Reminiscences on my 80th Birthday,or…
THE MAKING OF A HAPPYCLAPPER
That morning I woke up really early. When I say early,the blooming mavis hadn’t even started chanting!
And I was excited!! More excited even than my first Holy Communion,though that might have been more to do with a new shirt instead of my brother’s old one with the collar turned!
Anyway,I had waited 8 years for this day and did I want it to be a happy one? You’re darn tooting I did!
Sorry,I forgot to mention what day. The 21st April 1951. My FIRST ever Scottish Cup Final,and ,at the big park too..Hampden Park.
I had been going to watch my Dad’s team,(it was mine tae) for all that time and here we were,there at last.
We met my Dad’s pal and his son at the South Beach Ardrossan railway station and were joined at Saltcoats by another of his/their pals. It was a long time till the kick-off but we had to visit my Dad’s Uncle Andy in St.Vincent street where he lived.
When I say visit the house I mean we went there,he came out and they all went to the pub!
Not that long afterwards we headed,minus aforementioned Uncle Andy,to the train to Mount Florida. I’ve never seen so many people…There were millions….really only 130,000 but seemed like millions and I seemed to be the smallest! We went in the nearest end (I don’t think there was separation then) and the usual coupon rules applied..We were taken down the front,told to ‘Don’t move’ as always…as if I could anyway! The bigger bhoys let me right to the front as they always did then,and I was ready for the start of my first cup final. I was praying like mad and shouting at the same time. The teams came out…. I could hardly draw breath I was that excited.
I don’t remember hearing any team announcements and I didn’t have a programme-although my Dad would have one-but there was no need. I would recognise any Celtic player even as far away as they seemed! The only problem was-What position would they be playing,as ‘the other manager’ otherwise known as Bob Kelly often produced very strange line-ups-who can forget Mike Haughney centre to right back(actually turned out not bad and I think even won a cap or maybe a league cap),but it was as normal.
Hunter,Fallon,Rollo,Evans,Bowden ,Baillie,Weir,Collins,McPhail,Peacock and Tully.
I only knew a few Motherwell players,Kilmarnock,Shaw,Redpath and Aitkenhead but as far as I was concerned we would win….the eternal optimism of the young..
The game was hammer and tongs right from the start with no quarter asked or given,as were almost all games of that time,and tackling was ferocious.
It seemed end to end,and my heart was in my mouth every time they went near our goal-and I moved forward about a foot every time we went near theirs with the crowd surge!
Ecstasy! Jubilation! Jumping up and down like a maddie!
Big John McPhail had scored a great goal with a kind of chip shot (who cared- it was in the net.) Not even a quarter of an hour gone and we are up. Tommy(RIP),the other boy and I were hugging ,shouting and laughing and nearly falling down such was the jumping about all around us. But,there was a long way to go…
I just remember Hunter making save after save and Tully and McPhail doing quite well when we got the ball,which didn’t seem very often.
Half-time. Our Dads came down to check we were alright or still there maybe! I can still remember my Dad rubbing the top of my head and grabbing both shoulders and shouting ‘We are winning,Patrick’…never done that before! Still,he remembered to give me the money for the ‘macaroon bar’..my choice of halftime sustenance.
The second half seemed to last for ages and Motherwell seemed to be all over us,but the players fought like hell for every ball,and Hunter seemed to know where the ball was going every time they had a shot or header at the goal.
At bloody last the whistle went. We had won 1-0. My first cup final had been a winning one. Jumping up and down ,shouting and maybe even greetin a wee bit! It was the best game I had seen up till then as far as I was concerned.
My Dad came down for us and we went up to where the three men had been,and we were lifted onto the barrier rails to watch the cup presentation. Sheer joy it was.
We left the park in elation and made our way back to Mount Florida station,which was mobbed including Motherwell supporters,but there was no animosity or anything.
The trains seemed to be queuing up to get us all back to the City Centre and in no time at all we were back at St.Enoch’s for the train……but not this time… Me,Jack and John are going into this pub for 5 minutes,wait there at the door and we’ll bring out lemonade and crisps. This must have been a seminal moment if I’d known what that was but it hadn’t happened before on the way BACK!
Don’t actually remember getting the crisps but we definitely got the lemonade.
Not too long after they appeared and we got the train home. By this time,according to Tommy and me we had been all over them and should have won by more!
Back home,my mother said ‘you’re back,did you win’ and after I said ‘Aye,of course we did’ replied ‘That’s good’ and that was all…and I am in seventh heaven! (Mark you,that’s more than Mrs CCB ever says or has ever said!
That was a great day and I looked forward to going the next season,but,it never worked out…my second Scottish cup final wasn’t till 1954 and we even won ‘my’ first league title then as well.
We did win a wee thing called the Coronation Cup and my Dad and I were at every game.
The funny thing is that there were three brothers and only one,my Dad,went to see Celtic (or as he said the Cellic) which goes to show I have always been a lucky bugger!!!
Anyway,by the time you are reading this I will actually be 80 and I thank my Dad often for his love of the Cellic which he passed to me and I try to pass onto my lot.
Not a happy clapper among them??.