Part 14.5 – Post War Facts & Figures

There were big wins for two clubs in the immediate post-war years;-

Dundee ;             two record 10-0 wins; over Alloa Athletic -Division 2 – 9th March 1947; and against Dunfermline – Division 2 – 22nd March 1947.

St Johnstone ;   9-0 against Albion Rovers ; League Cup ; 9th March 1946.

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Four clubs also had their best attendance figures during these post-war years ;

Cowdenbeath;  25,586    v Rangers ; Scottish Cup ; 21st September 1949

Peterhead;           6,310    v Celtic ; friendly ; 1948

St Mirren;          47,438    v Celtic ; League Cup ; 20th August 1949

Stranraer;            6,500    v Rangers ; Scottish Cup ; 24th January 1948

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The Scottish League side played four matches against the English League between 1947 and 1950, of which England won three and one was drawn. Five matches were played against the Irish League in the same period, the Scots winning all five; while of the three games versus the League of Ireland between 1948 and 1950, the Scottish League won two and lost one.

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When Scotland met England at Hampden on 13th April 1946, it was dubbed a ‘Victory International’.  In front of 139,468 spectators, Scotland won 1-0 through a Jimmy Delaney goal.

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During the second round FA Cup match between Bolton Wanderers and Stoke City on March 9th 1946 – the official attendance was given as 65,419 but it was estimated that nearer 85,000 had managed to get into Burnden Park – part of the terracing became so overcrowded that the crush barriers collapsed. In the space of a few yards, 33 people died and over 500 were injured.

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A second international match – neither an official one nor a victory international –  between Scotland and England was organised in the spring of 1946. This was played at Maine Road, Manchester, on 24th April, the aim being to raise funds for the victims of the Burnden Park Disaster described above. A crowd of 70,000 was present to see the sides draw 2-2.

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When the Second World War ended in Europe, the Glasgow Cup committee invited Celtic and Rangers to play for a special trophy with the match proceeds going to charity. Rangers were in two minds about whether or not to compete due to their preparations for a Southern League Cup final against Motherwell and eventually decided to withdraw. Queen’s Park took up the invitation at short notice and the match went ahead at Hampden on 9th May 1945.

28,000 turned up on a fine afternoon and the Spiders took the lead in 25 minutes through Dixon; two minutes later, Paton equalised for Celtic. ‘Thus endeth the scoring’ so the match was decided on the traditional method of the number of corners gained over the 90 minutes. Celtic had got three to Queen’s Park’s two, so the Victory-in-Europe Cup took up a spot in the Celtic Park Boardroom.

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The Victory Cup was organised by the Scottish League to celebrate the cessation of hostilities after Japan had surrendered in 1946. It was open to most of the senior teams in Scotland and evolved into a drawn-out affair that lasted almost three months at the end of season 1945-46. By the quarter-final stage, the remaining sides – and the results – were ;-

              Clyde    4 – 2    Aberdeen   

             Falkirk   1 – 1    Rangers          Replay   Falkirk          0 – 2   Rangers

Partick Thistle   1 – 1    Hibs                Replay    Partick Th   0 – 2    Hibs

Raith Rovers      0 – 2    Celtic 

 Semi-Finals

                 Hibs   2 – 1    Clyde    (Tynecastle)

           Rangers   0 – 0    Celtic    (Hampden)    Replay   Rangers   2 – 0   Celtic

 

Final

            Rangers  3 – 1     Hibs  1   (Hampden)

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In late September 1945, the fans were coming back to see football matches, were keen to see some big names and really fancied the chance of seeing some foreign opposition again.

One country which would not have been highly regarded at the time for the quality of its football was the Soviet Union. In fact, even for football aficionados, Russia (as the team was known in those days) were best remembered for a 16-0 thrashing at the hands of Germany in the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games. Countries improve, however, and when a Soviet army side beat its British counterparts  2-0 on 1st October 1945 and followed this up with a similar result against the French Army side a week later, British football  took notice. So, when it was announced at the end of October 1945 that a leading Soviet side called Dynamo FC of Moscow would be coming on tour, public excitement was understandable.

Before they arrived, Dynamo officials sent the English FA a 14-point charter listing demands that had to be met before the tour would go ahead. Some were quite reasonable, like no charging of goalkeepers – illegal in their part of the world – or that the matches had to be against club sides. Others were more controversial, such as the use of one of their referees in at least one match or a request to eat all their meals in the Soviet Embassy. The visiting officials were also quite insulted that the matches would not take place on a Saturday afternoon. However, in the end, a form of agreement was reached and the tour went ahead.

