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10th April 1968:  Aberdeen v Celtic – League

8th April

The headlines in the press told the story of the league race at that time –

 Celtic Keep Up the Flag Pressure

 

 Rangers Hang On

 

Every time I popped into a shop or went to Mass, the questions were all on the same topic. It got so bad that I used to get to the church right on time and leave early. My Dad was astute enough to say little about the situation but my Mum suddenly started to take an interest and pummeled me with questions. That was all I needed!

At training, the atmosphere was good. It had been an excellent win against Hearts on the Saturday – Tynecastle was never the easiest place to pick up full points – so the feeling on that front was good. It was also noticeable, though, that the fact that we were relying on Rangers to slip up was never mentioned. We just got on with putting in a good shift and get ready for our next match, against the Dons at Pittodrie.

 

9th April

While we again put in a good session at Barrowfield, the Boss had obviously been talking to the press –

‘Injury-free Celtic will not name their team to play Aberdeen at Pittodrie tomorrow until just before kick-off…and that could mean a change in the side that has played in the last four league games. Celtic need only to draw with Aberdeen to take on leadership of the league on goal average from Rangers, who will then have one more game to play. A Celtic victory would give them a one-point lead’.

Elsewhere in the papers, the attention was on the other big side in Glasgow, who had an important match that night in England –

‘Rangers are at Harrogate, preparing for tonight’s Fairs Cities Cup quarter-final 2nd leg tie against Leeds United at Elland Road. The teams drew 0-0 in the first leg at Ibrox’

 

The headlines were informative but the message seemed split between gloom and hope in their forecasts and reports –

Penman Likely to be Recalled against Leeds

   

Enormous Task for Rangers at Elland Road

Let us not forget that Rangers, although unimpressive of late, are not without hope. In 46 matches this season, they have only been beaten three times, once by Celtic, once by Hearts and once by Cologne in the 2nd Round of the Fairs Cities competition

 


 

Morning of the Match

This was an unusual trip to Aberdeen. Normally, if the match was played on a Saturday, we would travel up on the early morning train, take part in the game in the afternoon and then catch the tea-time train back to Glasgow.

This time round, we were staying in Aberdeen after the match, so again we took the early morning train but then went to a hotel and had some lunch before heading for our rooms and a few hours sleep before the match. It all went uneventfully – even Tam Gemmell did not snore a much as usual.

We had picked up some of the daily papers at the station in Glasgow and were keen to find out what they said about Rangers performance the previous evening, when they had been beaten 2-0 by Leeds United –

‘Rangers went the way of Hibernian last night at Elland Road. They were put out of the Fairs Cup by a confident Leeds United side and it is now up to Dundee in the semi-finals to prevent the Yorkshire team from completing a notable treble over Scottish rivals’.

Unfortunately, there would appear to have been some trouble caused by Rangers fans in Leeds City Centre after the match.

 

Afternoon of the Match

After the few hours in bed mentioned above, we had the pre-match meal in the hotel. The atmosphere was excellent and the eleven guys who had made up the team over the last few weeks were in particularly good form. There were only 14 players on the trip – the three ‘extra’ being John Fallon, Davie Cattenach and John Clark – and although the Boss had not stated officially that the team would be the same one that beat Hearts, the guys who played at Tynecastle seemed pretty confident that there would be no changes.

However, just to keep us on our toes, the Boss delayed his decision and then announced that we would be walking from the hotel to Pittodrie and had even organised a few local policemen to accompany us on the journey.

 

The Teams

Pittodrie was packed to the rafters for this one and thankfully the pitch had recovered after being assaulted with snow in recent days. Once we had been out for the usual inspection of the surface, the Boss called us into the dressing room and announced – to the surprise of no one – that the team would the same eleven that played Hearts.

Aberdeen

Clark
Whyte, Stewart
Peterson, McMillan, Buchan
Little, Smith, Johnstone, Robb, Watt.
Sub: Cummins

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Gallagher, Hughes.
Sub: Cattenach

The Play

This was a tough encounter – a very tense affair that the crowd thoroughly enjoyed. To start with, we did not play as well as in recent matches. We gradually grew into the match, as it were, but over the first half, the defence had to work hard to keep the Dons attackers at bay and Ronnie distinguished himself with three excellent saves.

At the break, the Boss was very calm, congratulating the defence on the way they had coped with the Aberdeen attacks and suggesting that we used the flanks a bit more in our attacks.

Right from the start, though, it was the Dons who upped the tempo and pushed us back, missing a particularly good chance when Shewan headed wide from a Watt cross. Then came the breakthrough;

60 minutes
Shewan mis-kicked a clearance; wee Jimmy picked it up and passed it to Chopper, who merely flicked it into the path of Lemon and he did the rest.      1-0 Celtic

The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Aberdeen. They suddenly looked nothing like the side that had started the second half and that allowed us to dictate the play and make some chances ourselves, some of which we should have converted.

However, much to the disappointment of the local fans, it was not to be and at the final whistle, that single goal was still the difference between the teams.

Final Score  Aberdeen  0  Celtic  1

It was Celtic’s 15th away win in the league that season, a record for the Scottish League.

 

Table

P W D L F A Pts
Celtic 31 27 3 1 97 20 57
Rangers 30 26 4 0 83 25 56

 

 

Reserves

On the same night at Celtic Park, the Reserve side were beaten 4-1 by Aberdeen Reserves, Hugh McKellar getting Celtic’s only goal.


 

Rod Steiger has been awarded the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of a white Southern policeman in ‘In the Heat of the Night’. Katherine Hepburn won the Oscar for best actress in the film ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?’ in which she starred opposite the late Spencer Tracy.