Twice as Good – A first taste of Hampden glory for Harry Hood

A first taste of Hampden glory for Harry Hood…

Saturday, 25 October 1969 was the date of Harry’s first cup final as a Celtic player. The opposition at Hampden for the 1969/70 Scottish League Cup final was Willie Ormond’s St Johnstone, a first-ever major showpiece for the Perth outfit. They had won all six games in a tough section which included Kilmarnock, Dundee and Partick Thistle, before hammering Second Division Falkirk 11-3 on aggregate in the quarter-final. Their last-four opponents at Hampden had been Motherwell, League leaders at that time, Saints comfortably disposing of them by 2-0 to progress to the final.

St Johnstone boasted their own HH at inside-right, Scotland’s top scorer Henry Hall, with 18 goals to his name already, plus talented youngster John Connolly and two former Parkhead youth prospects, Kenny Aird and captain Benny Rooney, the latter the son of Celtic physiotherapist Bob. Already without Bobby Lennox – a scorer in all three of the previous League Cup finals – and the suspended Willie Wallace, Jock Stein made two surprising omissions from his team, as he sought a fifth successive triumph in the competition.

Despite scoring for Scotland on World Cup duty in midweek, Jimmy Johnstone moved to the bench, whilst Tommy Gemmell was dropped completely following his comical but ultimately costly episode of ‘one-man-hunt’ with West Germany’s Helmut Haller in Hamburg. Davie Hay was drafted in at full-back for his first major final. An unhappy Gemmell would subsequently submit a transfer request and this would effectively mark the beginning of the end of his wonderful career at Celtic Park.

Jock Stein and Willie Ormond went with the following team selections, in front of 73,000 spectators.

Celtic: John Fallon; Jim Craig & Davie Hay; Bobby Murdoch, Billy McNeill & Jim Brogan; Tommy Callaghan, Harry Hood, John Hughes, Stevie Chalmers & Bertie Auld.

Substitute; Jimmy Johnstone.

St Johnstone: Jim Donaldson; John Lambie & Willie Coburn; Alex Gordon, Benny Rooney & Ian McPhee; Kenny Aird, Henry Hall, Bill McCarry, John Connolly & Fred Aitken.

Substitute; Gordon Whitelaw.

The final was settled by a goal after just two minutes, Harry nodding a John Hughes cross against the crossbar with Bertie Auld the first to react to knock the ball home, just as he had at the other end of Hampden in that era-defining 1965 Scottish Cup final, a second consecutive League Cup final goal for the much-loved Celt.

The John Hughes disallowed goal.

It should have been 2-0, a John Hughes goal controversially disallowed in the second half for a foul on Jim Donaldson which was obvious only to referee John Paterson of Bothwell. The keeper then inexplicably passed the resulting free-kick straight to Harry, before manhandling him to the ground in his attempts to retrieve the ball and being booked for his troubles. In fairness, only the excellence of John Fallon prevented St Johnstone from registering on the scoresheet, the original ‘Holy Goalie’ in outstanding form for the second successive Hampden cup final.

But the main negative on the day was the injury suffered by Stevie Chalmers in the opening minutes of the second half. He was stretchered off, to be replaced by Jimmy Johnstone, the problem later diagnosed as a hairline fracture of the ankle, which would eventually put Stevie out of action for a calendar year, the second Lisbon Lion to be struck down with a serious injury that month.

Celtic’s Steve Chalmers is removed from the field on a stretcher,

As Billy McNeill, the captain of that immortal team, raised the League Cup aloft for the fifth successive season, Harry waited patiently on the rostrum behind goalkeeper John Fallon and matchwinner Bertie Auld for his first taste of cup-winning glory, doing so as a Celtic player at that. A fairytale moment for anyone with Hoops in their heart.

There would be many more to follow.

Matt Corr

*An extract from Harry Hood – Twice as Good published at the end of this month by Celtic Star Books. All pre-ordered copies will be signed by both Harry’s great friend and former Celtic team-mate Tommy Callaghan and author Matt Corr.

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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