“The Wearing O’ The Green” – how Patsy Gallacher helped Celtic win the league at Somerset Park

IT was the Holiday Weekend of April 1919 and Celtic mopped up four points with Patsy Gallacher scoring a hat-trick against Falkirk and a couple against Airdrie.

But Rangers also won their game on the Holiday Monday, and Celtic’s next game was the following Monday, the Edinburgh Holiday for their visit to Tynecastle.

There had been overnight snow (on 28 April!) and it was still bitterly cold, but 15,000 were there to see a tight game where Celtic, having been in total command, were glad to hear the final whistle. They had scored twice through Jimmy McColl and once through Andy McAtee, but then near the end Andy Wilson who would become a legend for Scotland in a few years’ time scored twice for Hearts, and Celtic were indebted to Shaw, McNair and Dodds for holding out at the end.

This meant that Celtic were now one point ahead of Rangers, and both teams had only one game left on 10 May.

This was exceptionally late for 1919, but it was an exceptional season with Victory Internationals hastily arranged the previous Saturday.

Celtic travelled to Ayr United while Rangers were at Clyde. Celtic only needed to beat Ayr for the Championship. The weather was pleasant and 10,000 were at Somerset Park with the trains from Glasgow all full.

They saw a nervy display by Celtic for the first half hour but then good work from Patsy Gallacher found the unmarked Andy McAtee who shot home from the edge of the penalty box.

The second half was long and painful with news coming through the public address system than Rangers were beating Clyde, but eventually with 10 minutes to go Adam McLean, now playing at centre forward because McColl was injured, took up a pass from McAtee and scored.

The delight of the fans was tangible and obvious with Ayr Station that night seeing great scenes with “The Wearing O’ The Green” mingling incongruously with “Pack Up Your Troubles” and “It’s a Long Way To Tipperary”.

There had been no trouble that day, but the Ayr police were not sorry to see the trains depart, for Ireland was a tense place in 1919, and Celtic fans were aware of it all.

They did now however have something to cheer about, as more and more soldiers came home to renew their acquaintance with Patsy Gallacher, Jimmy McMenemy, Eck McNair and Andy McAtee.

David Potter

Extract from Celtic How the League was Won 49 Times by David Potter, available from The Celtic Star Bookstore.

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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