The Day The Scottish Cup Came Up To Maryhill

by William Sheridan



Celtic Park
● Celtic Park, 1921 (NLS/PTS)

Thistle v Hibs (2nd replay) preview

The prize of a winnable tie at East Stirlingshire in 4 days time lay in store for the victors on this stormy Tuesday afternoon at Celtic Park. Saturday's surprise 4-0 win over Morton demonstrated that the 'fringe' Jags were hungry and ready. Bob McFarlane had been given the nod as centre at the expense of the off-form Andrew Kerr, and his performance (with goal) was enough to see him retain his place in that role. It was great to see Willie Hamilton back to fitness on Saturday, and, inevitably, he also retained his place today, meaning that our revered half-back line was, again, as it should be.

There were six changes to Saturday's side, three being obvious, with the returning international triumvirate of Campbell, Harris & McMullan in for Bernard, MacLachlan & Wilson. In contrast to the modern day mindset, the Scottish Cup was prioritised over the League in this era, and the Thistle executive were starting to plot their way through the congested card, freshening and resting wherever possible, especially mindful with regards to the older boys. At the back, 37-year-old Willie Bulloch returned at the expense of versatile squad man David Johnstone, whilst 40-year-old Jimmy McMenemy was in for Alex Lauder at inside left. John Bowie got the nod over Willie Salisbury, these two having a bit of a ding-dong battle for possession of that outside left jersey at this time. John had been second top scorer with 12 goals last term, but, disappointingly, had yet to find the mark in 1920-21.

Like Thistle, Hibs played a good sprinkling of reserves in their 2-0 League win at Coatbridge on Saturday, and, like Thistle, prevailed against the odds in doing so. McGinnigle, Dornan, Paterson, Shaw, Dunn, Halligan & Hannigan were back in for Templeton, Cassidy, Young, Cannon, Walker, Millar and Williams. This was their “full strength Cup-tie side” and, on paper, they'd be fresher than our lot, unburdened as they were by affairs of an international nature.

For Jimmy McMenemy, it was a return to Parkhead, the place he had called home for almost the entirety of the century. Could this give Thistle the edge? Jags were on a history-making run of 6 consecutive clean-sheets but, in an incredible pre-match scenario, Hibs themselves were 5 games without conceding a goal. This, coupled with the foul conditions, all pointed to a low scoring affair, with 120 minutes of play a real possibility. My prediction is under 2.5 goals…

competition-2.png Scottish Cup 2nd Round 2nd replay
ft.png Partick Thistle 1 Hibernian 0
date.png Tuesday, 15th February, 1921
crowd.png 24,000 @ Celtic Park
goal.png Bob McFarlane (1-0, 65 mins)
partick-thistle.png Kenny Campbell, Tom Crichton, Willie Bulloch, Joe Harris, Willie Hamilton, Jimmy McMullan, John Blair, Jimmy Kinloch, Bob McFarlane, Jimmy McMenemy, John Bowie
hibernian.png Willie Harper, William McGinnigle, William Dornan, Patrick Maxwell, Matthew Paterson, Hugh Shaw, Harry Ritchie, Jimmy Dunn, David Anderson, Johnny Halligan, Patrick Hannigan
mh-referee.png J. Binnie (Falkirk)
Dundee Courier, 16th February, 1921

Partick Thistle deservedly triumphed over Hibs in their third game in the second round of the Scottish Cup at Celtic Park, Glasgow, yesterday. McFarlane scored the only goal of the match in the second half, although he later failed to convert a penalty kick. Wind and rain made the conditions disagreeable. Play did not rule fast in the opening stages. Hibs, however, improved, and Paterson drove in a hard ball, Campbell managing to stop it ere it reached the net. This was followed by another by Halligan, which was also saved.

The Thistle had the wind to fight against, but did well, especially forward, where McMenemy was seen to advantage in leading and combining play. He sent to McFarlane, and the home centre made good progress, giving Kinloch a fine opportunity to score. The ball, however, came slowly to the hands of the waiting Harper.


As time went on the Thistle figured more prominently in the game, and, for the most part, play was carried on in the Hibernian half. Despite a very stiff pressure, however, the Hibs defenders successfully held all the opposition until the interval. Before this was reached, McFarlane had one very fine try, the ball striking the crossbar. Half-time; no scoring.


When the second half commenced, the wind had increased in strength. Thistle fairly penned the Hibs around their own goal. On occasion, the Hibs would break away. The best opening of the game so far fell to McFarlane, but offside robbed him of an almost certain goal. It came, however, later, as the centre headed through a ball from a free kick by Harris, just outside the penalty line. Before the close, McFarlane missed a penalty kick. Including tax, the gate money amounted to £1,100, representing an attendance of 22,000.

