The Road To Hampden 1945
The Road To Hampden 1945

by William Sheridan

On the 30th June 1945, Partick Thistle won the second of the three major trophies to land in the cabinet at Firhill Road - The Summer Cup. It’s the one that’s virtually forgotten about – mainly due to the fact that it was a short-lived wartime competition which, unlike the Scottish Cup and the League Cup, is now firmly out of sight and out of mind. However, it was regarded nationally as a significant achievement for the Jags at the time, and it should naturally follow that it remains so in the 21st Century. This is the story of six consecutive Saturdays in the summer of 1945. The war in Europe was over and – for the faithful in red ‘n’ yellow – Thistle did their very best to paint over the grey…
The Class Of '45
● The class of 1945, L to R: Jim Steadward, Bill Shankly, Willie Sharp, Bobby Parker?, Peter Curran, Maurice Candlin?, Jimmy McGowan & Jackie Husband. (APD)

THE BIRTH OF THE SUMMER CUP

When the Scottish Football League finally went into hiatus in the summer of 1940, 16 clubs formed their own “virtual association” and, despite the difficult circumstances, organised themselves very well indeed as “The Southern League”. Hearts and Hibs, who, despite their protestations, had both been forced to play in the SFL’s Regional League East of 1939-40, made enough noise to be included with the Western clubs in what was, in effect, the new Premier League. Aberdeen were the only major club of the day to be excluded from this “Southern League Association” (both Dundee clubs were in the second tier prior to WWII) as the geographical location of the Dons was simply a journey too far during the precarious wartime environment.

As well as the Southern League itself, the 16 clubs organised the “Southern League Cup” to compensate for the suspended Scottish Cup and the relatively low number of 30 League fixtures. The Southern League Cup, an innovative mixture of mini-Leagues and knockout, was scheduled to run from February to May, in amongst the League fixtures. Before the season was out, there was a bit of a surprise in store for both the fans and even the clubs themselves – the introduction of a new competition and, shock-horror, fitba’ in the summertime!

It was well into April 1941 when the Summer Cup concept was first introduced by the S.F.A. It was encouraged by Westminster as part of their “Holidays at Home” campaign. To give priority to military and freight traffic in wartime, the British government tried to impose restrictions on civilian travel, and were especially keen to minimize widespread travel by the public during the summer months. Local authorities and private enterprises were asked to help by providing as much home-grown entertainment as possible – British Pathe was chock-full of “wonderful” ideas on how to “Holiday at Home”.

All sixteen of the Southern League clubs were asked to participate and, despite some initial reluctance on the part of Albion Rovers, they all duly agreed to do so, and the inaugural Summer Cup was up and running in a matter of just several weeks. Airdrieonians, Albion Rovers, Celtic, Clyde, Dumbarton, Falkirk, Hamilton Academical, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Morton, Motherwell, Partick Thistle, Queen’s Park, Rangers, St Mirren, Third Lanark were the teams who would take part. The Round of 16 and the Quarter-Finals would be played over two legs, before a one off Semi-Final and Final at a neutral venue.

The tournament was notable for producing a variety of different winners. Hibs (1941), Rangers (1942) and St Mirren (1943) were the first three clubs to taste success, a pleasing trend which would be continued. With the public appetite for football all but insatiable at a time of austerity, attendances were healthy. Much “entertainment tax” was raised for government funds. Using some of their share of the funds, the S.F.A. purchased a new trophy every year for the holders to keep. Who said they were tight?

By 1944 however, there were was some talk that perhaps there was simply too much football. In the context of the “Premier League” it didn’t help that the same sixteen clubs were playing against each other in three competitions every year. It was even worse for the six clubs from Glasgow who were playing each other in five competitions every year. Opinions were divided though. Speaking in the Sunday Post of 30th April 1944, “Traveller’s Round Up” commented:

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There seems to be a belief that players would welcome a holiday from the game. That they would be glad if there was a long close season as in peace-time. But I can’t find any confirmation of that theory. Most players I meet are glad of the relaxation of the game – and are quite frank about the usefulness of the extra bob or two they earn on the field.

