When Calum McGregor’s 89th minute strike secured an 8-1 victory for Celtic over Hamilton this season, it was another landmark moment in the club’s history. Celtic have long been renowned for putting the emphasis on attacking football and goal gluts have been common since the first Celtic team took to the pitch in May 1888. But to hit eight goals or more in a single competitive game is truly a rare achievement – and one that we, as supporters, only get to witness sparingly. Here’s a look at the thrashings Celtic teams have dished out down the years . . .
In the club’s earliest seasons competitive fixtures were restricted to cup games, principally the Scottish Cup. When Celtic debuted in the competition in 1888, Glasgow’s new club put eight past Cowlairs without reply in the 2nd round (Mick Dunbar, a future Celtic director, getting a hat-trick) and went on to beat neighbours Clyde 9-2 in the 5th round – with Willie Groves netting 4 and Tom Maley netting 3. These goals propelled the Celts into the Scottish Cup Final in their inaugural season but Third Lanark could not be beaten in the showpiece fixture.
Willie Groves and Tom Maley
The Scottish League was up and running by season 1890-91 when Celtic’s new signing Sandy McMahon, who would prove himself the club’s first major scoring star, hit a hat-trick against Vale of Leven along with team-mate Jimmy McGhee in a 9-1 victory at Celtic Park. ‘The Duke’ went one better against St Bernards in the Scottish Cup in January 1894, scoring four as the Celts recorded an 8-1 victory.
Sandy McMahon and Jimmy McGhee – former Hibernians who became Celtic favourites
When Dundee arrived at Celtic Park on league business on 26th October 1895 little did they know their efforts (or lack of them) would still feature in the record books a century on. That day Celtic scored ELEVEN without reply – and this remains the club’s biggest goal-haul and margin of victory in a competitive fixture. The goals were spread throughout the team with only Jimmy Blessington getting more than one and even McMahon having to settle for a single (although as four of the goals went ‘unrecorded’ in the media of the age mystery still surrounds the identity of all of the goalscorers). The 11 goals scored that day helped Celtic’s successful push to win the League title back from Hearts.
The Celtic squad in 1896 – Manager/Secretary Willie Maley on far right with hat
George Allan only played one season in the green and white stripes but this big money signing from Liverpool had a memorable time in Glasgow, especially on Christmas Day 1897. He scored five as Celtic beat Clyde 9-1 in a League fixture at Barrowfield Park (just behind Dalmarnock rail station today). He scored 18 goals overall, beating McMahon in the process by 3, and helped Celtic to another Scottish League title.
Sandy wasn’t to be denied though – and his goals lit up season 1898-99 for the Celts. In November Clyde were again the victims, this time losing 9-2 at Celtic Park with McMahon grabbing 3. The following month ‘The Duke’ recorded another hat-trick when Celtic visited Partick Thistle, who were still playing at Meadowside in Partick, and beat them 8-3. Not satisfied with that, a few weeks later on 14th January 1899, Celtic were drawn away in the Scottish Cup to the 6th Galloway Rifle Volunteers who played in Dalbeattie. Celtic ran out 8-1 winners and, no prizes for guessing, ‘The Duke’ scored yet another hat-trick in the course of that victory. He was truly beloved by the Celtic support of the day for his goal-scoring powers.
The Duke – Celtic’s first goal-scoring hero
It would be nearly three decades before Celtic hit the heights of eight goals or more. By this time an even better striker than Sandy McMahon was leading the line in the Hoops – and many of his records still stand to this day. James Edward McGrory was a striker like no other. When Celtic beat Dunfermline Athletic 9-0 on 14th January 1928 the Garngad bhoy wasn’t satisfied with a mere hat-trick – he helped himself to eight of the goals! Read all about that amazing performance here: https://theshamrockglasgow.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/jimmy-mcgrory-the-eighth-wonder/
Three years later Celtic struck another 9 goals in a League fixture against a Fife club, East Fife going down 9-1 at Celtic Park on 10th January 1931. The great McGrory settled for 5 that day with the tragic Peter Scarff helping himself to a hat-trick also. Read the story of Peter Scarff here: https://theshamrockglasgow.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/the-peter-scarff-story/
Peter Scarff – the Linwood Bhoy
It was Paradise indeed when Celtic celebrated Christmas Day in style in 1937 as Willie Maley’s team beat Kilmarnock 8-0. Celtic’s famed front-line of the era shared the goals out among them: Johnny Crum, Johnny Divers and Frank Murphy got 2 a-piece while Jimmy Delany and Malky MacDonald settled for singles. It was another high-point in a glorious season when Celtic secured both the League title and the Empire Exhibition trophy.
