51 years later Celtic and Hibs squared up again in the 1972 final.
Conquerors of now defunct Rangers in the semi-final, and having conceded only one goal on the way to Hampden, the Hibees were widely tipped to give Celtic a tough game. In other words, all the hacks who supported Rangers were hoping they’d beat Celtic as well.
A fortnight before the game Celtic had fought out a 0:0 draw against Inter at Celtic Park in the semi-final of that season’s European Cup. Penalties had to decide who would progress to the final in Rotterdam where Ajax lay in wait. Dixie Deans missed Celtic’s first penalty, Inter scored all of theirs and the Celtic striker was left to cut a forlorn figure at the end of a gruelling encounter.
His day of atonement would come on May 6th in a remarkable Cup Final against the Edinburgh greens. Woods and Campbell recount how the origins of Celtic’s unstoppable display that afternoon were traced back by John Rafferty, a football journalist with the Scotsman back in the days when the Scotsman employed proper football journalists worthy of the title, to an encounter between Jock Stein and Bobby Murdoch some weeks before. Rafferty was a ken observer of Stein and his methods:
Stein was becoming frustrated with the frequent injuries and continuing weight problems of his midfield star, at the time described by Rafferty as “too heavy and sluggish to do himself justice”. Stein ended the conversation with the threat, “Get it off, or get out!”
Stung by the criticism Murdoch worked even harder to lose the excess weight, and as the season drew to a close his form was improving with every outing. It was fortunate that he was at his best because Celtic were without two of their brightest stars. through injury: the invaluable David Hay was sidelined and Danny McGrain, a most promising full-back, had fractured his skull at Falkirk . Kenny Dalglish had enjoyed a splendid season, but was showing signs of fatigue at the end.
106,000 turned up at Hampden on May 6th 1972 – 6,000 more than the equivalent English final at Wembley between Arsenal and Leeds United. The teams lined up:
Celtic: Williams, Craig, Brogan, Murdoch, McNeill, Connelly, Johnstone Deans, Macari, Dalglish, Callaghan.
Hibernian: Herriot, Brownlie, Schaedler, Stanton, Black, BlacK . Edwards, Hazel, Gordon, O’Rourke, Duncan (Auld).
They were treated to a superb defensive show by the Hibs. For the first two minutes. Then Callaghan floated a free-kick into their penalty area, Billy McNeill connected with his foot and the fun had started.
Undaunted, the Hibs fought back and equalised thanks to a goal by Alan Gordon. But with a midfield and forward line that could call on the services of Bobby Murdoch, Jinky, Kenny Dalglish, Tommy Callaghan and Lou Macari there were few teams that could withstand Celtic when they were in the mood. Hibs certainly weren’t one of them.
John Rafferty’s match report in the Scotsman paid tribute to the contribution of Murdoch in laying the foundation for what was to come:
The simple explanation of Hibs’ defeat is that Bobby Murdoch established himself as boss of the mid-field. He ruled that area with the haughty majesty of a ring master, bringing order to it and sending out his acts to delight the audience.
His was football of world class. Its quality was not just in interception and positioning and in accurate imaginative passes to inspire attacks, but in the less flamboyant settling passes. He could step into trouble and sweep the ball back to the goalkeeper or to a distant part of the field to allow the defence to get organised again. He always did the right thing. In such form there would be a place for him in any team in the world. Yet he is not in the Scotland pool of 22 players for the Home Internationals.
He was well supported by the running of the willing Tommy Callaghan but not so well by Kenny Dalglish who was out of touch completely and found usefulness only in filling space where Hibs hoped to find it. They had banked on establishing some sort of control in the mid-field.
If Kenny wasn’t having one of his best afternoons in a Celtic shirt nobody noticed once the Dixie Deans show got under way.
For another Celtic player it was a chance for redemption. Deans was a swashbuckling striker, and he soon shrugged off his costly penalty miss, but detractors suggested his goals were against run-of-the-mill opposition.In this Scottish Cup final he had something to prove, and luckless Hibs suffered as a consequence.
Deans restored Celtic’s lead in 23 minutes, clamouring for Murdoch to hoist another free kick in his direction and then outleaping the Hibs defenders despite his shortness to head powerfully into the net.
