Alloa v Celtic: The McStay Connection | OneFootball

Alloa v Celtic: The McStay Connection

Logo: The Celtic Star

The Celtic Star

February 1940 was a miserable month for Celtic. Less than 24 hours after Willie Maley’s farewell and Colgan’s (Director) resignation, the boardroom faced another sticky situation as Clyde and Partick Thistle appealed to the SFA for compensation in regard to Celtic reversing their New Year’s Day fixture to Ibrox. The complaint of both clubs was that this fixture reversal meant that a smaller gate had turned up to their match at Firhill on the same day. However, their complaint was thrown out on the grounds that the League had eventually granted permission for the switch, despite Celtic and Rangers reaching the decision on their own accord.

A new day brought new challenges on 3 February as Queen of the South v Celtic was postponed due to the continuation of the big freeze. Every single match in Scotland was called off on that date and only two games in England went ahead. Some Scottish clubs were now five games in arrears as just two fixtures had been played in three weeks.

Football did eventually resume the following weekend when Celtic were demolished 3-0 by Morton in the Western League. The Hoops didn’t have a manager for that match and the team was selected by assistant boss, Jimmy McMenemy.

Rumours continued to suggest that a new Manager would be announced in the coming days, despite some newspapers reporting that Celtic would not employ a gaffer until the War had finished and football returned to greater importance. Eventually, on 15 February 1940, it was announced that Jimmy McStay would be given the role as Celtic’s new Manager. The announcement was warmly greeted by Willie Maley, who sent McStay a telegram of congratulations. Maley had of course managed McStay some years earlier, whilst the day also brought interesting news for Celtic’s former boss as the office bearers of the Scottish League and SFA agreed to form a committee to arrange a testimonial match in his honour. In addition, the League council agreed to grant Maley a lifetime member’s medal.

Celtic’s wartime manager Jimmy McStay

James McStay had been Manager of Alloa when Celtic offered him the position. In an official statement, Alloa explained that McStay’s agreement with the club lasted until 1941, but the directors agreed to release him from his contract as they did not wish to stand in the way of the promotion that he so richly deserved. McStay had managed Alloa since April 1938. He won them promotion to the First Division during his first season in charge and had picked up two wins from his first five games as a Division One Manager, before the War intervened.

Jimmy McStay’s return to Parkhead was a home coming. As a player, he had been a centre half at Celtic between 1923 and 1934. His time in Paradise delivered a league title in 1925/26, five Scottish Cups, two Glasgow Cups and two Glasgow Charity Cups. Six years into his Celtic career, he succeeded his brother, Willie, as Club Captain. Two of those Scottish Cup triumphs came under his leadership but, after making 472 appearances in the hoops, he departed for Hamilton Accies on a free transfer.

McStay would have been familiar with the squad at Celtic Park as he had played with all of the club’s contracted players other than Lyon, Lynch and McKay.

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