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18th November 1967: Celtic v Falkirk – League

16th November

Training as usual, which meant that those who had played the previous evening did very little and those who had sat the game out worked pretty hard. On a personal basis, I was still feeling a bit off-colour. Oh! I could take part in most of the activities relevant to a training session but when running flat-out I felt decidedly queasy.

I saw the Doc after training and heard what I frankly did not want to hear, which was that a condition like that was not suddenly going to clear up and that I would have to be patient. I felt like asking him how he would have felt if the doctor at the time ‘Fitsy’ played for Celtic – between 1934 and 1938 – had said the same thing to him. Patience is the last thing a professional player takes into account; even a longish career is a short one by most other standards and I was very keen to get back into the swing of things. I was even due to pick up my first ‘cap’ the following week so it was imperative for me to get better. But he was as adamant as before. “Plenty of fluids and keep taking those tablets” was his consistent message.

I nodded but was not a happy bunny.

The press that morning had been not too complimentary about the team’s performance but very enthusiastic about the play of one player;

Celtic Slow To Turn Pressure Into Goals

Johnstone Turns on the Magic

 

I had heard nothing more about the international against Wales the following week – and neither had the Boss – so a headline in one of the evening papers was all I had to go on;

Brown Delays Naming Scots Team

 

17th November

After the usual fairly light session on the track, the Boss pulled Lemon and myself aside and told us that he had spoken to Bobby Brown and that the Scotland team manager was quite happy at the fact that neither of us would be playing against Falkirk on the Saturday. There was to be a practice match for the Scotland side on the Monday and Bobby Brown would see then if Bobby or myself was fit enough to take our places in the team to face Wales.

And there was a surprise when the team to play Falkirk was announced. Willie Wallace dropped out and was replaced by Joe McBride; apart from that, it was the team which had beaten Kilmarnock 3-0.


Morning of the Match

I came in to Parkhead about an hour before the kick-off and I noticed that the guys had all been coming in around the same time, so no pre-match meal had obviously been provided. That meant that the message from the top was quite clearly being laid down – this is a match that must be won!

I was quite delighted when I heard the Celtic team. Joe McBride’s name was read out.  Joe was a popular guy with the squad and everyone was willing him to get over his injury problems, so it was great to see him getting ready for the match that afternoon.

When you are not playing and you come into the dressing-room before a match, you always feel a bit like a spare ‘whats-it’ at a wedding. So, with a quick ‘all the best’ to the guys, I left them to it and went outside in search of some food.

 

The Teams

Celtic

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

Falkirk

Devlin
Moreland, Hunter
Scott, Baillie, Gibson
Marshall, Smith, Vincent, McLaughlin, Watson.
Sub: Gilmour

 

The Play

The Bairns were down near the wrong end of the table and I would have thought that manager John Prentice must have been in a difficult position as Celtic must have been the last team he wanted to visit just then. Should he try to shut up shop knowing that one goal against would rather spoil his plan or should he just let his players off the leash and go down fighting – or even spring a surprise?

Before we could work out what exactly the plan was, we were struck by a problem –

2 minutes
going up for a high ball, Joe McBride clashed heads with Gibson and was led from the field by Neilly Mochan with blood streaming down his face. It was obviously serious and Willie Wallace was immediately brought on.

The change of personnel did not make much of a difference to our system of play and we went into top gear, making a few chances which were either saved or cleared. In fact, the highlight of the opening period was when an Alsatian dog ran on to the pitch and in spite of efforts by players and police, spent a couple of minutes being really evasive.

Eventually, he was taken off, the crowd settled down and we went ahead –

21 minutes
low cross by Bertie, back-heeled by Wispy out to Yogi, whose shot was headed into the net by Stevie. 1-0 Celtic

Frankly, although goals were proving difficult, we were well on top and it only seemed a matter of time before we breached the Falkirk defence again. And that happened 10 minutes later;

32 minutes
a lob into the box by Tam and Stevie was again the man on the spot. 2-0 Celtic

The fans relaxed, now expecting more. By half-time, though, none had come and I was surprised coming down from the stand to hear one or two adverse comments about the lack of goals.

I would have imagined that the Boss would have been fairly happy with a 2-0 score-line at half-time and certainly when the guys came out for the second period, they once more went into control mode and peppered the Falkirk with shots and headers. Unfortunately for us, the Falkirk defence was having one of those day when it could have stopped a Panzer tank and kept the tally down to two until almost the end –

89 minutes
great run by Jinky to the byeline followed by a cut-back which Yogi, from very close-range, hooked home.

Final Score  Celtic 3  Falkirk  0

 

Reserves

In the reserve match at Brockville, Celtic Reserves drew 2-2 with Falkirk Reserves.

 

Other Results

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

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
1 Rangers 11 9 2 0 20 6 3.33 20
2 Celtic 10 8 1 1 29 5 5.80 17
3 Hibernian 11 8 1 2 30 15 2.00 17
4 Hearts 11 7 2 2 24 7 3.43 16