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  • On this day in history: Frank Murphy’s last game

    On this day in history: Frank Murphy’s last game

    By: Joe Sullivan on 13 Jun, 2019 11:59

  • IT was on this day 77 years ago, June 13, 1942 that Frank Murphy played his last Celtic game as the Hoops lost 2-1 to Motherwell in the wartime Summer Cup.

    That game came at the end of a 13-year career with the Hoops during which the winger scored 50 goals in 161 appearances and won championship medals in 1935/36 and 1937/38, as well as a Scottish Cup medal in 1937 and he also was also one of the Empire Exhibition Cup-winning heroes of 1938.

    Here, we take a look at some of the highlights of his career with his Bhoyhood heroes.


    It was on April 7, 1934 that Frank Murphy made his Celtic debut after signing from Croy Celtic in 1932 and being farmed out to St Roch’s. Broomfield was the venue for the league meeting and the 4,000 crowd witnessed two goals from the 18-year-old debutant. The Hoops were leading 3-0 thanks to a goal from Murphy and to from Frank O’Donnell, but in the 62nd and 70th minutes, Airdrie pulled it back to 3-2. The home side’s hopes of taking anything from the game were dashed, though, when Murphy hit his second goal of the game to make it 4-2 in the 74th minute. That was the first of 50 goals in 161 games for the left-winger who also scored 27 goals in 82 wartime games for the Hoops.

    1935/36 TITLE

    While Rangers were playing Third Lanark in the Scottish Cup final, Celtic welcomed Ayr United on April 18, 1936 and early on there was a fright when a shot from the visitors hit both posts before being cleared. Jimmy McGrory netted in the 14th and 35th minutes but was injured scoring the second of those and was moved out to the right wing. Frank Murphy added another before the break and McGrory found the net again soon after the turnaround.  Willie Lyon added another and when Jimmy Delaney was felled in the box, the injured McGrory failed to convert the penalty. Just four minutes from the end, a McGrory header came crashing off the woodwork and Willie Buchan finished off the job and the scoring to make it 6-0. If McGrory’s header had gone in, and he had netted the penalty, he would have equalled the season record of 52 league goals set by Motherwell’s Willie MacFadyen just four years earlier. The result put Celtic on 64 points to Rangers’ 58 and the Hoops had one game left while the Ibrox side had three – all they could hope for was for Celtic to lose against Partick Thistle and for them to beat Hearts, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen while also producing a turnaround of 34 goals. In the end, Celtic won the title by five clear points.

    1936/37 SCOTTISH CUP

    Celtic had overcome Stenhousemuir (after a replay), Albion Rovers, East Fife, Motherwell (after a replay) and Clyde before meeting Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final on April 24, 1937. A European record crowd for a club game (then also a world record) of 147,365 took in the action. A week later Hampden also scooped the international record when 149,000 turned up for the Scotland v England match. Johnny Crum opened the Scottis Cup final scoring in the 11th minute only for Aberdeen to equalise almost immediately. However, with 72 minutes on the clock, the vast majority of the crowd wee in raptures again when Willie Buchan hit what proved to the winner for the Hoops in the 2-1 victory and Frank Murphy went home with a Scottish Cup medal.

    1937/38 TITLE

    Hearts were the main challengers in the season when Frank Murphy won his second title medal. There was no doubt that the real killer blow for Hearts’ title aspirations came in their only home defeat that season, when Celtic travelled to Tynecastle on January 8 and the 43,128 crowd saw the Hoops better September’s 2-1 home win over Hearts by winning 4-2 thanks to goals from Johnny Crum and John Divers who both scored twice. As the season entered its final stages, on Saturday, April 23, Hearts duly beat Rangers 3-2, however, over at Love Street, Crum eased any nerves by scoring in the first minute and Jimmy Delaney added another in the 27th to put Celtic 2-0 ahead. Bobby Rankin pulled one back for the home side just before the break but Crum struck again 15 minutes from time to give Celtic the 3-1 win and the title.


    Prior to the days of European competition, this one-off tournament was the ultimate in top-grade competition and considered a ‘British Championship’ at the time. The year was 1938 and Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park staged the Empire Exhibition – basically just a massive trade fair with produce and technology on show from all corners of the globe. It was also decreed that a football tournament featuring the best four teams from both Scotland and England would take place at nearby Ibrox. Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen and Hearts would compete with Sunderland, Everton, Chelsea and Brentford for the Empire Exhibition Trophy, a copy of Tait’s Tower, the focal point of the exhibition, while all the winning players would also receive miniature copies of the trophy instead of medals. Frank Murphy played in all of Celtic’s games – a 3-1 win over Sunderland following a 0-0 draw before beating Hearts 1-0 in the semi-final. On June 10, at Ibrox, a crowd of 80,000 saw Celtic beat Everton 1-0 thanks to a Johnny Crum goal.


    Frank Murphy scored in Celtic’s biggest ever win over Kilmarnock when the clubs faced each other on August 13, 1938. The newly-crowned champions welcomed Kilmarnock for the first game of the new season but things didn’t go to plan when Doug McAvoy opened for the visitors after only three minutes. However, no fewer than seven Celts were to get on the scoresheet that Saturday afternoon and that started when Jimmy Delaney netted the equaliser in the 14th minute. Just a minute after that, Johnny Crum was felled in the area and skipper, Willie Lyon put Celtic in front from the spot. In the 33rd minute, Frank Murphy made it 3-1 and that was the half-time score. However, Chic Geatons made it 4-1 immediately after the break and just three minutes later, a John Divers header made it 5-1. Malky MacDonald was next to score, followed by another penalty, this time scored by Crum, and Divers and Delaney would each take their tally to two in the game and the final score to 9-1. The teams met again just 11 days later at Rugby Park and Killie must have learned something from the first game as the next match finished 0-0.

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