‘SAID LIZZIE TO PHILIP’
The story of how Celtic gatecrashed the Coronation
Said Lizzie To Philip is the second publication from Shamrock Books which tells the story of the Coronation Cup tournament of 1953 when the best football teams in Britain gathered in Glasgow to play for a unique trophy in honour of the new monarch.
Arsenal – the Bank of England club who had just won the First Division title. Double-winning Rangers whose famous manager was hoping for a royal send-off. Manchester United with the first of the Busby Babes coming through in a new-look team. Hibernian’s Famous Five who had just been denied a third title in succession but were still regarded as the most flamboyant attacking team in the land. Jackie Milburn’s free-wheeling, cup-winning Newcastle United. The ‘push and run’ Tottenham Hotspur side under Arthur Rowe which had finally brought silverware to White Hart Lane. An entertaining Aberdeen side on the cusp of league and cup success for the first time.
And then there was Celtic – who had just finished the season 8th in the league and only a single major trophy in 15 years. ‘Would they even be invited?’ asked a sceptical media.
The Celtic support ensured they would. And to this day Celtic supporters still rejoice in singing about the club’s most unlikely triumph:
Said Lizzie to Philip
As They Sat Down to Dine . . .
‘Said Lizzie to Philip’ book – £15 including P&P to UK
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‘Said Lizzie To Philip’
Review by David Garrigan
I have heard the song ‘Said Lizzie to Philip’ many times down the years at Celtic functions and on supporters buses but I never appreciated how important a breakthrough moment it was in the club’s history until I read this book. Celtic were in a bad way in 1953 and it had been yet another season without a trophy. We had only one 1 major cup since 1938. The Celtic supporter were making their feelings known on the terracings. One player after another was tried up front in the striker role without any obvious success. There had been occasional moments of joy (this was the season when Charlie Tully scored his famous goal from a corner kick at Brockville) but Celtic had slipped to mid-table and seemed stuck there. The dominant teams were Hibs (this was the era of The Famous Five) and Rangers.
When it was announced that there was going to be competition for the 4 best teams from Scotland and England to celebrate the crowning of the new Queen, there was speculation that Celtic might not be invited because of their consistently poor performances. The tournament was to be held in Glasgow and the gate receipts were going to charity so it was unlikely that Celtic would be snubbed. The media at the time was very different today with newspapers dominant. TV was in its infancy and that year’s FA Cup Final (the famous ‘Stanley Mathews Final) and the Coronation were responsible for a huge increase in television sales. The full background to the tournament is covered here including how the teams were selected from both sides of the border and how important the cup was to Rangers especially. After doing a League and Cup ‘Double’ it was widely predicted in the Scottish press that winning the Coronation Cup would be the final hurrah for their manager Bill Struth with a knighthood to swiftly follow. Neither of things happened. Two of the people crucial to expectations of the press being overturned were Jock Stein and Neilly Mochan.
Celtic had finally found (almost by accident) in Stein a captain who could organise and motivate a team of talented individuals. This was demonstrated by Celtic’s Double success the following season. And at last we had a proven goal-scorer up front. Neilly Mohan had been bought in a panic by the Celtic board on the eve of the tournament and immediately showed his team-mates the way to goal.
This book breathes life into the legends of these great Celtic figures. It shows there was a lot more to this tournament than just the final tie, a monumental battle against the best team in Hibernian’s history. The English challenge was a fierce one: Jackie Milburn, Joe Mercer, Johnny Carey and Alf Ramsey were some of the star names leading the charge from across the border. The underdogs Celtic blind-sided everyone but there were other titanic struggles along the way too, especially Man United v Rangers.
This was a unique competition. The format has never been repeated due to the advent of European football and the increased commercialisation of the game. The ultimate irony, which this book highlights in well-researched detail, was that a competition created to celebrate a Royal event ended with tens of thousands of delirious Celtic fans celebrating on Hampden’s slopes one sunny Glasgow evening. And gifted us a song and a message that still resonates today:
‘To beat Glasgow Celtic you’ll have to deport
The whole Fenian Army that gives them support!’
A great wee read.