Scottish Cup Final win completes Celtic Centenary Double Fairytale

May 1988. On Saturday, 7 May, as Celtic celebrated a League title in our Centenary year with a 1-0 victory over Dunfermline at Parkhead, the ‘first European Cup’ finally arrived in Paradise, 74 years after the challenge games between Scottish champions, Celtic and English FA Cup-holders, Burnley, in Budapest then Turf Moor.

The original Budapest Cup had gone missing following the outbreak of the First World War, just after the teams had drawn in Hungary, Celtic winning the replay 2-1 in Lancashire in October 1914.

Three-quarters of a century later, Ferencvaros chairman, Zoltan Magyar, attended the Dunfermline match and presented the Ferencvaros Vase to his Celtic counterpart, Jack McGinn. This beautiful gift still has pride of place in the boardroom to this day, together with a framed photograph of the original trophy, just feet away from its more famous counterpart, the one lifted by Cesar in Lisbon on May 25 1967.

As for the present game, an early Chris Morris goal gave Celtic victory over Leishman’s relegated Pars in front of 45,000 supporters, before the championship trophy was presented to skipper, Roy Aitken. It was a day remembered by many of us present for the banner displayed by the visiting fans, ‘Jim – we’ll be back! P.S. Happy birthday Celtic!’ An unusual but classy touch.

The following Saturday, Billy McNeill would have another chance to write a chapter in the history of the club he often referred to as a ‘fairytale’, as Celtic faced Dundee United in the Scottish Cup Final, chasing a Centenary double.

There were 74,000 packed into Hampden to welcome the teams and British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. United were still seeking their first Scottish Cup, having lost four finals in the previous fourteen years, two of those to Celtic.

However, they struck first, a headline-writer’s dream as Kevin Gallacher, grandson of Hoops legend Patsy, raced away from Roy Aitken to open the scoring early in the second-half.

As the clock ticked away, it looked like a magical season would end in disappointment for those of a Celtic persuasion. ‘But there’s a magic about this club!’ Cesar made two inspired substitutions, replacing Derek Whyte and Andy Walker with the experienced Billy Stark and Mark McGhee.

With fourteen minutes to play, Stark’s pass sent Anton Rogan down the left flank and the full-back’s superb run and cross allowed Frank McAvennie to head an equaliser, United keeper, Hamish McAlpine, distracted by the challenge of McGhee.

Then with extra-time looking inevitable, Joe Miler’s short corner was played into the danger area by Stark, striker McAvennie first to react and fire home, as Hampden erupted in a sea of emotion.

The fairytale club had done it again, a first double in more than a decade, in our Centenary season.

This month saw the arrival of the latest baby who would become part of the Neil Lennon era more than twenty years later, Beram Kayal born in Jadeidi, Israel on 2 May 1988.

First of the batch to arrive that year had been Marc Crosas (Girona, Spain; 9 January), followed by Gary Hooper (Loughton, Essex; 26 January), Efrain Juarez (Mexico City; 22 February) and Fraser Forster (Hexham, Northumberland; St Patrick’s Day).

Dedicated to the memory of Billy McNeill and Stevie Chalmers, Lisbon heroes who brought so much joy to those Celtic supporters of a certain vintage. Rest in peace, Cesar and Stevie.

Hail, hail!

Matt Corr

Catch up with he first two instalments of this three part series. Part 1, covering May 1888 is HERE while Part 2 covering Celtic at 50 in May 1938 (featuring two very interesting videos) is available HERE.

Follow Matt on Twitter @Boola_vogue

Credit to Brendan Sweeney’s excellent book, ‘Celtic, The Early Years’ and to the Celtic Wiki on Kerrydale Street, both invaluable sources of information.

About Author

Having retired from his day job Matt Corr can usually be found working as a Tour Guide at Celtic Park, or if there is a Marathon on anywhere in the world from as far away as Tokyo or New York, Matt will be running for the Celtic Foundation. On a European away-day, he's there writing his Diary for The Celtic Star and he's currently completing his first Celtic book with another two planned.

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