Said Lizzie to Philip, on 20 May 1953 – Celtic have won my Coronation Cup

Coronation Cup Final – Celtic 2 Hibs 0  – 20 May 1953, Hampden Park (attendance 117,060)….

CELTIC defied all the odds to lift the Coronation Cup on this day in 1953. A crowd of just over 117,000 piled into Hampden to see the Battle of the Greens as both Celtic and Hibs had reached the final, seeing off Rangers and the best that England could muster.

Hibs had a fine side and were the overwhelming favourites with their ‘Famous Five’ forward line tipped to be too hot for Celtic to handle. And Celtic’s chances seemed even more remote when news broke that talisman Charlie Tully, injured in the semi-final, hadn’t made it and would be replaced by Willie Fernie.

The Celtic team was Bonnar, Haughney, Rollo, Evans, Stein, McPhail, Collins, Walsh, Mochan, Peacock and Fernie.

Yet Celtic were the better team in the first half and went in at the interval a little unlucky to be only one goal in front. And what a great goal it was too – a 30 yarder special from Neilly Mochan!

Hibs fought back in the second half but the Celtic keeper John Bonnar was in fine form and denied the Easter Road forwards time after time to keep Celtic ahead.

And as Hibs got increasingly desperate Celtic hit them on the counter and Jimmy Walsh scored a second to make sure that the green and white ribbons on the Coronation Cup would be from the East End of Glasgow and not Leith.

If you have ever done the Tour at Celtic Park you will have seen the Coronation Cup displayed proudly and permanently in the boardroom at Celtic Park.

A delighted Celtic support made sure that the story of our Coronation Cup win would be passed down through the generations through this wonderful song…

Writing in his diary on The Celtic Star Lisbon Lion Jim Craig remembered the Coronation Cup success…

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

Listen to Jim Craig tell the story of Celtic’s Coronation Cup win below…

 

Early memories of great family celebrations as Celtic win the Coronation Cup

I was born into an east end of Glasgow in Shettleston, into a Catholic, Celtic supporting family on 22 February 1947. My earliest Celtic memory was wakening on the morning of 21 May 1953 to great celebration. The previous evening we had won The Coronation Cup maintaining our proud record of being successful in one-off tournaments. The house was still buzzing as was my grandmother’s across the close.

Hugh Cairns

Alec McNair made over 700 appearances for the Hoops, captaining the club for a spell and winning a total of 34 major honours. In that sense he is a bonafide legend, but his role in the record breaking “Holy Trinity” and famous “Icicle” nickname cement his position in Celtic folklore.

A man who endured much trauma in his personal life, was initially rejected by Willie Maley, and worked in an important role during the First World War; McNair’s tale transcends football. The fact that he managed Dundee, immediately after Patsy Gallacher’s iconic goal against The Dark Blues, merely adds to the mystique of the story.

David Potter appeared as a guest on The Celtic History Podcast earlier this week (listen above). Throughout the episode, he discussed his latest publication and bequeathed listeners with some sensational stories about a man who ranks among the finest to ever pass through Parkhead’s gates.

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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