In any discussion about Scotland’s best uncapped footballers, the name of Harry Hood, who has died aged 74, always comes up.
He scored goals regularly for Clyde, and for Celtic, but, he never got closer to the full Scotland cap his talent deserved than appearances for the Under-23 and Scottish League XIs, and a place on the 1967 World Tour by: “a Scotland XI”.
On that global voyage, he appeared in matches against Israel, Hong Kong and Canada which the opposition considered to be full internationals, but the SFA didn’t, so, like one of his team mates, a certain Alex Ferguson, Hood would remain uncapped.
He made that trip as a Clyde player, so no cap was hardly a surprise, but his failure to be capped while scoring regularly for Celtic later in his career is harder to understand.
Harry Hood attended rugby-playing St Aloysius College, where he was a useful hooker. However, he loved the round ball game and later switched to Holyrood Secondary, in the hope of winning a Scottish Schools cap.
However, he had also, at not quite 15, signed with junior side St Roch’s, a move which effectively banned him from schools selection.
He then progressed, via Burnbank BC to Clyde, signing-on at Shawfield in 1962, aged 17. He was soon in the first team and a strike rate of 40 goals in a little over 60 games persuaded Sunderland, in 1964, to pay £25,000 to take him to Roker Park.
Although he credits his time on Wearside with helping make him a better player, he never really settled at Sunderland and in 1964, his transfer value having almost halved, he was back with Clyde – and soon scoring again.
He had opted for Sunderland in preference to signing for Celtic, the team he supported, but, when Celtic, revolutionised by Jock Stein, came back in for him in 1967, he needed no second bidding. A fee of £40,000 changed hands and Hood was finally a Celt, in March, 1969, and facing the difficult task of getting a game in competition with the Lisbon Lions.
He scored on his debut, against St Mirren, at Love Street. Indeed, he scored on his debut in every competition he played in for the Hoops – League, League Cup, Scottish Cup and European Cup. His versatility made him a more than useful squad member.
He could play as an out and out striker, as a winger, “in the hole”, as second striker or in midfield and in eight seasons with Celtic he played 312 games, scored 123 goals and won six league championship, four Scottish Cup and two League Cup winner’s medals. He was an unused substitute as Celtic lost to Feyenoord in the 1970 European Cup Final.
He scored some crucial match-winning goals, but, to the Celtic faithful his hat-trick – with a possible fourth goal ruled out – in a League Cup semi-final win over Rangers in 1973 is perhaps his best scoring achievement – not many Celtic players have scored an Old Firm hat-trick.
When he left Celtic Park in the summer of 1976, he crossed the Atlantic for a spell with San Antonio Thunder, returning to Scotland to spend a season with Motherwell, before running down his playing career with Queen of the South, finally hanging-up his boots in 1978 after a 16-year senior career of over 500 games and 200 goals.
Many footballers have gone into the licenced trade on retiring, but few can have done so with the success enjoyed by Hood who, with his childhood sweetheart turned wife Kathleen, built-up a string of successful pubs.
He did briefly return to football, as part-time manager at Albion Rovers, then at Queen of the South, for all of five weeks, but for him managing did not hold the attraction of playing.
His later years were blighted by bowel cancer, which he fought ferociously. His first attack went into remission, and he became a formidable fundraiser for the Beatson Cancer Centre, but, the disease’s return proved a bridge too far for even Harry Hood’s fighting spirit and he died last Sunday, just shortly after Celtic had completed that unique domestic treble treble.
Harry Hood is survived by Kathleen, their three children and six grandchildren
A fitting epitaph was written by Celtic fan and journalist Paul Cuddihy: “Harry Hood deserves his place in Celtic folklore. He wasn’t a Lisbon Lion or a Quality Street Kid, but he fitted in perfectly at Celtic.
“He had the X-Factor that helped the team win games and in many ways he was the classic Celtic player. His record of 123 goals and 12 major honours stands comparison with the greats.”