On this day in 1891 Celtic won their very first trophy, the Glasgow Cup. It was an incredibly impressive feat as it came in only Celtic’s third season. To put that into perspective Rangers (RIP) didn’t win their first trophy, the Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup, until their 7th year in existence in 1879. It took England’s most successful team with a mere 64 trophies, Manchester United, thirty years to win their first trophy, the league title in 1908.
Celtic had come incredibly close to an almost unbelievable start to their existence as they reached the Scottish Cup final in their inaugural season. Their route to that final was slightly marred by controversy as Willie Maley appealed the result of their fifth round tie against Clyde. Celtic had lost the first game 1-0 but Maley appealed on the grounds that because Clyde had arrived late to the ground the last ten minutes of the game had been played in complete darkness. Celtic won their appeal and Clyde seemingly threw a strop in the second game as they were annihilated 9-2. The result of the final against Third Lanark was decided at the second time of asking as well. The first game was demoted to a friendly before the game began due to the extreme weather conditions. There was to be no controversy this time around though, as Celtic lost both games by score lines of 3-0 and then 2-1.
Their second season didn’t reach the same heights as Celtic were knocked out of the Scottish Cup in the first round and lost 3-2 in the Glasgow Cup Final, both at the hands of early day behemoths Queen’s Park.
Still though, two cup finals in their first two years in existence, remarkably impressive!
Celtic’s third season saw their representative to the SFA, J.H. McLaughlin play a key part in the formation of the Scottish League. The cup competitions and intermittent friendlies were not very reliable sources of income for the clubs. Celtic came third in the inaugural season behind joint winners, Rangers and Dumbarton, despite having had points deducted for doing a “Legia Warsaw” and fielding ineligible players. It was in the February of 1891 when Celtic’s season was truly defined. Celtic gained revenge for their Scottish Final loss of two years previous as they thumped Third Lanark 4-0 at Hampden Park in front of a reasonably strong crowd turnout of 10,000. Turnouts were low by today’s standards but at this stage were starting to grow due to half days on Saturdays becoming more common for the working classes and an increase in disposable income due to falling food prices and better wages in general.
One own goal by a Third Lanark defender, a direct free kick from Peter Dowds and two goals by Johnny Campbell, the standout performer on the day, gained Celtic their first ever piece of silverware. The team consisted of five original Celtic players from 1888 and Celtic had signed three more of the others in the interim period as youngsters. Only three had come from outside of the club, two from Dumbarton and one from Carfin Shamrocks.
Whilst it is looked down on by many nowadays as an inferior competition, the Glasgow Cup was meaningful and reasonably lucrative and was no less taxing than the modern day Scottish League Cup. Celtic had to get past Motherwell, Alloa, Rangers and Aberdeen to win their 100th trophy and they similarly had seen off Battlefield, Northern, Clyde and Partick Thistle to reach the final in 1891.
From Third Lanark in 1891 to Aberdeen in 2016; One to One Hundred.
Celtic side v Third Lanark 14/2/1891
James Bell, Jeremiah Reynolds, Michael McKeown, Johnny Madden, Willie Maley, Patrick Gallagher, James Kelly, James Boyle, Peter Dowds (1) , Johnny Campbell (2) and Michael Dunbar.
Kevin John Thomson