Declan McConville with A Celtic State of Mind – Harry Hood: A legend on and off the pitch

Before the arrival of Jock Stein at Celtic Park in March 1965, the club under the management of Jimmy McGrory attempted to sign Harry Hood from Clyde in November 1964. Hood rejected the move as Celtic were offering him less money than he was already earning as a part-time player at Shawfield along with his job as a sales rep. At the time, he was earning £26 per-week with Celtic only offering him a measly £20 with no signing-on fee.

After a short spell on Wearside at Sunderland, he returned back to the Bully Wee where he would then go on to sign for Celtic. On the 16 March 1969, Jock Stein  shelled out his record transfer fee of £40,000 to sign the striker who would prove to be crucial in the club’s pursuit of four-in-a-row. Hood scored on his debut against St Mirren at Love Street and would go on to score five goals in the last seven games of the league campaign to seal the title against Kilmarnock.

Hood was a serial goalscorer for Celtic, scoring a fantastic 123 goals for the club over the course of seven wonderful years. A statistic which not many players can match is that Harry Hood scored on every single one of his Celtic debuts in each competition as well as in his first Old Firm match. He was an integral part of Celtic’s achievements throughout the 1970s, constantly winning leagues and cups as well as helping the club progress in Europe. In his time at the club, Hood won six league championships, four Scottish Cups and two League Cups and, in season 1970/71, he was the club’s top scorer with 33 goals. He was a substitute who could always change a game, which caused the Celtic support to have various songs about him in a plea for Jock Stein to send him on.

Before Moussa Dembele bagged a hat-trick against Rangers in 2016, Harry Hood was the last Celtic player to do so – in 1973, when even a fourth goal was controversially disallowed. That season of 1973/74 saw Hood feature in the game when Celtic won nine-in-a-row at Brockville. As well as this, he opened the goalscoring in the Scottish Cup final against Dundee United with a great header to seal yet another domestic double.

Celtic historian Eugene MacBride summed up Harry Hood as a footballer perfectly, saying, “When he left Celtic, the team’s flair went with him. A magnificent club servant.”

As well as Harry Hood the footballer, he was also a terrific businessman. Through this I was very fortunate to meet Harry on a few occasions in Angels Hotel in Uddingston. Many a happy time and great meal has been had there over the years with family and my best pal, Bethany. Harry was an absolute gentleman who very kindly sat down at our table during my Gran’s 75th birthday celebrations. Harry sat and spoke away to us all and chatted to me about Celtic. On that evening he kindly signed the programme from his hat-trick game against Rangers and spoke me through the goals which is a memory and possession I will forever cherish.

Rest In Peace, Harry Hood.

Declan McConville

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