In the sniffy way that they seemingly always do, both halves of the Old Firm chose not to participate in 1944. Instead, their places were taken, on a one-off basis, by Raith Rovers and Dundee United. Armageddon, then as now, did not materialise. The Sunday Post reported that the 1944 final, played out between Motherwell and Clyde, attracted 70,000 to Hampden. Whilst this attendance figure might have been somewhat exaggerated, there can be no doubt that there remained a healthy interest in the competition. Perhaps more reliable Summer Cup Final figures, would be the ones collected by researcher David Ross, directly from the Hampden Park gate-book:

1941 36,734 (Hibs 3 Rangers 2)
1942 49,432 (Rangers 2 Hibs 2)
1943 37,962 (St Mirren 1 Rangers 0)
1944 34,426 (Motherwell 1 Clyde 0)
1945 27,996 (Partick Thistle 2 Hibernian 0)

SUMMER CUP UNCERTAINTY IN 1945

The uncertainty of 1944 spilled over into 1945, as the Summer Cup continued to be run on an ad-lib basis, year by year. The deadliest conflict in human history was nearing a conclusion, and it was generally considered that the raison d'être for the Summer Cup was coming to an end with it. There was some press speculation as to whether the competition would actually take place at all in 1945. The S.F.A. left the final decision in the hands of the clubs themselves.

The Southern League Clubs met on Wednesday 18th April 1945 and both Motherwell and Rangers intimated that they did not wish to participate in the forthcoming tournament. It was a particularly strange decision in the case of Motherwell. They were, after all, the existing Cup holders and had played in front of very healthy attendances the year before.

Reading between the lines, I rather suspect that the “gate shares” from the aforesaid receipts were not fully in accordance with their expectations. The Emergency Committee of the S.F.A. sat immediately further to this meeting and decided that the tournament would go ahead without Motherwell and Rangers. This time, there would be no replacements for these two, and it was decided that one club would receive a Second Round bye to balance out the draw.

Just 12 days later, on the 30th April 1945, Adolf Hitler, the Nazi lunatic, committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin. The war in Europe was officially ended just over a week later, with the unconditional German surrender on the 8th May 1945. We could all breathe a sigh of relief – and look forward to what was probably going to be the last Summer Cup.

THE FIRST ROUND DRAW

Another small sign that things in Britain were slowly moving back towards normality was the recent announcement from the Home Office that mid-week football was once again permissible, a situation which had been occasionally on / mostly off over the last few years. In response to the news, the S.F.A. announced that in the event of drawn Summer Cup ties there would be extra time and, if still level, replays on the Wednesday evening. This was a massive improvement on the wholly unsatisfactory solution that had existed in the competition hitherto. Up until now, any ties which remained level after extra time were decided by the counting of corners and, if still level, by the toss of a coin. Maybe they were sensitive to the murmurings of discontent which still rumbled from the Summer Cup Final of 1942. On that day, Rangers became the only side ever to have won a major Scottish trophy by guessing correctly whether or not the tossed coin would land showing the head of the monarch who reigned over us. Happy and glorious? It’s doubtful that Hibs seen it that way.

The draw for the First Round took place on VE Day, the 9th May 1945. Thistle were paired with Dumbarton who were one of the few teams we had conquered in the final League placings that season. I think it would be reasonable to assume that the celebrations round Maryhill way were not in any way dampened with news of this draw. Mind you, they had already beaten us twice in the recent Southern League campaign…

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 1: THE OPENER AT FIRHILL
Match Advert

Jim Steadward had joined the Jaggy ranks from Queen’s Park and today was the day that he was making his professional debut. It was a shaky start for the young lad – but he would recover brilliantly as the tournament progressed. He ended up being a cornerstone to the run and would make the No.1 Jersey his own over the next few years. A settled defence would prove to be key for Thistle in this year’s competition. Not that you’d have known it in the immediate aftermath of our first game. The Sunday Post reports:

Saturday 26th May 1945 Partick Thistle 4 Dumbarton 4 (Summer Cup 1st Round, 1st Leg)

RESULT JUST RIGHT. Dumbarton jumped into a two-goal lead early on and things didn’t look well for Thistle. However, urged on by the halves, the forwards buckled to and squared matters by half-time. After the turn it was goal about, with Dumbarton snatching a well-deserved equaliser shortly before the finish. Dumbarton stars were Hoey, Milne, Browning and Hepburn. Thistle had best service from Husband, Brown and Johnson.

