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Since its earliest days in the 1880s, Celtic Football Club has also run a reserve team, primarily to assist the blending of younger players into the first team. A number of successful footballers have emerged from the reserves. The most well known grouping of reserve players were the so-called Quality Street Kids who emerged in the 1960s, the most prominent of whom were Kenny Dalglish and Danny McGrain. Reserve football in Scotland has gone through various reorganisations over the years, and Celtic currently run U20 and U17 sides in conjunction with their first team.

Celtic Reserves
Celtic FC.svg
Full nameCeltic Football Club Reserves
Nickname(s) The Bhoys
GroundCappielow Park, Greenock
Head CoachTommy McIntyre
LeagueSPFL Reserve League
2018–192nd (Reserve League)


History of reserve and youth footballEdit

Reserve footballEdit

Celtic ran a reserve side from their early days, known at the time as the Crusaders. Other clubs in the 1880s also gave their reserve sides distinctive names, with Rangers calling their Second XI the Swifts, and Queens Park naming their reserves the Strollers.[1]

Celtic's first known involvement in reserve league football, was their participation in the Scottish Combination league in 1896. Several Scottish League clubs fielded 2nd XIs ('A' sides), as well as Queens Park Strollers.[2] However, by the 1900s Celtic manager Willie Maley was only using a small, if versatile, squad of players, and the decision was made to stop fielding a reserve team altogether.[3] In 1909, a new Scottish Reserve League was set up, again often including at least one non-reserve side of a non-league club in each of its seasons.[2] Celtic did not participate.[4] The league was disbanded during World War 1, but effectively re-established in 1919 as the Scottish Alliance League. As with previous incarnations, this reserve league also contained the first XI of several non-league sides.[2] Celtic took part for the first few seasons, and won the championship in 1921–22, however withdrew again after that for what is presumed were financial reasons.[3] This appeared an unwise decision. Rangers went on to dominate Scottish football in the 1920s, and Celtic appeared to struggle without a reserve team to help blend younger players into the club's first team.[3]

The club did re-introduce a reserve team in 1930, and won three Alliance championships in 1934, 1937 and 1938, and the Second XI Cup in 1935 and 1936.[5] Malky MacDonald, Johnny Crum, George Paterson, Jimmy Delaney, John Divers and Willie Buchan all emerged during this time from the reserve side and went on to form the nucleus of the Celtic first team that won the league championship in 1936 and 1938, and the Scottish Cup in 1937.[5] In 1936, Celtic fielded trialist Mohammed Salim in two Alliance league matches, with him becoming the first footballer from the Indian sub-continent to play for a European club.[6] A league AGM in 1938, resulted in the non-league sides being removed and the league became exclusive to First Division reserve sides. The advent of World War 2, however, once again saw the suspension of national reserve league football in Scotland, although regional leagues were set up.[2][7]

The national Reserve League restarted at the end of the war, once again mirroring the sixteen club top-tier division. The subsequent years into the 1950s saw various changes to the leagues, but Celtic's achievements at reserve level were undistinguished, with two fourth place finishes in 1952 and 1954 their highest positions.[7] The Scottish (Reserve) League was set up in 1955, again mirroring the First Division although there were a number of seasons when not all of those clubs took part. This set-up, with minor variations, continued up until 1975.[2] Jock Stein's appointment in 1957 as reserve team coach saw an upturn in Celtic's commitment to reserve team football. Future star players such as Pat Crerand, Billy McNeill, John Clark and Bertie Auld all emerged at Celtic during this time. The reserves won the Second XI Cup in 1958 (thrashing Rangers 8–2 on aggregate) and the reserve league title a year later.[7] From 1958 up to 1966, Celtic also fielded a reserve side (effectively a 3rd XI) in the Combined Reserve League.[8] Although Stein left in 1960 to manage Dunfermline Athletic,[9] promising players continued to emerge from the reserves, such as Bobby Murdoch, Jimmy Johnstone and George Connelly.[7]

The mid 1960s saw the emergence of one of Celtic's most notable reserve sides, a group that became known as the Quality Street Kids. Several became regulars in the first-team side, winning major honours and going on to represent Scotland at full international level, most notably Kenny Dalglish and Danny McGrain.[10] In August 1968, the reserves needed to defeat Partick Thistle by at least seven goals to win their Reserve League Cup group section; Celtic won 12–0, with Lou Macari scoring four goals.[7] That same year, the Celtic reserves played the Scotland national football team in a practice match; the young Celtic won 5–2.[11][10] During season 1970–71, Celtic won all three main reserve honours - league, Reserve League Cup and Second XI Cup - scoring 157 goals in the process and becoming the first reserve team in Scotland to win the treble.[7]

In 1975, the Scottish League was reorganized into Premier-First-Second. The Premier clubs were assigned to the Premier Reserve League and the lower league clubs used varying regionalised sections and midweek competitions.[2] Key players continued to emerge from the youths and reserves; Roy Aitken, Tommy Burns and George McCluskey in the late 1970s,[12] and Pat Bonner, Charlie Nicholas and Paul McStay in the 1980s.[13][14][15] When the Scottish Premier League was founded in 1998, the reserve league was replaced by an under 21 league with some overage players permitted.[2] Various changes to this set-up were made in subsequent years, eventually leading to the SPFL Development League which was contested by the Under-20 teams of 17 Scottish Professional Football League clubs, including Celtic, up to the end of season 2017–18.[16][17]