Overjoyed at being picked to play in the final instead of Bobby Lennox, Dixie was tormenting the Hibs defence as only he knew how. During his Celtic career, in 13 full games against Hibernian Deans scored an amazing 18 goals. They in cluded THAT goal in the final, the second of his hat-trick that afternoon. To a twelve year-old watching from the dizzy heights of the old Hampden North Stand it looked as if he danced a mazy dribble past Herriot (twice), Brownlie (at least twice), three ball boys, twenty seven policemen, two horses and a bus stop on the Aitkenhead Road.
Woods and Campbell recount a more prosaic version:
At half-time Celtic led by 2-1, and the final was still in some doubt until Deans settled the issue with one of the most remarkable goals in Scottish Cup history. He gathered a misdirected clearance before rounding the goalkeeper to advance on goal along the by-line; he sidestepped Brownlie and the keeper, Herriot, once more, and then shot into the empty net before finishing off his spectacular feat by somersaulting in his happiness to acknowledge the cheers of the Celtic supporters.
Hibs were shattered by the goal and in the 74th minute Deans completed his hat trick by cleverly running to a through ball from Callaghan. In the last seven minutes Macari wrapped things up with two goals, with both moves originating from Jim Craig, playing in his last game for the club before leaving for South Africa.
It was the first hat-trick in a final since Jimmy Quinn’s in 1904 and Macari’s brace completed the biggest rout in a Scottish Cup final since Renton gubbed Cambuslang by the same margin in the days before goal nets.
On May 26th 2001, the final against Hibs was a match which clinched a rare and memorable domestic treble for Celtic under Martin O’Neill.
Douglas, Mjallby, Vega, Valgaeren, Agathe, Lambert (Boyd), Lennon, Moravcik (McNamara 14), Thompson (Johnson), Sutton, Larsson.
Subs Not Used:- Gould, Stubbs.
Goals:- McNamara 39, Larsson 48, 80 pen.
Colgan, Smith, Sauzee, Fenwick, Murray, Brebner, Jack, O’Neil, Laursen, Libbra, Paatelainen.
Subs:- Westwater, Arpinon, Lovell, Lehmann, Zitelli.
Ref:- K Clark.
By contrast with the previous year’s hatefest against the team that used to play at Ibrox before they went defunct this was a green and white love-in (kind of).
Both Chris Sutton and Lubo Moravcik had recovered from injury to make the starting line-up and what an unfluence Sutton had on the team. Within the opening minutes he had Hibs goalie Colgan worried ried by a swerving shot and he went on to have what many considered a man of the match performance.
Lubo didn’t have such a happy occasion. After a promising start he made a dart down the left wing but had to stretch to keep the ball in play. The strain of that opened up the gash in his shin that had kept him out of the team in the weeks leading up to the final. He made way for Jackie McNamara.
At first the substitution seemed to break up Celtic’s early momentum and allowed Hibs back into the game. Rab Douglas had to tip away a corner from the head of an onrushing Hibs forward while Vega was doing his ongoing contract negotiations no good at all with a performance that would have made Gary Gillespie blush. Fortunately Mjallby and Valgaeren were more resolute.
It would be fair to say that Didier Agathe had not been at his best against his former team that season. In three matches against Hibs he had been subbed in two and sent off in the other. Payback time came in the 40th minute.
Having tied Laursen in a nice wee knot and left sundry members of the Hibs midfield in a pile he played a killer pass through to Celtic’s new goal machine, dead-eye McNamara. He dragged the ball to his left foot before placing it back across goal and into the net at the far corner.
In at half-time with one hand on the trophy.
If the timing of the first goal was cruel to Hibs then the second was downright nasty. Valgaeren broke up an attack in the centre of the defence before giving the ball to Thompson. The midfielder in turn picked out Sutton who laid it off to McNamara. Jackie’s cross was met by the left foot of Larsson who nearly took the net off its moorings. It stands as one of the best Scottish Cup goals ever and it effectively finished the game.
Nevertheless, Larsson still had time to win and convert a penalty, although he was thwarted in his bid to score a hat-trick – which would have been his second in a domestic cuo finals that season.
Dead Eye Jackie McNamara opened the scoring before Henrik Larsson administered the coup de gras with a double, the first of which was a left foot drive that nearly ripped the net out of its moorings, the culmination of a great team move and one of the best Scottish Cup Final goals ever.