The following season was 40 years on from Sandy McMahon’s momentous efforts in 1898-9. Popular Celt Johnny Crum decided to follow in the trail of The Duke in a series of 3 matches where Celtic scored 25 and he personally claimed 9. Things got off to a slow start for Johnny. Kilmarnock were on the receiving end of another skelping at Celtic Park in the League opener in August 1938, going down 9-1 this time. Delaney and Divers managed 2 each but Crum had to settle for a penalty goal. In October though he was to score 5 as Celtic crushed Albion Rovers 8-1 at Cliftonhill and followed this up with a hat-trick in the Scottish Cup away to Burntisland Shipyard in January 1939, where Celtic beat the Fife amateur club 8-3.
The unforgettable Johnny Crum
Post-war Celtic were in a dire condition and this was reflected in the fact it took until 1958 before another 8 goals were struck. It was yet another Fife club – Cowdenbeath – who were on the receiving end of an 8-1 thrashing at Central Park in the League Cup. Sammy Wilson helped himself to half of Celtic’s haul – and a 20 year-old Bertie Auld grabbed one of the others. Sammy of course played a part in another famous Celtic trouncing – when he scored the first goal of seven against Rangers in the 1957 League Cup Final, a British record cup final score to this day.
Records are made to be broken – but the Celtic team of season 1963-4 didn’t appear to subscribe to that viewpoint. Celtic had only ever reached double-figures once before in a competitive game – all the way back in 1895 when the record 11-0 victory was achieved. When an opportunity presented itself to equal or even surpass that record, it was bizarrely spurned. 6-0 up against Airdrie by half-time on 26th October 1963, John Hughes completed his hat-trick and put the Celts 9-0 up in the 64th minute. His fellow frontman John Divers (whose father John had played in the famous Celtic front-line of the 1930s mentioned above) had already scored his own hat-trick. With 25 minutes left history was there to be made – especially when Yogi was brought down in the box and Celtic awarded a penalty. A chance for a 10th goal – who would be asked to take the penalty? Why, goalkeeper Frank Haffey of course. His effort was saved and the score remained stuck at 9-0. It was a decision symptomatic of the approach that Celtic suffered from prior to Jock Stein’s return to the club.
Frank Haffey – it was the Swinging 60s after all
John Hughes was back among the goals the following season and it was Aberdeen who would witness his silky skills and shooting prowess up close. Even though the pitch was frozen in places, Yogi – wearing white sandshoes borrowed from Billy McNeill – mastered the conditions and scored 5 goals in an 8-0 rout of the Dons in January 1965. In September that year at Stark’s Park Yogi and Joe McBride hit hat-tricks in an 8-1 League Cup victory over Raith Rovers while Christmas Day again proved a bountiful occasion for the Celtic support. Morton visited on League duty and were subjected to an 8-1 mauling. Joe McBride hit another 3 (helping him to a season’s total of 43 goals) but Yogi had to make do with a double on this occasion. Joe continued his tremendous form into the momentous 1966-7 season when he bagged 4 as Celts hammered St Mirren 8-2 in the League Cup in August.
John ‘Yogi’ Hughes and Joe McBride – sharpshooters
In the first 25 minutes of the League Cup encounter with Hamilton Accies in September 1968, there was no indication that Celtic would go and win the game handsomely – never mind achieve their biggest victory in 73 years. Stevie Chalmers started the avalanche of goals in the 26th minute – and Bobby Lennox followed on a minute later. The game was comfortably sewn up by half-time with another goal from each striker giving Celtic a 4-0 lead yet Jock Stein’s decision to introduce Jimmy Johnstone to the game midway in the 2nd half proved a masterstroke as, according to one newspaper, Jinky “immediately had the spectators in ecstasy as he darted in and out of Hamilton’s bewildered defence and laid on chance after chance for the grateful Chalmers and Lennox.” So grateful were the two strikers for the silver service they were being supplied that they ended up hitting an incredible five goals a piece – four of the goals coming in the last 10 minutes! It was only the second time in the club’s history that a Celtic team had hit double figures in a competitive game – another remarkable achievement chalked up by Jock Stein and his team.
The goals didn’t stop there, of course, as Partick Thistle again found to their cost in 1969. That year was book-ended by two devastating Celtic performances that blew the Jags away. After a 3-3 drew in the first round of the Scottish Cup at Firhill in January led to a replay at Celtic Park, few expected Stein’s team to go on the rampage but an 8-1 victory set Celts on course for another Hampden appointment with Rangers – and an unforgettable 4-0 rout. Tommy Callaghan and Willie Wallace hit 2 each that night at Celtic Park, with McNeill, Johnstone, Lennox and Hughes the other scorers. Yogi kept up his impressive record in high-scoring ties when Thistle returned to Celtic Park in December for a League fixture – this time bagging one more hat-trick in another 8-1 win.
Yogi heads into the fray once more – no sandshoes this time
The early 1970s would see no let-up for the Celtic goal-scoring machine. The Finnish champions Kokkola were handed a devastating 9-0 doing at Celtic Park in the first round of the 1970-71 European Cup. Harry Hood led the way with a hat-trick that night. That January, Celtic lit up Dens Park with an 8-1 victory, Harry getting on the scoresheet twice along with Jinky and Willie Wallace. In September it was the turn of Clyde to face a torrent of Celtic goals in a 9-1 defeat where Bobby Lennox snatched a hat-trick and Quality Street Kids Kenny Dalglish and Lou Macari also featured among the scorers that day.
