The Day The Other Cup Came Up To Maryhill
The Day The Other Cup Came Up To Maryhill

by Jack Little

HAS ANYTHING IMPORTANT EVER HAPPENED ON 23 OCTOBER?

1739 – Britain declares war on Spain.
1915 – 25,000 march in Fifth Avenue New York in support for votes for women.
1922 – Bonar Law replaces Lloyd George as British prime Minister.
1941 – Walt Disney’s animated film “Dumbo” released.
1942 – Battle of El Alamein begins.
1956 – Soviet Union invades Hungary.
1971 – See below.

THE SCOTTISH LEAGUE CUP

The Scottish League Cup

The Scottish League Cup competition owes its origins to James Bowie of Rangers FC who proposed an almost identical competition in May 1939. The SFA had suspended the Scottish Cup for the duration of World War II and the league programme offered only 30 matches and the opportunity to fill the gap arose. The Southern League Cup ran during the war and led to the introduction by the SFL of the League Cup from season 1946/47.

It has had at least 10 formats but they can be summarised as being either sectional qualification from “mini-leagues” for subsequent knock-out rounds (40 seasons) or a direct knock-out competition (36 seasons). The former has been the preferred option for the last 6 seasons. Sections traditionally begin the season and can be a good indicator on how the season looks like taking shape, offering decent weather and crowds, good playing surfaces and a chance to run the rule over new signings.

Although dominated by Rangers and Celtic, the competition has allowed 14 other clubs to share in the spoils on 29 occasions since its inception.

In comparison – since 1946/47 – 12 non-“Old Firm” clubs have won the Scottish Cup 27 times (Celtic 25, Rangers 23) so opportunities to win silverware are broadly comparable.

Squad List

SEASON 1971/72

The omens at the start of season 1971/2 were not particularly favourable. Thistle had been relegated at the end of season 1969/70, finishing bottom of the league and ending an unbroken run of 63 seasons in the topflight. New manager Davie McParland began a rebuilding job and was rewarded with an immediate return to the 1st Division as 2nd Div champions 1970/71. His young team growing in experience and confidence lost just 3 games in 36. Their style of play was already attracting attention but could they cut it at the top level?

In the previous 25 seasons of the League Cup, Thistle had failed to progress from their section 19 times. Would the 26th be any different? As they had been a promoted team the previous season their opponents comprised fellow promotees East Fife along with Raith Rovers and Arbroath so immediate exposure to higher division teams was, at least, postponed.

Adjacent are the men that would start the memorable season. One noticeable absentee from the list, Hugh Strachan, had not yet re-signed. At 32 he was the “veteran” of the squad.

THE COMPETITION GETS UNDERWAY

Denis McQuade

The season had actually started on the last day of July with a 2-1 defeat away to St Johnstone in the Drybrough Cup. The man who caught the eye on the day was 20-year-old Denis McQuade. William Hunter singled him out in the Glasgow Herald report of the game. “A lean, leggy winger who can dribble, run and shoot. He has an engaging indifference about off-side. He can miss when it looks easier to score.” These 26 words probably sum up Denis’s whole career!

Denis produced the cross that let Bobby Lawrie in to head in the opener but a needlessly conceded free-kick after half-time led to an equaliser and the winner came in the last minute. However here was nothing between the teams in the league this season - each had a 2-1 win - and they would meet again with a far more satisfactory outcome some weeks later.

A 1-0 friendly win against Tranmere Rovers followed on 7/8/1971. Jimmy Bone and Frank Coulston proved too fast for the Tranmere defence and it took the visitors some time to get into the game but it was Thistle who got the only goal when Forsyth headed in from close range just after half-time. The Liverpool Echo reporter reckoned Tranmere had more to offer than during the previous season and pointed out they had had to travel 200 miles on the day of the match having played Manchester United on the Friday night. Thistle appeared in their new strip of yellow shirts and red shorts for the first time.

Two days later Preston North End proved much sterner opposition. The Evening Times report is reproduced here in full. “Partick Thistle found Preston too hot to handle”. The Glasgow Herald didn’t even report the score let alone the match. It was 0-3.

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 1: Sat-14-Aug-1971 Partick Thistle 4 Arbroath 0

With a mixed bag of “form” to go on, manager Davie McParland named 13 players on the Friday night. Regular Charlie Smith, who had played over 40 games the previous season, was still unavailable through an Achilles injury and the following team took the field (John Hansen dropping out):- Rough, Reid, Gray, Glavin, Clark, Strachan, Lawrie, Coulston, Bone, A. Rae, McQuade. (Gibson).

