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11th October 1967: Celtic v Morton – League Cup Semi-Final

9th October

Over the weekend, press coverage had been positive towards Celtic after the performance against Hibs –

Celtic Serve Flag Notice

 Hibernian Soundly Beaten by Determined Celtic

 

And by Monday, the assessment of our chances against Morton was even more optimistic  –

Super Celts

No Injury for Any Celtic Player

Celtic Ready for Morton Cup Clash

 

Most of us reported for training on the Monday morning. When I say ‘most’ I refer to the fact that five of the team – Bertie, Stevie, Ronnie, Tam and Wispy – got the day off to play in a golf competition. It was all right for some!

However, according to a comment in one of the evening papers, the Boss had given them all a warning before they set out –“I have told them that if the rain starts pouring down to call a halt to their games. We can’t afford any of them catching a cold just two days before our game with Morton”.

We picked up all that in the paper before we – those not playing – left Parkhead after our training session in the morning. Loyalty is an essential attribute in any team…so I will leave you to guess the name of the team-mate who said he hoped it would be chucking it down on that golf course! Answers on a postcard, please!

 

A match had been organised for that night at Hampden, where a Celtic eleven would play a British Olympic X1. The team chosen was Fallon, Young, ‘Newman’, Henderson, Connelly, Brogan, Clark, McBride, Quinn, McMahon and Macari.

 

10th October

A training day for the full squad, where we heard that golf day had gone well, with never a hint of rain, so one of my colleagues would have been very disappointed.

The atmosphere in the camp had improved considerably after the victory over Hibs and all of us were looking forward to the visit to Hampden and the match with Morton. The men from Greenock had started the season pretty well and were just outside the top six in the table, a very fine performance for a team which had only won promotion from the Second Division the previous season.

However, even though the football public might have expected that this match would be easy for Celtic, we were all well aware that things don’t always work out like that and at training that morning, the Boss hammered home the message that the Morton players would be up for the match and that we would have to be as good as we were against Hibs.

 

We also found out that after Wednesday’s match, in fact on Thursday morning, we would all be heading for Seamill to prepare for the World Championship game against Racing Club of Argentina at Hampden Park on Wednesday of next week.

We would be coming up to Glasgow for Saturday’s match against Partick Thistle and then returning to Seamill until the Racing Club match.

 

At Hampden on the previous evening, the British Olympic X1 had been beaten 4-0 by the Celtic eleven, the goals coming from Jimmy Quinn (2), Pat McMahon and George Connelly.


 

Morning of the Game

As it was a match day, we were allowed a longer lie-in than normal down at Seamill and did not do the usual walk along the beach. Instead, we breakfasted around 9am and then spent the morning round the hotel or outside in the grounds. At that time of year, the hotel was pretty quiet, inhabited only by the regulars, the vast majority of whom were senior citizens, so you can imagine that the atmosphere was pretty quiet, although our lot could be relied on to change that. The residents were nice people, though, and even if our antics sometimes annoyed them – which, I imagine, could occasionally have been the case – they were never anything other than civil to us.

In the morning papers, which we managed to get a look at, the Boss was quoted as saying that he would be playing the same side that had beaten Hibs. As he had not mentioned the semi-final to us at that point, we could only accept that the journalist who wrote the piece knew more than we did about the Boss’s intentions.

 

We got the team news just after lunch, before we retired to our rooms for an afternoon nap. The Boss gathered us in the lounge and made the announcement, merely adding that we all knew the importance of the occasion so he did not have to say anything else. It was brief and blunt and the message got across to us.

 

Pre –Match

Later in the afternoon, we gathered again for the pre-match meal, then boarded the bus for the trip up to Hampden. Halfway there, up the A77, Lemon gave me the usual shout and pointed to that gate I have mentioned before, which was in the middle of a field, separating nothing from nothing. We both laughed, then I got ready for one of my favourite moments, when we were met by two policemen on motor-cycles, who guided us, at a fair lick, through the traffic on the south side of the city.

