There was a four-week gap on the declaration of war, but 29 days after Hitler’s troops invaded Poland, Scottish clubs were back on the field. On New Year’s Day 1940, 40,000 watched Malcolm MacDonald grab a late equaliser for Celtic at Ibrox.
Games took place every weekend from August until May throughout the war years in competitions, such as the League Southern Division, the Glasgow Cup and the Summer Cup. Crowds attended in (frankly unbelievable, for the time) numbers; 90,000 attended a Southern League Cup semi-final against Rangers at Hampden.
Guest players came and went, as many regulars were at the front, although some found haven in adjacent shipyards. Without the threat from bombers, the Scottish Football League continued throughout the First War.
Since 28 May 1888, when Celtic’s first team took to the field, there has never been as long a period without a game as the one that ends this evening. Over four months without football ends with a friendly against Nice in front of a few hundred people.
There is no real hardship in any of this. Families across the world continue to endure challenges far greater than those of football fans, but I’m glad this part is over and I hope it never happens again.
Welcome back, Celtic.