Issue 7 of the  The Shamrock is  now on sale and for the seventh issue we had to feature the greatest No.7 of all, the one-and-only Jinky.

We explore the decades-long rumours of Irish summer cup games played by a ‘phantom’ Scottish team wearing masks, make-up and disguises to hide their true identity – and the role the Greatest Ever Celt played in these high-jinks.

In ‘Hoops of Steel’ we look at the near-mythical being that was Jimmy Quinn, a miner from Croy whose legend grows with each passing year. Celtic Chronicles takes us to season 1894-5 as the Bhoys aim for 3-in-a-row and the Celtic Cameo is the dashing Dan McArthur, handle-bar moustache and all. We also introduce a new feature of Celtic’related legal clashes called ‘On The Bench’ which kicks off with the the sorry story of former physio Brian Scott and Martin O’Neill’s exploits as a witness.

When we finally get back to games at Celtic Park, the fanzine is on sale at the programmes stall on Janefield Street behind the Lisbon Lions Stand (next to the site of the old Barr’s factory) and in front of the Celtic Way.  The fanzine can also be bought at the independent radical bookshop Calton Books in London Road, Glasgow next to the Barras.

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Hugh Murphy – A Monumental Celt

Hugh Murphy Memorial Dalbeth tall


When a crowd of 15,000 assembled at Celtic Park for a league fixture against Third Lanark at on 29th August 1903 they were surprised when the players ran out to find that their favourites were not wearing the familiar green and white striped jersey.  Instead, for the first time, Celtic were wearing a jersey of alternate green and white hoops.  There had been no announcement of this pre-match and, unlike in the modern game where the unveiling of a new shirt rivals the release of a Hollywood blockbuster in PR terms, no incessant speculation among the fans as to what format a new shirt design might take.

It was reported in the Scottish Referee sports paper the following Monday that ‘for some time, the change rather tickled one.’  Over a century on and the Hoops are now such an established part of the club’s identity – and renowned throughout world football – that it is hard to believe that a Celtic team ever played regularly in anything else.

The newspaper reported that the Celtic players were wearing something else that day – black armbands.  The previous Sunday, after attending mass at St Mary’s in the Calton, Hugh Murphy was waiting for a horse-drawn brake to take him to Airdrie where he was due to address a meeting of Irish nationalists.  He collapsed while waiting and, a few days later, he died at his home at 579 Gallowgate.  He was 47 years old.


Hugh Murphy mention in Scottish Referee Third Lanark v Celtic first Hoops 29.8.03

Scottish Referee, 31st August 1903 


His sudden death plunged the Celtic club and the Irish community in Glasgow into mourning.  Hugh Murphy was one of the most prominent and celebrated political figures that the Glasgow Irish claimed as one of their own.  Having arrived in the city with his family as a 10-year-old boy from Newtonbutler, County Fermanagh in the 1860s, Murphy became active in an array of Irish organisations as a young man.  He quickly came to the attention of John Ferguson, the book publisher who was the unchallenged leader of the Glasgow Irish for the greater part of the latter 19th century.  According to Ferguson’s biographer Elaine McFarland: ‘On first acquaintance, Murphy, aged seventeen, was still pledged to physical force nationalism, but he was soon won over by constitutionalist arguments.’

As one of Ferguson’s key radical lieutenants – alongside activists such as future union leaders Richard McGhee and Edward McHugh – Murphy helped build up Glasgow’s Home Government Branch of the Irish National League (INL) into that organisation’s ‘boss branch’ in Britain.   It was through their efforts that Glasgow and Scotland became a bedrock of support for Michael Davitt throughout his years of dispute with Parnell and others.  They developed a radical edge, encouraged by Davitt, that was unusual among Irish activists in Britain and abroad who tended to focus solely on the national question.   Using the Home Government Branch as a base they built up an effective political organisation that could largely guarantee the electoral support the Glasgow Irish, no mean feat at the time.

