Two Games – Two Hat-Tricks….. Both Perfect!

By Niall McGilp

We welcome Robbie Muirhead back today, following his outstanding performance against Ayr United on 2nd January. Robbie netted his second Morton hat-trick this season, his first in the Championship. In his absence last Saturday, George Oakley stepped up, hitting all three goals in our fantastic 3-2 win at Tannadice against Dundee United.

As many subsequently observed, both were “proper hat-tricks”, including a header, and right foot and left foot finishes, and amazingly each in that order!

In Robbie Muirhead’s case, a precise header after 35 minutes of the Ayr match, from a Cammy Blues’ cross, was followed by two spectacular drives in the second half. The first was a searing right foot effort into the roof of the net, the second a precise low angled shot with his more favoured left foot.

Surprisingly, a quick search of the records shows Robbie is the first Morton player to score two hat-tricks in a season since Alex Mathie did so back in 1992/93. It took Muirhead’s scoring record this season to 13, and his overall Morton goals tally to 40.

George Oakley’s hat-trick was similar, opening the scoring with an accurate header from a Michael Garrity cross after 25 minutes. His second, 11 minutes later, was a clever close-range right foot finish from Lewis Strapp’s delivery; and with time running out and the game finely balanced at 2-2, George latched onto Ryan Mullen’s clearance to hit an unsaveable long range, left-foot shot in off the post.


The obvious question was : ”When did two different Morton players last score hat-tricks in back-to-back League wins during a season?”

For the answer to that, we have to go back over 57 years to Morton’s championship winning season of 1966/67. Despite the two Joe’s (Mason & Harper) being our top scorers that season, with 45 & 29 goals respectively, neither was one of the “Hat-Trick Heroes”, although they each scored 3 goals across the two matches!

The games in question were a 6-0 home win over Clydebank on 1st October 1966, followed by another Cappielow victory just three days later, on Tuesday 4th October, when Stenhousemuir were beaten 9-1. In the first game, the match ball went to midfielder Walter Borthwick, with 3 goals in the first 21 minutes, and in the second, it was Jack Bolton, normally a centre-half, but playing up front, who netted 4. Neither was an orthodox striker and both were released at the end of the season, as Morton returned to the top flight. Sadly, both passed away in 2021.

So who comes out top of the all-time list of Morton hat-tricks? If we simply define a hat-trick as 3, or more, goals scored in one game, the record number of hat-tricks in a season is SEVEN, a figure set by by Jock Calder, in 1935/36, and matched by Allan McGraw in 1963/64 ; each player scored well over 50 goals in these seasons. For career Morton hat-tricks , we have George French (1919-27), Neil Mochan (1948-51) and Eddie Beaton (1956/60) all with NINE, Allan McGraw (1961-66) has TEN, and Jock Calder (1934-37) scored an incredible FOURTEEN hat-tricks in just over 70 appearances – not counting two more in official, but unrecognised, wartime games. His 14 included a 4 goal haul in 2 games, 5 goals in 2 games, 6 goals in 1 game and a record 8 goals v Raith Rovers in 1936.

One last question? When was Morton’s first senior hat-trick and who scored it?

Well, it was scored on 27th September 1879, right here at Cappielow, in a Scottish Cup First Round replay against Netherlee. Watched by approximately 300 spectators, Morton went 4-0 down, before fighting back to go through 7-4. Morton forward Gillespie scored three, but we will never know whether it was a perfect hat-trick!

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