Partick Thistle (scorers): Jim Steadward, Jimmy McGowan, Peter Curran, Bill Shankly (pen 31), Jackie Husband, Hugh Brown, Jackie Johnson, Willie Sharp, Douglas Stockdale (16, 57), Sammy Picken, Joe McGeachy (75)

Dumbarton (scorers): Jim Hoey, John Milne, Alex Kay, John Browning (85), Frank Douglas, George Campbell, Alexander Filshie, John Hepburn (9), Ernest Marshall, Jim McGowan, Robert Murphy (7, 58)

Referee: James Calder (Edinburgh)

Attendance: 7,000 @ Firhill

Summer Cup 1945, 1st Round, 1st Leg Results
Albion Rovers 1 Celtic 1 (att: 10,000)
Clyde 2 Queen’s Park 1 (att: 12,000)
Heart of Midlothian 3 Airdrieonians 0 (att: 6,000)
Morton 6 Hamilton Academical 1 (att: 5,000)
Partick Thistle 4 Dumbarton 4 (att: 7,000)
St Mirren 4 Hibernian 2 (att: 7,000)
Third Lanark 2 Falkirk 1 (att: 4,000)

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 2: AN EPIC 11-GOAL TIE CONCLUDES AT BOGHEAD
Jackie Johnson

Despite having gone into this two-legged tie as favourites, Jags were far from sure of making progress. We needed to win on the road – and had already lost 4-1 at Boghead this season. Donald Turner made two changes to the starting eleven from last week. Out went Willie Sharp and Sammy Picken, in came Bobby Parker and Maurice Candlin. Once again, young Steadward had a shaky start in between the sticks, but it proved to be his big turning point. Indeed, the two men singled out for praise were Steadward and Johnson – both of whom proved to be key players in the whole campaign. Jackie Johnson (pictured), an outside right guesting this season from Stockport County, opened his tournament account and never looked back. To the great benefit of Partick Thistle, he was about to hit a purple patch as the Sunday Post tells:

Saturday 2nd June 1945 Dumbarton 1 Partick Thistle 2 (Summer Cup 1st Round, 2nd Leg)

OH! TIMMINS! Three minutes from time Parker handled in the box. Just when the home fans expected Milne to step forward, Timmins placed the ball and shot weakly past. Tough for Dumbarton, who deserved a draw in a game which moved along in top gear throughout. Still, Thistle had the match-winners in Steadward and Johnson. The keeper belied his name when Timmins scored, letting a 35-yards shot slip from his hand and pass through his legs. From that point he struck ‘national form. Some of his saves were superlative.

Johnson was the star wing man afield. He outpaced Kay in a thrilling race to smack in his first, and was on the spot to turn a Husband cross shot for the winner. Defences in contrast to last week’s game were on top. Both ‘keepers were outstanding as were Curran and Milne, with Husband and Browning fine forcing halves. The left wing were out of the picture, but Filshie and Hepburn starred for Dumbarton, and Johnson and Brown for Thistle. This boy Brown, who came from Yoker to Thistle, is a “natural”. Grand physique and uses his brain all the time.

Timmins deserves praise for his willingness to take a shot, some of his snap-shooting being very tricky. But the penalty miss was just too bad.

Dumbarton (scorers): Jim Hoey, John Milne, Alex Kay, John Browning, Frank Douglas, George Campbell, Alexander Filshie, John Hepburn, Jimmy Timmins (5), Jim McGowan, Robert Murphy.

Partick Thistle (scorers): Jim Steadward, Jimmy McGowan, Peter Curran, Bill Shankly, Bobby Parker, Jackie Husband, Jackie Johnson (24, 60), Hugh Brown, Douglas Stockdale, Maurice Candlin, Joe McGeachy

Referee: Charles Blues (Glasgow)

Attendance: 4,000 @ Boghead

Summer Cup 1945, 1st Round, 2nd Leg Results
Hibernian 7 St Mirren 0 (att: 7,000) [agg 9-4]
Queen’s Park 5 Clyde 2 (att: 15,000) [agg 6-4]
Airdrieonians 0 Heart of Midlothian 2 (att: 3,000) [agg 0-5]
Hamilton Academical 2 Morton 4 (att: 2,500) [agg: 3-10]
Dumbarton 1 Partick Thistle 2 (att: 5,000) [agg 5-6]
Celtic 4 Albion Rovers 2 (att: 12,000) [agg 5-3]
Falkirk 5 Third Lanark 0 (att: 6,000) [agg 6-2]

