George Hazlett, one of the last surviving members of the renowned Belfast Celtic team, which withdrew from Irish League football in 1949 — leaving a void never adequately filled — has died at his home in Kent. He was 89 — three months short of his 90th birthday.
Hazlett, a Glaswegian, toured the United States with Belfast Celtic just before quitting the game, but injury ruled him out of the 2-0 historic win over Scotland at Randall’s Island, New York.
Yet, he played a major role in that triumph for he knew the Scottish scene and the players and managerial tactics, enabling Celtic manager Elisha Scott and his captain Harry Walker to formulate their plan.
Hazlett joined Glasgow Celtic as a schoolboy but, unfortunately, a knee problem slowed down his progress.
One day he met Walker, who was on a scouting mission in Glasgow. Walker suggested that he should consult Joe Devlin, the Celtic physiotherapist, and ask him to make a diagnosis.
Devlin’s magic with his hands did the trick and, not surprisingly, Hazlett, on recovering, was induced to join Belfast Celtic.
“It was the best move I ever made,” he said. “I got good wages, a job and settled down quickly. Belfast was so like Glasgow — very friendly with the people possessing the same sense of humour.”
His youthful demeanour disguised a solid background and his streetwise qualities, which emerged when he and other Celtic players attempted to protect Jimmy Jones who had been attacked by fans at the end of the 1948 Boxing Day derby with Linfield.
Hazlett then moved to Bury, qualified as an English FA coach and kept active in football. His period with Celtic was most memorable and satisfying of his career. To sum up — George Hazlett, a great Celt in a great team.