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John McPhail

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Place of birth
Glasgow, Scotland

Football player

John McPhail


Place of death
Glasgow, Scotland

St Mungo's Academy

John McPhail imagewikifoundrycomimage1x8I9FOhMOoujEzLxDXG

Date of birth
(1923-12-27)27 December 1923

Date of death
6 November 2000(2000-11-06) (aged 76)

Playing position
right-half, centre forward

November 6, 2000, Glasgow, United Kingdom

John McPhail (27 December 1923 – 6 November 2000) was a Scottish international football player who spent his entire playing career with Celtic. On his retirement from playing football, he wrote for the Daily Record and The Celtic View. He was the elder brother of Billy McPhail, also a former Celtic player.


Playing career

Born in Lambhill, Glasgow, McPhail attended St Mungo's Academy before signing for the club he supported, in October 1941, aged just 17. He initially played as a right-half and soon earned a nickname, "Hooky" due to his tendency to kick the football with the outside of his boot. The name stuck with him throughout his life.

McPhail's early years with Celtic coincided with a period of domination by their Old Firm rivals, Rangers. In 1948, McPhail was part of the Celtic team that only narrowly avoided relegation on the last day of the season. However, he did earn a winners medal in the Victory In Europe Cup in 1945.

In 1950 McPhail was transformed into a centre forward, a move that revitalised his career. During this season, he was "his side’s inspiration, and the idol of the supporters", according to author and historian Tom Campbell in Glasgow Celtic 1945-1970. He captained the team to a Scottish Cup victory in 1951, scoring 7 of the club's 19 goals in that competition, and the only goal of the final. This marked the first Cup success for the club in 14 years; it was followed by with a Coronation Cup victory in 1953 and a league championship title in 1954.

It was in this period McPhail earned 5 caps for Scotland, scoring 3 goals. He also played for the Scottish League.

By 1954 McPhail had begun to struggle to maintain his match fitness and he only played for the Celtic first team intermittently. Journalist, Archie Macpherson recounts that McPhail admitted to him that he began to adopt the "ageing remedy of the Hungarian international Ferenc Puskás, shortening the stride and increasing the number of steps he took to lend the false impression of pace." Additional problems curtailed his career further, including a family crisis and bankruptcy as a business venture went wrong.

His younger brother, Billy McPhail also played for Celtic, and is widely remembered for scoring a hat-trick in Celtic's 7-1 victory over rivals Rangers in the 1957 Scottish League Cup. John McPhail also scored three goals against Rangers, in the 1950 Glasgow Merchants' Charity Cup. This is the only occasion in Old Firm history that brothers have achieved this feat.


On 5 May 1956 McPhail retired from professional football, having spent 14 years with just one senior club. He went on to work as a journalist with the Daily Record for over ten years. He then wrote for The Celtic View in the years following its launch.

McPhail was married, and had two daughters and a son, also called John. He died in Glasgow on 6 November 2000.


John McPhail Wikipedia

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