Jim Craig – Remembering Willie Lyon, Celtic’s Military Cross winning War Hero

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Celtic won the Scottish Cup twice in the early years of the 1930s, both times against Motherwell and both matches at Hampden.

The first victory was in 1931, by 4 goals to 2 after a replay, before a crowd of 98,509; and then again in 1933, this time through a solitary goal by Jimmy McGrory, with 102,339 watching.

The side of that era, though, was more designed for Cup football, with centre-halves like Jimmy McStay, by then well into his 30s and Malcolm McDonald, a very talented all-round player, not comfortable with the new ‘stopper’ role brought in after the change in the offside law in 1925.

In April 1935, Birkenhead born Willie Lyon was brought in from Queen’s Park and soon proved his worth, solidifying the rear-line.

With Lyon as the defensive anchor, Celtic won the league that year of 1935/36, repeated the feat two years later, picked up the Scottish Cup in 1937 against Aberdeen and the Empire Exhibition Trophy in 1938 against Everton.

When war started, Willie Lyon joined the Scots Greys, seeing action in North Africa – where he won the Military Cross – took part in the landings in Sicily and was also involved in the fighting in Normandy, where he received the leg wound which ended his playing career.

On this day in 1962, at Salford in Lancashire, Willie Lyon died at the age of 50.

Jim Craig


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