Celtic versus St Mirren in the Scottish Cup – The Remarkable Story So Far

Celtic versus St Mirren in the Scottish Cup – The Remarkable Story So Far

Updated: 8 days, 16 hours, 26 minutes, 12 seconds ago

Yesterday’s Scottish Cup draw from Hampden gave Celtic another home-tie this time against St Mirren. Ange Postecoglou’s side reached the 5th Round with a comfortable 5-0 win over Greenock Morton who were making a game of it until VAR intervened to award Celtic a ridiculous penalty kick award that no-one saw or claimed for. We’d be better off just binning this nonsense completely. St Mirren had a harder afternoon in Paisley but eventually got the better of Championship side Dundee to earn their place in yesterday’s draw.

Celtic Historian David Potter talks us through the rather dramatic story so far when Celtic take on St Mirren in the Scottish Cup…

CELTIC

v ST. MIRREN IN THE SCOTTISH CUP – THE STORY SO FAR…

The statisticians may prove me wrong, but I reckon that Celtic have played St Mirren more often in the Scottish Cup than any team other than the old Rangers. I reckon that the meeting in February will be the 25rd time (not including replays) that Celtic and St Mirren have met in the Scottish Cup. The other times were as follows:

1891/92 – St Mirren 2 Celtic 4

1900/01 – Celtic 1 St Mirren 0

1901/02 – St Mirren 2 Celtic 3

1902/03 – Celtic 4 St Mirren 0 (after two draws and an abandoned game)

1907/08 – Celtic 5 St Mirren 1 final at Hampden

1910/11 – Celtic 2 St Mirren 0

1924/25 – Celtic 1 St Mirren 0 at Ibrox (after two draws)

1925/26 – St Mirren 2 Celtic 0 final at Hampden

1929/30 – Celtic 1 St Mirren 3

1933/34 – St Mirren 2 Celtic 0

1956/57 – Celtic 2 St Mirren 1

1958/59 – St Mirren 4 Celtic 0 semi final at Hampden

1959/60 – Celtic 5 St Mirren 2 (after two draws)

1961/62 – St Mirren 3 Celtic 1 semi final at Ibrox

1962/63 – St Mirren 0 Celtic 1

1964/65 – St Mirren 0 Celtic 3

1979/80 – St Mirren 2 Celtic 3 (after draw)

1983/84 Celtic 2 St Mirren 1 semi final at Hampden

1990/91 – Celtic 3 St Mirren 0

1994/95 – Celtic 2 St Mirren 0 at Hampden, but Celtic’s home game

2002/03 – Celtic 3 St Mirren 0

2008/09 – St Mirren 1 Celtic 0

2012/13 – St Mirren 1 Celtic 2

2016/17 – Celtic 4 St Mirren 1

So you will see from the above that Celtic have won 18, and St Mirren 6.

St Mirren generally have a good record in the Scottish Cup which they have won on 3 occasions – in 1926, 1959 and 1987. We have some good players in common – Willie Fernie, Frank McGarvey and Frank McAvennie for example, and the late Frank McGarvey had the honour of winning a Scottish Cup medal with both teams.

Twice have Celtic met St Mirren in the final of the Scottish Cup. The first was in 1908 when the really superb Celtic team of that era beat the Buddies 5-1 when everyone of the forward line of Bennett, McMenemy, Quinn, Somers and Hamilton scored except McMenemy – and was universally agreed to have been the best man on the field. Alec Bennett was the forward who scored twice – and then he suddenly jumped ship and went to the underperforming Rangers in one of these moves which defy any rational analyse 115 years later – and no-one understood it at the time either!

The second Cup final between the two of them was a less happy experience for Celtic, who had already won the League by some considerable distance with McGrory scoring the goals and McInally both playing well and behaving himself (a rare combination for Tommy), were expected to win easily.

Alas, the influential but under-rated Adam McLean was injured, Celtic took the game far too easily, lost an early goal and never got back into the game. Rumours abounded that this game had been thrown and that some Celtic players were far too friendly with illegal bookmakers, but the truth was possibly a great deal more mundane, and the defeat was caused by complacency and premature assumptions that they were bound to win. It probably remains the best day in the history of the Buddies.

There were two dreadful semi finals in 1959 and 1962. In 1959 the inexperienced Celtic side simply found the occasion too much for them – yet they had already removed Rangers from the Cup! – and 1962 saw more complacency (they had beaten St Mirren in a League game the previous Monday night) and a little internal bickering when captain Dunky MacKay won the toss and made the strange decision to play against the wind! It was the day that the supporters invaded the park in a misguided attempt to get the game replayed when they were 3-0 down, and all in all, it was one of the darker days in Celtic’s history.

Some of our older supporters will recall 1980’s replay at Love Street when Johnny Doyle scored an extra time winner after centre half Tom McAdam had been sent off; and in recent years, Celtic have won them all except for a bad defeat in 2009 at Love Street, something that was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back for Gordon Strachan as Celtic manager.

1965 saw a good win in the first game played after it had been announced that Jock Stein was on his way while 1925 saw a remarkable stand off. After two games, St Mirren in the last minute were awarded a free kick just outside the box which would have given them the chance to equalise a Jimmy McGrory counter. The trouble was that they thought it should have been a penalty kick, and refused to take their free kick. The seconds ticked away, referee Craigmyle took out his watch, looked at it ostentatiously until time was reached, then picked up the ball and signalled full time. The phrase “cutting off your nose to spite your face” seems to have been invented for St Mirren that day.

But 1903 saw Celtic face St Mirren in the Scottish Cup on four successive Saturdays – a rather unusual occasion – and the results were draw, draw, match abandoned because of bad weather, then 4-0 for Celtic with Johnny Campbell and Sandy McMahon among the goals.

The history of encounters between Celtic and St Mirren in the early days is not always a happy one with tales of crowd disturbances, and Celtic players suffering sectarian abuse from Paisley supporters. Love Street was the most inappropriately named ground of them all, and the bile and hatred from St Mirren fans was worse than what was experienced anywhere else. Rangers and Celtic fans actually got on well in the 1890s; relationships with the likes of St Mirren and a few other provincial clubs, were not quite so happy.

David Potter

Match Report from the 1959 Scottish Cup semi-final…