It may not have resulted in a league title success, but Celtic’s 7-2 rout of Morton on this day in 1985 was still mightily impressive.
Davie Hay’s men went into this one looking to arrest an indifferent run of form. A 0-0 draw at Dundee United had been followed up with a 1-0 home loss against Hibs and then a 3-2 win against Hearts at Parkhead. With Celtic struggling for consistency all season, three points at Morton was essential if Hay’s side were to stay in the title race and build some momentum.
Interestingly, on the same day, Celtic’s Reserves were putting a Morton shadow XI to the sword at Celtic Park. The 5-2 success saw Tony Shepherd bag four goals. However, a first-team regular would follow that four-goal feat against Morton’s senior side.
Brian McClair was the hero of the afternoon, even though he wasn’t supposed to actually play! Indeed, it was Tommy Burns’ hamstring injury that opened up a spot for him.
McClair must’ve felt frustrated at not initially being included either. It was he who bagged the important winner against Hearts at Parkhead the midweek before the Morton trip.
And he showed Hay why he was deserving of regular starts with a hat-trick before the game was half-an-hour old.
McClair steals the show at Cappielow
McClair’s first came from an inch-perfect cross from Danny McGrain. The striker was there to nod home after Murdo MacLeod and Davie Provan were influential in the build-up.
Five minutes later and McClair caught out Morton’s off-side trap. Roy Aitken slid a fine ball through to the forward, and he buried with aplomb. However, Morton got some luck when Pierce O’Leary fired into his own net amidst confusion in the box minutes later.
The hat-trick from McClair, however, would then be completed with a left-footed finish from Mo Johnston’s pass. That was only after Frank McGarvey had initially put Celtic 3-1 ahead.
Speaking of Johnston, he was denied on several occasions as he did everything but score. Yet he did set up goal number five when his cross was met by MacLeod. His effort then deflected into the net off McGarvey.
A rather bizarre moment led to the second half being delayed for a short period. The reason? Both Johnston and McGarvey both came out wearing number 9 shirts. McGarvey went off and changed to 11. Perhaps the hilarity cost Celtic their concentration, as Martin Doak found space to rifle beyond Pat Bonner in a rare attack for the Ton. 5-2.
But Celtic were never going to go through the rest of the half without netting. Owen Archdeacon came on for Provan and scored with only his second touch on 64 minutes.
The scoring would then be rounded off by who else but McClair. Again, Johnston was at the heart of things as he cut-back for the big striker to join the four-goal club.
After that contest, Celtic won their next three matches in the league before the wheels came off. Just one win in our last four games led to us finishing the season in second place.
Celtic did, however, go onto win the Scottish Cup, beating Dundee United in the final on May 18th 1985. That would be our only silverware of the season.