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14th August 1968:  Celtic v Morton – League Cup

12th August 1968

On the Monday after the Old Firm match, the press was still going on about the happenings off the pitch rather than those on it. This headline caught the mood –

Bigotry at Big Match Sickening

and the comments below matched the headline –

‘A sickening display of bigotry’ was how Glasgow stipendiary magistrate Mr Thomas McLaughlan today summed up the scenes after Saturday’s Old Firm match at Ibrox.

A score of fans appeared at two city police courts today, charged with after-the-match offences outside the stadium. One was jailed for 60 days and 19 others shared fines totalling £590.

41 more are appearing before the Sheriff later today’..

 

In the football reports, it was generally agreed that Celtic deserved to win the match, although there were comments in more than one paper about Rangers’ performance –

White’s Problem Greig Boobs Show Flaws

 John Greig did indeed have a bit of a nightmare match, twice mis-placing passes that led to the two Celtic goals. However, the main thrust of the articles was that the Rangers defence as a whole was poor – not just in this match but others recently – and that manager Davie White has a problem in that sector to deal with.

 

At Celtic Park, everyone was in for training. We did have some injuries, mainly knocks and so on, with Cesar the main casualty. However, none of them seemed to be in the serious category and most took part in what was a fairly relaxed session.

 

I had played well in the Reserve Old Firm match at Parkhead the previous Saturday but if there is one attribute that you pick up when you are a professional football player, it is realism. And realistically, in spite of what the Boss said the previous week, there was no chance of me coming back into the after a 2-0 win at Ibrox. I suspected that I might have to wait until a poorer result occurred and in the meantime, play out of my skin in the reserves.

 

13th August 1968

I was in action again, the match given this build-up in one of the evening editions –

‘Tonight, seven players whom most clubs would be happy to have in their first team will be in the Celtic Reserve side against East Stirling at Firs Park in a friendly. They are John Falon, Jim Craig, Joe McBride, Charlie Gallagher, Bertie Auld and John Clark’.

 

The Day of the Match 14th August 1968

It was announced in one of the morning dailies that centre-forward Joe Harper who was transferred from Morton to Huddersfield for £35,000 in 1966, re-joined the Greenock club yesterday and could play against Celtic at Parkhead tonight.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Gemmell, O’Neill
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Connelly, Wallace, Lennox, Hughes.
Sub: Clark

Morton

Russell
Thorup, Rankin
Arnetoft, Strachan, Gray
Stevenson, Allan, Mason, Sweeney, Taylor.
Sub: Harper

 

The Play

Pressie – released by Morton

Ex-Celt Jim Kennedy had been released by Morton at the end of the previous season but there still two ex-Celts in the colours of Morton, inside-left Gerry Sweeney and outside-left Tony Taylor.

These were tough matches for a player out of the first team to watch. You are caught between two stools, if you are being honest. Obviously, you want your team to win but, at the same time – and remember, you are desperately keen to get your place back – you are also hoping that they do not play brilliantly and just do enough to take the points. And if the guy playing in your position does not quite ‘star’, then all the better. Cynical, perhaps, but also a fact of footballing life!

Celtic went into top gear right from the start of the match and had their supporters in the 41,000 crowd soon celebrating a goal –

7 minutes
cross from the left from Willie O’Neill and Willie Wallace was quicker to get his head to it than the Morton defence.   1-0 Celtic

And 14 minutes later, Celtic had another-

21 minutes
John Hughes scored direct from a corner.  2-0 Celtic

Celtic looked very comfortable and although they made further chances in the first half, they were not taken and at the break it was still 2-0. Celtic started the second half in the same frame of mind and soon got another –

50 minutes
fine pass by Yogi and Bobby Murdoch got his first of the season. 3-0 Celtic

 

The Hoops continued to control the play but were a bit lapse at the back at one point and suffered for it –

68 minutes
Joe Mason took advantage of some indecision in the Celtic rearguard and flicked the ball home from the inside-right position.  3-1 Celtic

But only two minutes later, Celtic made sure of the points –

70 minutes
left-back Rankin was adjudged to have fouled Bobby Lennox and Tam Gemmell made no mistake from the spot.

 

Final Score  Celtic  4  Morton  1

 

As you might imagine, it was a pretty happy dressing-room afterwards, although the Boss was quick to remind everyone that we had another League Cup match – this time against Partick Thistle – coming up in three days time. By then, though, he was preaching to a very experienced group of players who knew how to celebrate with caution, so no one was going to go over the score. He still gave the warning, though.

Results

In the other sectional group match at Firhill, Partick Thistle were beaten 5-1 by Rangers.