The first match was against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 13th November 1945, when 85,000 fans packed in to see the visitors play some nice football, the game ending in a 3-3 draw. Next up was a game in Wales, a complete mis-match, when Dynamo thrashed Cardiff City 10-1. Arsenal were next, although with Highbury still out of commission due to its role as an air-raid control centre, the match went ahead at White Hart Lane. As a number of players were still on war service, Arsenal brought in a few guests, like Stan Mortensen from Blackpool and Stanley Matthews from Stoke City. The visitors were not pleased and the teams went into the match on 21st November 1945 with some ill-feeling on both sides, as the home players were well aware that Dynamo had included at least two non-Dynamo stars in their squad, one from the Central Army Club and the other from Leningrad Dynamo.

54,000 were there to see the action but many of them would have missed out on much of it as a dense fog descended upon North London. Almost unbelievably, though, the Russian referee N. Latyshev decided that play should go ahead, the visitors taking the lead in only 30 seconds. Arsenal stuck in, though, and were 3-2 ahead at the interval. However, Dynamo fought back to gain a 4-3 victory, not without some refereeing idiosyncracies , not the least of which was failing to notice that Dynamo played around 20 minutes of the match with 12 players on the field!

And that just left the final match of the tour, a trip to Scotland for a clash with Rangers.  It was also slightly foggy at Ibrox, where Rangers graciously allowed their opponents to don their usual strip of dark blue tops and baggy shorts with a blue band round the bottom. The Light Blues played in their change strip of narrow blue and white hoops, often known as the ‘butcher’s strip’.

As we have seen in this series, Rangers were very dominant in Scottish football at that time but Dynamo monopolised the early play, scoring an early goal and getting another on the half-hour mark. Rangers then missed a penalty – saved by the well-known keeper ‘Tiger’ Khomich – before pulling one back before the break. In the second half, with the visitors visibly tiring after the exertions of the tour, Rangers were awarded another penalty which George Young converted to level the scores, a result which seemed to please everyone on both sides.

There was supposed to be a final match in the tour, a game against a FA X1 at Villa Park. Just before the match was to be held, however, the Dynamo officials pulled out of the match and the squad promptly flew home.

And so the tour came to an end. From the playing point of view, it had been successful one for Dynamo of Moscow. The results had been good, their play had been much admired, their fitness and professionalism never in doubt. Whether it did much for British-Soviet relations, however, is beyond the scope of this article.

PS:   The international which Scotland played on 23rd January 1946 and has not been given official status by FIFA was against Belgium. Curiously, a similar international was undertaken against Switzerland on 15th May 1946.

PPS:   In season 1946-47, which Scottish star was transferred from Morton to Derby County for a British record fee of £15,000?

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Part 14 – 1945-1950: Post War Years

For season 1945-46, preparations were made as though it would be another war-time campaign. Germany and Italy had surrendered in May 1945 but Japan was still fighting and showing no signs of desisting from the conflict. It was felt, therefore, that the troops who had been fighting in Europe would now be transferred to the Pacific for further action.

Two divisions would be in operation in Scottish football – once more under the aegis of the Scottish League – and just to make then slightly different from previous ones, they would be known as ‘A Division’ and ‘B Division’. Aberdeen were brought back to Division A, as were Kilmarnock and Queen of the South, both of whom had closed during the earlier war years. The teams involved were ;-

A Division – Aberdeen, Celtic, Clyde, Falkirk, Hamilton, Hearts, Hibs, Kilmarnock, Morton, Motherwell, Partick Thistle, Queen’s Park, Queen of the South, Rangers, St Mirren, Third Lanark.

B Division – Airdrie, Albion Rovers, Alloa Athletic, Arbroath, Ayr United, Cowdenbeath, Dumbarton, Dundee, Dundee United, Dunfermline, East Fife, Raith Rovers, St Johnstone, Stenhousemuir.

The clubs were assured that these allocations would be a temporary measure but within days of the start of the new season, Japan surrendered after the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Some form of re-construction then had to be thought of – and quickly!

36 of the 38 clubs in Scotland had survived the war. St Bernard’s had played their final match in May 1942 and their Royal Gymnasium ground had been sold a year later. The other casualty was the Stirling club, King’s Park, whose ground had been very badly damaged by a bomb. Instead of King’s Park re-forming, however, a new club, Stirling Albion, was founded. Their directors had taken a big chance. As King’s Park, the club would have been automatically admitted to the new leagues; Stirling Albion would have to fight its way into the new set-up.

