McBride was Motherwell’s top goalscorer in three successive seasons, which attracted the attention of new Celtic manager Jock Stein, who signed him for a fee of £22,000 in 1965. Along with Alex Ferguson of Dunfermline, McBride was the top goalscorer in the 1965–66 Scottish League with 31 goals. He again scored prolifically during the 1966–67 season, but suffered a serious injury in December 1966. This injury meant that although McBride was part of the Lisbon Lions squad, he did not play in the 1967 European Cup Final.
He never regained a regular place in the Celtic side, and subsequently transferred to Hibernian in 1968. McBride quickly regained his goalscoring form with Hibs, scoring on his debut, against Rangers, a hat-trick in his second match, against Lokomotive Leipzig, and four goals in his third match, against Morton. He was Hibs’ top goalscorer in both the 1968–69 and 1969–70 seasons, and scored a second European hat-trick for Hibs, against Malmö FF.