Arbroath:- Gallacher, Milne, McKay, Cargill, Waddell, Walker, Sellars, Cant, Christiansen, Payne, Stewart. (Bruce.)

Ref:- R H Davidson (Airdrie).

Att:- 4,343

mh-quote.png Easy for Jags in goal rush (ET)

McQuade was a threat from the start, first down the wing then through the middle. A goal by Bone on 5 minutes when he swept a Coulston cut-back in from 20 yards gave Thistle the lead. Arbroath had a couple of half chances but it was McQuade who scored next when he was given time and space to bring the ball down and thump it into the net from a corner (16). A few minutes later it was 3-0. Bone and Coulston combined well inside the box to set up Lawrie from close range. On the half hour Bone was hauled down in the box and he gave Thistle a commanding 4-0 lead from the spot. Thistle were content to contain Arbroath in the second half, although they did have a few half chances. Arbroath, with their laborious build up, seldom threatened and Thistle ran out comfortable winners.

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 2: Wed-18-Aug-1971 East Fife 2 Partick Thistle 3
Bayview

Raith Rovers had beaten East Fife on the Saturday so Thistle travelled through to Methil (pictured) on the Wednesday night as joint section leaders for what was generally considered to be the toughest of the fixtures in the section. Fans who travelled through to Fife, forsaking the delights of “Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Width” on STV, were rewarded with a cracking cup-tie.

McParland made one change to the starting eleven, bringing in John Hansen in place of the injured Ronnie Glavin (torn shoulder muscles) and Thistle lined up as follows:- Rough, Reid, Gray, Hansen, Clark, Strachan, Lawrie, Coulston, Bone, A. Rae, McQuade. (Forsyth).

East Fife:- Gorman, Duncan, McQuade, Borthwick, Martis, Clarke, Miller, Thomson, Hughes, Finlayson, McPhee. (Bernard.)

Ref:- J R Grant (Larbert).

Att:- 4,632

mh-quote.png Thistle win a thriller (ET)

The two newly promoted sides served up a 5-goal thriller. Bone gave Thistle the lead in 6 minutes but the Fifers equalised through Hughes (28) and it remained 1-1 until h-t. Lawrie and Coulston put Thistle 3-1 ahead but the lead was reduced by Finlayson to a single goal. The normally mild-mannered Coulston was later sent off for “having words” with a linesman. It was his only sending off in Thistle colours. The ET reported that fighting broke out on the terracing after half-time.

The following morning victory was tempered by the news that Brian Ralston (reserve full-back) had broken his leg in a friendly against St Mirren reserves the same night. He would not see action again until April the following year. Alex Rae and Jimmy Bone had both taken knocks at Bayview and were unable to train on the Thursday. Arbroath’s win over Raith Rovers meant Thistle opened up a 2-point gap at the top of the section.

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 3: Sat-21-Aug-1971 Raith Rovers 1 Partick Thistle 1

Charlie Smith was on the road to recovery, appearing for the reserves against East Stirlingshire, but it was touch and go whether Alex Rae and Jimmy Bone would make it. As it happened, they both played and the starting eleven showed just one change. Nobby Clark (suffering with a virus) was replaced by Jackie Campbell:- Rough, Reid, Gray, Hansen, Campbell, Strachan, Lawrie, Coulston, Bone, A. Rae, McQuade. (Forsyth).

Raith Rovers:- McDermott, Hislop, Lindsay, Dempsey, Staite, Thomson, McLeod, Georgeson, Wallace, McGuire, Robertson. (Cooper.)

Ref:- J R P Gordon (Newport-on-Tay).

Att:- 3,377

It took Thistle about 20 minutes to get their first shot on target. By that time Rovers (with ex-JAG Dick Staite at centre-half) had had the better start and had gone close with a shot that went just wide. On the half hour mark Thistle went 1 down when slack marking left Georgeson in the clear to take a pass and shoot past Rough. In the 2nd half things improved when Lawrie and McQuade switched wings and Coulston got Thistle's equaliser 15 minutes from the end. Arbroath and East Fife had drawn so Thistle maintained their 2-point lead at the top.

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 4: Wed-25-Aug-1971 Partick Thistle 1 East Fife 1

Injury problems began to ease. Ronnie Glavin and Charlie Smith were approaching full fitness but the starting eleven was beginning to take on a familiar look as East Fife visited Firhill:- Rough, Reid, Gray, Hansen, Campbell, Strachan, Lawrie, Coulston, Bone, A. Rae, Lawrie. (Forsyth).

