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14th October 1967: Partick Thistle v Celtic – League

12th October

Down at Seamill, there was no rest for the team of the previous evening. As was the norm, we were up early and did our usual pre-breakfast walk, along the main road to the far end of West Kilbride golf course, down the lane to the beach and then along the sand to the back of the hotel. It was a very pleasant journey on a fine day; if the wind was blowing strongly, you felt as if you were being cut in half. Fortunately, though, on that particular morning, the weather was not too bad and we went into breakfast feeling on top of the world.

After that, we got the opportunity for a few holes of golf before coming back to the hotel in time for lunch. Then followed a period of rest before we did a workout on the lawn at the back of the hotel. This consisted of some short stuff followed by a 7-a-side match, 2-touch and no tackling! The 2-touch bit was easy, the no tackling much more difficult and I am in no doubt you can easily decide which of the two rules we found most difficulty with.

After the workout, we headed for the swimming pool and the baths. What a tough life it was!

 

While all this was going in down on the Ayrshire coast, Celtic fans in Scotland were devouring the papers to find out what was happening behind the scenes. They would have been delighted with the headline and comment in one of the morning ‘dailies’ –

The Magnificent Seven

‘No team that I have seen since the days when Real Madrid were truly great would have stood up to the Celts of last night. They burned up the Hampden turf, linked top speed play with brains working at the same pace and they shot with the accuracy of a Queen’s Prize winner at Bisley’.

 

More surprising was the story under another heading –

Johnstone Capped

‘Scotland’s team manager Bobby Brown today dropped a football bombshell when he chose Jimmy Johnstone, Celtic’s outside-right, to play against Northern Ireland in a European Nations Cup tie on Saturday of next week.

Johnstone has been chosen despite the fact that he appears before the SFA Referee Committee on Monday and faces possible suspension for being ordered off against St Johnstone at Celtic Park on 23rd September.

Scotland’s football writers are astounded at his choice of outside-right but last night Brown merely said “I do not pre-judge. Johnstone is the man I want and that’s why he is in the side”.

 

13th Friday

This date can cause a few problems for anyone of a superstitious mind  but it apparently meant little to Jock Stein, who again got us to start with the trek along the road etc. The routine varied little from the previous day but the golf was out and in the evening, we were addressed by the Boss, who dealt with not only the match against Partick Thistle but looked ahead to the World Club Championship game against Racing Club the following Wednesday.

He also announced the team for the Jags match, which was the same side as against Hibs and Morton.

 

The evening papers also had some information. –

‘Celtic will field the side which hit Morton for 7 in Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final when they line up against Partick Thistle at Firhill.

Manager Jock Stein made a fitness check today at Seamill where Celtic are relaxing and decided to field the team which drew 1-1 with Dinamo Kiev in Russia before beating Hibs 4-0 and Morton 7-1.

John Fallon, Steve Chalmers and Willie O’Neill will play in a strong Celtic reserve side at Celtic Park tonight against Partick Thistle reserves’.

 

Because of the Northern Ireland versus Scotland international in Belfast on Saturday of next week, the Rangers v Dundee and Celtic v Motherwell games due to be played that day have been re-arranged for October 23rd and 24th respectively.

 

As we were having a final cup of tea before heading for our rooms that night, we heard the news that in the reserve match at Parkhead, Celtic had beaten the Jags 3-1. Was that an omen for the first-team tomorrow?


 

Morning of the Match

We did not start the day with the usual longer walk I mentioned previously but we did go down on to the beach at Seamill just to stretch our legs. Then it was back to the hotel and breakfast, before spending the rest of the morning just lazing round the place.

 

A quick glance at the morning papers showed that almost no one believed that Partick Thistle had any chance in this match. In fact, one headline summed up the situation in rather brutal fashion –

Pity the Poor Old Jags

 

The Boss, though, was having none of it, once more reminding us that the Thistle players would, like most of the others we had faced in the league and league cup campaigns so far, be really up for the match, determined to show that they were as good as this team which had won the European Cup. We might have heard the words before but in the matches we had already played, they had turned out to be an accurate estimation of what had occurred, so we had no reason to think that the Jags players would be any different.