THE QUARTER FINALS DRAW

Kinda tricky having seven Quarter Finalists, but that’s how it was on the Saturday evening of 2nd June 1945 as the S.F.A. Emergency Committee convened at Carlton Place to conduct the draw in amongst other Council business. Lucky Celtic got the bye, whilst Jags got a toughie when paired against Hearts who had finished Top Six in the League. However, we had already beaten them 2-1 at Firhill and drew 3-3 at Tynecastle. We were not altogether without hope…

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 3: HEARTS BLOWN AWAY AT FIRHILL
Hugh Brown

For Scotland’s match of the day, Thistle made one change from the eleven who had prevailed at Boghead last Saturday, Gavin Lang coming in for Joe McGeachy on the left-wing. Hearts showed two changes from the side which had defeated Celtic in friendly action five days earlier. Andy Black had been called in for Army duties and his place at inside-right was taken by Les Donaldson, whilst Jackie Oakes displaced Jimmy Walker in the outside-left position. As expected for this one, Firhill hosted the largest crowd in the country. Hugh Brown (pictured) was dynamite as the Sunday Post tells:

Saturday 9th June 1945 Partick Thistle 3 Heart of Midlothian 0 (Summer Cup Quarter Final, 1st Leg)

JAGS’ JOY-DAY – JADED MAROONS. THISTLE had “everything” – speed, combination, zip and Brown. Hearts were ragged and got well and truly jagged. Homesters were streets ahead in every department. So far ahead in fact, that Hearts might have been playing at Tynecastle. Maroons had no one to match the brilliant outfield play of Hugh Brown. An astute Donald Turner move playing the big left-half at inside-right. As last week, his picture passes to the wing were loaded with dynamite. Every one had a large “action” tag on it. Each spelt “der tag” for Hearts.

One of his specials to partner Johnson swung across for a Lang shot, and, palmed out by Hearts’ Brown, let Candlin smack home number one. No Hearts forward could hold a candle to Candlin for opportunism. Always on the spot, he was right behind Archie Miller when the pivot miscued a Johnson cross to the back of the net. Hugh Brown again set the move in motion.

After tea, Hearts came out full of beans. Finished-up might-have-beens! A Lang run settled that. Taking from Husband, the winger travelled, crossed on the run, and there was Candlin on the jackpot once more.

There we had it. All through, Thistle had more of the game. Hearts merely game for more. Parker had Kelly well parked. Only Oakes branched out on his own. But Steadward grandly cut his crosses. The ‘keeper made nary a slip. Other bright Hearts were McLure and Lindsay.

Partick Thistle (scorers): Jim Steadward, Jimmy McGowan, Peter Curran, Bill Shankly, Bobby Parker, Jackie Husband, Jackie Johnson, Hugh Brown, Douglas Stockdale, Maurice Candlin (12, 50), Gavin Lang. (1 x own goal, 20)

Heart of Midlothian (scorers): Jimmy Brown, Duncan McClure, Malcolm McLure, James Lindsay, Archie Miller, Frank Mitchell, McFarlane, Les Donaldson, Archie Kelly, Alex McCrae, Jackie Oakes

Referee: George Bennie (Irvine)

Attendance: 15,388 @ Firhill

Summer Cup 1945, Quarter Finals, 1st Leg Results
Hibernian 3 Falkirk 1 (att: 7,000)
Morton 1 Queen’s Park 0 (att: 7,000)
Partick Thistle 3 Heart of Midlothian 0 (att: 15,388)
Bye: Celtic

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 4: JAGS SURVIVE IN EDINBURGH
Peter Curran

Thistle were unchanged for the return leg of this one, whilst Hearts were able to reintroduce the fans’ favourite Andy Black at inside-right at the expense of Les Donaldson. Despite the fact that Thistle travelled through to the capital with a three goal advantage, press reports were of the opinion that Hearts could well overturn the deficit. However, our “hard-working defence” starring Peter Curran (pictured) seen us through and, in the end, only a dubious penalty prevented Thistle from remaining unbeaten over the two legs, as George McLachlan in the Sunday Post reports:

