DAVIE HAY won his first silverware as Celtic manager on this date on May 18 1985 – just under two years since he had been appointed successor to Manchester City-bound Billy McNeill.
Despite his inexperience in the dug-out, the Hoops had given the awesome responsibility of the top job to their former player who was only 35 at the time.
Hay was well aware what confronted him on a fateful afternoon at the national stadium as he told his long-time friend and author Alex Gordon who co-wrote the Hoops legend’s autobiography, ‘The Quiet Assassin‘, published in 2009.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE, here is the story in the words of the ex-boss who is now a Celtic Club Ambassador.
Hay said: “My first season as Celtic manager had drawn a blank. I didn’t need reminding that it was the first season since 1978 that the club had not won a trophy.
“So, you might assume, correctly, that there was a fair bit of pressure on yours truly on a wet and windy afternoon on May 18 as we lined up to contest the Scottish Cup with our so-called hoodoo outfit Dundee United at Hampden. I had 90 minutes to turn things around or face another barren campaign.
“That weighed rather heavily on me although I went out of my way to disguise my emotions. If the players perceive the manager is a nervous wreck or showing signs of being overly-stressed it will undoubtedly transfer to them. Outwardly, I was as upbeat as ever. Inwardly, I knew I defeat was unthinkable.
HAMPDEN HALLELUJAH…Davie Hay holds aloft the Scottish Cup after an epic encounter at the national stadium on May 18 1985.
“We had met the Tannadice team nine times over the two seasons I was in charge at Parkhead and won only once, a 3-1 triumph in the league at their place on October 20 1984.
“That was our solitary success from eight league head-to-heads. They had beaten us three times and the remaining four matches had ended all-square.
“There wasn’t much between the teams, but they had also knocked us out of the League Cup at the quarter-final stage, winning 2-1 at their place.
“I felt it was appropriate that we do something about it. It was time for the Celtic support to celebrate again. A crowd of 60,000 turned out to witness the spectacle that was the 100th Scottish Cup Final.
THE EQUALISER…Davie Provan (extreme left) watches his free-kick soar high past Hamish McAlpine to make it level in the Cup showdown.
“As usual, United sat back and allowed us to come at them while they went through their cat-and-mouse routine. They would suck you in and then hit on the break.
“We had encountered it nine times in two seasons and here we were at Hampden going through it all again.
“I warned my team about keeping their wits about them at all times. ‘Take your eye off this lot and they will punish you,’ was one of the last things I said to my players in the dressing room. It was goalless at the interval and I was reasonably satisfied with what I had seen from my team.
“Sure enough, Jim McLean had set out his tactics as he had done so many times before. They were trying to lure us upfield and then explode behind us with their pace. About 10 minutes into the second-half we were a goal down.
THE WINNER…Frank McGarvey is about to set off in celebrations after leaving Hamish McAlpine helpless for the Scottish Cup clincher.
“They had done it again. I couldn’t believe it. Our defence was left exposed, Roy Aitken had to try to match Stuart Beedie for speed and the United frontman got through to squeeze the ball low past Pat Bonner.
“That’s the way it stood with around 15 minutes to go. Managers are paid good money to think on their feet and I made two momentous decisions that could have backfired spectacularly. I took off Paul McStay and Tommy Burns and put on Pierce O’Leary and Brian McClair.
“Tommy was far from happy about being removed from the action. He muttered something as he walked past me on the touchline and I said: ‘Just shut up and sit on your backside.’
“The tension was beginning to tell. It was all or nothing now. I put O’Leary into the middle of the defence alongside Tom McAdam and freed Aitken to get forward on the right. I thought his running power might unsettle the United back-lot.
“The switches worked a treat, I am happy – and relieved – to tell you.
“Davie Provan curled an exquisite 25-yard free-kick high past United keeper Hamish McAlpine for the equaliser. Game on! We wouldn’t be denied and we weren’t about to play out time to take the game into an extra half-hour.
UP FOR THE CUP…goal heroes Davie Provan and Frank McGarvey parade the silverware.
“We could sense victory was ours and, with the clock ticking down, we struck a deadly blow.
“Six minutes remained when Aitken went on a lung-bursting run down the right before thumping over a ferocious cross to the near post.
“Frank McGarvey made contact with his head and powered the blurred object beyond a helpless McAlpine and the trophy was ours.
“The first guy to congratulate me immediately after the final whistle was Tommy Burns. He wasn’t one to bear a grudge.”
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