Hugh Murphy was a firebrand but also a keen political operator.  He was in his element in large public gatherings where he could command the attention and respect of the rowdiest of audiences.  His confrontational nature brought him into public conflict even with the mighty Davitt but he always managed to secure an amicable conclusion.  Murphy was influential in guiding the Irish vote in Glasgow away from the Liberal party which consistently failed to deliver Home Rule for Ireland towards the emerging Independent Labour Party, despite incurring the wrath of Glasgow Catholic press in the process.  He narrowly lost in a Glasgow Corporation election for the Whitevale ward (close to Celtic Park) in 1896 on a Labour/Irish nationalist ticket.   At the turn of the century many assumed that it would be Hugh Murphy who would go on to assume the elderly Ferguson’s mantle as the leader of the Glasgow Irish, but his untimely death prevented that.  Ferguson and Davitt would both be dead within three years of Murphy.

It is likely that Hugh Murphy’s prominence as a high-profile politician in the Irish community in the city would have resulted in some form of tribute from Celtic FC on that August afternoon.  Yet Hugh’s links with Celtic were long-established.  In Willie Maley’s words he was one of the ‘heads’ of the new club and part of Celtic’s first General Committee ‘and good-hearted, earnest committee men they all were.’  Hugh had been present when Hibernian had won the Scottish Cup in 1887 and at the subsequent celebrations in St Mary’s Hall that night and later at the Wellington Hall in the Gorbals when the Home Government Branch presented each Hibs player with a solid gold medal in the shape of a harp.  Hugh looked on as Celtic Park was opened and Celtic won their first ever match there in 1888 and he accompanied Michael Davitt when the sod of shamrock turf was laid at the new ground in 1892.


Hugh Murphy cropped

Hugh Murphy, 1856 – 1903


The Glasgow Observer columnist and devout Celtic fan ‘Man In The Know’, who had close links with the Celtic board in the early 20th century, clarified in 1920 what role Hugh Murphy had performed in the foundation of Celtic.  He said that Brother Walfrid and John Glass had launched the ship; that Dr Conway, Joseph Shaughnessy, John H McLaughlin and Stephen Henry were on-board at the launch; but that the ‘keel-layers’ of the ship – those responsible for its initial construction – were Brother Walfrid and Hugh Murphy.

It was Hugh Murphy who recommended to the Marist that his great friend and neighbour John Glass take the key role in assisting him in establishing the football club he envisaged to fund the children’s dinner tables in the schools of the three East End parishes of St. Mary’s, Sacred Heart and St. Michael’s.  When Brother Walfrid left for London in 1892 it was John Glass who primarily directed Celtic’s affairs until his death in 1906 and he oversaw the club’s crucial early successes.  Hugh Murphy, while a keen Celtic supporter from the outset, focused his energies on the political issues affecting the Glasgow Irish instead.  His brother Arthur was an active Celtic committeeman until the club went private in 1897 and he was still alive when Celtic celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1938.

In his tribute, which was published in various Irish newspapers throughout Ireland, Scotland and England, John Ferguson wrote that ‘with modest bearing, good-temper, self confidence and undaunted courage, Mr Murphy was in every movement that Ireland made.  By degrees his individuality made himself felt not only in Glasgow, but in Ireland and upon the Leaders of the Nation . . . We only have to display a little of our departed comrade’s moderation in language, wisdom in council and courage in action to still keep in line with the advancing forces which are rapidly nearing the goal of Irish self-government.’

Hugh was buried at St Peter’s Cemetery at Dalbeth on the London Road and, a year after his death, a large crowd assembled to watch John Ferguson unveil a large memorial in the form a red granite Celtic cross, decorated with shamrocks and harps, which was paid for through donations from the Irish in Glasgow, political supporters and admirers.  Celtic Football Club contributed £20 to the fund.


Hugh Murphy Memorial Dalbeth 1

The red sandstone memorial at Dalbeth 


At the unveiling John Ferguson told the assembled crowd: ‘Protestant and Catholic around his grave we honour him as a type of an unconquered race and a changeless faith.  The man who serves his country in a foreign land, reckless of danger, loss of shame, is a higher order of patriot than he who strives for his country at home.  That patriot at home has National opinion to sustain him and the hope of rising with the fortunes of his country; but men like Hugh Murphy have nothing to gain by Ireland’s success but the gratification of the Celtic sentiment of duty to the fatherland, which is indeed a reward that will give a happiness that material wealth cannot.’