A major problem for the legislators was what to do with those clubs who were bone fide members of the Scottish League but were not, for whatever reason, included in either Division A or Division B. The solution they came up with was to form an Eastern League, comprising Dundee Reserves and Dundee United Reserves, plus the clubs which had been left out, Stirling Albion, Montrose, East Stirling, Edinburgh City, Leith Athletic, Forfar and Brechin City. The smaller clubs accepted this arrangement with comparatively good grace. After all, they had been assured that it would be a temporary measure. Unfortunately, there were also those who did not see it like that.

The reformers were quick to point out that this was the perfect time for a complete re-organisation of Scottish football. Their opponents were equally adamant that a club should only be expelled from the Scottish League for actively breaking a rule. However, while all these arguments were going on behind the scenes, the spectators were just glad to have ‘proper’ football back again and flocked to the matches in increasing numbers.

Season 1945 – 1946

                        A Division   B Division
Champions      Rangers             Dundee

These wins were obviously important for the clubs involved but the others were more concerned about the structure for the start of the 1946-47 season. It may have been ‘peacetime’ in terms of no fighting taking place but conditions were far from what had become the norm in the mid-1930s and matters would not readily improve in certain fields – like the difficulty of obtaining building permits or the rationing of petrol – until the mid-1950s. Mid-week football, for example, was usually restricted to public holidays.

In the winter of 1946, there was talk among the bigger clubs of a Super League, confined to 14 or 16 teams, with no relegation. This had little chance of being accepted as there were more clubs with a vote who would not get in than those who would be successful. Eventually, the authorities decided to put a ‘C’ Division into operation, made up of the Eastern League teams and various reserve sides. This lasted for three years before being further sub-divided on a geographical basis.

Season 1946 – 47

Division A                      Division B                           Division C

                   P Pts                         P Pts                                P Pts
Rangers    30 46        Dundee    26 45        Stirling Alb.    18 30
Hibs          30 44          Airdrie   26 42          Dundee ‘A’    18 26
Aberdeen 30 39     East Fife     26 31            Leith Ath.    18 25

Season 1947 – 48

Division A                      Division B                           Division C

                   P Pts                              P Pts                                 P Pts
Hibs          30 48              East Fife  30 53           East Stirling  22 39
Rangers   30 46     Albion Rovers  30 42            East Fife ‘A’  22 35
Partick     30 36              Hamilton 30 40       Forfar Athletic  22 32

Season 1948 – 49

Division A                      Division B                           Division C

                   P Pts                              P Pts                                 P Pts
Rangers    30 46       Raith Rovers 30 42        Forfar Athletic 22 35
Dundee     30 45    Stirling Albion 30 42          Leith Athletic 22 33
Hibs          30 39                  Airdrie 30 41            Brechin City 22 30

Season 1949 – 1950

Division A                      Division B                           

                   P Pts                              P Pts
Rangers     30 50               Morton  30 47
Hibs           30 49                Airdrie  30 44
Hearts       30 43      Dunfermline  30 36

From the tables above, the influence of Rangers and Hibs on the immediate post war scene can easily be recognised. Other clubs whose names appear in the Division A list – Aberdeen and Hearts – were more inconsistent, while one of the big names from the pre-war years – Celtic – does not figure in the top three at all during those post-war years. In fact, much to the chagrin of their supporters, in those four league seasons, Celtic finished 7th, 12th, 6th and 5th, even flirting with relegation in 1947-48.

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The Scottish Cup started up again in season 1946-47 and proved a great draw for the spectators, who flocked to the grounds in droves to watch the action.

Season 1946 – 1947. It had been a long time since Hibs had won the Scottish Cup – 1902, in fact – and their fans were hopeful that their promising league form could be transferred to the main cup. In this season, they were matched with Motherwell in the semi-final and in front of a crowd of 48,000 at Hampden, needed extra-time to beat the Steelmen 2-1. In the other semi-final at Dens Park, Arbroath gave a gutsy performance but found the strength of Aberdeen just too much for them and went down 2-0.

82,140 were at Hampden for the final, where it was a tough decision as to whether Hibs once more failed to rise to the challenge or whether the Dons effectively stopped them from doing so and took their own chances. The Dons led 2-1 at the interval and after a goalless second-half, the Aberdeen fans were in raptures, their club’s win the first in their history.