Saturday 16th June 1945 Heart of Midlothian 2 Partick Thistle 1 (Summer Cup Quarter Final, 2nd Leg)

TANTALISING AS EVER, HEARTS. A GENEROUS heart is most commendable, but Tynecastle fans must be feeling that the Hearts they follow were carrying kindness to excess when they presented Partick Thistle with a free pass to the semi-final. If results were based on the number of scoring chances thrown away, the Tynecastle brigade could hold high hopes of landing the Summer Cup! Some of the outfield patterns they wove were of the highest quality but the finishing was just pure shoddy. For 80 per cent of the game they held a convincing territorial superiority. At times they drove the Thistle defence frantic. Then proceeded to thwart their own efforts with their flannel-footed finishing.

Before the match, their supporters were overjoyed to hear that Andy Black was included in the team. Long before the end their delight had completely evaporated. The inside-right scored the first goal, but it was the kind that even a Hearts forward couldn’t miss! A high ball from Oakes was caught by Steadward and nudged out of his arms by Kelly. It was left laid on for Black four yards out. A similar chance fell to McCrae shortly after, but at the comparatively long range of eight yards the task was too great.

Five minutes after the interval, an empty goal, bereft even of Steadward, yawned before Black six yards out. Whoever got the ball up in the terracing must have felt like throwing it out of the ground unless he was a Thistle supporter! Just to show how it should be done Bill Shankly 25 yards out cracked a ball in mid-air, and brought Brown to the best save of the day. Now and again Thistle would scamper off on a foray, but their forwards were about as good as the home lot, and Hearts defence mopped up everything that came their way till Brown palmed out a corner kick from Johnson. Thistle’s Hugh Brown returned it high into the goalmouth and Candlin headed home.

Having refused both sides quite legitimate claims for a penalty, the referee decided to liven the interest by conceding a spot kick for unintentional handling by Parker. Steadward made a heroic attempt to stop Oakes shot but could only turn it into the side net. With 15 minutes to go, and nothing to lose, Hearts’ obvious course was to throw everything and everybody into attack, but they didn’t. They carried on as before, and so said good-bye to still another trophy. McLure, Lindsay – a coming star this one – and Mitchell stood out as Hearts best. Thistle’s hard-working defence, particularly Curran, Parker and Shankly, took the Firhill honours.

Heart of Midlothian (scorers): Jimmy Brown, Duncan McClure, Malcolm McLure, James Lindsay, Archie Miller, Frank Mitchell, McFarlane, Andy Black (16), Archie Kelly, Alex McCrae, Jackie Oakes (pen 75).

Partick Thistle (scorers): Jim Steadward, Jimmy McGowan, Peter Curran, Bill Shankly, Bobby Parker, Jackie Husband, Jackie Johnson, Hugh Brown, Douglas Stockdale, Maurice Candlin (65), Gavin Lang.

Referee: Willie Brown (Bellshill)

Attendance: 15,000 @ Tynecastle

Summer Cup 1945, Quarter Finals, 2nd Leg Results
Falkirk 1 Hibernian 0 (att: 10,000) [agg 2-3]
Queen’s Park 0 Morton 0 (att: 18,000) [agg 0-1]
Heart of Midlothian 2 Partick Thistle 1 (att: 15,000) [agg 2-4]
Bye: Celtic

THE SEMI FINALS DRAW

Once again, the draw for the next round was made straight away at Carlton Place on the Saturday evening. The Scotsman of 18th June reported:

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The Semi-Final ties of the Scottish Summer Cup, to be played next Saturday, are:- Celtic v Hibernians, at Tynecastle, and Partick Thistle v Morton, at Hampden Park. If, after 90 minutes, teams finish level in either tie, the replay will be on the following Saturday.

Interesting to note that the identity crisis of Hibernian or Hibernians continued to rumble on for about the 70th year running. Perhaps more interestingly, I note that the S.F.A. were prepared to ad-lib with the tournament flow and accept that the proposed date of the Final could be flexible if replays so dictated. There’s absolutely no doubt that the draw was a kind one from the point of view of both Thistle and Morton. Having avoided Celtic (the red-hot tournament favourites), each would now fancy they had a very decent chance of making it all the way to the Final.

