Listening to the dramatic events being described on the radio from Dens Park on 3 May 1986

On 3 May 1986 Celtic made their way to Love Street Paisley needing a good few goals AND huge favour from Dundee to have any chance of winning the Scottish League title.

The previous 6 weeks of football had witnessed a turnaround in fortune for Celtic in the league. Having won the previous 7 matches, Celtic had closed the gap on Hearts to ensure that the championship would be decided on the final day of the season.

After an indifferent run of results between 8 February and 22 April where Celtic drew 4 leagues matches in a row all played in Glasgow, so to still be in contention for the title was an achievement in itself.

The league leaders Hearts were on course for their first Championship since 1960 and had put together a strong run of results not losing a single match in the league between 5 October 1985 and 26 April 1986 – avoid defeat in the final match of the season and the title would be theirs.

Fans of both clubs travelled in numbers hoping to see their club secure the championship. Hearts fans made their way to Dens Park and Celtic fans travelled to Paisley to watch the final 90 minutes of the league season.

For me, it was another Saturday at home with my dad & sister Helen listening to the match on the radio. We would crowd round the radio to hear what was going on across the grounds and I would make up the pictures in my mind, but I don’t think even the most creative mind could envisaged the events that would unfold that afternoon.

My older brother Benny was also there, normally he would be travelling the length and breadth of Scotland to watch Celtic, but for some reason he stayed at home that day.

With the rain pouring down in Paisley the match got underway and Celtic went into attack to look for the goals they needed. After only 6 minutes the commentary team broke the news that Celtic had scored thanks to a header from Brian McClair. The goal was met with cheers from us listening to the radio.

It would be another 25 minutes before any more goal updates came from Paisley, first we heard Mo Johnston had made it 2-0 to Celtic, this was quickly followed by a second for Johnston and it was 3-0 to Celtic after 35 minutes.

The pundits described the third goal as a free flowing passing move by Celtic, moving the ball quickly from defence to attack, one of the goals of the season. A fourth goal was added after 38 minutes from Paul McStay, Celtic had done all that they could to score the goals to ensure the win that they needed.

At half time Celtic were winning 4-0 and Hearts were drawing 0-0 with Dundee.

The destiny of the 1986 championship was still in the hands of the Hearts players. The announcer at Dens Park urged Hearts fans not to invade the pitch at full time when they had won the league. It looked like everyone in Scotland had agreed the outcome was settled.

Early in the second half Celtic added a fifth goal through Brian McClair, but Hearts were still in control.

By now it made no difference if you were at the Celtic match, at home or in a bar, Celtic fans were now fully focussed on the events being described on the radio from Dens Park Dundee.

With our radio at full blast and my dad pacing up and down the house, we finally heard the news we were waiting for:

“A high in-curling ball, its headed down by Brown IT’S IN THE NET AND A GOAL, A GOAL THERE BY ALBERT KIDD……The unthinkable has happened….with 7 minutes left for play, its Dundee 1 Heart of Midlothian Nil”

The 4 of us listening at home cheered and celebrated the news of the goal for Dundee in delight mixed with utter disbelief.

Minutes later more news came from Dundee:

“Its all happening here, Dundee coming forward again, they’ve got a new lease of life……moving the ball inside…….gets a return and IT’S GOAL NUMBER 2, ALBERT KIDD AGAIN!”

The news started more celebrations at home and with Celtic fans listening across the country.

The final whistle sounded at both grounds and Celtic were champions of Scotland for the first time since 1982.

The following day I went to Celtic Park with my Dad & Brother-in-law as Celtic hosted an open day at the stadium where fans came to meet the new champions.

This was my first memory of Celtic winning the league title and watching what it meant to my family and so many people will always be one of my great Celtic moments.

Martin Donaldson

TELL US YOUR stories from Love Street, Paisley from May 1986? If you were at the game, what was it like? If you weren’t there how did you find out we had won the league. Simply email your memories of the day to and we’ll compile the replies into a feature and post on the site.

Or if you would like to write for The Celtic Star on any other Celtic related subject please send an email to and we will get right back to you.



My extra special memories from our wonderful Centenary season

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds 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

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