HARRY Hood holds his own special place in Celtic folklore as the last man to score a hat-trick against Rangers.
And the 70-year-old pub boss reckons his proud record will remain intact in Sunday’s first Old Firm meeting in nearly three years – because Celtic are “ordinary”.
Parkhead great Hood created his own little bit of history on a rain-soaked December night in 1973 when he scored all three goals as Celtic beat Rangers 3-1 to advance to their tenth consecutive League Cup Final.
Swedish striker John Guidetti has boasted he can slam a treble against Rangers but Hood feels confident he will still be the king after Sunday’s showdown. He said: “I know Rangers have had a very hard time of it, but I think Celtic are very, very ordinary right now.
“I actually don’t watch a lot of football these days but when I do what strikes me is that this Celtic team doesn’t work hard enough when they don’t have the ball. I don’t see a great desire to run back quickly and work hard. I’m not impressed with their work rate up front either.
“As a striker you need to create space and while I think players like Stokes and Griffiths have good talent I don’t think they work hard enough to do that. I think it will be a battle on the park because if Rangers are to have any chance they are going to have to work really hard to close Celtic down.
“Although, these days it’s not too difficult to do that. So I think it could be a bit volatile all over the park for that very reason.”
Hood, who scored 123 goals in 312 Celtic appearances between 1968 and 1976, reckons he should have had four goals that famous night – becoming the first man to hit that mark in an Old Firm game.
And he admits he has had a few anxious moments in recent years as others have threatened to emulate his hat-trick heroics.
He said: “The amazing thing is if you were to ask the average Celtic punter ‘Who was the last Celtic player to score a hat-trick against Rangers?’ they would mention everyone apart from me – Lennox, Dalglish, Dixie, Larsson, Hartson or Moravcik – you could go through the lot.
“The first goal came about when Kenny fired a ball across the face and I got my head on it.
“Rangers got a goal back and it was a good shot from Alex MacDonald but we were too strong in the second half.
“In typical fashion Big Billy got up to win a corner and nodded it down and I got in quick to put the ball away. The third one was when I beat the offside trap and when McCloy came off his line I managed to chip it over him. I had a fourth goal disallowed and it was clearly onside. Kenny cut the ball back and I put it away, and as I did that Tom Forsyth had a kick at me and I had a go back, and the referee came up and chalked the goal off. I think he didn’t want any controversy as it was the last minute of the game.
“I never thought anything of it at the time but it was only later I realised that no Celtic player had ever scored four goals against Rangers. So I wish Tom hadn’t kicked me now because that goal might have stood and I might have had an even better record.
“I have had good mileage out of it to be fair and it’s a record to be proud of. Only Billy McPhail, Stevie Chalmers and Bobby Lennox had scored hat-tricks against Rangers since the war before I got mine. There have been a few occasions when I thought it was going to be broken. I remember Samaras scored a couple and he had chances for a third goal. And I was over in Spain when Celtic were winning 4-1 after the young lad Wilson had been sent off and there were still 30-odd minutes to go and Moravcik and Larsson had both scored two.
“I turned off the radio and went to the bar and had a drink and then I went to where I was staying and I phoned up the pub to find out who had scored the fifth goal.
“My manager was Alex Quinn, who knows nothing about football as it happens, and I asked him who got it and I could hear him asking the regulars and one of them, clocking it was me on the phone, shouted ‘Tell him it was Larsson, tell him it was Moravcik’. In the end I found out it was Mark Burchill so the record was still mine.”
Hood, who recovered from cancer last year, is on a well-earned six-week cruise in the Far East but he is determined to catch the Hampden action. He added: “When we get into port that day I will need to find a pub that’s showing the game.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS