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19th October 1968:  Celtic v St Johnstone – League

14th October 1968

Most of the Celtic players got the day off. There were a few with the Scotland squad preparing for the international with Denmark and others – Murdoch and Wallace – still recovering from ankle injuries. I came in that morning to work on my sharpness and was just in time to hear that John Hughes had reported that morning with an ‘upset tummy’ (as it was described in the press later) and he pulled out of the Scotland squad.

The press was very complimentary that morning about our win over Hearts –

Celts For Team Spirit

‘The principal reason for Celtic’s success was their musketeering spirit – the one-for-all understanding that lifts a team out of the common ruck and out of trouble’.

15th October 1968

Apart from the guys with the Scotland camp, the rest of us came in, although John Hughes, Willie Wallace and Bobby Murdoch did not take part in the session. In the evening papers, the Boss was quoted as saying

“It will be later in the week before we have a clearer picture on whether they will be available for Saturday’s fixture against St Johnstone.

He also made a comment about the Tommy Callaghan situation. Celtic had apparently made a bid for the Dunfermline wing-half or inside-forward and that day Jock Stein said –

“we have made our bid. The next move is up to Dunfermline”.

16th October 1968

The Scottish team for the match against Denmark in Copenhagen was announced. It was;

Herriot (Birmingham), Gemmell ( Celtic), McCreadie ( Chelsea), Bremner (Leeds), Greig and McKinnon ( both Rangers), McLean (Kilmarnock), McCalliog (Sheffield Wed.), Stein (Hibs), Hope (West Bromwich Albion) and Lennox (Celtic).

It was also a day of some nostalgia for our team, as down at Old Trafford, Manchester United were getting ready to face Estudiantes in the home leg of the World Club Championship, with United one-down from the first leg.

17th October 1968

Yogi was back in training and both Wispy and Chopper were doing some light running. And Jinky was about due to come back after his suspension. The international guys would not return till the morrow. I would have imagined that they would have been quite disappointed with the 0-1 loss and they would not have been too pleased either with the headline in one paper –

World Cup?  Not on This Form!

And there was not much joy down in England either after Manchester United only manged to draw 1-1 with the South American champions, giving Estudiantes the victory 2-1 on aggregate.

18th October 1968

Everybody, including the injured and the suspended, were back in for a light session and a chance for all of us to catch up on the gossip. When I say that everyone took part, I must also point out that there was not much energy exerted by a few of the still doubtful ones. Afterwards, the Boss merely announced a squad to report for the match against St Johnstone, although one of the papers that night tried to make a point with a headline and a comment –

Johnstone May Be Left Out

‘After his suspension, Jimmy Johnstone may not be in the right frame of mind to make a comeback’.

We would soon know!

The Day of the Match 19th October 1968

We reported as usual for around 1.30pm, by which time the Reserve squad had already left for Muirton Park in Perth for their match. There was a good crowd gathering at Celtic Park for this match against the Saints, not only because they always tried to play some good football but also because the League Championship flag, which we won for season 1967-68, was going to be unfurled before the match.

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Clark, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Connelly, Chalmers, Lennox, Hughes.
Sub: McBride

St Johnstone

Robertson
Miller, Coburn
Gordon, Rooney, Rennie
Aird, Ryden, MacDonald, Whitelaw, Aitken.
Sub: Argue

The Play

It was a difficult day for our physio Bob Rooney, whose son Benny was at centre-half for the visitors; and on the right wing for them was Kenny Aird, who had been released by Celtic only a few months before I joined them in 1965. Players that have gone through that disappointment tend to try very hard against the club that released them and Kenny would be no different that afternoon.

Before the match started, Mrs Kelly, the wife of Celtic Chairman Bob Kelly, unfurled the League flag and the crowd gave pelters to a rendition of Cliff Richard’s ‘Congratulations’.

From the start, it was a case of Celtic with most of the pressure but the Saints putting in some useful breakaways. We made some chances which we did not take and the crowd had to wait till nearly halfway through the first period before a goal arrived –

22 minutes
I received a pass from Jinky, moved forward and then hammered the ball low and hard right across goal, where Bobby Lennox prodded it home. 1-0 Celtic

Shortly before the interval, we did get the ball in the net again through Yogi but this one was dis-allowed.

The Boss was happy enough at half-time and he would also have been pleased with the way we raised our game again after the break, getting a second fairly quickly –

50 minutes
I came forward and swung a cross into the middle, where Cesar rose above everyone else to nod the ball home.  2-0 Celtic

From then on, the play was much as the first half, Celtic in control, Saints making the occasional break, in one of which they scored through left-back Coburn. But at the whistle, we still had the

Final Score  Celtic  2  St Johnstone  1

Other Results

Aberdeen 0 1 Clyde
Arbroath 1 2 Dundee
Dundee United 2 1 Airdrie
Falkirk 1 1 Hearts
Hibs 1 0 Kilmarnock
Raith Rovers 3 0 Partick Thistle
Rangers 3 0 Dunfermline
St. Mirren 2 1 Morton

Table

Celtic 7 5 1 1 13 7 1.86 11
St. Mirren 7 3 4 0 9 5 1.80 10
Rangers 7 4 2 1 15 9 1.67 10
Dundee United 7 5 0 2 14 10 1.40 10

Reserves

At Muirton Park, the Celtic Reserves won 1-0, the team being Fallon, McGrain, Gorman, Gallagher, O’Neill, Auld, Davidson, McKellar, Macari, McMahon and Clarke.

That evening, in one of the Glasgow papers, I got the headlines all to myself –

Craig  Sets Them Up For The Celts