A SCOTTISH Cup winner’s medal awarded to the longest-serving manager in Celtic’s history will go under the hammer in an online auction tonight. The 14-carat gold medal was presented to Willie Maley after his team won the trophy in 1937, the year he celebrated his 40th year in the post.
Guernsey-based company PFC Auctioneers are conducting the sale, which will end today at 7pm. Bidding has been open for two weeks, and, as of last night, the top bid stood at £4,484 – more than eight times the reserve price.
“Willie Maley was one of the most successful managers in Scottish football history, managing Celtic FC for over 40 years and winning 30 major trophies,” PFC Auctions spokesperson Kylie Whitehead said. “He is the longest-running boss in the club’s history and is fondly remembered by fans with an 18-verse song that frequently resounds around Celtic Park. This medal is an excellent opportunity for collectors to own such a rare and personal piece of memorabilia from the Celtic legend.”
The medal, measuring approximately an inch by two inches, was awarded after Celtic beat Aberdeen 2-1 in the final at Hampden. The match was watched by a crowd of more than 146,000, an attendance which is still a European record for a club game.
The medal comes from the collection of James Carmichael, a politician who was one of the leading members of the Independent Labour Party in Scotland. Born in 1894, Carmichael succeeded James Maxton as MP for Bridgeton in 1946, and represented the Glasgow constituency for 15 years.
Known as an enthusiastic Celtic supporter, James Carmichael was given the medal by Maley, and it has been in his family ever since. The reverse of the medal is engraved with the inscription: “Scottish Cup. 1936-37. Won by Celtic FC W Maley.”
Still revered for his role as manager of the Parkhead club, Maley also has an important place in Celtic’s history as one of their first players.
Born in Newry, Northern Ireland, in 1868, Maley moved to Scotland as an infant with his family, his father being in the British Army. He became interested in athletics as well as football but decisively opted for the latter sport when, after a number of appearances for Third Lanark, he agreed to join the new club being founded in the East End of the city.
Legend has it that when Celtic founder Brother Walfrid and his associates turned up at the Maley home, it was Willie’s brother Tom they had come to try to recruit. Both brothers agreed to join the new team, however, and were members of the Celtic side which began its life in 1888. Capped twice by Scotland in 1893, Maley remained a Celtic player for almost a decade. Still, for all his importance as a player in the club’s early years, it was as the first manager of the team that he would find lasting fame.
After their early years when, by necessity, they had to buy in players from elsewhere, Celtic embarked on a new phase of their existence by appointing Maley. He built up a young team who matured season by season and would eventually win six league titles in a row from 1905.
When that team began to show signs of age, Maley assembled another, including Patsy Gallacher, which won four championships in a row from 1914. Later, in the 1930s, he constructed a third celebrated side, which included record goalscorer Jimmy McGrory, who would go on to succeed him as manager. Maley continued as manager for three more years after that cup triumph against Aberdeen, retiring in 1940. He died in 1958, less than a month short of his 90th birthday.
Full details of how to bid for the Scottish Cup medal are available from www.pfcauctions.com. A quick and simple process of registration is required for anyone wishing to bid.