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18th October 1967 Celtic v Racing Club – Inter-Continental Cup

15th October

We had quite a lazy day at Seamill. Up at a reasonable time for breakfast then taxis to Mass at Saltcoats. Back to the hotel for lunch, which was followed by one of those walks along the beach – have to keep the legs in shape – before a session in the pool brought us up to dinner time. And after that, as the Boss told us, we could do whatever we wished.

That sounded great but I must point out that we were based in a hotel on the Ayrshire coast with no access to cars and knowing full well that if we went anywhere by taxis, the destination would get back to the Boss. If you take all that into account, then it was not quite the generous gesture that it might appear! So, once again, for most of us, it was TV or chatting or playing cards (usually Hearts), with the ubiquitous glass of lemonade in our hands. It made me  promise never to complain about Sunday in my parents’ house again.

 

The papers were unanimous that we had deserved to win against the Jags……..

Super Fit Celtic

McNeill Breaks Firhill Curtain

 

……..although they also had sympathy for the player involved in the ordering-off incident  –

McParland Didn’t Deserve This

 

16th October

We might have had an easy day yesterday but the coaching staff certainly made up for it this morning, putting us though a very tough routine. It was described very well in one of the evening papers –

‘Today they put in the hardest work schedule since arriving at Seamill. They had the usual early morning walk – then the real football business of the day took place after breakfast.

They were taken by coach to Ardeer – a place famous for the manufacture of explosives – and they got down to the preparation which they hope will end with the blow-up of the senors from Buenos Aires at Hampden’.

 

The reader must remember that while all this was going on, we were quite detached from hearing about any other aspects of life on the likes of radio and television. For instance, we knew that earlier that morning, Jinky had left in the Boss’s car to make an appearance before the SFA Referee Committee as a result of being ordered off in the St Johnstone match on  23rd September.  But we were only given a brief report of how he actually got on and the full details did not emerge until someone managed to get a copy of one of the Glasgow evening papers from a guest in the hotel. The headline and underlying comment were quite shocking –

Johnstone Suspended for 21 Days

‘Jimmy Johnstone was suspended today by the Referee Committee of the SFA for a period of 21 days. This will keep him out of football from Thursday 19th October and will mean him missing the Northern Ireland/ Scotland match, the League Cup final against Dundee on 28th October and the World Club Championship second leg against Racing Club in Buenos Aires on 1st November’.

Jinky would be badly missed in our side. However, further down the back page, the newspaper had a story which tended to suggest that there was one law for Scottish clubs and a different one for Argentinian clubs.

Racing Field Banned Star at Hampden

‘Humberto Maschio, one of Racing Club’s most experienced players, who was ordered off in a league match a week last Saturday, is at present serving a six-match suspension. However, as under the rules of the Argentinian Association, this only applies to league matches, he will be able to play in Wednesday’s match against Celtic at Hampden’.

 

17th October

We travelled again from Seamill by bus – or as the press kept referring to it ‘by coach – to Ardeer in the morning for another session after having had the usual start to the day with a walk. After lunch, we got the opportunity to use the pool and baths and in the evening we were shown some brief films of Penarol and Racing Club. Having played the former earlier in the season, we did not need to brush up our knowledge of them. Unfortunately, though, of the team about which we did want to find out something, there was a very brief clip of one of their matches which frankly was of no help at all.

 

All this was reported in the evening papers but both the morning and evening editions seemed to be more concerned with Jimmy Johnstone’s situation –

Johnstone Has Little Chance of Playing

‘Jimmy Johnstone, who starts his 21-day suspension on Thursday morning, will almost certainly not play against Racing Club of Argentina in the World Club Championship match at Hampden Park tomorrow night.

This morning, Jock Stein was still angry at the ban which has ruled Jimmy Johnstone out of the Northern Ireland v Scotland game on Saturday, the League Cup final on the 28th and the second match against Racing on 1st November.

Mr Stein said “I have added Charlie Gallagher to the pool of players for tomorrow night and I think you can take it that Johnstone will not play. I could not expect him to be in the right frame of mind for a match of this importance and it might not be fair to the player to ask him to go out when he is not feeling 100% physically and mentally’.

Was all this for the benefit of the papers? When I spoke to him, wee Jimmy, while annoyed at the length of the ban, was dead keen to play at Hampden.

 

While we were preparing down at Seamill, the Argentinians had arrived eight days before the match and based themselves at the Marine Hotel in Troon. When they deigned to speak to the Scottish press – which was a rare event – they usually complained about something, the cold, the bouncy pitches they had to train on or the rain. However, in their party, there were only one or two who spoke English – was this true or was this the first salvo in the psychological battle? – so whether they were complaining or not might have been debatable.

Apparently, the Racing officials had chosen the Marine Hotel because they had found out that Real Madrid stayed there before wining the European Cup at Hampden in 1960. If it was good enough for Real, then it seemed to good enough for them.


 

Morning of the Match

We missed out on the walk that morning, as was the usual practice on the day of the game. Instead, after breakfast, we did a light workout on the lawn behind the hotel. Now, as the entrance was just off the main road, the lawn was actually facing the sea, only a wall separating it from the beach. It was just a loosener of a session and everyone in the squad seemed fit and ready, although Jinky’s position was still unclear.

 

As I headed for the entrance to the hotel, I met a journalist from one of the ‘dailies’ in Glasgow, a man who often traveled with the team on foreign trips and dealt regularly with Jock Stein. He told me something that morning that made my blood boil. I had already made my mind up that whole set-up for the World Club Championship was a little unfair and what he told me only confirmed that.

I never found out where exactly the draw for the competition was made but it was certainly a strange affair. We were punished by the fact that the first match was to be played in Scotland. It meant that the second leg would be played in South America and if a third match was required – the ‘away goals’ rule was not in operation at that time; it was a league system with 2 points for a win and 1 point for a draw – then it would also be played in South America.

