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15th May 1967: Celtic v Kilmarnock – League

8th May

On the Monday after the Rangers match, the press was quite unanimous in their reporting of Celtic’s season thus far;

Celtic’s silver season

‘Celtic are the kings of Scottish football today – and on 25th May, when they met Inter Milan in Lisbon, they may well be the emperors of Europe too.

At Ibrox Stadium on Saturday , 76,000 fans, soaked to the skin but half of them deliriously happy, were witnesses of the most historic occasion in Scottish football.

They saw Celtic win the League Championship and complete a season the like of which has never been seen before – and cannot possibly be bettered in the future.

Guided, cajoled, encouraged, inspired and sometimes bullied by Jock Stein and his backroom staff at Parkhead, CELTIC HAVE WON EVERY TOURNEMENT THERE IS TO WIN IN SCOTLAND THIS SEASON’

 

Remarkable stuff – the tributes as well as the record. And while our performance was rated highly in every newspaper, there was one moment – and one player – who received a special mention;

‘Jimmy Johnstone’s goal, scored in the 74th minute, gave them a 2-2 draw with Rangers. It hoisted his team to an unassailable position in the League table,  and I doubt if any trophy has ever been won by a more glorious shot’.

The day following the Rangers match, Jock Stein had travelled to Turin to see Inter Milan take on Juventus.

It turned out to be an unmemorable day for the visitors, as the they ended up losing. From his comments to the press after the match, Jock Stein had not been particularly impressed by Celtic’s European Cup final opponents but rose to the occasion;–

‘I think Inter were a little unlucky not to get a draw. They were obviously playing for a draw but I think they were a little tired’.

Diplomacy at its best?

 

9th May

Cushley interests West Ham

West Ham need a centre-half – and John Cushley is finding it difficult to get into the Celtic side?

What fee would Celtic place on Cushley? Jock Stein would probably ask for not a penny under £25,000!

 

10th May

Scotland v Soviet Union at Hampden with 6 Celts in the side – Simpson, Gemmell, Clark, McNeill, Johnstone, Lennox.

 

11th May

Including the guys who played against the Soviet Union – who won 2-0, much to the disappointment of the home crowd – we headed for Seamill and a few days of relaxation. At least that’s what the Boss told the papers, although from my own experience, it was anything but a relaxing spot. If we were not training, we were walking, playing golf, using the leisure pool facilities or going to the cinema. Oh! and I nearly forgot, we were also having breakfast, lunch and dinner too. It was all go!

Since those days, I have often been asked if we were worried about getting injured before the final. No, has always been my answer but I must clarify that by saying that I can only speak for myself. I had come through one or two injuries in the course of the season but was pleased to find that I recovered quickly so the prospect of any minor damage was not worth bothering about.

If something more serious had occurred – as in the case of Joe McBride – then it would have been devastating. Still, it was not something that occupied my mind, at least, although some of my team-mates might have had different ideas.

One aspect of our lives that did surface at that time, especially when perhaps a small group was together having a coffee or tea, was that we knew very little about the opposition in the forthcoming final. The Boss had been to see them play Juventus but had said little about the match since coming home. And apart from that, even though we looked at all the football periodicals of the day, there was not much of interest about Internazionale. Oh! the articles might tell us all about the club’s record – and the fact that they used the catenaccio system – but we never read anywhere the details that we wanted to ask, like, in my case, how quick was the winger I might hopefully be up against if selected?

A nice touch from a major firm, we were all given Polaroid cameras to record our visit to the Portuguese capital. And we finished the evening at Paisley Ice Rink, where Peter Keenan had put on a boxing promotion.

 

12th May

News about Third Lanark. 24 hours after offering to sell Cathkin Park to Glasgow Corporation, their chairman James F Reilly announced that the club was negotiating for a piece of land in Bishopbriggs to build another ground.

 

13th May

The Seamill party was brought back up to Glasgow by bus. We did a light training session at Parkhead then headed back to our homes for a couple of days before the final league match of the season against Kilmarnock on the Monday. It had been a good few days and no doubt we would be back again before the European Cup final.

However, there is nobody quite like a Mother for bringing you down to earth. No sooner had I got through the door of my parent’s house than my Mum asked me if I could walk up to the shops at the top of the road to get some new potatoes!

