“Oh Harry, Harry…Oh Harry Hood”: Part 17: Hibs at Hampden Part 2 ends in tears for Celtic
The hangover from Budapest was blown away with the Motherwell players as Celts unleashed their frustration to hit the Steelmen with everything on the muddy Fir Park pitch on Saturday, 11 November 1972. Harry Hood and Dixie Deans were recalled to the starting line-up, the former taking full advantage with a double before the break, his first after only seven minutes, having had a shot cleared off the line within 90 seconds of the kick-off.
Harry’s second goal arrived just before the interval, Motherwell keeper Keith McRae doing well to stop a Deans thunderbolt only to look on in despair as the ever-alert Hood knocked the loose ball home.
Kenny Dalglish was also in sparkling form, on an afternoon when Celtic did not have a failure. The King struck twice either side of the break from 20 yards, a fifth goal for the Hoops with 20 minutes remaining a bit harsh on Harry Hood, whose shot was deflected over McRae by the outstretched leg of Willie McCallum, the defender discredited with an own goal. I would certainly have been claiming that as my hat-trick goal, a second of the season in Harry’s case. Speaking of me, this is a game I remember well as we were captured in the Celtic View, which my dad had ordered faithfully every Wednesday since it commenced in August 1965.
We had front row seats in the main stand, looking along the six-yard box which Celtic attacked in the first half, Dad with his favourite navy waterproof jacket and Yours Truly with the ‘tammy’ he had worn with pride in Lisbon. It was nice to see those photos again in the Celtic Wiki, myself jumping up as Harry follows the ball into the net, then strangely restrained as Jinky just fails to connect with a diving header. I obviously knew he was missing it. Celts certainly didn’t miss much that day, running out convincing 5-0 winners as the Euro recovery started with a bang.
Celts had won that match minus three injured stars in captain Billy McNeill, Bobby Murdoch and Lou Macari, the trio still missing as was George Connelly as Hearts arrived at Celtic Park seven days later for what would prove another classic encounter.
Exploiting his squad resources to the full, Jock Stein selected the following team.
Evan Williams; Danny McGrain & Jimmy Quinn; Pat McCluskey, Davie Hay & Jim Brogan;
Jimmy Johnstone, Dixie Deans, Kenny Dalglish, Harry Hood & Tom Callaghan.
Substitute; Bobby Lennox.
The Tynecastle men would start well in their new Ajax-style kit, regular nuisance Donald Ford scoring in the opening quarter after both Jimmy Johnstone and Harry Hood had tested the woodwork. The immaculate Kenny Dalglish would then beat his namesake Garland in the Hearts goal with another superb strike to level things at 1-1 just before the break. Ford again gave the Gorgie side the lead within minutes of the restart with the Hoops defence claiming offside, and there was controversy too as Dixie Deans scored a second equaliser with 25 minutes remaining, the visitors protesting furiously that Dalglish had been ahead of the last defender in the build-up to the goal. Celtic’s star men on the afternoon then won the match.
Hood laid on a third goal for Johnstone on 73 minutes, the winger repaying the compliment with seven minutes remaining, allowing Harry to beat the track-suited Garland and complete the scoring at 4-2, sending the majority of the 28,000 supporters home happy. They would be happier still as news came through of Hibernian’s surprise 2-1 defeat at home to Rangers, the lead at the top for Celtic now extended to four points over their Edinburgh rivals and the runners-up from the previous two seasons, Aberdeen.
The play-off to decide the fourth semi-final slot in the League Cup took place at Hampden, two nights later, Monday, 20 November 1972. I was one of the 36,500 crowd inside the national stadium to watch Celts face Dundee for the fourth time in two months, unusually standing in that schoolboy enclosure in front of the main South Stand. That would allow me a close-up view of the action, and there was plenty of it, particularly in an incredible first half.
The Dark Blues started brightly against a Celtic side which welcomed back George Connelly, driven on by their fine attacking trio of Gordon Wallace, John Duncan and Jocky Scott. Within 15 minutes, each had threatened the Celtic goal, Wallace hitting the bar before Scott conjured up his second goal of the tie to give Dundee the lead. Celtic’s response when it arrived was simply devastating, the Hoops scoring with four headers before the interval, three of those in a six-minute spell which finished the match at 4-1. Harry Hood was again on target to level things before the half-hour, nodding home at the far post following a corner.
Dixie Deans and Kenny Dalglish then took turns at crossing for each other to head home, before a superb move the length of the pitch culminated in Deans arriving perfectly to dispatch Hood’s sublime cross past Thomson Allan. Perhaps not surprisingly, the second period struggled to match the first, the key moment seeing Harry denied his second goal of the night by the crossbar. It was a performance that even to my 11-year-old eyes was clearly something special to behold.
The last Saturday of November saw Celts travel to Brockville, Denis Connaghan replacing Evan Williams between the sticks and Bobby Lennox stepping in for Jimmy Johnstone, with Harry Hood moving wide right. The Terrible Twins Dalglish and Deans would share three goals, Kenny striking twice before the break after Tom McLeod had given Falkirk the lead midway through the first half. Hood would then repeat his Hampden feat by teeing up Deans for a header five minutes into the second period.
Eight months earlier, Danny McGrain had suffered a fractured skull at Brockville, and sadly this afternoon would see another full-back badly injured, Jim Shirra stretchered off with a fractured leg after a collision involving Deans. McLeod would give the Bairns some hope of a comeback, completing his own double in the final stages but Celts held out for the two points as the match ended 3-2.