I always enjoyed that bit and it got even better when we arrived at the National Stadium, where the bus slowly wound its way down the avenue to the ground, eventually stopping right outside the front door. Led in by the Boss – and to the cheers of the fans who had already gathered – we walked into the stadium and made our way out to check on the pitch.

All was good and we came back in again and started to get ready for the match, for which we had been provided with an unusual strip of green shirt, while shorts and white socks.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Auld, Hughes.
Sub:  Chalmers

Morton

Crawford
Loughlan, Kennedy
Arnetoft, Strachan, Gray
Jensen, Mason, Allan, Stevenson, Sweeney.
Sub: Taylor

 

There was a fair representation of ex-Celts on the field for Morton. Jim Kennedy at left-back and captain plus two guys I used to play with in the reserve team at Parkhead – midfielder Gerry Sweeney and winger Tony Taylor, on the bench that evening. Both were fine players but at Celtic Park at that time, there was a lot of talent and sometimes guys had to move on to find a niche.

This match was described in one paper the following day as –

‘Celtic destroyed Morton with a devastating performance at Hampden despite the Morton team putting up a fight full of heart’.

 

That seems a trifle harsh but another report was pretty similar –

‘Celtic’s victory over Morton in the Scottish League Cup semi-final at Hampden last night was hardly an exhilarating game of football, more an academic exercise with the Parkhead club working out most of the answers while their opponents merely guessed.

Yet it was never dull. How could it be with the adrenaline once more flowing freely through the Celtic veins?’

 

It was also a match I particularly recall, as I scored two of the goals. As one of the dailies remarked –‘its not often that a full-back scores twice in one game but Jim Craig did that last night’.

The goals came in this fashion –

4 minutes
a cross by Wispy was dummied by Jinky and Yogi cracked the ball home off the underside of the cross-bar.  1-0 Celtic

7 minutes
this time Yogi cut the ball back for Wispy to blast home. 2-0 Celtic

12 minutes
midfielder Arnetoft struck one from a very acute angle and it fairly zipped past Ronnie. 2-1 Celtic

18 minutes
Jinky kneed a Yogi cross-cum-shot into the net. 3-1 Celtic

20 minutes
Lemon hammered home, again from an acute angle. 4-1 Celtic

21 minutes
this time it was me, from an even more tight angle. 5-1 Celtic

It would not take a genius to work out that it was a very happy dressing-room at the interval. In fact, I do not remember the Boss saying anything about the match; he just joined in the happy atmosphere. But we were not finished ……

53 minutes
up for a corner, the ball dropped in front of me about 12 yards out and I struck it hard into the corner of the net. 6-1 Celtic

66 minutes
this was the best of the seven. Yogi ran from halfway, shaking off challenge after challenge before hammering home. That run brought him a standing ovation.

Final Score  Celtic  7  Morton  1

 

I had thought that the atmosphere in the dressing-room at half-time had been good but at full-time, it was even better, with everyone – squad players, backroom staff and directors – all piling in to join in the celebrations. However, the Boss soon brought all that to a halt, reminding us that we were getting back on the bus to return to Seamill and that we would be doing some work the following morning. He also reminded us that big games were ahead and that we must keep our minds on them. And when we got to Seamill, there was a cup of tea waiting for us – when we might have liked something stronger – and then it was good night, everyone and bed!

 

Other Semi-final

In the other semi-final at Tannadice, Dundee beat St Johnstone 3-1 so the Dark Blues would be our opponents in the final on 28th October

 

European Draws

Three Scottish teams were still involved in the draw for the next round of the European competitions.

Rangers would meet either Cologne or Slavia Prague; Hibs would play either Napoli or Hannover; while Dundee were drawn against FC Liegeois.

 

Good News

Just before we went to our rooms, we were told that Racing Club had lost 0-2 to Lanus the day before, their 3rd defeat in 10 days.