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19th April 1967 Celtic v Aberdeen League

On the day following the win over Dukla Prague, the press was unanimous in its thoughts that we were on the road to the biggest occasion of the European season;

Wallace’s Goals Put Celtic on Road to Final

‘Celtic wrote the first chapter of a new ‘Lisbon Story’ last night when they beat Dukla Prague 3-1 and in my mind, made certain of a European Cup Final appearance in the Portuguese capital on May 25.

Dukla are the Czechoslovakia army team but to blast Celtic out of the cup in Prague a week on Tuesday they will need to call up a regiment of artillery, rocket-firing squads and a fair supply of napalm bombs.

To come back from the brink of football death they must win by three goals and no doubt Celtic manager Jock Stein is saying to his players tonight – “If we flop badly we’ll deserve to forfeit our place in the final.

The two goal lead is enough – to me it looks like the ideal advantage to take to a foreign land”


In actual fact, the Boss never mentioned the away match at all to us at that point. There was a big occasion coming up on the following Saturday – the international against England at Wembley – and a number of our guys were involved; and then there was the small circumstance of a home league match against a very good Aberdeen side the Wednesday after that that. So, his priorities – or rather his hopes – were that the Wembley guys would come through the match uninjured and then from the beginning of the next week, we could concentrate all our thoughts and actions on the clash with the Dons. “One Match at a Time’ was a favourite expression of the Boss.


Now, with a big game like the Wembley match coming up, it came as no surprise that Celtic’s achievements were rather side-lined for a few days while the members of the Scottish press concentrated on that. And when Scotland won 3-2 on a great afternoon for the whole nation it should have been obvious to us all just what the big story would be in all the papers over the following few days. Celtic’s chances of reaching the European Cup Final was not a topic making the top headlines. However, in some ways, that was not a bad thing, as it took some of the pressure off us.


17th April

Back to training for the whole squad but some concerns over the fitness of Tam Gemmell. He had been hurt in a clash with Ray Wilson in the England/Scotland encounter and spent most of the day having his ankle attended to by Bob Rooney. Tam was noted for being a quick healer so the whole club was willing that he would improve in time to face Aberdeen.

The rest of us spent a fairly tough morning at Barrowfield as most had not played since the previous Wednesday and you have to put the hours in. Or, to be honest, since by that time of the season everyone was unlikely to suddenly lose their fitness, it became a case of the manager and coaches being keen to see their charges putting the hours in?

Over at Ibrox, manager Scot Symon was having a problem. He had gone at the weekend to Czechoslovakia to see Slavia Sofia, Rangers’ opponents in the semi-final of the Cup-Winners’ Cup, pick up an uninspiring 2-0 victory over Beroe. His problem afterwards was deciding whether Slavia were keeping their best form for the tie with the Light Blues or were they not very good? If the former was true, then he would want to set up a defensive line for the first leg of the semi-final; and if the latter was right, then should he go for an all-out attacking policy?

 

18th April

The main story about Celtic again involved Tam. This morning the Boss had a look at the situation and told the assembled pressmen – “Too early yet to be definite but his chances are improving by the hour. Gemmell is a quick healer and we will be working on him right up to the last moment tomorrow night. If he does not make it, we will call in Willie O’Neill”.

Billy McNeill, suffering from an abscess on a hip injury, was passed fit to play and Bobby Lennox was also given a clearance by the trainer.


It was a great time for all of us. The Celtic legions of fans were watching our every move and every pressman was getting in touch, trying to find a story a little different from his colleagues. Whenever we went out, to the shops, to get petrol or to Mass, everyone – and not just Celtic fans – seemed to be interested in our achievements. Less than two years previously, I had been able to walk through my native city without a single person recognising me as a footballer. Now, it took me ages to walk along the road as most folk wanted a chat.

That led me to some interesting moments, particularly the one when my Parish Priest asked me if I would judge the fancy-dress competition at the Union of Catholic Mothers’ party in the church hall. It turned out to be a memorable occasion ; I was the youngest in the hall!


 

Setting the Scene

Apart from the guys in the Scotland team which beat England at Wembley, the rest of us had a few days off. I better re-phrase that just in case you think that we could disappear for a few days. What I meant was that there was no match for the rest of us on the Saturday, so we would not play again till the Wednesday, fully a week after our previous match. That could be good but occasionally, it did have its down-sides.

The Celtic players of that particular time were under tremendous pressure from a variety of sources. The Boss was expecting us to play well at all times; the Board was always telling us how important it was to keep winning; the fans were already certain that we would go through the season collecting every possible trophy; and the media was writing up our exploits to the full. It was a pressure-filled period.

One week after beating Dukla Prague in the first leg of the European Cup semi-final, we all arrived at Celtic Park in the late afternoon of the 19th April, ready to take on the Dons from Aberdeen.

Aberdeen had come through a good season. They were lying in fourth place in the league table and were due to meet us in the Scottish Cup final in ten days.

