Putting Them Out Of The Scottish Cup – Quinn Comes Back to Haunt Rangers

Putting Them Out Of The Scottish Cup – Quinn Comes Back to Haunt Rangers…

There could be little doubt about who was the most-talked about man in Scotland in early 1907. Indeed he had been much talked about before 1907 as well. It was none other than Jimmy Quinn, the quiet, almost introverted “bhoy from Croy” who was Scotland’s most famous goal scorer. The “Quinn case” of January 1907 had divided opinion almost as much as the Dreyfus case in France had done ten years earlier. Quinn had been suspended by the SFA for two months after an incident at Ibrox on New Year’s Day.

Basically the case was brought after Quinn had been sent off by referee Mr Kirkham of Burslem, it being the habit to appoint referees from England for this fixture. The referee’s version was that Quinn had kicked Joe Hendry in the face when Hendry was lying on the ground. Quinn’s version was that he ran over to remonstrate with Hendry after the latter had fouled a Celtic colleague (some say Bennett, others McMenemy) and skidded on the wet ground while trying to avoid contact. Hendry was taken off with blood running from his face, and Quinn was then sent off for “violent conduct”. The SFA accepted the referee’s version and Quinn was suspended for two months.

This decision did not meet with any favour whatsoever in the Celtic community, and it did seem draconian especially as there was some doubt about Quinn’s intention. It was probably from here that the perception that the SFA was implacably anti-Celtic originated. This belief has proved difficult to eradicate in some minds over the past 110 years! Quinn, however, now became even more of a legend and hero with concerts being held to raise funds for him and to compensate him for lost earnings.

And then, irony of ironies, the first game that Quinn would be allowed to play in was, of all things, a Scottish Cup tie against Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday, 9 March 1907. The draw could not have been more controversial in its outcome. It was as if fate was going to give Quinn another chance, when the SFA wouldn’t.

There were other issues as well, notably whether Celtic could become the first team to do the “Double” and win the Scottish League and the Scottish Cup in the same season. In spite of being without “Jimmie” “Jeemie” or “Jamie” (everyone knew who you meant!) the team had made progress towards the Scottish League, although in the Scottish Cup, they clearly missed Quinn and took an unconscionable time to get the better of Morton until another two Jimmies, McMenemy and Hay did the job at the third attempt. But the mighty man would return for Ibrox.

The crowd at Ibrox was given as 65,000 – it was probably a lot more than that – and that was no surprise for the game had caught the attention of the Scottish public almost as much as the annual “International” (between Scotland and England) usually did, and much was the talk in Glasgow of what Quinn was going to do to Rangers to get his revenge.

Quinn was probably embarrassed by all this. Although the Celtic support and indeed most of the Scottish footballing public endowed Jimmy with some sort of supernatural power, Jimmy himself knew that he was simply a miner boy who got on the train from Croy every morning with a suitcase containing his football boots, wearing a gaberdine overcoat and a bonnet. He travelled to Glasgow for training at Parkhead, and then back home again in the afternoon. The fact that he could score goals did not alter that. Yet nevertheless, he was burning with desire to get back at Rangers for what he saw as their part in getting him suspended. In 1905 in a similar situation, a letter from Rangers’ Alec Craig, a decent man, had attempted to exonerate Quinn to a certain extent; no such letter had been sent by Joe Hendry.

But Quinn also knew the best way to get his revenge. So too did Willie Maley. At a pre-game meeting, a plan was formulated. Rangers, in fact, were afraid of Jimmy Quinn. They had vivid and painful memories of the Glasgow Exhibition Cup final of 1902 and the Scottish Cup final of 1904. They would therefore mark him closely. (In the event, three defenders shadowed him constantly). Quinn was therefore encouraged to run about in every direction, while all the time ignoring provocation which would definitely be offered. In this way he could pull the Rangers defence all over the place and allow loads of space and opportunities for the other attackers to do the business.