East Fife:- Gorman, Duncan, Clark, Cairns, Martis, Borthwick, Miller, Love, Honeyman, McPhee, Bernard. (Hughes.)

Ref:- R Henderson (Dundee).

Att:- 5,542

mh-quote.png Thistle switch sets the fuse (GH)
mh-quote.png Partick Thistle unfurled their second division championship flag but failed to salute it (GH)
mh-quote.png JAGS made it so hard (ET)

The game was largely forgettable except for the last quarter of an hour when Forsyth replaced McQuade who had had a disappointing match. East Fife took the lead with a header by Honeyman from a corner but Thistle levelled 3 minutes later when Rae headed in a Coulston cross via the bar. East Fife hit back and Rough had 2 good saves to keep things level. Thistle pressure almost resulted in an own goal at the other end. It was fast and furious till the end and the visitors put up a solid wall to protect their point. Once again, a convenient 1-1 draw (Raith Rovers v Arbroath) meant Thistle maintained their 2-point lead at the top of the section above Arbroath.

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 5: Sat-28-Aug-1971 Arbroath 2 Partick Thistle 4
Gayfield

The “four-pointer” at Gayfield (pictured) beckoned. Would Thistle win? Would the match be postponed because of the wind off the North Sea? It was August after all! After a couple of reserve appearances, Charlie Smith re-joined then squad and 18-year-old Andy Anderson was added too, but it would be another 4 days before he would make his second 1st XI appearance:- Rough, Reid, Forsyth, Hansen, Campbell, Strachan, Coulston, Smith, Bone, A. Rae, Lawrie. (Gibson).

Arbroath:- Gallacher, Milne, Hughes, Cargill, Waddell, Walker, Sellars, Cant, Christiansen, Payne, Robertson. (Stewart.)

Ref:- A F J Webster (Falkirk).

Att:- 2,651

After Thistle had won 5 corners in quick succession, Arbroath went 2-up inside 20 minutes through Payne and Sellars. The first was from a long clearance up the park then two minutes later a header from a free-kick out on the left made it 2-0. Thistle responded with two goals in the last five minutes of the first half. Smith smashed in a vicious low drive then Hansen scored with a shot from just inside the box. After the break Lawrie swung a corner over and Rae, standing unmarked, headed home (51). When Rae was fouled by the keeper Bone converted the rather soft penalty for 4-2 (74). Thistle had won the section with a game to spare.

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 6: Wed-01-Sep-1971 Partick Thistle 5 Raith Rovers 0
Ian Dick

The section already won and with a match against Rangers in the league on the Saturday, Thistle took the opportunity to make 10 changes (2 positional) and brought in some youngsters and fringe players.

Having played second fiddle to Billy Ritchie then Alan Rough, Ian Dick (pictured) made his final appearance for the 1st XI after a gap of 95 matches. Co-incidentally his last appearance was also against Raith Rovers. 18-year-old Jim Mullin made his 1st XI debut. Jim Logan made what would be his only first team appearance at right-back. Veteran Donnie McKinnon took over the No 5 shirt and as promised Andy Anderson came on as a sub:- Dick, Logan, Forsyth, Smith, McKinnon, Campbell, Gibson, Mullin, Bone, T. Rae, Lawrie. (Anderson).

Raith Rovers:- McDermott, Jamieson, Lindsay, Dempsey, Staite, Thomson, Robertson, Cooper, Wallace, Georgeson, Maguire. (Wilkinson.)

Ref:- As yet unsourced.

Att:- 2,978

Two goals by Tommy Rae, one each from Jimmy Bone and Alex Forsyth and an own-goal gave Thistle an emphatic win. Young Mullin hit the post twice and manager McParland was generally pleased with the performance of his youngsters.

RESULTS FROM ALL SECTION MATCHES

Section results

The sections completed, the draw for the quarter-finals was made. There was, however, one loose end to tie up and it involved the Jags. Because of the uneven number of sections in the competition there was a supplementary round to decide which team made up the last eight proper.

The Draw: Clydebank v Celtic, Falkirk v Hibs, St Mirren v Stirling Albion, St Johnstone v Partick Thistle or Alloa.

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 7: Mon-06-Sep-1971 Partick Thistle 4 Alloa Athletic 1
Johnny Gibson

Buoyed by a 3-2 win over Rangers on the Saturday the line-up showed only one change. Two-goal hero Johnny Gibson (pictured) who had been in tremendous form against Rangers dropped out to be replaced by Dennis McQuade. Fit again Ronnie Glavin was on the bench:- Rough, Reid, Forsyth, Smith, Campbell, Strachan, McQuade, Coulston, Bone, A. Rae, Lawrie. (Glavin).

