The Day The Scottish Cup Came Up To Maryhill

by William Sheridan



Easter Road
● Easter Road, 1910s (HHT)

Hibs v Thistle preview

And so, Thistle's 36th Scottish Cup campaign was all set to get underway in Leith. Until now, we had only ever got as far as the Quarter Finals; could we take it a step further this year, in line with our improving League status? Despite the table positions, the Dundee Courier fancied Hibs, but it was always going to be a tight one to call, especially with Thistle on the back of three consecutive 0-0 draws and stuffy Hibs having taken 4½ hours to get through round one.

The homesters were showing one change from the side which had finally ousted Third Lanark at Ibrox on Tuesday, with Patrick Maxwell in for Peter Kerr at right half. For Thistle, there were four changes to the side which had been held at home to Albion Rovers last Saturday. Watty Borthwick was in at right back, with Tom Crichton moving up to cover the absent Willie Hamilton at centre half. Jimmy McMullan was back at left half at the expense of Matt Wilson, after having missed the Albion Rovers game with a slight niggle. Top scorer Andrew Kerr (9 goals) was back in at centre in preference to David Johnstone, whilst John Bowie was a straight swap for Willie Salisbury on the left wing.

competition-2.png Scottish Cup 2nd Round
ft.png Hibernian 0 Partick Thistle 0
date.png Saturday, 5th February, 1921
crowd.png 29,000 @ Easter Road
hibernian.png Willie Harper, William McGinnigle, William Dornan, Patrick Maxwell, Matthew Paterson, Hugh Shaw, Harry Ritchie, Jimmy Dunn, John Walker, Johnny Halligan, Patrick Hannigan
partick-thistle.png Kenny Campbell, Watty Borthwick, Willie Bulloch, Joe Harris, Tom Crichton, Jimmy McMullan, John Blair, Jimmy Kinloch, Andrew Kerr, Jimmy McMenemy, John Bowie
mh-referee.png J. Binnie (Falkirk)
Albert Buick external-link.png, Sunday Post, 6th February, 1921

Partick Thistle have Campbell to thank for still being in the Scottish ties. In the second half of the game at Easter Road he stood between the Hibs and victory. All manner of shots were alike to him, and his anticipation was really class. In the first two minutes of the game two shots were sent in, and while Campbell saw Walker's go past, Harper had to deal with a tricky delivery from Kerr. These efforts put the 30,000 spectators on the tip-toe of real Cup-tie excitement.

Thus early I gained the impression that Hibs had something to do to stop the Thistle. They were gathering the ball and passing better than the Hibs, while they did not try so many pot-luck efforts to make progress. Yet the Thistle forwards were denied an opening to get shots in for goal. Real Cup-tie football was played by the Hibs, but, like the Thistle, much of their outfield dash was discarded when inside the penalty box, and a disjointed forward line missed chances that might have proved valuable had the forwards used more judgement.

There was hardly an incident of one man drawing the defence and making openings for his partner. While this was so of the Hibs, it was equally the case with the Thistle, although I had to admire McMenemy's fine trapping of the ball and leading out of the play. He made openings, but the other players did not take up good positions to receive his timely passes, and while McMenemy seemed at fault it was really the fault of others. McMenemy never wasted a ball.

The replay on Tuesday will provide a hard game, but my tip is the Thistle, although they will have to work all the time for victory.


The Hibs were too eager, and their over-anxiety caused them to make many mistakes. From a bad pass by Halligan, Crichton slipped forward to McMenemy, who made a grand opening for Kerr. The centre, however, was slow, and Harper easily held his parting effort. By slapdash methods, the Hibs left troubled the Partick defenders. Walker crossed the ball to Ritchie, who let drive first time, but Campbell stepped out a couple of paces and effected a great save. As the game progressed, the Hibs played better, and would have made more out of their work had the centre not tried to do too much on his own. Twice he wanted to work through when a pass to his wing might have been more profitable. The Thistle forwards were by no means playing the ideal game, and they were always mastered by the Hibs' backs, especially McGinnigle, who tackled and kicked splendidly.