 

Pre-match

If we thought that coming back from Seamill to our homes for the weekend would have given us some time away from football, we were soon in no doubt that the opposite might be the case.

Wherever I went, be it the shops, the garage for petrol or Sunday Mass, the fans gathered round, asking question after question, mainly about Inter Milan and the final in Lisbon. I tried to bring the subject round to the final league match against Kilmarnock on the Monday night but they just dismissed that one, reminding me that we had already won the league and that the Killie game was of no consequence. The final was the important one.

Unfortunately, a certain Mr Jock Stein did not see it that way and had been very clear in his instructions about that particular match while we were down at Seamill. It was important, he said, firstly to maintain our momentum, so he wanted us to continue with the form we had shown against Aberdeen and Rangers; and secondly, he stressed that it was crucial that, as we built up to the final, a league match against a team that would eventually finish 7th in the league – and was about to face Leeds United in the semi-final of the Fairs Cup – was just what we wanted in the way of competition.

Of course, as the fans continued to ask about the final, I kept the Boss’s instructions to myself but, after all these years, it still shows the difference in thinking between supporters and those involved at the sharp end. And I wondered how the Boss was faring when he went to the shops or the petrol station?

 

Celtic Parade of Trophies

“Wilbur’s” last stand? © Daily Record

That was the headline in one of the evening dailies and we learned that on show at half-time in the match against Kilmarnock would be the League Championship trophy, the Scottish Cup, the League Cup and the Second X1 League Cup.

When we played – and lost – to Dundee United, the Scottish Cup had been paraded round the track at half-time by two young ball–boys but Jock Stein announced –“We have decided tonight to adopt another line of action. Just what it is I am not yet prepared to say but I am certain it will meet with the approval of our fans”.

We once again headed over to Cathkin Braes for the pre-match meal and I particularly recall that everyone was in great spirits on that Monday evening. There were always rumours going round of one sort or another and at that meal, there were whispers that John Cushley might get a run-out as a few English clubs were keeping an eye on him. It was also the final chance for the Boss to fiddle with the team in any way before the European Cup final. So, while the food was excellent and the guys were buzzing, there was some apprehension about exactly what was going to happen in the next few hours….and also the following few days.

Celtic Park was in excellent condition for the match and almost as soon as we arrived back at Parkhead, the Boss took us into the dressing-room and announced the team. And the whisperers had been correct. Billy McNeill’s name was read out in the inside-right position, and John Cushley was at centre-half.

 

The Teams

Celtic

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

Kilmarnock

Ferguson
King, McFadzean
Murray, McGrory, Beattie
McLean, McInally, Bertelsen, Queen, C Watson.
Sub:  M Watson

 

The Play

There was no way that Cesar was going to play at inside-right and the team lined up with a twin centre-half duo of Cesar and Cush. That more or less sealed up the middle of the Killie attack and as Tam and I kept the wingers in check, we pretty much dominated.

Unfortunately, although in control, we did not make too many chances and were probably a little bit lax in this department. However, even when you go out to give your all, there are days when things do not quite work out and, on reflection, was probably one of them. Our first goal was a bit controversial –

24 minutes:
Lemon, from what one paper the following day described as a ‘suspiciously offside position’ ran on to a lob from Wispy and shot home from near the edge of the penalty area.
1-0 Celtic

That cheered the fans up and they had even more reason to celebrate at half-time when the four trophies mentioned above were paraded round the track on the top of a car. Nice touch….and very well received.

While this was happening, in the dressing room, the Boss was quite phlegmatic. He had been in that position as a player himself and knew how difficult it can be to reach top form all the time, so he was encouraging but fairly mild.

Our second goal came halfway through the second half and if the first had been controversial, the second was spectacular –

75 minutes:
Wispy controlled a Chopper lob with this right foot, pivoted and then cracked the ball high into the net with his left.
Final score: Celtic 2-0 Kilmarnock

And that goal – our 199th of the season – gave us victory and provided the points to finish the campaign three clear of Rangers at the top of the table. And as soon as referee Mr Anderson from East Kilbride blew the final whistle and we had shaken hands with our opponents, the celebrations could start. They were loud and joyous – both on the pitch and in the stands and terracings – and they culminated in the players hoisting the Boss on to our shoulders and doing a quick walk round in front of the Main Stand. It had been a good night but, as the fans were constantly telling us, the Big One was still to come!

 

 


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Old Problem

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