Season 1947 – 1948. Rangers were the dominant Scottish team of the time so it came as no surprise when they won the Scottish Cup in 1947-48. The most memorable feature of the tournament, however, was the size of the crowds. 143,000 were at Hampden for the semi-final between Rangers and Hibs, while on the same afternoon, 80,000 turned up at Ibrox to see Morton overcome Celtic 1-0 after extra-time in the other semi-final. Then, in the final, 129,176 was the crowd for the Rangers/Morton clash which ended 1-1 after extra-time; and an astonishing 133,750 crammed in for the replay, which Rangers won 1-0, again after the extra period. Once again, Hibs fans were left disappointed.

Season 1948 – 1949. Rangers again, perhaps without the drama or the crowds of the previous year. In the semi-final at Easter Road, watched by 33,000, Clyde and Dundee drew after extra-time, necessitating a replay at Hampden, which Clyde won 2-1. In the other semi-final, at Hampden, 104,958 were present to see Rangers comfortably deal with East Fife 3-0; and it was equally comfortable in the final for the Light Blues, who thrashed Clyde 4-1 with 108,435 watching.

Season 1949 – 1950. Rangers made it three-in-a-row, although there were some new names in the semi-finals. Rangers beat Queen of the South 3-0 at Hampden in one; East Fife overcame Partick Thistle at Ibrox in the other. As in the previous season, although that had been in the semi-final, Rangers once again proved too strong for the Methil side, winning 3-0 in front of 118,262 at Hampden.

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A new competition stated up that season for the Scottish teams. The league cup competition which had been brought in to replace the Scottish Cup during the war had proved popular, so the format used for that – teams split into groups of four with the winner going through to the next round – was adopted for what was named the Scottish League Cup. The crowds which turned up were never quite on a par with the Scottish Cup but were respectable and in the first four years of the competition, two sides each won the trophy twice.

1946-47. In the semi-finals, Aberdeen beat Hearts 6-2; Rangers overcame Hibs 3-1. In the final at Hampden, Rangers proved much too good for Aberdeen, winning 4-0, with 82,700 watching.

1947-48. Both Rangers and Aberdeen reached the semi-final stage again but both were surprisingly beaten and by the same scoreline 1-0. The Light Blues fell to Falkirk and the Dons to East Fife. The final needed a replay. The first match, which ended in a 0-0 draw, was watched by 53,785 and only 31,000 turned up for the second game, which East Fife won 4-1. In their respective league campaigns that season, Falkirk had finished 7th in the top division, while East Fife had won the Second Division title.

1948-49. Rangers again. In one semi-final, they beat Dundee 4-1; in the other, Raith Rovers won 2-0 against Hamilton. The team from Kirkcaldy did themselves proud in the final, keeping the hopes of their fans in the crowd of 52,450 alive but Rangers got the two goals that mattered.

1949-50. East Fife capped a wonderful season with victory in the League Cup. They had finished 4th in the top division in the league and lost to Rangers in the final of the Scottish Cup but in this competition, they were not to be denied. They beat Rangers 2-1 in the semi-final and then comfortably overcame Dunfermline – winners against Hibs in the other semi-final – in the final, their 3-0 win watched by 39,744.

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The British Home Championship started again – unofficially – in season 1945/46 and it was won by Scotland, who repeated the feat in 1948-49. England won in 1946-47 and again in 1947-48. Results against the other nations were;

England                          P4    W1    D1    L2
Wales                             P4    W2    D0   L2
Northern Ireland      P4    W2    D1    L1

The championship of 1949-50 was a rather special one and will be dealt with in a forthcoming chapter.

Scotland also played some internationals against European countries in this decade. The results were ( Scotland’s scores first) ;-

Belgium
18th May   1947 Brussels          1-2
28th April 1948 Glasgow         2-0

France
23rd May 1948 Paris                0-3
27th April 1949 Glasgow         2-0

Luxembourg
24th May 1947 Luxembourg   6-0

Switzerland
17th May 1948 Berne                1-2

PS For my previous question, I asked who had been presented to the players before the unofficial international between Scotland and England at Hampden on 22nd April 1944? The answer was Field-Marshall Montgomery.

PPS Scotland also played an international at Hampden on 23rd January 1946 against a Continental country. The match was given full international status by the associations of both countries but was not recognised by FIFA. Which country was it?