Alloa:- McWilliams, McCulloch, Campbell, Thomson, Brown, McGarry, Johnstone, Allan, McCallan, P Stewart, Beck. (R Stewart.)

Ref:- W Anderson (East Kilbride).

Att:- 5,324

mh-quote.png Thistle's lead would have been unassailable had they not become complacent after scoring three in the first half (GH)

It was an exciting game. Alloa produced a high standard of football and made a fight of it after the disappointments of the first twenty minutes. Pace down the wings was the foundation of the win and Thistle took the lead (8) when Coulston scored with a flying header from a McQuade cross. An almost identical goal at the other end (an own goal by Reid) put Alloa on level terms two minutes later. A slick move involving several players ended with a McQuade goal to give Thistle the lead. A few minutes later Rae touched a free-kick to Smith who got Thistle's third with a shot from 35 yards (20). Alloa fought back and went close twice. Rough had to be at his best on both occasions. His opposite number was also in fine form and he had a couple of excellent saves to deny Bone and Lawrie before saving a Bone penalty. Bone did however get on the score sheet when he finished off a good move and pass from McQuade (78).

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 8: Wed-08-Sep-1971 Alloa Athletic 1 Partick Thistle 1 (agg W5-2)

Taking nothing for granted, Thistle took the squad to Dunblane Hydro to train and relax before heading to Alloa. Johnny Gibson came back into the line-up replacing Denis McQuade. John Hansen and Frank Coulston replaced Charlie Smith and Jimmy Bone:- Rough, Reid, Forsyth, Hansen, Campbell, Strachan, Gibson, Glavin, Coulston, A. Rae, Lawrie. (T. Rae).

Alloa:- McWilliams, R Stewart, Campbell, Thomson, Brown, McGarry, Johnstone, Allan, McCallan, P Stewart, McCulloch. (Lawrie.)

Ref:- W Anderson (East Kilbride).

Att:- 2,023

A goal by Coulston (8) after a defensive mix-up eased Thistle into the quarter finals. Alloa, by then facing a 5-1 aggregate, scored on the hour mark through Johnstone but it was of little consequence. By that time Thistle were content to allow them to make the running but Rough and Campbell were in fine form and the result was never in doubt.

QUARTER FINAL

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 9: Mon-20-Sep-1971 St Johnstone 2 Partick Thistle 0

Following draws against Airdrie and Clyde in the League, Ronnie Glavin, Donnie McKinnon, Ian Reid and John Hansen were added to the squad for the trip to Perth. The line-up was:- Rough, Gray, Forsyth, Smith, Campbell, Strachan, Gibson, Coulston, Glavin, A. Rae, Lawrie. (Hansen).

St Johnstone:- Donaldson, Lambie, Coburn, Rooney, Gordon, Rennie, Hall, Pearson, Connelly, McPhee, Aitken. (Whitelaw.)

Ref:- A F J Webster (Falkirk).

Att:- 5,518

mh-quote.png All isn’t lost yet, Thistle (ET)

Thistle seemed content to play a holding midfield game and were seldom seen as an attacking force. St Johnstone, with future-JAG Rooney in defence, took the lead (11) through a magnificent header by Connolly who was a constant threat. They came close to a second goal with a header from a free-kick by Lambie (yes, it is he). When Thistle did venture forward, they found St Johnstone's off-side trap a problem. Glavin found himself in the clear just on half-time but shot straight at the keeper. In the second half he was unlucky to see a 25-yard drive bounce back off the crossbar. Two minutes later, from the same distance, ex-JAG Whitelaw gave St Johnstone a 2-goal cushion. A disappointing performance. Perhaps the formation was too defensively minded. It was described as a “weird 5-2-3 formation” in the ET report. Whatever it was, it left Thistle with it all to do in the second leg.

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 10: Wed-22-Sep-1971 Partick Thistle 5 St Johnstone 1 (agg W5-3)

Fighting talk was the order of the day as Thistle prepared for the 2nd leg 2 days later. Manager McParland promised “We’ll give them all they can handle at Firhill.” The line-up charged with the task was:- Rough, Hansen, Forsyth, Glavin, Campbell, Strachan, Gibson, Coulston, Bone, A. Rae, McQuade. (Lawrie).

St Johnstone:- Donaldson, Lambie, Coburn, Rennie Rooney, McPhee, Aird, Whitelaw, Connelly, Hall, Aitken. (Gordon).

