Jim Craig’s 7am start: The Coronation Cup Final

On this evening, in 1953, a crowd of 117,060 had come to Hampden for the final of the Coronation Cup when Celtic would take on Hibs.

It was an eagerly anticipated match – both by press and public – and eventually the gates to the ground had to be closed prior to kick-off because of dangerous overcrowding at the Celtic end.

Heavy rain had fallen on the Hampden pitch the day before the match, making conditions well-nigh perfect on the night. Hibs were at full strength and favourites for the trophy. Their forward line was well-known as the ‘Famous Five’ and more than compensated for an uncertain defence. Celtic were without Charlie Tully, injured in the last minute of the semi-final and drafted in Willie Fernie as his replacement.

The Celtic side that night was Bonnar, Haughney, Rollo, Evans, Stein, McPhail, Collins, Walsh, Mochan, Peacock, Fernie and the Hoops dominated the first half.

They only had one goal to show for all their efforts and a very special one it was, Neilly Mochan firing a superb effort into the net from all of 30 yards.

The second half belonged to Hibs, as they stormed Celtic’s goal looking for the equaliser but John Bonnar, in the Celtic goal, chose that night to have one of the best games of his career, making a string of wonderful saves, some bordering on the miraculous.

Then, near the end, when Hibs were taking a breather before a final push, Celtic got a second through Jimmy Walsh in a quick breakaway.

It was a fine 2-0 victory and from that evening, the Coronation Cup has had a special place in the Celtic Park Boardroom.

Jim Craig

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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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