The impressive memorial to Hugh Murphy is one of Dalbeth’s most striking structures and still looks resplendent today having withstood the Glasgow weather for over a century.  St Peter’s is an ideal place to visit on foot or bicycle if you’re in the East End during the current lockdown and looking for a refreshing change of scenery and some interesting Celtic-related history.  Hugh Murphy’s monument lies close to the resting place of his great friend John Glass as well as other key early Celtic figures including Dr John Conway, David Meikleham, John O’Hara and the McKillop brothers.

The inscription on the stone to this great Glasgow Irishman ends with a line from the anthem ‘God Save Ireland’ which was the most popular song sung at Celtic events in the club’s earliest years: ‘He was true to Home and Faith and Freedom.’ 


Hugh Murphy Memorial Dalbeth text




Read about the fascinating story of Bridgeton’s Catholic section and the role this community played in the foundation of Celtic FC here:

Glengarry: Glasgow’s Sacred Heart

Glengarry ADVERT.jpg


Buy The Shamrock here:  The Shamrock Issues 1-6

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Issue 6 of The Shamrock – OUT NOW!

Sham 6 cover alone

Issue 6 of the Celtic retro fanzine The Shamrock is  now on sale.  This is a Charlie Tully special with features on the Irishman’s glittering career, his ‘olimpico’ goals and the phenomenon of Tullymania.  We have a new series on the toughest Celts called ‘Hoops of Steel’, a review of Celtic’s first-ever awayday at Ibrox, the latest Celtic Cameo and Celtic Chronicles and information on the Walfrid Walking Tour.

Subscribers – your copies are being posted out over the next few days.

The Shamrock is on sale on matchdays at Celtic Park where you can buy a copy from the programmes stall on Janefield Street behind the Lisbon Lions Stand (next to the site of the old Barr’s factory) and in front of the Celtic Way.  The fanzine is also on sale at the independent radical bookshop Calton Books in London Road, Glasgow next to the Barras.

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Book Review: Take Me to Your Paradise

Book cover


This book is sub-titled ‘A History of Celtic-related Incidents and Events’ and even that doesn’t seem to capture the huge range of stories which are contained in over 370 pages, dating from the club’s earliest days through to the present era.  It’s a munchie box of Celtic goodies with something for every Celtic fan from the first charity football matches organised by Brother Walfrid in Bridgeton through to Celtic’s first attempts at floodlights in 1893 to the Celtic player who won the Victoria Cross for bravery, speedway and cycling at Celtic Park and the comical red card that Johnny Doyle received away at Ayr in the 1970s as well as the passport woes of Efe Ambrose.

This is author Liam Kelly’s second book and comes two years after his commendable debut, ‘Our Stories and Our Songs.’  Once again Liam has demonstrated some impressive research skills and an eye for a good story.  There are moments of sadness along the way but tales of the Johnstone Vigilante Committee, the infamous Kenny Dalglish conference in Baird’s Bar, Peperabi and the demise of Tiger Tim as Celtic’s stadium announcer are the tasty highlights of this impressive selection.  There are few other places where you will read incendiary tales of Celtic Park going up in smoke, CS gas cannisters at Easter Road and Celtic’s first-ever major cup final abandoned due to a heavy snowfall in the one sitting.  The book has everything.

Most of the 70+ stories are bite-sized but there are few chunky pieces to sink your teeth into also.  All sorts of Celtic names, famous and little-known, past and present, come flying off the pages: Willie Maley, James Kelly, Pat ‘Tailor’ Welsh, Mohammed Salim, Willie Angus, Johnny Campbell, Glen Daly, Peter Scarff, Charlie Tully, Jorge Cadete, Neil Lennon and (boo! Hiss!) even Judas Johnston.

It’s a refreshing and welcome look at Celtic history which will appeal to fans of all ages.  Liam’s new book won’t just satisfy your appetite for all things Celtic – it will leave you hungry for more.  A fine achievement.