The game was thirty minutes old before the first real opening for goal was made, and the man responsible was Joe Harris. With a nice ground pass he let Kinloch away, and the ex-Amateur shot well from a very acute angle. Harper was beat to the world, and just when the ball looked like striking the upright, McGinnigle dashed in and cleared. Thistle continued to play the finer game, but there was ginger about the Hibs' attack. In fact, a combined rush by the Easter Road lads enabled Hannigan to send in a terrific drive, which Borthwick rather luckily kept out of the goal at the expense of a corner, which produced nothing.

The Hibs were now all dash. Their long passing in the outfield was causing the Thistle half-backs and backs to put in over-time, and while the backs were often beaten by the trickiness of Dunn and the dash of Walker, Campbell was the man who mattered. He held shots from Hannigan and Walker with remarkable confidence, and baffled the Hibs' attacks when his backs were completely beaten. In fact, there were times when be had the whole Easter Road forward line on top of him, but it was all the same to Campbell. He cleared, and cleared confidently. The game, as a whole, was disappointing. The Thistle were the more scientific, but it was a case of science being beat by grit and determination.


Harper, too, is a grand keeper, and he showed it when Kerr, Kinloch, and McMenemy were all but through. One yard from the goal line, McGinnigle fell on the ball and when Kerr looked like getting it, Harper left his goal, lifted the ball from the crowd of players, and to the amazement of all dribbled to almost midfield before he parted with it. It was a great save.

Dunn and Walker were at it again. Shaw let this thrustful pair away, and Dunn looked like scoring, when Campbell again stepped out and cleared while lying on the ground. Thistle broke away again; Blair beat Shaw and Dornan, and finished up with a great drive, and while every one shouted goal the ball flashed past Harper, rattled off the far away upright, rebounded to the foot of the other post, and McGinnigle kicked it clear.

It is difficult to give an impression of the players in a game which was disappointing. Campbell I have dealt with. He is the best Scotland has today. Of the Thistle backs I like Borthwick best, but he and Bulloch lie too square and wide for my liking. When pressed they kick badly, and that accounts for the large amount of work the goalkeeper has got to do. Joe Harris was the best of the three half-backs on the day's play. He tackled and fed in the way an Internationalist should. McMullan in the first half was quite good, but later he seemed to slow down, and was beaten on several occasions for speed by Ritchie. I have said the forwards did not work well together. Kerr got very few real openings, but he did not seem to fall into the play of McMenemy, and often dashed the ball forward to find his centres snapped by the opposition. Kinloch and Blair at times worked well together.

The Hibs' defence was better than that of the Thistle. Harper certainly gives promise of going far in the game. Not only in looks but in style and confidence he resembles Campbell. McGinnigle was the better of two fairly steady backs, and the pick of the half-backs was certainly Shaw. Not only is he a fine defender, but he acts as a sort of sixth forward by his fine carpet passes. Paterson at centre half is as resolute as ever. He worked hard and well, but not in the least showy. Maxwell has the fault of dribbling too much. There was a dash about the Hibs' attack which was lacking in the Thistle. Walker was the real live wire. By his bustling he kept the Partick defence always on the move, and while he could have improved his play by parting with the ball oftener, he is a valuable man for such a position at centre. The trickster, however, was Dunn. He had many fine movements, and did the right thing after beating the half-backs by either slipping the ball to Ritchie or into the centre. Ritchie, at outside right, is full of dash, but his speed at times was the cause of his over-running the ball, and chances were lost through this. However, he played a good, steady game. Halligan and Hannigan as a pair worked very well, but there was a lack of finish about their work. For the replay Hibs' attack must steady up, and not trust to hefty kicking and slap-dash methods. They are quite a good side, and will give Partick a run.