“Oh Harry, Harry!”
Four years would pass before another goal avalanche was experienced, this time at Boghead where braces from Harry Hood, Paul Wilson and Kenny Dalglish (and a rare strike from Danny McGrain!) sealed an 8-0 win over Dumbarton in the League Cup in August 1975. The Celtic fans had even longer to wait for the next goals fest – over a decade in fact. In January 1987 Brian McClair struck four times in a League fixture against Hamilton with Alan McInally and Murdo McLeod adding two each to win 8-3. The following year, in November, Hamilton again fell victim to a new Celtic strike force, shipping eight goals at home without reply to the reigning champions. Mark McGhee and Frank McAvennie each hit a hat-trick at the old Douglas Park with Joe Miller and Billy Stark making up the numbers.
Shooting stars of the ’80s: McClair, McAvennie and McGhee
The least said about the 1990s in Celtic terms, the better. It will come as little surprise that there was only game during that decade when the goals truly flowed for the Bhoys – and unfortunately Danny McGrain was to bear the brunt. At that time Danny was the Arbroath manager and when Liam Brady’s Celtic team visited Gayfield for a League Cup tie in August 1993 they found being beside the seaside very much to their liking. Danny McGrain’s Bearded Army were soon silenced as both Frank McAvennie and Andy Payton recorded hat-tricks in a 9-1 trouncing which remains the heaviest defeat in the Angus club’s history.
Andy Payton – best remembered for that ‘haircut’
With a new decade came a new manager and under Martin O’Neill the emphasis was once again on goals, goals, goals – and trophies. 18-year-old Shaun Maloney welcomed Stirling Albion to Celtic Park on League Cup duty in November 2001 with four goals in an 8-0 win. Even Olivier Tebily managed to get on the scoresheet that night!
A young Shaun Maloney hits Stirling Albion for 4
A more familiar name was on the scoresheet the following year when FK Suduva came calling in the UEFA Cup in August. Henrik Larsson scored a hat-trick in the first half-hour of the game and Petrov, Sutton, Lambert, Hartson and Valgaeren helped make it a convincing 8-1 score line. Celtic were off and running – all the way to Seville.
The Magnificent 7
In September 2004 Celtic Park enjoyed another 8-1 trouncing, this time against Falkirk in the League Cup. With O’Neill resting 8 players in advance of a Champions League game against AC Milan the following week, the Bhoys who made it onto the scoresheet were not the usual suspects – especially Ross Wallace. The Dundee bhoy grabbed 3 goals in this mauling while 2004 had also witnessed the long-awaited debut of Aiden McGeady who scored Celtic’s 8th in the last minute. Sylla, Balde, Lambert and McManus also hit the net that night.
Ross Wallace rocks the Bairns with a treble
When Celtic travelled to Dunfermline in February 2006 as runaway league leaders there was no inkling of what was to come. Polish striker Maciej Zurawski was in good form and had scored the winner at Ibrox the previous week. In a 24-minute period in this game he had hit 3 goals and made it 4 just two minutes from the end.
“He’s Magic, you know . . .”
Equally remarkable though was a strike from Neil Lennon in the 82nd minute which sparked joyous scenes among the away support – and even prompted a postcard to record the feat.
Fast forward four years and Neil Lennon was involved in another memorable Celtic drubbing – this time as manager. The opponents were no lower league minnows though – Aberdeen were perennial under-achievers and Celtic had turned them over a few times in recent years, but no-one foresaw what happened this day at Celtic Park. The first 25 minutes passed without any goals before an Anthony Stokes’ penalty set Celtic on their way. Two Gary Hooper goals and another Stokes’ penalty made it 4-0 at half-time. Both teams had a man sent off in the first half but this neither hindered or helped the Celts. Hooper and Stokes went on to claim a hat-trick each and Paddy McCourt made it 9-0 just five minutes from the end. It was Celtic’s biggest victory ever over the Dons – but some fans were just as amazed at the award of 3 penalties to the Bhoys in a single game! It was a fitting performance to put on for two returning heroes that day as Henrik Larsson and Chris Sutton made an appearance on the pitch at half-time.
Hooper and Stokes grabbed 3 a-piece
Over 5 years on and the latest Celtic pummelling was dished out to a poor Hamilton Accies side. 3 goals up after only ten minutes, a victory for Ronny Deila’s men was never in doubt but they were relentless in the pursuit of more goals, none more so than record-breaking hitman Leigh Griffiths. He got his first in the 22nd minute and completed his hat-trick in the 54th. Callum McGregor made it 8-1 with a fine 20 yard shot in the last minute.
It was yet another memorable goal glut to savour in Paradise and helps pave the way for 5 league titles in a row – for the 3rd time in the club’s history.
Leighsy does it as Griff puts the Accies to the sword