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15th November 1967: Celtic v Kilmarnock – League

 

13th November

I reported for training on the Monday morning and soon found myself doing a solo for reasons that will become clear later. I put myself through a tough session without, I would have thought, showing any outward signs of the nausea I was still suffering from. However, if I had been asked –with my hand on a Bible – how I was feeling, I would have had to say that ‘hellish’ was not a bad description.

 

Whatever I had was not preventing me from playing but I would say that I was only able top operate at about 75% of my normal level. I had to wait behind after the morning session as Doc Fitzsimmons was held up at his surgery. When he did arrive, he gave me a once-over which showed that I had nothing wrong with my breathing, my musculature, my joints or ligaments. I knew that already and was quite aware that something like nausea was a condition that could not be seen but was only felt by the patient. After his examination, ‘Fitsy’ told me that I must have picked up some form of virus on the trip to South America and it would disappear in its own time. Apparently Lemon and George Connelly were suffering from the same symptoms.

 

Now, from the medical training which I received as part of my Dental Surgery course, I knew that viruses are not affected by antibiotics so that route was out. Instead, I was advised to drink as much fluid as possible to wash out my stomach and intestinal tract, although some anti-nausea tablets were also provided.

 

On the way home, I picked up one of the evening papers and noticed that Celtic’s success on the previous Saturday had been well received –

Celts Back in Business

‘Without three of their regulars, Celtic put on a very disciplined showing against Airdrie. That is not to say that Broomfield was the scene of a namby-pamby football exhibition. It was, indeed, a game of he-man endeavour but a game in which downright shady actions were never in evidence’.

 

The paper also let slip the reason why I trained alone at Celtic Park –

Secret Celts

‘Jock Stein took his players to a secret spot today and not one clue about the destination was given by the manager or his staff when they left Celtic Park. All assistant manager Sean Fallon would say was “we will tell you all about it tomorrow”.

 

14th November

While the rest of the guys were at the ‘secret destination’ or Seamill, as it was usually known, I trained with Lemon at Celtic Park. We were also joined by John Clark, who had picked up an injury against Airdrie and the three of us put in a good shift on the track. Much to our surprise, the Boss suddenly arrived towards the end of the session and kept an eye on us for the latter part. He told us that the rest of the players would be coming back from Seamill later and also said that he would like a word with Bobby and myself after we got dressed.

Lemon was smiling at my puzzlement but did not say anything. I was pretty sure, though, that he knew something that I didn’t know. Anyway, once we were dressed, we headed for the manager’s office, where the Boss told us that he had just got a phone call from Scotland team manager Bobby Brown to say that he had included myself, Lemon, Ronnie, Chopper and Jinky in the pool of players for the match against Wales on the 22nd November.

I was delighted…..and suddenly appalled at the same time. I was not playing for the Celtic first team because of my nausea; the match v Wales was only one week away; would I feel better by then? I was so caught up in thinking about the time scale that I almost overlooked the fact that both the Boss and Lemon were delighted on my being selected.

Later that day, when I saw a copy of the evening paper, I got a glimpse of the whole squad. It was Simpson (Celtic), Clark (Aberdeen), myself, McCreadie (Chelsea), Greig (Rangers), Murdoch (Celtic), McKinnon (Rangers), McLintock ( Arsenal), Baxter (Sunderland), Bremner (Leeds), Johnstone ( Celtic), Henderson ( Rangers), Lennox (Celtic), Johnston ( Rangers), Hope (West Bromwich Albion), Morgan (Burnley).

 

The paper also had a little piece on our next league match which was against Kilmarnock the following day –

Celtic – The Push Is On

‘Having got the problems of South America out of their systems with their win over Airdrie, Celtic go into action again tonight, this time against Kilmarnock, who have drawn 2 and lost 3 of their last 5 matches’.

