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21st September 1968: Dunfermline v Celtic – League

19th September 1968

It would be fair to say that the atmosphere in the camp after the defeat to St Etienne was poor. In fact, it was very reminiscent of the mood after the disasters in South America the previous year. The management side was saying little, either to us or the press; the reporters with our party, naturally keen to get some quotes to pad out their columns, found it difficult to find a willing subject; and the players themselves just wanted to get back to home comforts.

However, there was another match coming up only two days later and it was against the Pars, who, while we were losing 0-2 to the French champions, had beaten APOEL Nicosia 10-0! That would almost certainly put their players in a really good mood to meet Celtic on the Saturday.

After a quiet few hours on the plane, we arrived back in Glasgow, got bussed back to Celtic Park and just as it arrived outside the ground, the Boss stood up and reminded us that we had another difficult match coming up two days later so “let’s keep out minds focussed”. And with those words ringing in our ears, we made our way to our respective homes.

In one of the evening papers that night, a reporter had managed to get a story. Under the heading –

Johnstone Blow to Celtic

‘Celtic lost more than 2 goals and their European Cup pride here last night – they have almost certainly lost the services of Jimmy Johnstone for Saturday’s important League Championship match against Dunfermline at East End Park.

Johnstone was in such pain last night from an injury to his thigh that he had to be put to bed after the match and missed the banquet given by the French champions’.

The report went on to say

 ‘questions were asked of Mr Stein as to why he had not put on any substitutes? He replied –“It is easy for a sub to integrate in a team which is doing well but it is most difficult when things are going against you”.

The Boss was also apparently in bullish mood on his return to Glasgow, dismissing the gloom-mongers with a “we’re still in Europe”.

And one of the evening papers seemed to agree with him –

Celts Can Still Pull It Off

 

20th September 1968

Back in for a light session and news about the team. Out went Willie O’Neill, George Connelly and John Clark. Recovered from injury were Bobby Murdoch and Tam Gemmell; with Stevie Chalmers making a comeback at centre-forward.

The press was still going on about how poor we had been against St Etienne, although I noticed that no player had given any quotes, leaving all that to the Boss. And as an ex-Pars manager, he was probably under even more pressure than normal to say something newsworthy. However, he seemed to have been very sensible about the whole situation and merely talked about the players who would be coming back from injury. That left the press to build up the match as best they could –

Celtic In A Hot Spot

Vital Flag Game Against 10-Man Fifers

 

Day of the Match  21st September 1968

It was a fine afternoon when we arrived at East End Park, one of the grounds that the boys always liked to play at. No matter that the crowd would be around the mid-20,000 or so, they were tight up against the pitch and it always made for a great atmosphere. However, while we would be bringing back some injured players, the Pars had been hit by an injury problem of their own. Wing-half John McGarty had been injured in a car crash on the Friday and would have to miss the match.

 

The Teams

Dunfermline

Martin
W Callaghan, Lunn
Fraser, Barry, Renton
Robertson, Paton, Edwards, Gardner, Lister.
Sub: Mitchell

Celtic

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

 

The Play

The crowd was later given as around 23,000 and they made some noise as the match got underway. As you might imagine, a club that has won 10-1 in Europe only three days previously is on a high and the Pars started well. We, by contrast, were a bit sluggish, although there were some chances at both ends of the pitch.

What I recall with some clarity, though, is that the longer the match went on, the tougher it became. Tackles became more doubtful and eventually referee Mr Webster took action and booked a couple of players. On the half-hour mark, some bottles came flying out of the enclosure in front of the main stand and the police were in there quickly, eventually marching out one of the offenders. Did that distract us? Because the opening goal came shortly afterwards –

33 minutes
the Pars won a corner. It was taken by Edwards and he swung the ball over to the penalty spot. Paton got his head to it and nodded it on.. and Fraser then nodded it home.
1-0 Dunfermline.

And that was still the score at the interval. The Boss was fairly calm. Rightly so. He could have no complaints about the amount of effort we were putting in but that special – I suppose you could call it ‘flair’ that we could sometimes generate – it was definitely missing. Still, when that happens, you have to bring something else to the contest and I think we did, everyone putting in a real shift but the Pars sometimes had eight men in the penalty area and that blocked our efforts. Halfway through the half, though, we got the equaliser –

67 minutes
Jinky latched on to a through ball from Wispy, pulled out to his left and chipped it past Ex-Celt Bent Martin into an empty net.  1-1

From there to the end, we tended to dominate but their defence held out and they did make the occasional breakaway. However, at the final whistle, it was still

Dunfermline  1  Celtic  1

The Reserves

On the same afternoon, Celtic Reserves were at home to Dunfermline Reserves and won 3-0, the goals coming from Jimmy Quinn, Bertie Auld and Joe McBride.

Other Results

Aberdeen 0 0 Dundee United
Airdrie 2 1 Hearts
Clyde 3 2 Raith Rovers
Dundee 2 3 St. Johnstone
Hibs 3 2 Falkirk
Morton 5 1 Arbroath
Rangers 3 3 Kilmarnock
St. Mirren 1 0 Partick Thistle

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
1 Dundee United 3 3 0 0 8 2 4.00 6
2 Rangers 3 2 1 0 9 5 1.80 5
3 Celtic 3 1 1 1 6 5 1.20 3