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 5: TO HAMPDEN FOR THE SEMI-FINAL

We had reached Hampden Park – Thistle’s most exciting summertime ever was still going strong into the third week in June. This was infinitely preferable to two weeks in Saltcoats, surely? The Glasgow Herald was succinct with its match preview:

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Neither team has been consistently good this season but both are capable of lively football. It would be unsafe to predict the result of this game.

Bill Shankly

Davie Cupples, who had recently moved from Thistle, lined up at inside-right for Morton. Wrong move Davie! The winner in this one sounds a bit special - a rarity direct from a corner. What a great way to win a Semi Final. Bill Shankly (pictured) was a powerhouse as the Sunday Post reports:

Saturday 23rd June 1945 Partick Thistle 1 Morton 0 (Summer Cup Semi Final)

FIDDLED TO DEFEAT. VERY stout effort Morton. No doubt about the better side. Any argument was gradually hammered flat as the game went on. Up the middle, down the sides, right across the park – with one exception the men of Greenock carried the day. The exception – young Jimmy Steadward, who literally threw himself between Morton and a passage to the final, especially in the great and gallant Cappielow second half invasion. That he had more mad scrambling than clean cut saving to do is indication of where lay Morton’s only weakness. Right up to shooting-time they were powerful, workmanlike; then they petered out. Halves set them going in great style. Aird was away and ahead their bright particular star, so much on top of his charge that he was able to develop a crisply constructive game. Campbell nursed along the Kelly-Cupples wing to make them the outstanding combine on the field. For the rest, there was plenty of willingness – offset by a want of poise. A goal down for the last half hour of the game, they allowed the edge of their play to be dulled with desperation. Cupples gave us the day’s brightest moment with a flashing angle shot that only a catapult Steadward dive turned for a corner. Garth loosed two power-drives in the final onslaught. That apart, they were ragged rascals all, in the danger area.

DEFENSIVE ANCHORS. As finalists, Thistle can claim tenacity as their redeeming feature. Shankly was a power in dragging a constantly harried defence from the morass they too often floundered in, and Parker kept the breezy McKillop on a tightish rein. But, over the piece, Firhill owes a lot to Lady Luck. Forward they were dangerous only in the briefest of flashes. Their goal – pity it had to be from a corner decision that was just a wee thought doubtful. Referee Craigmyle took the linesman’s ruling that a ball kicked by Johnson rebounded from a Morton defender and hit the winger after it was over the line. The kick was as pretty an inswinger as ever you saw. McFeat just scratched the leather with his nails as it screwed its way in.

A word on the bumps and bruises. Thistle were at the wrong end of most of them – and most were evidence of a game that, though not always clean cut, was always a thriller of the most virile variety.

Partick Thistle (scorer): Jim Steadward, Jimmy McGowan, Peter Curran, Bill Shankly, Bobby Parker, Jackie Husband, Jackie Johnson (20), Hugh Brown, Douglas Stockdale, Maurice Candlin, Gavin Lang.

Morton: Archie McFeat, Matt Maley, Andy Fyfe, Billy Campbell, Willie Aird, Jimmy Whyte, Willie Kelly, Davie Cupples, Ally McKillop, Jimmy Garth, John McInnes.

Referee: Peter Craigmyle (Aberdeen)

Attendance: 25,000 @ Hampden Park

Summer Cup 1945, Semi Final Results
Hibernian 2 Celtic 0 (att: 25,000) at Tynecastle
Partick Thistle 1 Morton 0 (att: 25,000) at Hampden Park

jagsman.png MATCH DAY 6: THE BIG FINAL!

Tickets for the 1945 Summer Cup Final went on sale sharply on the Monday morning of the 25th June. They were available to purchase in both Edinburgh and Glasgow from the offices of the clubs in question. The printers had not been on double-time Sunday shifts however – the briefs had been prepared before the finalists were known, presumably with some sort of neutral wording.