 

15th November

I was brought in early for a fitness test, in which I thought I performed quite well. Certainly, there were some feelings of nausea but they were slighter than before and I was keen to play. The Boss, though, had other ideas and took me to one side. “Cairney, never play unless you feel 100% because you are not doing yourself justice. So, I’m going to leave you out tonight and we’ll see how you are later in the week”.

So, that was me out and I just sat in the tea room, chatting with the girls but funnily enough, and I put this down to the nausea, not feeling at all that I needed something to eat.

I did, though, get a copy of that day’s Celtic View and noticed that the Boss had had a blast at the BBC;

‘We don’t run away from the incidents late in the Montevideo game; they do not show us in a good light. But we realize that they were built up in more than three hours of alleged football, in which Celtic were at the receiving end of the abuse.

Celtic are not alone in their thought that if a top English club had been playing a South American club in the Inter-Continental Cup complete coverage would have been arranged and shown. In addition, there would have been a representative attendance of the top football officials of the world. But after all we are only Celtic, a Scottish club’.

He also pointed out that Celtic chairman Bob Kelly did not want the third game to be played after the incidents in the first two matches. Mr Stein states that his opinion was that Celtic would be accused of cowardice if they did not play at Montevideo and expressed the belief that

‘we are bound to get fairer treatment in a neutral country. And that there was some good in all human beings.

The article continues

‘Mr Kelly was swayed by these points but now I must say that he was correct in the first place’.


 

Pre-Match

Lemon, Luggy and myself were out but we were there behind the scenes as the guys gathered for a shot at the table tennis table in what formerly had been the snooker room, before going out to check on conditions.

It was not the warmest of nights but at least it was not raining, the pitch looked in very good condition – compared to some of the other surfaces we had played on recently, it was superb – and a goodly crowd for a Wednesday evening was filling up the ground. On my own part, I had no symptoms of nausea at all as I started to climb up to the stand; however, I must admit that earlier that afternoon, on the track, I did feel a little the worse for wear on occasion.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Gemmell, O’Neill
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Chalmers, Wallace, Auld, Hughes.

Sub: Gallagher

Kilmarnock

McLaughlan
Arthur, McFadzean
Dickson, McGrory, Beattie,
McLean, Cameron, Morrison, Queen, McIlroy.
Sub: Gilmour

 

The Play

As you might expect from a side that had drawn 2 and lost 3 of its previous 5 matches, the Kilmarnock boss – ex-Celt Malcolm MacDonald – had set his team’s stall out to defend which gave us plenty of the ball right from the start. And we should have gone into an early lead –

13 minutes
referee Mr Kelly of Motherwell decided that Jackie McGrory had tripped Jinky and awarded a penalty. Most uncharacteristically, though, Tam hooked his shot well wide.

 

The onslaught continued, however, and we got our reward just before half-time –

44 minutes
cross by Jinky, a back heel by Yogi and that left Bertie in the clear to shoot home from 12 yards.  1-0 Celtic

 

As I was not in the dressing-room at the interval, I have no idea what the Boss said but I would have been surprised if he had found any aspect of the team’s play in the first half to criticize. And when the second half started I found, much to my surprise, that the Killie guys – even 1-0 down – were still sitting back in defence and seldom venturing over the halfway line. That again gave us almost total possession and we soon capitalized on it –

53 minutes
Bertie pushed the ball through to Yogi who drove it hard past the Kilmarnock keeper. 2-0 Celtic

We were by now coasting and although we made chances, we did not find the net again until 17 minutes from the end.

73 minutes
a Pumper shot re-bounded off the keeper’s chest and Stevie was on hand to knock the ball in.

Final Score  Celtic  3  Kilmarnock 0

In one of the following day’s match reports, the final paragraph summed up the match quite neatly –

‘In the time remaining, Murdoch stopped Cameron’s shot on the line, the nearest Kilmarnock came to scoring. But with a right-back and a centre-forward making their first senior appearance of the season and without their opponents sophistication, Kilmarnock were always doomed to provide Celtic with the means of taking the points that moved them into second place behind Rangers’.