In July 2018, it was reported that reserve leagues would be reintroduced in lieu of the development leagues that had been in place since 2009. The top tier of the new SPFL Reserve League now features 18 clubs, whilst a second-tier reserve League comprises nine clubs. Other than a minimum age of 16, no age restrictions apply to the leagues.[18]

Cup competitionsEdit

There were numerous cup competitions for reserve sides since the earliest days; e.g. the Edinburgh 2nd XI Cup first played in the 1870s and the Scottish 2nd XI Cup which existed from 1882 to 1988. A plethora of cups were introduced during the 1880s but the advent of professionalism a decade later put pressure on club finances, and during the 1890s these tournaments gradually fell away.[19] The Scottish 2nd XI Cup was first competed for during season 1881–82 and was competed for each season up until 1988. The Scottish Reserve League Cup was introduced in 1945 and was last held in season 2013–14.[20] In June 2016, it was announced that the Challenge Cup would be expanded to include Under-20 sides from each Scottish Premiership club.[21]

Youth footballEdit

A Youth Division was set by the Scottish League in 1993 and ran until 2012. This was an Under-18 league initially, but changed to Under-19s from 2003 onwards. Celtic Youths won the league for four consecutive seasons from 2002-03 to 2005-06.[22]

The Scottish Youth Cup was set up in 1984 and open to all senior clubs in Scotland. It was initially an U19 tournament, but is now for U20 sides.[23] Celtic are historically the most successful club in the competition, winning 14 finals.[23] The Glasgow Cup was for many years considered an important trophy for first-team sides in Glasgow, but by the 1980s had lost prestige and saw Celtic and Rangers usually fielding reserve sides. Due to lack of interest in the tournament as a senior competition, it was relaunched in 1989 as a youth tournament and is currently competed for by the U17 sides of senior league clubs in Glasgow.[24][25]


The Celtic Reserves compete in the SPFL Reserve League. They usually play their home matches at Cappielow Park in Greenock or occasionally at Celtic's training ground, Lennoxtown. The head coach is Tommy McIntyre and his assistant is Damien Duff.

The side have won the Scottish Premier Youth League four times, first in 2003–04 and then in 2004–05, 2005–06 and 2009–10. Celtic also won the revived Glasgow Cup in August 2008, beating rivals Rangers 3–1 in the final with goals from James Keatings, Richie Towell and James Forrest, which cancelled out the Rangers opener through Kyle Hutton.


[26]Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
40   MF Barry Coffey
41   MF Scott Robertson
43   GK Ryan Mullen
44   DF Daniel Church
46   MF Leo Mazis
48   FW Armstrong Oko-Flex
50   DF Robbie Deas
51   MF Paul Kennedy
52   MF Ewan Henderson
No. Position Player
55   MF Kerr McInroy
57   DF Stephen Welsh
74   FW Grant Savoury
76   FW Jack Aitchison
77   FW Karamoko Dembele
  FW Keiran Campbell
  FW Cameron Harper
  FW Jack Larkin

Out on loanEdit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
45   GK Ross Doohan (at Ayr United until 31 May 2020)
No. Position Player
61   MF Mark Hill (at Charlotte Independence until 30 November 2019)

Challenge CupEdit

In June 2016, it was announced by the SPFL that the Challenge Cup would be expanded to include teams from the Welsh Premier League, Northern Irish Premiership and an Under-20s side from each Scottish Premiership club.[21] In the 2016-17 edition, Celtic U20 won their opening tie against Annan Athletic and then eliminated Cowdenbeath (both of the fourth level) before being knocked out by the then-League 1 club Livingston; they progressed further than all other Under-20s teams. In the 2017–18 Challenge Cup, the side were beaten by Annan Athletic in the first round.[27]

International tournamentsEdit

Celtic's U20s were the first Scottish participants in the NextGen Series - a youth tournament based on the UEFA Champions League. In the 2011–12 season, Celtic were drawn against Barcelona, Manchester City and Marseille, and finished third in their group.[28] Celtic confirmed that they would play in the 2012–13 edition tournament as well;[29] the team were again eliminated in the Group Stage.

In 2013–14 Celtic's senior team qualified for the Champions League group stages, meaning that the youth squad could play in the first edition of the UEFA Youth League. In the following season there was no chance to participate in that competition due to the first team's failure to qualify, but in 2015–16 an additional route into the tournament opened up to domestic youth (Under-17) champions, and Celtic qualified as the Scottish holders of that title.[30] After navigating two rounds, Celtic were eliminated on penalties by Valencia.

In 2016–17 the senior team succeeded in reaching the Champions League group stage, so the youth squad also entered that season's Youth League via that route (they had also qualified through the Under-17 path again in any case).[31] In the Youth League, the Group Stage mirrored the tough draw in the senior tournament, and Celtic collected just one point and finished fourth. Qualification was the same in 2017–18 – the Under-17s won the Scottish league[32] but in any case the first team reached the Champions League groups.