Midweek reports commented that Bobby Calder, regarded as Scotland’s top referee of the day, would take charge of the Summer Cup Final for the second year in a row. The Saturday edition of the Glasgow Herald previewed the game thus:

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What today’s football programme lacks in length is compensated for in importance. There are only two games, the finals of the Scottish Summer Cup and the North-Eastern Mitchell Cup. The meeting of Partick Thistle and Hibernian at Hampden, in what will probably be the last game of the Summer Cup competition, promises a keenly contested game. The Edinburgh team’s convincing win over Celtic in the semi-final makes them favourites. The composition of their team is uncertain, as Combe is a doubtful starter. Thistle’s presence in the final is due to their defence rather than their attack. The return of McGeachy to outside left and the inclusion of Sharp at centre-forward should, however, help to restore the balance. Hearts have ground advantage over Aberdeen in the second “leg” of the Mitchell Cup final at Tynecastle. The first game, at Pittodrie, ended in a draw. In both games extra time will be played if the teams are level at the end of 90 minutes play.

Hibs may well have outclassed Celtic in the Semis but the great unpredictables had a bit of a psychological advantage having destroyed the Hibees by 5 goals to 1 in the final Southern League game at Firhill just several weeks earlier. Then again, we had been pulverised by 8 goals to 0 at Easter Road back in October. Quite literally, anything could happen in this one. Jackie Johnson (pictured) was the hero (again) and George McLachlan of the Sunday Post wrote the story of the match:

Jackie Johnson

Saturday 30th June 1945 Partick Thistle 2 Hibernian 0 (Summer Cup Final)

TWO-PUNCH THISTLE. THEY are a discerning crowd the Glasgow football public. In their thousands they stayed away from Hampden yesterday, showing a sagacity that was confirmed by the poor fare served up. Never in the history of football conflict has so little been accomplished by so many. The only thrills were in watching Husband’s stupendous throw-ins from touch. That in itself speaks volumes. The Thistle left-half got ample opportunity to demonstrate his prowess, for the ball was as much on the cinders as on the grass. But if those shies please the crowd they accomplish little else. Time and again the ball was chucked well into the penalty area, but for all the use they made of it, Thistle’s forwards appeared to be as awestruck as the spectators.

Kean’s absence and Finnigan’s withdrawal from the forward line deprived Hibs of fifty per cent of their attacking power. The forward line as constituted were too deliberate in their methods to make any impression on the quick-tackling Thistle defenders. Every time a green jersey got possession there was a Jag right on top of him and he was beaten before he could make up his mind. Hibs should have opened the scoring early on when Parker missed a Combe pass to Smith. The centre-forward carried on to within eight yards then fluffed a feeble left-footer wide of the post. The first real shot of the game was a smashing 30 yards drive from Thistle’s Brown, perfectly saved by his namesake.

COSTLY RESHUFFLE. Just as we began to feel neither side could score, Thistle took the lead. McGeachy, who had been showing more than a few Caskie touches on the left wing, swung over a high cross and Candlin’s head just skiffed it in passing, landing it at Johnson’s feet. First time, the English guest player left-footed it right across goal into the side net. An injury to Hall just on half-time caused a complete reshuffle of the Edinburgh forces. But why was Finnigan, Hibs most progressive player, banished to left-back! With Weir at inside-right, Combe inside-left, and Peat at left-half, the Easter Road lot were completely disorganised. Yet it was here they came nearest to equalising, a 45 yard lob from Howie smacking the upright with Steadward well beaten.

As the end approached, Finnigan was quite sensibly moved up to right-half and almost immediately beat Steadward, only to see the ball hit the angle of the goal and bounce over. Then, at last, a well-executed movement – another goal and the Cup safe for Firhill. On a pass from Sharp, Johnson careered past Howie and cut the ball back to Brown. The inside-right’s shot was blocked out to McGeachy on the left. Hard and low he shot, stretching John Brown to palm the ball along the goal-line, whence Johnson lashed it home.

If the game lacked class it was at least clean, scarce a dirty action throughout. In a Hibs side that never seemed to get together, Govan, Baxter, Finnigan and Caskie were the best performers. Bobby Baxter was unquestionably the best footballer on the field. For their first national trophy since that historic Scottish Cup victory over Rangers, Thistle can give thanks to Steadward, McGowan, Curran, Parker, Johnson and Brown.

Partick Thistle (scorers): Jim Steadward, Jimmy McGowan, Peter Curran, Bill Shankly (pen 31), Jackie Husband, Hugh Brown, Jackie Johnson (26, 85), Willie Sharp, Douglas Stockdale, Sammy Picken, Joe McGeachy.

Hibernian: John Brown, Jock Govan, Alex Hall, Hugh Howie, Bobby Baxter, Willie Finnigan, Jock Weir, Bobby Combe, Gordon Smith, William Peat, Jimmy Caskie.

