McPhail beat two Motherwell defenders before lofting the ball over the goalkeeper.

Just over two weeks later, a touring party of 16 players, three directors, manager Jimmy McGrory and trainer/physio Alec Dowdalls left Central Station in Glasgow for Southampton, from where the Queen Mary took them across the Atlantic to New York and their headquarters in the Paramount Hotel.

It was a successful tour. Nine matches were played, of which seven were won, one drawn and one lost. The games were not only against local opposition; Fulham and Eintracht Frankfurt were also on the list.

The group arrived back in Glasgow on 29 June.

Pre-season training started in the middle of July for a very special reason. As their contribution to the Festival of Britain, Glasgow Corporation and the SFA jointly set up a special trophy, the St Mungo Cup, which would be competed for by all the 16 first division clubs just before the start of the 1951/52 season.

On this day in 1951, 51,000 fans turned up at Celtic Park to see the Hoops take on Hearts in a first round tie. The Edinburgh side had finished fourth in the league compared to Celtic’s 7th place, so it would not be an easy afternoon for the home side.

However, a goal a-piece from John McPhail and Jimmy Walsh to one for Hearts put Celtic into round two, where they would face Clyde.

Many Happy Returns to Dunky McKay, born on this day in 1937. Dunky now lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Jim Craig

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