commentButton2

23rd March 1968: Celtic v Raith Rovers  – League

19th March

As you might imagine, there was a little bit of a mutinous spirit among the players at training on the Tuesday morning after the comments in the evening papers the night before from the Boss and Chairman about our performance in Dublin.

There was a general feeling that the game had been foisted on us at a time when we had played a lot of fixtures in a short space of time and it was not one that we really wanted. We were very aware – in fact, the Boss had first mentioned it before the start of the season – that every team which played us while we held the title of European Champions would try to knock us off our perch. And during the season, we had discovered on more than a few occasions that he had been quite correct in his assessment.

The Shamrock Rovers side that we had met in Dublin on Monday was the same as the others I have mentioned; they played out of their skins that afternoon and made life difficult for us. As a team and in terms of performance, they bore no relation to the side of 1965 mentioned by the Chairman.

However, they were the officials, we were just the players and at training that morning, we just had to put our thoughts to one side and get on with the session.

 

20th March

News came out that Celtic will tour the USA, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda in May. On possible opponent is Inter Milan, who will be touring the USA at the same time.

In Mexico, Celtic will play Atlas, whom they also met on the 1966 tour.

In Middlesborough, the English League beat the Scottish League 2-0, with Gemmell, Johnstone, Murdoch, Lennox and Hughes in the side.

 

21st March

While we were involved in our normal training routines, the draw for the semi-final stages of the two major European competitions was made in Switzerland –

European Cup –

Manchester United v Real Madrid     Benfica v Juventus

 

European Cup-Winners’ Cup –

AC Milan v Bayern Munich              SV Hamburg  v Cardiff City or Moscow Torpedo

 

22nd March

The usual easy workout on the day before a match, merely some sprints and exercises. As the week had gone on, the atmosphere in the camp had improved slightly. The Boss had, quite wisely I think, recognised that we were not all that happy and had taken the opportunity to disappear down to Middlesborough for the Inter-League match, so he was missing for a couple of days, with poor Sean getting the scowls and bad humour.

However, by the Friday, the Boss was back and came into the dressing-room after the session to say that the team against Raith would be the same one as against Falkirk the previous Saturday. He then moved quickly out of the dressing-room. A wise old bird, sometimes, he was!


Morning of the Match

A home game, so no food provided. However, I was in excellent form in my Mum’s kitchen and my scrambled eggs on toast would have been very acceptable in the Rogano, one of the top restaurants in Glasgow at that time.

Then, it was off to Parkhead, an easy journey from my parents’ house along past Ibrox to the centre of town, then a trip along the north bank of the Clyde, eventually cutting down from the Gallowgate to London Road before arriving at the ground.

When we got there, the reserves had also arrived, as they had a match against Raith Rovers to look forward to. And it was interesting that John Clark, who had seemed to have been working away well all week after his injury worries, was included in the Reserve side, which was;

Fallon, Murray, Shevlane, Cattenach, Connelly, John Clark, Taggart, McBride, Quinn, Hay, Jim Clarke.

And, as they all left for Starks Park in Kirkcaldy, we went out to have look at the pitch and it was not a pleasing sight, pools of water everywhere, with mud underneath and the groundsmen forking away to try and get rid of it.

 

The Teams

Celtic

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

Raith Rovers

Reid
Hislop, Gray
Polland, Wilson, Millar
Falconer, Wallace, Judge, Gillespie.
Sub: Sneddon

 

The Play

The weather had cut the attendance to 22,500 and they looked as cold and damp as we felt. But we did not stay that way for long as the men came from the east came right at us and had two quick chances, the first when outside-right Wilson struck a fine shot which Ronnie saved and again when the winger drove a hard cross right across the box and it evaded everyone.

That perked us up a bit and we started to come into the game and were rewarded with a quick goal –

15 minutes
a peach of a pass from Jinky into the path of Wispy and he struck an excellent shot past the Raith keeper.   1-0 Celtic

We might have got the goal but Raith kept up their own pressure and it turned into a real end-to-end contest, with the Raith keeper performing heroics. By the break, though, it was still 1-0 and it was great to get a hot drink down us. The Boss was in one of his phlegmatic moods, saying little. Frankly, he could not have complained about very much. The Raith players had put a real shift in, showing why they had taken 7 points from their last 4 matches and we had worked hard ourselves.

But football can be a funny game and within 10 minutes of the re-start, the score had changed radically, again in our favour –

50 minutes
great run by Jinky, the ball then whipped across goal and there was Yogi.              2-0 Celtic

54 minutes
this time Yogi supplied the cross and Lemon, while lying on the ground after a fall, stuck his foot up and propelled the ball home.    3-0 Celtic

 

Not surprisingly, that took some of the fire out of the game, although, to be fair, the Raith guys never stopped trying. But they were struck with two blows in the space of five minutes which put the match beyond them –

70 minutes
nice inter-play between Jinky and Wispy on the right, the ball eventually came to Wispy just inside the box and he slammed it home.   4-0 Celtic

75 minutes
keeper Reid failed to hold a shot from substitute Stevie Chalmers and Wispy got his hat-trick from the re-bound.

Final Score  Celtic  5  Raith Rovers  0

 

Reserve Match

At Starks Park, the Reserves beat Raith Rovers reserves 4-0, the goals coming from Joe McBride (2), Jimmy Quinn and Davie Hay.

 

Results

Dundee 3 0 Clyde
Dunfermline 4 0 Morton
Hibs 1 3 Rangers
Motherwell 0 0 Aberdeen
Partick Th 2 2 Falkirk
St Johnstone 3 2 Hearts
Stirling Albion 0 4 Airdrie

 

 

Table

P W D L F A Pts
Rangers 27 24 3 0 77 23 51
Celtic 27 23 3 1 83 19 49