Celtic also successfully applied to compete in the 2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17 editions of the England-based Premier League International Cup.


The Celtic Youth Academy works with players from as young as five years of age, concentrating in early years on improving players technique, passing and possession. Players are actively encouraged to demonstrate their skills, including tricks and flicks, in match situations. The Academy also works in partnership with St Ninian's High School in Kirkintilloch, where players of secondary-school age benefit from nine coaching sessions per week.[33]

The most promising players then progress to Celtic's Development Squad programme.[33][34]

In 2017, the Celtic academy was one of eight across the country designated 'elite' status on the introduction of Project Brave, an SFA initiative to concentrate the development of the best young players at a smaller number of clubs with high quality facilities and coaching than was previously the case.[35][36]


Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
  GK Joshua Bradley-Hurst
  GK Liam Hughes
  DF Aiden Gibb
  DF Andrew Kerr
  DF Jack McDowall
  DF Christopher McQueen
64   DF Liam Morrison
  MF Josh Adam
  MF Adam Brooks
  MF Scott Cusick
No. Position Player
  MF Barry Hepburn
  MF David McKay
  MF Ewan Otoo
  MF Ben Wylie
  FW Jaden Ferguson-Williams
  FW Connor McBride
  FW Kieran McGrath
  FW Brody Paterson
  FW Michael Sparkes


From 2007, the club's academy and reserve sides trained at the newly-built Lennoxtown Training Centre outside Glasgow, with development/reserve team matches usually held at Cappielow Park in Greenock. In 2019, Celtic announced plans to redevelop their older Barrowfield training ground near Celtic Park for use by the academy sides and their women's team, including an indoor pitch and a matchday venue, augmenting the Lennoxtown base which would continue to be used by the first team squad.[37][38][39][40]


Position Name
Head of Youth Academy Chris McCart
Head of Professional Academy Tommy McIntyre
Res. Team Coach Damien Duff
Res. Team Coach Davie McGovern
Res. Team Coach Dean Hartley
Goalkeeping Coach Colin Meldrum
Fitness Coach Remy Tang
Under 18s Coach Stephen McManus
Under 17s Coach Michael O'Halloran
Under 17s Coach Hugh McGovern
Under 17s Coach George McCluskey
Physio Graham Parsons
Head of Youth Recruitment Willie McStay



  • Reserve League Championship: 14 (Known as Scottish Reserve League between 1895 and 1975 and then Reserve Scottish Premier League from 1975 onwards)[41][42][43]
1896, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1970, 1971, 1980, 1985, 1991, 1994, 1995
2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
  • Scottish Reserve Cup: 8[44]
1891, 1935, 1936, 1958, 1966, 1971, 1974, 1985
  • Reserve League Cup: 13[45]
1960, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1980, 1981, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996,
1922, 1934, 1937, 1938
1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1966



  • SFL/SPL Youth League: 9[48]
1995, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012
2013, 2014, 2016
  • SPFL U19 League: 1[49]
2013[note 1]
  • SPFL/CAS U17 League:[50]
2015, 2016, 2017
1984, 1987, 1989, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017
  • SPFL U19 League Cup: 1[52]
2014[note 2]
1990, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019




  1. ^ In 2013–14 an under-19 league was run along with an under-20 league. Celtic promoted its under-17 team to as play as its under-19 team in 2013.
  2. ^ In 2013–14 the under-19 league ran from August to December 2013. The under-19 league cup ran from January to May 2014.

Former youth team playersEdit

Players in Bold have senior international caps


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  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Reserve Leagues". Scottish Football Historical Archive. Archived from the original on 28 January 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Campbell, Tom; Woods, Pat (1992). A Celtic A - Z. Greenfield Press. p. 159. ISBN 095195010X.
  4. ^ "Scottish Reserve League (1909-1915)". Scottish Football Historical Archive. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b Campbell, Tom; Woods, Pat (1992). A Celtic A - Z. Greenfield Press. pp. 159–160. ISBN 095195010X.
  6. ^ Bose, Mihir (21 May 2003). "A unique import thrilled Celtic fans back in the 1930s". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Campbell, Tom; Woods, Pat (1992). A Celtic A - Z. Greenfield Press. p. 160. ISBN 095195010X.
  8. ^ "Combined Reserve League". Scottish Football Historical Archive. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  9. ^ MacPherson, Archie (2007). Jock Stein: The Definitive Biography. Highdown. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-905156-37-5.
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  12. ^ Sullivan, Joe (9 March 2014). "George McCluskey's trip down memory lane". Celtic FC. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  13. ^ "'It's magic!' says Pat Bonner as Celtic dream comes true". Sunday Independent. 28 September 1980. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
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  26. ^ Reserve Squad Celtic FC
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  33. ^ a b "Academy". Celtic FC. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
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  37. ^ Celtic pitch plans for Barrowfield training ground expansion, Urban Realm, 6 June 2019
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External linksEdit