Willie Maley XI – Celtic’s Greatest Team, 1888-1940

The Willie Maley XI – Celtic’s greatest team covering the period 1888-1940…

Brilliant news announced yesterday that the major annual fundraising event organised by the volunteer Celtic FC Foundation Supporters’ Committee had raised an incredible £23.5k to support the work carried out in our club’s name to support so many fabulous initiatives.

The event took place last Saturday evening in Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, with this year’s chosen theme being the foundation of our club and the half-century or so which followed, with Willie Maley front and centre as the figure who was there during all of that period.

One of the activities lined up was the opportunity for each table to select a ‘Willie Maley XI’ with a range of options for each position having been published exclusively on The Celtic Star in the lead-up to the event and a form available on the night for completion by our guests.

Whilst we still have many supporters living who witnessed Celtic playing in the later years of willie Maley’s tenure, for most of us it will come down to what we have read or heard about these fabulous Celts of yesteryear. Their achievements and exploits with a dash of drama and, in some cases, tragedy thrown in. There is no correct answer, it is entirely personal and subjective.

To ‘match up’ against the ‘greatest-ever Celtic team’ chosen by supporters in 2002, our Willie Maley XI will line up in a similar formation, with a goalkeeper, a back three supported by a defensive pivot or anchor man, two attacking midfielders, and a twin strike force supplied by wingers on either flank. We’re playing football The Glasgow Celtic Way.

I thought you might be interested in hearing some of the selections chosen by our guests, something to get you talking in the lead-up to tomorrow’s match. So, here’s the selection from one of our sponsor tables, FPSG.

Each table was named after a Celtic great from that era, and FPSG were allocated Bobby Hogg, a gent whose son of the same name I have recently had the pleasure of meeting and sharing his memories. Watch this space.

The table setting included a photo and short bio of the player, and here is what we said about Bobby.

Bobby Hogg
Born 19 May 1914 in Larkhall, Lanarkshire

An all-time great, full-back Bobby was a fixture in Willie Maley’s great teams of the 1930s, winning League, Scottish Cup and Empire Exhibition medals in a glorious career.

Here is the team chosen by our friends at FPSG, which has a strong 1930’s feel to it.

John Thomson;
Willie McStay, Jimmy McStay & Willie ‘Peter’ McGonagle;
George Paterson;
Patsy Gallacher & Peter Scarff;
Jimmy Delaney, Jimmy McGrory, Jimmy Quinn & Davie Hamilton.

One of our Committee volunteers, Michael Taggart, is very much part of FPSG, and he also had a table of family members. That was Table 14 and was dedicated to former Celt, Willie Leitch, due to a family connection. Here’s what we said about Willie.

Willie Leitch
Born 14 February 1901 in Saltcoats, Ayrshire

As deputy for perhaps Celtic’s greatest-ever left-winger, Adam McLean, first-team opportunities were rare for Willie, but he packed so much into those he did get, including a Scottish Cup final appearance in 1926.
Having scored at Hampden on his debut, a Charity Cup semi-final win over Queen’s Park, and being awarded a medal for his part in securing that trophy, Willie also netted in his final match for the club.

Here’s Willie’s medal from that Glasgow Charity Cup campaign.

And here’s the team selected by those at the table named in his honour, a real mix of greats from the earlier and latter years of the great man’s reign.

John Thomson;
‘Sunny Jim’ Young, Willie Loney & Jimmy ‘Dun’ Hay;
Malcolm MacDonald;
Patsy Gallacher & Willie Buchan;
Jimmy Delaney, Jimmy McGrory, Jimmy Quinn & Charlie Napier.

So who is in your team?

Hail Hail!

Matt Corr

Follow Matt on Twitter/X @Boola_vogue

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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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