● This was only the second time a Thistle Scottish Cup tie had went to a third game, Hibs being the opponents on both occasions. It's sweet revenge for 1906!
● Jags go 7 competitive games unbeaten, 15th Jan 1921 to date, and are eyeing up the joint club-record (10) of 1897 and 1902.
● The sensational run of 7 consecutive clean-sheets in competitive games (15th Jan 1921 to date) extends the club-record which still stands to this day.
● 24 consecutive competitive appearances for John Blair, 2nd Oct 1920 to date, a new personal best. (Longest run since: Joe Harris - 39 games, 17th Apr 1920 to 12th Feb 1921. Club-record: Jock McTavish - 61 games, 15th Nov 1913 to 6th Feb 1915.)

sc-1921-badge.png Meet the squad… WILLIE HAMILTON
Willie Hamilton

I've always thought the old 11 cup winners' medals rule rather mean and unforgiving, and the case of Willie Hamilton strengthens my feeling on the subject. Hammy gave more than 10 years of excellent service to the Thistle cause, and Glasgow became his home from home. The likeable Fifer, quiet and genial off the park, was a whole-hearted competitor on it, excelling in the breaking up of play and leading by example. As a testament to his worth and popularity, there was a fine turnout of 8,000 for his benefit in the spring of 1920, as Jags defeated a first class Newcastle team by 3 goals to 2.

The directors fancied him as a number nine when he first arrived from Dunfermline in 1911, but he wasn't long in falling back to the half-back line where his real combative strengths lay. He had to bide his time to finally claim the centre half position for his own, and did so after the retiral of Alec Raisbeck a few years down the line. In the meantime, he was assisting both the first and second elevens, winning the League championship (1912) and Scottish Cup (1914) with the latter. During his 10 years, he would also claim 5 runners-up medals in local cup action with the first team. However, the Scottish Cup badge of honour was the one he dearly craved.

He was in his footballing prime this season, the beating heart of the acclaimed middle three - Harris, Hamilton & McMullan - regarded as one of the finest lines in the Scottish game at the time, and undoubtedly a major contributing factor to the success of the team in 1920-21. Willie featured in 40 of the 55 games in this most demanding of campaigns. He had played in every round of the Scottish Cup, and was all set to make his 300th appearance in the final itself. Although he had retired, reportedly injured, during the Hamilton game 8 days earlier, there did not seem to be a problem on the eve of the Cup final, as Willie was included in all the pre-match line-ups. However, he took ill (again) on the day of the game, a reccuring report of late, and it must have been serious for him to miss such an occasion. As it transpired, he was suffering from TB, and, shockingly, succumbed to the disease exactly 4 months after the final, aged just 31.

He died on the day of the opening game of season 1921-22, and the flags at Firhill flew at half-mast in tribute, as his team mates defeated Clydebank by one goal to nothing. Around 16,000 were at Firhill to see the Cup holders kick-off the new season, and, I'd like to think a great many of them raised a parting glass on that Tuesday evening to a great Thistle servant. Willie never got his coveted Scottish Cup medal, but there are none more deserving of this virtual version, 100 years on.

sc-1921-badge.png Meet the squad… BOB McFARLANE
Bob McFarlane

Maryhill-born Bob was one of three Queen's Park players who turned professional with Thistle in 1920, after Matt Wilson and before Jimmy Kinloch. I think it's a fairly sure bet that the (then) 33-year-old would have done so sooner were it not for the severe distraction of World War I. As a qualified engineer, Bob's skills were in demand for the duration of the conflict, and he served with the Royal Navy, returning to the football when it was all over.

Bob could play anywhere along the front five, and did so for Thistle, even falling back to right half a couple of times to help the team out. Most of his 66 appearances were as centre forward. The great problem of 1920-21 was the quest to find an effective replacement for record-fee departure Neil Harris; no fewer than 8 of them were in and out of the team as the season progressed. Bob made only 14 appearances in the 55-game campaign, but could point to his Scottish Cup record and make a claim that he was underplayed.

3 crucial goals in 4 games was his invaluable Scottish Cup contribution; the second round winner against Hibernian, the quarter final equalizer in the mud at Fir Park and the decisive counter against the Steelmen again in the second replay at Ibrox. Indeed, Bob scored 30% of our Scottish Cup goals despite playing in only 4 of the matches. He had the best win rate of all players too @ 75%. This was a guy who liked to get the job done; his is another virtual medal very well earned.

Partick Thistle 1 Hibernian 0 (24,000 @ Celtic Park)


And so, the third round draw was finally clarified 3 days ahead of Saturday's card. Hearts came from behind to win at Shawfield and would now head for Douglas Park, whilst that man Crilley settled it again for doughty Alloa, who would return to Ibrox for a great payday.

Clyde 2 Heart of Midlothian 3 (20,000 @ Shawfield)
Clydebank 0 Alloa Athletic 1 (11,000 @ Ibrox)

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, 15-Feb-2021.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 31-Aug-2021.

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