Ref:- A F J Webster (Falkirk).

Att:- 8,414

mh-quote.png Partick Thistle hit back for place in last four of League Cup (GH)
mh-quote.png A devastating display (GH)

Thistle huffed and puffed for the first thirty minutes, making no impact. It was St Johnstone who looked dangerous and likely to add to their aggregate lead. Things, however, were about to liven up. Bone rode two tackles before squeezing a shot in from a narrow angle (30). A minute later it was 2-0 when Coulston fired one in off a post from the edge of the box. Donaldson in the Saints goal was blameless for these goals but he had to take the blame for the third. He gathered a long lob safely but dropped it when under pressure from Coulston and Bone tapped the ball into the net. In the second half St Johnstone scored with a penalty by Connelly when Rough impeded him. Back level on aggregate, St Johnstone pressed for a winner and came close with shots from distance that went narrowly past. It looked as if extra time would be needed to settle the tie but gradually Thistle built up some sustained pressure and when Donaldson went walkabout when he tried to gather a through ball out on the wing, Bone squared the ball to Coulston who found the empty net for Thistle's fourth. Five minutes from time Gibson beat two men and while under pressure from a third hit a hard shot past the keeper. (And, yes, future manager John Lambie was booked during the match.)

Footnote. The starting 22 contained 3 future Thistle managers Lambie, Rooney and Bone.

Other results: Celtic 6-2 Clydebank (Agg 11-2), Hibs 1-0 Falkirk (Agg 1-2), Stirling Albion 0-3 St Mirren (Agg 0-5). The Draw: Celtic v St Mirren, Partick Thistle v Falkirk.

THE LAST 4 - THINGS WERE GETTING SERIOUS!

Celtic were confirmed as red-hot favourites to lift the trophy. Drawn against 2nd division St Mirren with either of the two teams promoted from that division in the previous two seasons waiting in the final, there seemed little reason to doubt the wisdom of the pundits and the bookies.

Since the St Johnstone match Thistle’s form had been modest - a 2-0 defeat away to Morton and a 2-2 draw with Kilmarnock at Firhill – but manager McParland reported that his young squad were in confident mood. The aim at the start of the season had been to consolidate in the league and everything else was a bonus. In one sense that took the pressure off them.

EVEN MORE SERIOUS - THE SEMI FINAL!

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 11: Mon-04-Oct-1971 Partick Thistle 2 Falkirk 0
Semi-Final

Two of Falkirk’s first team regulars had been dropped on the Saturday to watch Thistle playing Kilmarnock at Firhill. A compliment indeed but what did they learn? Notable in their line-up were ex-JAG Andy Roxburgh and Alex Ferguson. Bobby Lawrie (ankle) was the only injury doubt but was expected to be fit. Bobby Gray and Charlie Smith were added to the squad. As it turned out, the only change from the St Johnstone line-up was Denis McQuade in for Johnny Gibson:- Rough, Hansen, Forsyth, Glavin, Campbell, Strachan, McQuade, Coulston, Bone, Rae (A), Lawrie. (T Rae).

Falkirk:- Rennie, Ford, Jones, Markie, Miller, Gibson, Hoggan, Roxburgh, Ferguson, Shirra, Setterington. (Abel).

Ref:- W Anderson (East Kilbride).

Att:- 20,286

mh-quote.png Partick Thistle in first major cup final since 1959 (GH)
mh-quote.png High-speed JAGS a treat to watch (ET)

The match ended several months of work on the Hampden pitch which had been re-laid. Both teams went all out for attack from the start and produced some exciting play. The vital difference in the teams was Thistle's wingers. McQuade and Lawrie bewildered the Falkirk defenders with Bone and Coulston in the middle playing their part too. Falkirk had their share of the play too and Rough had some magnificent saves to repel them as they went all out for an equaliser. Thistle should have taken the lead as early as 17 minutes when a Lawrie cross was passed on to Coulston but his shot was blocked by the keeper. On the hour mark they took the lead. A shot from Bone hit the post and veered nicely to McQuade who hit it high into the net. Falkirk came back strongly in the second half and Rough had a tremendous twist and save to keep out a potential McQuade own goal. It looked as if 1-0 would be the final score but with 4 minutes remaining the Falkirk sweeper attempted a pass-back to his keeper. McQuade nipped in and knocked it over the keeper into the net.

Other result: Celtic 3-0 St Mirren.