 

Pre-match

As usual for a home game, we did not go anywhere for a pre-match meal but had been told to do the necessary at home, so I had my usual scrambled eggs and toast around 4.30pm before heading off an hour or so later for the trip to Parkhead. When I got out of the car in the school at the bottom of the drive, though, my heart sank a bit. The weather was wild and windy, just the type of conditions that can become a great leveller.

None of the other guys seemed to be too worried, however, and when we went out for our warm-up, the atmosphere was good, with a fair number of spectators already in place.

There had been some concern in the morning – and evening – papers about whether some of our guys who were carrying injuries would recover in time to make the team. However, it appeared that Tam (ankle), Cesar (hip), Jinky ( leg) and Lemon (knee) would all be available.

 

The Teams

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

Aberdeen:
Clark
Whyte, Shewan
Munro, McMillan, Peterson
Wilson, Smith, Storrie,Melrose, Johnston.
Sub:  Buchan

 

The Play

It might have been a wild and windy evening but about 33,000 had turned up to see the action and the sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that it was a second outing for the so-called ‘Lisbon Lions’.

It was a problematic match for both teams and their managers, as the sides were due to play each other 10 days hence in the Scottish Cup Final, so neither side wanted to give away too much or, for that matter, fall to too heavy a defeat.

It turned out to be a poor match for the fans to watch. Aberdeen went back into defence, pulling most of their players into two lines just in front of the goalkeeper and we, as a group, chose that night to be really off-song, lacking sharpness in front of goal with more than a few out of touch.

One of the dailies summed up the evening action fairly succinctly –

‘The odds against Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final with Celtic on Saturday week at Hampden Park should shorten today as the outcome of their league game last night at Parkhead, where the visitors took such honours as were going, although, in truth, these were few.

A high wind blowing from the city end of Celtic Park made conditions difficult for the teams, who were also playing on a pitch sodden after the incessant rain in the late afternoon but to these circumstances could not wholly be attributed the scrappy and inconclusive nature of play’.

 

The first half was better than the second half and the reason was quite obvious to one reporter –

‘From the restart, it was obvious that Aberdeen would be content to settle for a draw. They set up a defence in which Peterson was magnificent, calculated to keep Celtic out and succeeded without undue strain’.

‘Altogether it was a frustrating occasion for the 33,000 home supporters who cannot yet be certain that their favourites will clinch the championship. Having played the same number of games as Rangers, 31, Celtic are three points ahead of their closest challengers, who they have still to meet at Ibrox, having in the interval to play Dundee United and Kilmarnock at Parkhead’.

 

Final Score 0-0

 

That was what the press thought. We came off the pitch expecting to be confronted by a less-than-impressed manager. And in the dressing-room, we discovered that we had anticipated atmosphere correctly. The Boss could not be said to be a happy bunny and told us in no uncertain terms to report for training the following morning

 

Reserve Match

Over at East End Park, our reserve side beat the Pars 1-0 in the second leg of a Reserve League Cup semi-final. Tony Taylor got the goal which gave us a 3-1 aggregate win.

 

Light Blues Win

In Bulgaria, Rangers beat Slavie Sofia 1-0 in the first leg of their Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final


Quake
At least 37 people died and 30 mosques, dozens of houses and Government buildings were wrecked in a 5 second earthquake which rocked the Southern Celebes town of Madiene.

It is feared the death toll will increase and thousands of people have been evacuated from the scene.

Panic
Women passengers screamed when a 19-year-old girl boarded train at Falun, Sweden, with a boa constrictor round her neck.

There was near panic when the girl, who said she was a snake-charmer, allowed the 6 foot snake to slither around the corridor but she assured the passengers that the snake was harmless.

Lost Voice
Sandie Shaw woke up today to find her Eurovision song contest winner ‘Puppet of a String’ at Number 1 in the ‘New Musical Express’ chart – and without a voice.

Her manager, Miss Evelyn Taylor, said –“she is speechless but it is because of laryngitis. It is more from the emotional happenings of the last two weeks than a cold”.

She added – “ the success of the disc means that Sandie will earn at least £250,000”.

More Arrivals
Nearly 90,000 foreign visitors came to Britain in February – 17,000 more than arrived in the same month last year.

The total number of visitors in the first two months of 1967 was 180,000, a rise of 29,000. They included 118,000 European visitors and 44,000 from the United States.

Bad Luck
A young man’s plan to smuggle himself from Sydney, Australia to Vienna as air cargo misfired when the spring lid of the crate flew open and air line officials found him crouched inside. The box – 4 feet 6 inches by 3 feet – was marked as containing personal effects.


Seriously Ill
West Germany’s top medical specialists are waging a non-stop fight to save former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer but today the end seemed near for the 91-year-old statesman.

Last night he received extreme unction at his own request from his son, Monsignor Paul Adenauer (44). His youngest son George said – “His condition is very serious”.