Two nights later, Celtic ended November as they had ended October, with another 3-2 victory over Aberdeen, their third such success this season after three years without a win over the Dons. Just under 40,000 supporters braved Hampden on the horrendous evening of Monday, 27 November 1972, for the League Cup semi-final between Scotland’s top sides of the decade to date. Joe Harper scored his customary goal against the Hoops as the recent trend of going behind then fighting back continued unabated.
Harry Hood equalised from the spot within three minutes after Kenny Dalglish had been brought down in the box, however, with 17 minutes remaining, a Davie Robb header threatened to end Celtic’s run of League Cup final appearances which stretched back eight years. Yet again, the champions found an immediate response, Jimmy Johnstone equalising before the goal of the night from Tom Callaghan, the big Fifer rifling the ball past Bobby Clark in the 80th minute to send the Hoops into the final.
Saturday, 2 December was a red-letter day for the good folk of Dumbarton as Celtic paid a first competitive visit to Boghead for half a century. The Sons of the Rock included former Celts John Cushley and Willie Wallace plus future Parkhead signing Tom McAdam in their line-up but it was current Hoops star Harry Hood who would get the party started with a blistering free-kick after four minutes which screamed past Laurie Williams in the home goal.
It would also be a special afternoon for Pat McCluskey, Hood setting up the young wing-half for his first goal for the club on 15 minutes, Jimmy Johnstone adding a third midway through the first half as the match threatened to become a rout.
Pat obviously enjoyed the feeling, scoring again 10 minutes before the break then competing an unlikely hat-trick with Celtic’s sixth goal 12 minutes from time. The unfortunate Cushley had deflected a Hood shot past Williams a few minutes earlier to make it 5-0, however, the last word would go to a Lisbon Lion, Wallace getting Dumbarton on the scoresheet with six minutes remaining as the Hoops won 6-1.
Next up for Celts was the League Cup final at Hampden, seven days later, a rematch of the memorable Scottish Cup final with Eddie Turnbull’s Hibernian played back in May. The Bhoys had been in incredible form that afternoon, goals from Billy McNeill, a double from Lou Macari and a hat-trick from Dixie Deans equalling a record 6-1 scoreline which had stood since before the Bould Bhoys had first kicked a ball in the spring of 1888. Whilst the aforementioned three men had grabbed the headlines, the engine room of the team had been Bobby Murdoch and Tom Callaghan, who had been involved in most of the goals.
Like the clash with Ujpest Dosza the previous month, the contrast between the two cup finals with Hibernian in 1972 could hardly have been starker. Hampden in December was a dark, cold, gloomy alternative to that magical May afternoon, and the attendance of 72,000, whilst decent, was still 30,000 less than that which gathered to see the Double clinched in such spectacular style.
However, the main difference was in the Celtic teams. Of the three cup-winning goalscorers, Deans would miss out whilst McNeill returned from injury and Macari from flu, neither appearing fully fit. Midfield dynamo Murdoch was also injured, whilst his partner Callaghan was fit enough only for a seat on the bench. And to literally add insult to injury, George Connelly had been badly hurt, deliberately as it turns out, by Southampton defender Jim Steele, a guest player in a Jersey select team whom Celts had faced in a rather ill-timed friendly in the Channel Islands five days earlier. Connelly would play at Hampden but like McNeill and Macari, he would be in far from peak condition for such a vital match.
And then there was the kit. May just have been me but I could never take to the v-insert collar, certainly not at that time anyway. This had been the first change in the hooped jersey of my conscious lifetime. The crew-neck top had been worn since 1962. It had witnessed the birth of Stein’s wonderful team. It was the strip of Lisbon. It was THE Celtic jersey, just as Jock Stein was the manager, Cesar was the captain and Celtic were the champions. These were all givens. Somehow, in my 11-year-old mind, the change of strip marked changing times. The fact that it was last worn in earnest in that 1972 Scottish Cup final, the highlight of my Celtic childhood, if anything made that line in the sand even clearer.
Jock Stein named the following team to try and end a run of two losing League Cup finals.
Evan Williams; Danny McGrain & Jim Brogan; Pat McCluskey, Billy McNeill & Davie Hay;
Jimmy Johnstone, George Connelly, Kenny Dalglish, Harry Hood & Lou Macari.
Substitute; Tom Callaghan.
Eddie Turnbull had inherited then built a tremendous side at Easter Road since moving from Aberdeen in the summer of 1971. They would succeed the Dons as Celtic’s main challengers for a few seasons and in any other era, they would most likely have been champions.
On that dark afternoon at Hampden they would enjoy their finest hour, as they matched Stein’s Celts blow for blow before taking the ascendancy in the second half. I didn’t have many favourite players who didn’t earn their living at Parkhead, however, Pat Stanton was one of that select band. As the clock ticked towards the 60-minute mark, he grabbed the final by the scruff of the neck and within six minutes, the trophy was heading to Leith for the first time.
First, he displayed wonderful control to evade several lunges in the Celtic penalty area before rifling the ball high past Evan Williams for the opener, then he glided down the right flank before picking striker Jim O’Rourke out with a perfect cross, his header beating Williams at his near post to put Hibernian 2-0 up. It could have been worse, Williams flapping at a cross ball to allow Alan Gordon the chance to score his second cup final goal against Celtic. Fortunately, the alert Billy McNeill managed to get back onto the goal-line and block Gordon’s shot.
With 13 minutes remaining, Kenny Dalglish, Celtic’s best player on the day, carved out his own piece of magic to bear down towards us in the Celtic End before hammering the ball past Jim Herriot for 2-1. Sadly, just like the previous season’s League Cup final – and any other cup final in which Kenny scored for Celtic – it would be no more than a consolation goal, as the Hoops, having won the trophy five times in succession, now lost a third consecutive final.
Thanks, as always, to the wonderful Celtic Wiki.
Follow Matt on Twitter @Boola_vogue