● Thistle's 36th Scottish Cup campaign gets underway.
● For the first time in history, Thistle register a fourth consecutive same result.
● With 4 consecutive clean-sheets in competitive action, Jags match the joint club-record, first set back in 1899.
● Having now failed to score in 5 consecutive competitive games, 8th Jan 1921 to date, a new club-record is set.
● 38 consecutive competitive appearances for Joe Harris, 17th Apr 1920 to date, a new personal best. (Longest run since: Neil Harris - 38 games, 16th Aug 1919 to 13th Mar 1920. Club-record: Jock McTavish - 61 games, 15th Nov 1913 to 6th Feb 1915.)

sc-1921-badge.png Meet the squad… JOE HARRIS
Joe Harris

As we've just read, Albert Buick, in common with most commentators at this time, was full of praise for our right half, who “tackled and fed in the way an Internationalist should”. As the Athletic News put it: “In the marvellously good half-hack line which has been Partick Thistle's sheet anchor, Harris has been the outstanding figure”. Joe was a linchpin of the class of '21, and was one of only three Jagsmen to feature in all eleven games of the Scottish Cup campaign. Indeed, he was currently sitting on a personal best run of 38 consecutive competitive appearances, not having missed a game since last April. Very soon, winning the Scottish Cup with Thistle and British Championship with Scotland, would make for a breathtaking double entry on his CV.

In the summer of '13, several senior clubs were showing an interest in the talented Brigton lad who had come through the ranks at Shettleston and Strathclyde, but “manager Easton secured his signature whilst other aspirants awaited developments”. (SR). The 20-year-old made his debut on 16th August, 1913, starring in a 2-1 win at home to Motherwell in the SFL First Division, commanding from the off. What a shrewd signing he proved to be. Joe arrived as a left half, but gradually migrated to the right, to accommodate Jimmy McMullan and for the greater good of the team. He clocked up 248 appearances in his 10 years at Firhill, a figure greatly limited by the First World War, as Joe served with the Royal Garrison Artillery.

So impressed were the Scottish selectors this day, that they finally gave in to the calls for Joe to be capped, and he was duly selected for next week's match against Wales, ahead of George Halley (Burnley). At last, his consistency was being rewarded. Within days of this news, the Thistle directors ratified a lucrative benefit, which would be realized just 7 days after the Cup Final, in the form of a home League game against Ayr United, where the cup was paraded at half-time. “They were accorded a magnificent ovation from their followers” (SP). This benefit would very much prove to be a two-way relationship, as the Firhill board cashed in handsomely in 1923, when Joe commanded a huge transfer fee of £4,200 from Middlesbrough, before reuniting with his old Firhill buddy, Neil Harris, at Newcastle United, where, tellingly, he was again honoured with a benefit.


Good weather favoured the Scottish Cup ties, and healthy turnouts were in evidence, with a ground record at Bo'ness for the partisan derby. The big news came at Rugby Park where the Cup holders fell unexpectedly at home.

Albion Rovers 3 Mid-Annandale 1 (11,000)
Alloa Athletic 1 Clydebank 1 (7,000)
Ayr United 4 Dykehead 0 (7,000)
Bo'ness 0 Armadale 0 (6,000)
Broxburn United 1 Hamilton Academical 2 (6,000)
Dumbarton 3 Elgin City 0 (3,600)
Dundee 1 Stenhousemuir 0 (16,000)
Clyde 1 Heart of Midlothian 1 (26,000)
Hibernian 0 Partick Thistle 0 (29,000)
Kilmarnock 1 Aberdeen 2 (12,000)
Motherwell 3 Renton 0 (10,000)
Queen of the South 1 Nithsdale Wanderers 3 (5,000)
Rangers 2 Morton 0 (65,369)
Solway Star 1 East Stirlingshire 5 (2,000)
Stevenston United 0 East Fife 0 (4,000)
Vale of Leven 0 Celtic 3 (3,000)

sc-1921-badge.png Scottish Cup Winners 1921

back: Sandy Lister (trainer), Willie Hamilton, Tom Crichton, Kenny Campbell, Jimmy McMenemy, Matt Wilson, John Bowie, Watty Borthwick.
middle: David Johnstone, Jimmy Kinloch, Joe Harris, Willie Bulloch, Jimmy McMullan, Bob McFarlane.
front: John Blair, Willie Salisbury.


Publishing date An original Thistle Archive publication, 05-Feb-2021.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 02-Apr-2021.

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