THE FINAL - 23 OCTOBER 1971

What else was happening on that day 50 years ago? The headline in the Glasgow Herald (price 4p) was that the death toll from a gas explosion in Clarkston had reached 22. All 3 TV channels closed down before midnight. “Ryan’s Daughter” was showing at the ABC2 in Sauchiehall St. You could buy a 4-bedroom detached villa in Bearsden for offers over £10,500. The Upper Clyde Shipbuilders “sit-in” was in its fifth month. OAPs were demonstrating for an increase in pensions to £14 a week for a married couple. Rod Stewart was sitting No 1 in the charts with “Maggie May/Reason to Believe” (spooky title perhaps?) and, oh yes, Partick Thistle were in the final of the Scottish League Cup.

As soon as the result of the other semi-final was known, at least one Glasgow bookie made Celtic 5-1 on to win the cup. Thistle were a miserly 7-2. Celtic had won their section with 10 points, scoring 13 and conceding 2. They were looking for their 8th League Cup win and were on their way to winning the championship for a 7th consecutive season. Thistle had no such pedigree but the final would not be their first. The 1950s had seen 3 final defeats.

click any image for gallery view

1953 (East Fife 2-3) fell into the “glorious defeat” category with Thistle (having beaten Rangers in the semi-final) coming back from 2-down only to lose out to a goal 3 minutes from time. East Fife’s win gave them the trophy for the third time in six years.

Defeat to Celtic after a replay in 1956 was hampered by bad luck in the first match with Thistle effectively holding Celtic to 0-0 with only 9 fit men. Weakened by injuries for the replay 4 days later proved too much for them and 0-3 was a fair reflection on Celtic’s superiority. The replay defeat was Thistle’s only defeat in that season’s competition (12 matches).

In 1958 rampant Hearts ran out 5-1 winners. However, those of the Thistle persuasion will forever claim that 3 of the goals were clearly off-side and that a fourth came after a crunching tackle by Hearts’ hard man Dave Mackay in the build-up that went unpunished.

Doubtless there were many fans at the match who were at some, if not all, of the previous finals. Would history repeat itself? The odds on the Friday night remained unchanged – but they were stacked against the Jags nonetheless.

St Johnstone (and future Scotland) manager Willie Ormand bravely tipped Thistle to win. Evening Times columnist Malcolm Munro (reputedly a Jags man) tipped them too, but only if Celtic had an off day. Raymond Jacobs in the Glasgow Herald predicted Celtic’s “power and craft” would see them through – despite the likelihood that the playing conditions would not be favourable. Excuse in early, Raymond?


mh-quote.png It’s no disgrace to be outsiders in a cup final against Celtic but the cup does not always go according to the odds.

~ Davie McParland 22/10/1971 Belfast Telegraph
jagsman.png MATCH DAY 12: Sat-23-Oct-1971 Partick Thistle 4 Celtic 1
Final Action 1

Ronnie Glavin and Alex Rae were declared fit and allowed manager McParland to go with the eleven who had beaten Falkirk in the semi-final. Johnny Gibson was on the bench. The average age of the chosen twelve was 23 years 6 months.

Thistle:- Rough, Hansen, Forsyth, Glavin, Campbell, Strachan, McQuade, Coulston, Bone, Rae (A), Lawrie. (Gibson).

Celtic:- Williams, Hay, Gemmell, Murdoch, Connelly, Brogan, Johnstone, Dalglish, Hood, Callaghan, Macari. (Craig).

Ref:- W J Mullan (Dalkeith).

Att:- 62,740

Four goals in the first 37 minutes gave Thistle their first major trophy win for 50 years. Rae (10), Lawrie (15), McQuade (29) and Bone (37) got the goals in one of the biggest upsets in Scottish football. Celtic were unchanged from the side that had won 5-0 against Sliema Malta on the Wednesday night. The teams sparred with each other at the start, making little in the way of serious attacks then McQuade had a shot from 25 yards that whizzed past the post. The speed of Lawrie was giving the Celtic full-backs all sorts of problems.

click any image for gallery view

Rae scored with a shot from the edge of the box from a corner kick - right into the postage stamp corner of the net. Thistle, effectively with 2 men in midfield (Glavin and Rae) controlling things, scored again when McQuade won possession in the middle of the park then passed to Coulston who swung over to Lawrie and he cut inside Hay and cracked a beauty into the far corner for 2-0.

Celtic hit back with a corner but Rough clutched it safely. Johnstone "clashed" with Glavin and went off injured and Celtic had to re-organise when Craig came on. Hansen was knocked out when he got in the way of a Murdoch shot but soon recovered. Next, Campbell fell heavily and lay on the pitch for more than a minute before the referee stopped play. Ironically, Thistle came close to a third goal while he was down.