The Shamrock rating: 7/10 


Book front and back covers standing


The book can be purchased (and reviews read) here:  VISIT LIAM’S SITE



To read more of our Celtic ReViews please CLICK HERE.



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LAZIO, AGAIN by Tom Campbell

During World War Two (and for some years afterwards) a popular song by Vera Lynn contained these words: “We’ll meet again, Don’t know where, Don’t know when … but I know we’ll meet again, Some sunny day …”

Well, before their recent visit to Celtic Park, the last time we played Lazio was on September 41950 … sixty-nine years ago.  And it was a miserable wet day in Glasgow, rain falling steadily all day long … but it did not stop a crowd estimated at 47,000 turning up at Celtic Park to see Lazio, the first Italian club to play a match in Scotland.  I remember the rain because I was there, soaked to the skin but all agog to see a top European side in action.


Celtic v Lazio 1950 ticket
Ten shillings and sixpence to see the first Italian team to play in Scotland


Celtic’s team lined up:  Bonnar; Haughney and Milne; Evans, McGrory and Baillie; Collins and Fernie; McPhail; Peacock and Tully.  From the start Lazio looked a stylish side, wearing sky-blue jerseys (similar to Manchester City) and playing attractive one-touch football … but eventually they were swept aside by Celtic in the rain.  John McPhail, only recently given an extended run at centre-forward, was a man with something to prove and turned in a remarkable performance.  Celtic latterly swept aside their Italian opponents to win by 4-0 … and all four goals were scored by ‘Big John.’  There was a pleasing symmetry about the goals that buried Lazio: two goals in each half, a matching header and penalty kick (awarded correctly by Scottish referee George Mitchell).

What had Celtic’s captain John McPhail to prove?  After several seasons as Celtic’s most versatile player (with appearances at right and left-half even long before the Coronation Cup of 1953) and innings at all three inside-forward positions … at last he was given the time to establish himself as Celtic’s centre-forward – arguably a problem position for Celtic to fill since the heady days of Johnny Crum back in 1938.  And John seized that opportunity, eventually leading Celtic to the Scottish Cup of 1951.

But that was not his only motivation in September 1950.

Back in May, Bob Kelly had decided to award his players with a trip to Rome.  It was a Holy Year and Celtic could see the historic sights of ‘the Eternal City’, would be given an audience with the Pope … and play ‘a friendly’ with Lazio, a team based in Rome and celebrating their 50th anniversary.


Celtic players and Jimmy Hogan at the Vatican Rome trip 1951
The Celtic party at the Vatican including famous Celts Tully, Fallon, McPhail and Bonnar – and Jimmy Hogan (bottom left), the pioneering football coach who spent two years at Celtic Park


Unfortunately, it turned out to be not much of ‘a friendly’.  Bobby Collins, who in a long career in Scotland and England proved a ferocious competitor, described the match as ‘the most vicious of them all.’  The Italian referee (a man who apparently performed well later as a World Cup official) had to award more than forty free-kicks – and ordered off John McPhail and his immediate opponent.


Captains and penants Lazio v Celtic 1950
The calm before the storm . . . captain John McPhail exchanges pennants with his SS Lazio counterpart in Rome


An urban myth has grown about John McPhail’s dismissal.  According to John, the referee dismissed his marker for a series of fouls (and a scuffle with him) but then turned to Celtic’s captain and told him to leave the field “to calm down the crowd.”

It doesn’t quite ring true, that account.  Almost certainly (judging by the number of fouls, and the rarity of matches between Scottish and Italian sides), there would have been a predictable clash of differing football styles and culture on the pitch … and both sides would have contributed equally.

In 1950 Celtic managed a 0-0 draw in Rome.   Following our victory a fortnight ago, I would happily settle for a repeat in 2019.


Tom Campbell 


Here is John McPhail’s account of his Roman Holiday – recounted over 20 years later in the 1970s:

John McPhail v Lazio



Celtic historian Tom Campbell has recently released his 14th Celtic book entitled ‘A Very Different Paradise.’

For more details and to read reviews (as well as an interview with the author) please CLICK HERE


A Celtic Retrospective