Buckhaven, Fife born outside left Hugh O’Donnell played junior football for Denbeath Violet Juveniles in 1929, Wellesley Juniors in 1930 and Blantyre Victoria in 1931 before following his elder brother Frank to Glasgow Celtic in March 1932. He made his debut in a 3-1 Glasgow Cup home victory over Clyde on 20th September 1932 and stayed at Parkhead for three seasons where he hit 27 goals in 90 appearances and won The Scottish Cup in 1933 when he played in their 1-0 win over Motherwell, a match for which his brother Frank wasn’t selected.
In May 1935 both O’Donnell brothers signed for First Division Preston North End for £5,000 and both made their Football League debuts at Huddersfield Town the same August. Hugh soon established himself as a regular in the Preston team, outscoring his brother with 15 goals in their first season. He played in their 1937 FA Cup Final defeat to Sunderland but whereas Frank left to join Blackpool in November 1937, Hugh stayed at Preston and won the FA Cup with them in the 1938 Final when they beat Huddersfield Town 1-0 after extra time.
He then joined Blackpool in March 1939 after 34 goals for Preston in 148 appearances and scored their goal in a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal on 10th April 1939. But the Second World War soon interrupted his career and though he played for Blackpool both sides of the War, he joined Rochdale in March 1947 after 4 goals in only 18 peacetime games over an eight year period. He stayed a year at Rochdale, and having scored 15 goals in 42 appearances for ‘Dale he joined Halifax Town in March 1948, where he scored once in 14 appearances before retiring in 1949.
His elder brother was Frank O’Donnell, who played for Celtic, Preston (in the same teams), Aston Villa and Blackpool. Frank was also a Scottish international.
NB He is photographed with Preston team mate and future managerial legend Bill Shankly.