On the half hour a Lawrie corner was swung over and the Celtic defence looked all at sea. Coulston should have scored but McQuade did so in his own particular style. With half a goal gaping he managed to hit the ball off a defender into the net. Soon after McQuade beat three men and was brought down heavily. He required treatment before he could continue. Next, McQuade was in the thick of it again and it should have been number four. A cut-back by Bone to Lawrie was crossed over and McQuade missed a sitter in front of goal.

Glavin was injured in the Celtic penalty box but the referee ignored him and didn't stop play. He limped off for attention and while Thistle were down to ten men Bone scored goal number four when he more or less walked the ball into the net from a Lawrie chip - the Celtic defence statuesque.

Thistle supporters in the North Stand stamped their feet and cries of "Easy! Easy!" went up. Gemmell and Glavin had a joust for the ball and Glavin had to go off for a second time. Hood came close with a header just as Glavin came back onto the field. 4-0 at half-time! When the half-time scores were being announced on BBC's "Grandstand" programme, the score was correctly given but the presenter was certain it was the wrong way round and that it would be checked.

Early in the second half the ball was moved around five players in some uninhibited play and McQuade shot over the bar to deny Thistle a 5-goal lead. Thistle were playing out of their skins and giving Celtic all sorts of problems down the wings and through the middle. Next, Dalglish knocked the ball over with just Rough to beat then the keeper had a magnificent save from a Gemmell cross as Celtic turned on the pressure. On the hour Rough made a magnificent point-blank save from Macari but he was eventually beaten when Dalglish scored with 20 minutes left. There was no panic however and Thistle saw out the remaining minutes with Gibson coming on and displaying his skills in holding onto the ball, running down the clock. Thistle, for once, had beaten Celtic at their own game. Arguably they were one of the last teams to favour a 4-2-4 formation - including two wingers.

click any image for gallery view (thanks to PTFC Shirts external-link.png for the colourization of the first two)

The team that lined up 1-11 on the day only played together 11 times – twice before the final and a further eight afterwards. They won 5, drew 3 and lost 3 but the only win that mattered was the final. Matches featuring the winning 1-11 line-up. Johnny Gibson came on as a sub (#):-

Mon-04-Oct-1971 Falkirk [n] W2-0 (League Cup Semi Final)
Sat-09-Oct-1971 Dunfermline Athletic [a] D2-2 (SFL First Division - game 6)
Sat-23-Oct-1971 Celtic [n] W4-1 (League Cup Final) #
Sat-30-Oct-1971 Aberdeen [a] L2-7 (SFL First Division - game 9) #
Sat-13-Nov-1971 Falkirk [a] D0-0 (SFL First Division - game 11)
Sat-27-Nov-1971 Celtic [h] L1-5 (SFL First Division - game 12) #
Sat-04-Dec-1971 East Fife [a] W3-1 (SFL First Division - game 14)
Sat-11-Dec-1971 Motherwell [h] W8-3 (SFL First Division - game 15)
Sat-18-Dec-1971 Heart of Midlothian [a] D0-0 (SFL First Division - game 16)
Sat-25-Dec-1971 Ayr United [h] L0-1 (SFL First Division - game 17)
Sat-15-Jan-1972 Morton [h] W2-0 (SFL First Division - game 21)

WHAT THEY SAID – PRESS, MANAGEMENT AND FANS

mh-quote.png Sizzling Thistle roast Celts (ET)
mh-quote.png Goal feast in rip-roaring final (ET)
mh-quote.png Celts didn’t know what hit them (DR)
mh-quote.png Thistle were dynamic on the break, calm in defence (ET)
mh-quote.png Barren years end for Thistle with emphatic cup win (GH)
mh-quote.png 4-1. Sorprendente Victoria del Partick Thistle ante el Celtic (EMD)
mh-quote.png Oh, Celtic (DM)
mh-quote.png An amazing bunch of youngsters (DM)
mh-quote.png The Celtic ‘reject ‘ [Alex Rae] who humbled Celtic (DM)
mh-quote.png Celtic defence demoralised (APJ)
William Shakespeare:

mh-quote.png …and the gentlemen of Maryhill now a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not there. (c1599)
Davie McParland:

mh-quote.png It’s no disgrace to be outsiders in a cup final against Celtic but the cup does not always go according to the odds. (Belfast Telegraph, 22/10/1971)
Alex Rae:

mh-quote.png It was a team effort. That’s the way the boss had planned it. (Daily Mirror, 25/10/1971)
Several thousand Thistle fans in North Stand:

mh-quote.png Easy! Easy! Easy!
Gerry Sheridan:

mh-quote.png In April 1971, I joined the merchant ship M.V. Lossiebank as an engineer and in October that year, we found ourselves docked in Sydney, Australia. There were three Jags fans on the ship, myself, Roddy the 2nd engineer and Bob the radio officer. The big day arrived and, at the time of the match, I was on duty in the engine room when the phone at the telegraph rang loudly. I answered “engine room” thinking I was going to be asked to start another generator, but it was Bob and he shouted down the line “it's half time at Hampden and Thistle are up four nil”. Now if he had said 1-0 or even 2-0, I would have believed it. But for Thistle to be up 4-0 at half time against a Celtic side who were being described in the media as one of the best in Europe, it seemed a wee bit far-fetched, so I said “aye right” thinking it was a wind-up and went back to work. At the end of my watch, I heard music and laughter coming from the lounge of Roddy's cabin. I walked up to his open cabin door to find that a party was in full swing, and that's when it dawned on me that we had won the Cup. Roddy and Bob saw me standing at the cabin door in my boiler suit and started shouting “We've done it, we've won the League Cup”. A drink was thrust into my hand, as I asked them the final score. “4-1 for Thistle” I was told, as other members of the crew joined us and we all raised our glasses in a toast to a great victory.
QXBoy:

mh-quote.png My abiding memory. Johnny Gibson had come on as substitute and in the far corner to my right from my seat in the stand (call it the Northeast corner) he was close to the corner flag and cheekily chipped the ball over the head of a Celtic defender. It was 4-1 at the time but I went ballistic worrying that he might have given possession to Celtic. Problem was I had forgotten to wear my watch that day and had no idea how long was left. I was quickly placated by one (or more) of my pals telling me “Calm doon, there's only 2 minutes left!”
Auld Jag:

mh-quote.png When Celtic scored, I thought we were going to lose 5-4. I think they scored with about 20 minutes to go, kept checking my watch, it never seemed to go forward for a while. Total elation at the final whistle though. What a team we had then.
Garscube Road End 2:

mh-quote.png A great team and a young forward-thinking manager.
DL1971:

mh-quote.png I was only 10 at the time and as I entered the ground Alex Rae's shot was just looping into the net. I was there with my dad who had witnessed our league Cup defeats in the 50s. He could barely believe we had won. He took me home and then went out to celebrate. We stayed in Govan so he headed over to Maryhill for two nights in a row. I might do similar if we win this league (yes, I know it’s not comparable).
GH:

mh-quote.png I went to see my then girlfriend who was not the least interested in football and couldn’t understand why I was so ecstatic. Naturally, the relationship did not last much longer.
AFK:

mh-quote.png My father was in the main stand. At the full-time whistle he looked round and saw a guy who used to work in the pie stall behind the goals at the north end of the ground before the war just sitting staring out at the park greetin’. I had arranged to meet a colleague at work and her husband in the Penny Farthing pub in Cathcart Road after the game – thinking it was likely to be an ordeal. Both Celtic supporters, they were shell-shocked but they took the defeat with good grace. I made sure I was first in to work on the Monday to deck the staff tea-room with press cuttings and scarves. For the rest of the week a Rangers supporter who constantly bugged me (“Have the Jags got 22 socks the same colour yet?”) couldn’t have been nicer!

“BACK TO THE BREAD AND BUTTER OF LEAGUE FOOTBALL” (As someone once said.)

Following the final there was no time to bask in the reflected glory of the win. Matches came thick and fast. On the Wednesday there was a drab but creditable 0-0 draw away to Dundee. It would be interesting to know how well the squad had trained for the match!

A crowd of over 20,000 gave Thistle a warm reception in Aberdeen on the Saturday – then the homesters proceeded to hand out a roasting. It must have been a long journey home as Thistle lost 7-2. For once the midfield was overrun and Thistle were never seriously in the game. What was showing at one of the Aberdeen cinemas? "The Magnificent Seven".

The season unfolded. Celtic got their revenge a few weeks later (1-5). Hibs ended interest in the Scottish Cup (0-2). The league ran its course and Thistle finished a creditable mid-table 7th with 34 points from 34 matches. As all other details of 1971/72 fade as the years pass, one indelible memory remains. Partick Thistle 4 Celtic 1.



Publishing date An original Thistle Archive publication, 14-Aug-2021.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 13-Aug-2021.


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