Willie Maley’s next great Celtic team emerges against a backdrop of war

Charlie and the Bhoys: A step back in time with two unsung Celtic heroes

Part 5: Willie Maley’s next great team emerges against a backdrop of war

Willie Maley and Peter Johnstone

As a horrific war raged across the continent, Will Quinn did have some cause for celebration with his family, at that time living in a tenement flat at 148 Crail Street, Tollcross in Glasgow’s east end. He and Annie’s third daughter Nora Quinn had been born there on 2 October 1914, as had their fifth and final child Michael Quinn, named after Will’s dad, on 6 June 1918.

That period would also see the first of Will’s children tie the knot. On 13 July 1917, William Dalton Quinn – the son of Will and his first wife Kate – married Margaret Fullerton at St Michael’s RC Church in Glasgow. He was two weeks shy of his 25th birthday and cites his parents as William Quinn, Football Club Trainer, and Catherine Quinn, nee Dalton (deceased). William’s own occupation is given as Iron Driller and his address as 148 Crail Street, Glasgow.

His new bride Margaret is a 23-year-old Munitions Worker, living nearby at 35 Westmuir Street, Glasgow. Her parents are Henry Fullerton (deceased), a Labourer, and Jane Fullerton, now Currie. The witnesses were William’s young sister Margaret Quinn – who had turned 23 years old the day before – and the bride’s brother Henry Fullerton.

By that time Wille Maley’s next great Celtic side were in full flow, having followed up their 1913/14 League and Scottish Cup Double by adding the next three championship titles for four-in-a-row, their tally of 14 League flags now six clear of nearest rivals Rangers as Celtic rode the roost as the undisputed kings of Scottish football. Celts had been unbeaten in the League for 18 months, since defeat at Tynecastle in November 1915, a run which would eventually stretch to 62 games and April 1917 and would only be beaten more than a century later by Brendan Rodgers’ Invincibles.

Matt Corr with Invincible, click on photo to order a signed copy at half price!

Two corresponding Saturdays in April during that period had been significant. On Saturday, 17 April 1915, Celts had defeated Third Lanark 4-0 at Cathkin to clinch a second successive League title, but sad news would later come through that club founder Brother Walfrid had passed away that same day in Dumfries, aged 74.

Celtic’s 1916 team

And 12 months later, on Saturday, 15 April 1916, The Hoops had played two League games back-to-back, beating Raith Rovers 6-0 at home to establish a new scoring record of 104 goals in 34 matches, then making the short journey to Fir Park in the evening to defeat Motherwell 3-1 and clinch a third consecutive title! Celts, as champions, had then played a Scottish League Select the following month to raise money for the Belgian Relief Fund, the match attracting 30,000 spectators to Hampden.

Champions Celtic face a Scottish League XI for the Belgian Relief fund at Hampden in May 1916. Will Quinn is kneeling, front right.

Celts had also won the two most recent editions of the Glasgow Cup and were in the midst of an unprecedented seven consecutive Glasgow Charity Cup successes, so with the war forcing the Scottish Cup into cold storage since their victory over Hibernian in the final of April 1914, all three trophies and the League flag now resided proudly at Celtic Park, just as they had back in the spring of 1908 thanks to the efforts of Maley’s previous all-conquering squad, the much-revered ‘Team of all the talents.’

The Team of all the talents. Celtic 1908

A few of that wonderful side still remained, notably new skipper Alec McNair – who had replaced ‘Sunny Jim’ Young as Maley’s on-field leader – and the timeless Jimmy McMenemy, but Jimmy Quinn had retired and the attacking sensation at Celtic Park now took the shape of Irish genius Patsy Gallacher. And a young man with another name which would become part of Parkhead folklore was also establishing himself at left-back, Willie McStay, the first of a series of members of that Lanarkshire family who would go on to become captain of Celtic.

There was also sadness though, as the fingers of death and a so-called ‘Great War’ stretched out to touch Celtic Park. Peter Johnstone had played in the team which beat Clyde 3-2 there to retain the Glasgow Cup in October 1916, having scored in the semi-final win over Rangers two weeks earlier, the Hoops defender travelling from his army base in England. Peter was approaching the 250-game mark for Celtic but tragically that cup final would be his last appearance for the club. He fell in the Battle of Arras in Northern France on 16 May 1917, seven months short of his 30th birthday, another statistic in this cruel and pointless conflict.

Peter Johnstone monument in Glencraig, Fife.

With the war finally over in November 1918, a fifth League title in six seasons duly followed for Celtic the following spring, and as the new decade beckons, trainer Will Quinn and his family have moved from 148 Crail Street to a new home at 750 Great Eastern Road, Glasgow, now part of Gallowgate.

Celtic 1920/21

The 1921 Census, taken on 19 June 1921, shows William (46, a Football Trainer with Celtic Football Club, born in Ayr) and Anastatia Quinn (45, born in Kilkenny) living there with their six children; Stephen Quinn from Will’s marriage to Bertha (22, a Stage Manager with Louvre Theatre, born in Ayr), John Quinn (15, born in Kilmarnock), Anastatia Quinn (13, born in Kilmarnock), Rosina Quinn (8, born in Glasgow), Nora Quinn (6, born in Glasgow) and Michael Quinn (3, born in Glasgow).

There is another happy family event the following month as Will’s eldest daughter, Margaret Quinn – my ‘Celtic Pal’ Charlie Doherty’s grandmother – marries Charles Doherty on 14 July 1921 at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Tollcross, Glasgow. It’s interesting to note from the marriage certificate that Tollcross was then classed as being in the Western District of Old Monkland.

Margaret was shown as being 26 but she had actually just turned 27 two days earlier, having been born on 12 July 1894. She is listed as a Grocery Saleswoman, residing at 331 Wellshot Road, Tollcross, Glasgow, and her parents as William Quinn, a Joiner, and Catherine (Kate) Quinn, nee Dalton, the latter being deceased.

Boiler Fireman Charles was 32, residing at 110 Bothwell Park Row, Bellshill. His parents are Dominick Doherty, a Colliery Watchman, and Mary Doherty, nee Gallagher.

That marriage will introduce another link to Celtic Football Club which will endure for several decades

To be continued…

Hail, hail!

Matt Corr

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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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