Now, I already knew that and thought that it was totally biased against us. However, what the journalist told me that morning was even worse.

There were three referees nominated by the organising committee. One of these was Senor Juan Gardeazabel from Spain and it came as no surprise that the Racing Club. officials chose him. That meant that the referee and the players from Racing could converse in their native tongue. More importantly, as a Latin, he would more readily accept some of their tactics like shirt-pulling and obstruction, while clamping down on heavily on ours, like shoulder-charging. And also, if we wanted to speak to him, then we were reliant on his having a good command of English, which, in the event, was not the case.

The way things turned out, would a German or Swedish referee have allowed the Racing players to get away with some of the tactics they employed at Hampden.

 

I spoke to Jock Stein about the choice of referee and was quite surprised that he seemed quite au fait with the situation. However, when I look back all those years ago today, I wonder if he was quite as ready to accept the decisions of the organising committee after the kicking- match in Montevideo.

 

Pre-Match

After a few hours in bed, we headed for the restaurant and the pre- match meal, before boarding the bus – sorry, coach! – for the trip to Hampden. Lemon did not let me down on the way up the A77, pointing to the gate to nowhere; and I thoroughly enjoyed the blast through the city, with the police out-riders clearing the way.

It would be a strange player who was not stimulated by the trip down the Hampden driveway and that atmosphere – and our excitement – was further enhanced when we went out on to the pitch to the check the conditions and the state of the pitch. The latter, in fact, had been too wide under the rules of the event and was narrowed for the occasion.

Unknown to us, there were some off-field problems. The Boss had been apparently been furious that the match was not being shown across Britain, the Football League having protested that there were League Cup ties being played in England that night.

It was agreed that the BBC and STV could show 30-minute, late-night recordings. However, on the night, a strike involving around 100 technicians at STV caused the station to close at 10.30pm, which meant that no highlights were shown. And the Prime Minister was also affected by industrial action. Harold Wilson had every intention of being at Hampden but prolonged negotiations in a docks dispute held him up and he missed the game.

 

The Teams

Celtic

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

Racing Club

Cejas
Martin, Perfumo
Basile, Diaz, Rulli
Mori, Maschio, Rodriguez, Cardenas, Raffo.

 

The Play

It was obvious from the first minutes of the match that Racing Club had come to defend. One of the things we did find out about them beforehand was they apparently preferred a 4-3-3 system. Well, that night, that idea was put to bed and they defended in depth. It was also fairly obvious, from the beginning, that they were not too concerned as to how they would stop us playing some football.

The Spanish referee was put in a difficult position. He was faced with two sides which were completely incompatible in style and philosophy. But while he seemed to willing to punish Racing Club by awarding free-kick after free-kick to us, he seemed unable to distinguish the difference between physical challenges and downright thuggery, with some seriously heavy tackles going unpunished.

All this made it difficult for us to play football and in spite of all our efforts, we were unable to play the fluid game that suited us. It had been decided before the match that we would try to work Racing on the flanks, using the trickery of Jinky on the right and the speed and power of Yogi on the left. But any time that they threatened at all, they were just up-ended and the culprit merely walked away, holding his hands up in contrition.

However, I must give then credit for one aspect of their play. They might have been ready to foul but they were also clever enough to rotate the offenders, which made the referee’s life even more difficult.

 

By the interval, we had been in possession for most of the first-half yet had nothing to show for it. Wispy did have two good chances that he would normally have taken but that night pulled them wide. The Boss was furious, not with us but with the opposition and particularly the referee. I wanted to say that I had warned him about all that the previous day but it did not seem an appropriate time to mention it.

When the second half got underway, things were no different. We had all the possession, we played the better football, we made better chances but we were still the subject of some pretty serious offences, with the referee still seemingly oblivious to it all. The outcome of the game hinged on two incidents almost 20 minutes apart –

69 minutes

Cesar 

Cejas pushed a shot from Yogi round the post and from the resultant corner, Yogi found the head of Cesar whose header flew into the far corner of the net. 1-0 Celtic

The crowd of 83,437 had been waiting for such a moment since the start of the match and almost went ballistic in their celebrations. It was great for us too but unfortunately, also put us in a tricky situation. Should we continue to push forward against a defence which has already conceded one or sit back a bit and hold on to the one-goal lead. I don’t recall us deciding one way or the other but we seemed to be still in charge until nearly the final minute.

89 minutes

perhaps we had pushed forward a little too much but they made a quick break, the defence was a bit slow in clearing the ball, it bobbled round a bit in the box, then fell to Rodriguez, who, with only Ronnie to beat, hammered the ball against the old guy and it ricocheted clear. Give credit  to Ronnie, though, he had spread himself beautifully.

 

Final Score  Celtic  1  Racing Club  0

 

Our cars had been left outside Celtic Park for the period when we were down at Seamill, so after the match, we were taken by ‘coach’ again back to Parkhead to pick up our own vehicles.

I had managed to get tickets for my Dad plus three uncles and the four of them were waiting for me when I got to my parents’ house, all keen to congratulate me and re-live the best moments of the match.

Eventually, my uncles left for their own home, Dad – who was working the following day  – went to bed, leaving me – who always found it difficult to sleep after a night match – and Mum, who never seemed to sleep much at all, sitting there on our own, talking about this and that. Suddenly, though, she switched over to football and made a comment that sure went right to the heart of a possible problem – “your Dad and your uncles were saying that if you thought it was pretty rough at Hampden tonight, you can expect it to be a lot worse in South America!”

I just shook and head and muttered to myself – “Gee, thanks, Mum, that’s made me feel a lot better”.