 

We were being treated like royalty down at Seamill and we were even provided with some lunch before the match. As we were eating in the dining room, we could see the Cotter’s bus in place to take us up to Firhill and before long, we were on our way. Once more, Lemon and I had a laugh when we saw our favourite gate in the farm field and I was really impressed when we reached Thistle’s ground to see the size of the crowd. Firhill, of course, had a much smaller capacity than our recent venues of Hampden and Parkhead but on that day, the fans had certainly turned up in droves and would certainly provide the sort of atmosphere we loved.

 

The Teams

Partick Thistle

Niven
Campbell, Muir
O’Neill, McKinnon, Gibb
Rae, McParland, Coulson, Flanagan, Duncan.
Sub: Divers

Celtic

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

 

The Play

It did turn out to be a very tough match from the start. We were certainly the better-moving side and had the majority of the possession but the Jags were never out of it and made some good chances. The crowd – estimated at 30,000 – was obviously loving it. A crucial incident, though, occurred just on the half-hour mark –

30 minutes
Wispy and Davie McParland tangled, it became a bit serious, then the referee broke it up, pulled McParland to one side, booked him, then ordered him off.

The Thistle players were naturally very upset by all this and protested vehemently but it was all to no avail and Davie was not coming back. Curiously enough, with Davie off, I think that we took our feet off the pedal, relaxed a bit and did not take full advantage of being a man up.

We certainly made some chances. Wispy, Bertie and Lemon all had good chances but all of them fluffed their lines. But it was just before the break that we got the goal we badly needed to take some of the pressure off –

43 minutes
a low cross by Bertie was hammered in by Cesar. 1-0 Celtic

I suspect that this goal changed the ambience of the Boss’s talk at the interval. Up till then, he must have been almost pulling his hair out as we failed to take advantage of the extra man but by the time we came in for the break, he was once again his usual calm, constructive self as he tried to steady the ship

As usual, his words helped and right from the whistle, we assumed control and scored another four, all of then by Lemon.

52 minutes
fine pass by Bertie, good finish by Bobby.  2-0 Celtic

59 minutes
this time I provided the low cross, Bobby met it at the near post. 3-0 Celtic

71 minutes
through ball by Wispy, which Lemon met perfectly. 4-0 Celtic

76 minutes
Thistle pull one back when a cross-cum-shot by Arthur Duncan from just outside the box swerved past Ronnie. 4-1 Celtic

89 minutes
square pass by Yogi driven hard and true into the net from 10 yards by Bobby.

Final Score  Partick Thistle 1  Celtic  5

 

Other Results

Clyde 1 3 Rangers
Dundee 1 4 St. Johnstone
Falkirk 1 1 Kilmarnock
Hibs 2 0 Dunfermline
Morton 4 0 Airdrie
Motherwell 3 1 Stirling Albion
Raith Rovers 2 4 Hearts
Aberdeen 6 0 Dundee United

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
1 Rangers 6 5 1 0 10 2 5.00 11
2 Celtic 5 4 1 1 17 3 5.67 9
3 Hibernian 6 4 1 1 16 3 5.33 9
4 St Johnstone 6 2 4 0 10 6 1.67 8
5 Kilmarnock 6 2 4 0 8 5 1.60 8

 

A Night at the Coast

The day ended in an unusual fashion. Instead of our usual routine, where we headed for home before doing whatever each of us did on a Saturday night, we boarded the bus again for the trip back to Seamill.

It turned out to be a night to forget. Dinner with the whole squad was followed by us sitting round chatting, watching TV or playing cards, all with a glass of lemonade in our hands. Most of us went to bed before 10pm, more out of boredom than anything else!