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  • The men who kicked it all off for the Celts

    The men who kicked it all off for the Celts

    By: Newsroom Staff on 28 May, 2015 13:01

  • JUST six months after their formation in November 1887, Celtic Football Club played their first ever game on the hastily, but impressively-built Celtic Park.

    The match, against Rangers, took place on May 28, 1888, and a crowd of nearly 2,000 gathered to see the Celtic take on Rangers.

    For that first match, Celtic wore white shirts with green collars, and sporting a Celtic Cross Badge in green and red. And it was a successful start for the new club as they recorded a 5-2 victory over a team that was to become their biggest rivals.

    After the game, both sides got together in the nearby St Mary´s Hall, (where the meeting to found Celtic had taken place) for supper, a concert and to toast each other´s health.

    So what of the players who took part in that historic first ever game for Celtic? (team in brackets in the one they were playing with at time of Celtic´s first game)

    MICHAEL DOLAN (Drumpellier)
    The Celtic goalkeeper made a total of four appearances between 1888 and 1894. He was in goal in the Glasgow Cup final of 1891 against Clyde when goal-nets were used for the first time in any Scottish final. Celtic won 7-1, so it would be safe to say he was the first ever Celtic keeper to pick the ball out of the net.
    WILLIE MALEY (Cathcart)
    Recruited by Celtic along with his brother, Tom, Willie Maley played 96 times for the club, scoring two goals. However, as the first, and only Celtic manager in the first 50 years of the club´s existence, his influence stretched way beyond that of mere player and he was the man who not only laid the foundations for the club but also helped to build it up to be Scotland´s most successful club.
    JAMES KELLY (Renton)
    Kelly had been part of the famous Renton side which had defeated West Bromwich Albion earlier in May 1888 to be declared ´world champions´. While Neil McCallum has the distinction of scoring Celtic´s first ever goal, Kelly is the Buzz Aldron of that team, heading home goal number two just before half-time. He made 139 appearances for the club between1888-97, scoring 11 goals. He became a director of the club on his retirement, and was Celtic chairman form 1909-14.
    NEIL McCALLUM (Renton)
    A team-mate of Kelly´s in the unofficial world championship match against West Brom, McCallum scored Celtic´s first ever goal, heading home from a corner after just 10 minutes. He briefly signed for Blackburn in 1890 but returned the following year to Celtic Park. He made 33 appearances for the club, scoring 17 goals, before signing for Nottingham Forest in 1892.
    TOM MALEY (Cathcart)
    Brother of Willie, Tom Maley had been Celtic´s original target when Pat Welsh, John Glass and Brother Walfrid turned up at the Maley household. He scored three goals against Rangers in that inaugural match – the first ever hat-trick by a Celtic player. He only played nine times for Celtic, though he scored six goals. He later became a director in 1897 before leaving to become manager at Manchester City in 1902. He also managed Bradford Park Avenue, famously changing their strip to the green and white hoops.
    JOHN MADDEN (Dumbarton)
    Madden was Celtic´s first ever centre-forward, though he never got on the scoresheet in that first game. A very skilful player, one book describes him as ‘the Charlie Tully of his day’. He made 118 appearances for the green and white stripes between 1889-97, scoring 49 goals, and was part of the Championship-winning sides of 1893 and 1894. He moved to Czechoslovakia in 1905 and became coach of Slavia Prague. He was a massive influence on the development of Czech football.
    MICK DUNBAR (Hibernian)
    As well as playing in Celtic’s first ever game, Mick Dunbar also played for Hibernian against Cowlairs on May 8, 1888 in what was the first ever game at the original Celtic Park. He scored 10 goals in 32 appearances for the club between 1888-93, and later became a Celtic director in 1897, remaining so until his death in 1921.
    CHARLES GOREVIN (Govan Whitfield)
    A Sligo man, Charlie Gorevin was playing for Govan Whitefield when he was invited to turn out for the new Celtic Football Club. He later emigrated to the United States, where he played football and GAA. He died in April 1915 at the age of 48 and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn.
    EDDIE PEARSON (Carfin Shamrock)
    The right-back from Holytown, Lanarkshire, played in Celtic’s inaugural game. He and his brother, David, also lined up against Celtic for Carfin Shamrock in a Scottish Cup tie in 1890. The first match was drawn 2-2, with Celtic winning the replay 3-1. Pearson died in 1918 at the age of 55.
    JAMES McLAUGHLIN (Hibernian)
    James McLaughlin began his career with Cowlairs Juniors before joining Hibernian in 1887. A year later he moved to Celtic. Although he played full-back in that first game, he later became Celtic’s first-choice goalkeeper, and made three Scottish Cup appearances. He was also in the Celtic team which won the Glasgow North-Eastern Cup in May 1889 – the club’s first ever trophy. At the end of his playing career James became a much sought after referee and was the refereeing representative of Celtic. He passed away in 1946.
    PHILIP MURRAY (Cambuslang Hibs)
    The English-born player was part of Celtic’s first ever team, though he was playing for Cambuslang Hibs at the time. He would later play for Blantyre Celtic in the early 1890s, while he also plied his trade elsewhere in Scotland and Ireland. He moved to Pennsylvania in 1901 and passed away in 1949. 

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