Referee: Bobby Calder (Rutherglen)

Attendance: 27,996 @ Hampden Park

Jackie Husband
● Captain Jackie Husband receives the Summer Cup from the dignitaries at Hampden. Thistle chairman Tom Reid is to the far right. (PTS)

The Scotsman wasn’t so critical, generally observing that Hibs had “battled hard against a solid Partick defence.” They wrote:

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Partick Thistle were a much improved team as compared with some recent displays, the return of McGeachy and Sharp giving more vigour to the forward line. They played the better cup-tie football, going straight for goal when the chance offered, and showing plenty of thrust. They were well served in all departments, with Brown outstanding among the forwards.

The Herald praised Jackie Husband and Bill Shankly:

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Johnson scored both Thistle goals – one in each half – but it was their half-backs [Husband and Shankly] who were the match-winners. The superior teamwork came from Hibernian, although their forwards never played to form.

It was a brilliant effort from the squad of 14 players. Our two guests Bill Shankly (Preston North End) and Jackie Johnson (Stockport County) served us well in defence and attack. In goals, young Steadward stood 7ft tall by the end. McGowan and Curran were rocks at the back. Jackie Husband and Hugh Brown made things happen. Maurice Candlin was a threat up front. We had seven ever presents and featured fourteen players in total. Heroes one and all. With his 5 goal tally, Jackie Johnson finished alongside Gordon Smith (Hibernian) as the Tournament’s joint-leading marksman.

Summer Cup revival

When the war ended, Scottish football returned to its more traditional calendar. It had been thought that Thistle would remain as Summer Cup holders in perpetuity. However, a two year experiment by the Scottish League in 1964 and 1965 put paid to that romantic notion. Celtic and Rangers declined to take part in either of these two revival seasons. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

Jags made a sterling effort to win it for a second time. In both 1964 and 1965 we got to the Semi Finals, losing out in heart-breaking fashion to Aberdeen and then Dundee United. In 1964, a young Peter Cormack starred for Hibs who became the first club to win it twice. “It’s fair to say the players weren’t that keen on it” recalled Peter in a 2015 interview in the Scotsman:

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The married guys were especially unhappy, because it ate into their summer holidays. It wasn’t so bad for younger laddies like myself, who would have played every night of the week, but I don’t think it was ever going to catch on.

For most clubs, crowds slumped in 1965. The tournament’s record low crowd of just 216 turned out at Cathkin Park to see Third Lanark win 5-2 win over Airdrie. The Scottish Football League was still keen to persist with the Summer Cup, but when only 11 clubs entered in 1966, the dwindling interest forced them to finally give up the ghost.

Summer fitba’ was a brilliant idea for 1945. I’ll leave it there.

Willie Freebairn
● Big holiday crowd for the Glasgow Cup semi vs QP on 24 September 1945, with the Summer Cup out for encouragement! Back (l to r): Jimmy McGowan, Peter Curran, Jim Steadward, Bill Shankly, Maurice Candlin, Bobby Parker. Front (l to r): Donald Turner (manager), John McInnes, Willie Sharp, Jackie Husband, Tommy Wright, Joe McGeachy, Jimmy Kennedy (trainer).


Publishing date Originally published on 01-Jul-2014 (WAT).
Publishing date Republished here on The Thistle Archive, 30-Jun-2024.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 30-Jun-2024.


For a deeper dive into the run to Hampden in 1945, our match hubs are packed with a great many press cuttings:

Sat-26-May-1945 Partick Thistle 4 Dumbarton 4 (Summer Cup 1st Round, 1st Leg) →


Sat-02-Jun-1945 Dumbarton 1 Partick Thistle 2 (Summer Cup 1st Round, 2nd Leg) →


Sat-09-Jun-1945 Partick Thistle 3 Heart of Midlothian 0 (Summer Cup Quarter Final, 1st Leg) →


Sat-16-Jun-1945 Heart of Midlothian 2 Partick Thistle 1 (Summer Cup Quarter Final, 2nd Leg) →


Sat-23-Jun-1945 Partick Thistle 1 Morton 0 (Summer Cup Semi Final) →


Sat-30-Jun-1945 Partick Thistle 2 Hibernian 0 (Summer Cup Final) →

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