The plan could not have worked better. Ibrox, much changed and renovated since the disaster of 1902, presented an astonishing sight. It had never housed such a crowd (International matches had been given to Celtic Park and Hampden since 1902) and green and blue rosettes were seen in the crowd, but everyone in good humour and prepared to stand beside each other. No doubt there was banter between the two sets of supporters about Jimmy Quinn and other players, and maybe the odd remark about “Irishmen” and religion (even the newspapers referred to Celtic as “the Irishmen” although every single player was now Scottish!), but the sectarian edge, which would become so prevalent in the 1920s, was not yet there.

The weather was cold and snow threatened. Prices had been raised for the game, particularly for the Main Stand but that did not seem to deter the supporters who had gathered outside the ground since early morning. The suspension of the Boys Gate was explained away as an attempt to dissuade youngsters from attending on the grounds of their personal safety, but that fooled no-one. It was all about making more money!

By 3.00 pm Ibrox was well filled for the 4.00 pm kick-off and the players came out to find a “cheering, shouting, singing crowd” awaiting them. A considerable portion of the crowd had got in for nothing, when an exit gate had been burst open “either by accident or design”, and mounted police had to be deployed to prevent chaos and injuries.

Other than long term absentee Willie Loney, Celtic had no injury problems, and Rangers were at full strength. The referee was another Englishman, a Mr Lewis from Blackburn, and it would be generally agreed that “his control was impeccable”.

The greatest cheer from the green and white sympathisers came whenever Jimmy Quinn touched the ball even in the pre-match warm up. But when the game started, we had the extraordinary spectacle of three defenders marking Quinn, who wandered aimlessly up and down the field with his three shadows, one of them always being Joe Hendry. Taking advantage of one of the holes in the Rangers defence, Peter Somers, the “powder monkey” (a reference to the small boy on board ship who stuffed the ammunition down the inside of the cannon) popped up to score in the first few minutes after good work from McMenemy.

It was soon after that, that Quinn was put to the test. The Dundee Courier talks blandly about a “regrettable accident” but then talks unconvincingly about Hendry “getting his uplifted foot into Quinn’s stomach in the act of clearing”. Celtic supporters saw it differently. For all the world, it looked to them like Hendry deliberately “back heeled” Quinn in the “abdominal area”, let us say. This was Quinn’s acid test. He might have retaliated and earned an even more severe suspension than the one he had just returned from. Instead Jimmy just walked away, earning the plaudits from the Press for doing so. And how nice it was to see that the dirty tactics of the Rangers did not succeed!

Celtic now simply took command. The injury to Quinn had impaired his mobility but Rangers still thought that he had to be marked heavily, and thus Celtic dominated. “Sunny” Jim Young had a great game, as did “Napoleon” McMenemy, and before half-time Celtic were two up. After a bombardment of the Rangers goal, the ball broke to the intelligent Jimmy Hay. Instead of simply lashing the ball back into the goalmouth, the intelligent “Dun”, noticing that goalkeeper Newbigging was off his line, simply “lobbed a drooper” into the net.

Half-time was spent with the Celtic supporters in the crowd in uproar, and halfway through the second half, they scored another, this time a fine well-timed bullet header by Davie Hamilton off an Alec Bennett cross. Jimmy Quinn himself also scored but the goal was chalked off, but in truth the 3-0 score line was a very satisfactory one for Celtic, who had now clearly proved that they were the best team in Scotland.

The only threat to the game came from snow which fell fairly heavily from about the 70th minute. Some of the crowd departed (“they began to skail” as The Daily Record put it) the Rangers ones wanting the game to be abandoned, a desire perhaps shared by the Directors of both clubs who sniffed more money. But Mr Lewis, a good and strong referee, continued the game until the end, and Celtic now found themselves in the draw for the semi-final alongside Hibs, Hearts and Queen’s Park.

With Quinn now available and Rangers defeated, who was to stop them?

David Potter

Scottish Cup quarter final, Ibrox Stadium, 9 March 1907

Rangers: Newbigging, Campbell and Hendry; Gray, Stark and May; Dickie, Livingstone, Kyle, Spiers and Smith

Celtic: Adams, McLeod and Orr; Young, McNair and Hay: Bennett, McMenemy, Quinn, Somers and Hamilton

Referee Mr J Lewis, Blackburn

Attendance 65,000

Coming soon by David Potter on Celtic Star Books…


About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

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