David Hay – From Paisley, to the San Siro and the ‘Miracle of Love Street
David Hay, known as ‘Davie’, is a former Scottish football player and manager. Born in Paisley in January of 1948, Hay came through at St. Mirin Boys Club before being poached by Celtic on a provisional contract by then-manager Jimmy McGrory in early 1965.
This move to Celtic would prove to be a good one for Hay, as it was here that he developed into one of the finest players of his generation.
Alongside players such as Danny McGrain, future Manchester United legend Lou Macari and even ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish of future Liverpool fame, Hay became a part of the group of players known as the ‘Quality Street Gang’ by the Celtic fans.
From 1968 until 1974, Hay would write his name indelibly into the history books of Celtic Football Club as one of the all-time greats of the team. During his time with the Glasgow side, Hay would win 5 league titles, 2 Scottish Cups and 1 League Cup – and would also play in European football’s biggest match, the European Cup Final at the San Siro in Milan in 1970, where Hay and Celtic ultimately fell to a 2-1 defeat against Dutch champions Feyenoord.
In the summer of 1974, Hay moved south to recently relegated London side Chelsea, and after 2 seasons of toil in the second division of English football, Hay and Chelsea were able to secure promotion back to the highest level of English football.
Unfortunately for Hay, injuries mired the remaining years of his time with Chelsea and in 1980, after 6 years with the Londoners, he called time on his playing career.
Although Hay’s playing days had come to an abrupt end, arguably his greatest day in football was yet to come.
Like many others in the game, once his playing days were done Hay made the move to management, first with Motherwell in the 1981-82 season and then, after getting the ‘Steelmen’ promoted, with his former club Celtic.
Hay’s time with Celtic as manager was characterised by a running theme – that nothing came easy. Joining the club in 1983, he won his first trophy as manager in 1985 when Celtic won the Scottish Cup that year, but the teams’ league form still left much to be desired.
The 1980s are considered by some to be the glory days of Scottish football, and it was certainly the most competitive period for the game, with 4 teams vying for power in the league – Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen and Dundee United.
In the 1985-86 season, however, a new challenger emerged – Heart of Midlothian.
Celtic and Hearts went head-to-head for the league title in 1986 and going into the final day of the season, Hearts were in poll position to win their first championship in decades, and Celtic had a mountain to climb if they were going to stop that happening.
Celtic were playing away to St. Mirren at Love Street, and Hearts away to Dundee FC at Dens Park. Celtic needed to win by more than 4 goals to win the league, and they needed Hearts to lose by 2 or more goals.
In Davie Hay’s home town, against his home town club, could Celtic do the unthinkable? Could they pull off a miracle?
The day went exactly to plan for Celtic and Hay. The news filtered into Love Street of Hearts capitulating against Dundee, as Celtic breezed to a massive 5-0 victory.
After a lean few years for the Glasgow club, on that spring day in Paisley back in 1986, Davie Taught the Celtic fans to, once again, believe in miracles