In the days, weeks and months that have passed since the footballing world in Scotland was brought to an abrupt stop, broadcasters have had to rethink schedules and repackage old footage to satisfy the demand for a fix for hungry but patient football fans around the country. While Sky and BT focus on the recent battles on the pitch, BBC Scotland have been able to dig deep into their archives and provide a wonderful and often nostalgic reminder of the game we fell in love with years ago.
My fascination with Celtic wasn’t honed on the terraces around Paradise, it was in the stories shared by my family, in the recorded footage from Sportscene and Scotsport, and in the writing and presentation from master broadcasters in Archie McPherson and Ian Archer that are still etched in my mind almost 40 years later. So, when BBC Scotland aired Road to the 100th Scottish Cup Final I was delighted. That 1985 Cup final was my first memory of watching Celtic win a trophy and my dad dance around the living room in celebration.
The Scottish Cup holds tremendous significance for Celtic, going all the way back to 1888/89 when we reached the final at the first time of asking only to lose to Third Lanark in the final. Winning our first national cup at Ibrox in season 1891/92, the record attendance in 1937, to the 1965 Cup final that would propel the club to unmatched greatness… it is a trophy that will always look out of place in any other trophy cabinet.
I suspect, without actually realising at the time, the BBC Scotland programme producers haphazardly captured on camera the exact moment Scottish football entered a new era. Starting in the early rounds of the Scottish cup, the film crew followed Stirling Albion on their quest for Cup glory. A one sided 20-0 victory over Selkirk at the old Annfield Stadium in Stirling was a glimpse into the old habits of supporters walking from one side of the stadium to the other at half-time and the awful conditions underfoot for the players.Listen to GERRY FARRELL with A Celtic State of Mind here:
Progressing to the semi-final, Aberdeen were on course for back-to-back domestic doubles before being knocked out by Dundee United. Celtic overcame Motherwell in the other semi-final to set up the landmark final. With Aberdeen crowned as league champions, the Scottish Cup was the last hope for silverware that season.
The match was won by a brave decision when David Hay substituted Paul McStay for Pierce O’Leary and moved Roy Aitken into a driving role in midfield. Two moments of magic from Davie Provan and Frank McGarvey, goals I have waxed lyrical about countless times before, secured the cup. The euphoria of the celebrations at Hampden were echoed in my livingroom at home with my dad. Me sitting next to the TV with my Celtic jersey on, Celtic teddy in my arms and my dad taking pictures as Danny McGrain lifted the cup as captain. Great memories.
That great feeling carried forward into the next week when our school received some special visitors with a very important piece of silverware. David Hay and Roy Aitken brought the Scottish Cup to the children at St Thomas’s school in Riddrie (and no doubt other schools across the city). To be included in the club’s celebrations was special.
The programme aired by BBC Scotland was dated, yet timeless. Interviews with Billy McNeill and Jock Stein show the presence and character in which we care to remember our heroes of yesteryear. 1985 was the last time the Scottish League was won by a club outside Celtic or Rangers. The Scottish Cup has changed hands a number of times since then, including some surprising new names on the trophy. The cup also represents the last piece of silverware yet to be won in season 2019/2020; hopefully when the competition is complete Celtic will maintain the recent dominance of the trophy so intrinsically linked with our club over the years.