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25th May 1967: The Day Our Lives Changed Forever

Frankly, the events of this particular day are so etched in the minds of most Celtic fans that they do not need a detailed description, so I intend to merely comment on some topics that I think were important or unusual.

 

The Morning of the Match

Breakfast for everyone to start with then a few hours later the Catholics in the team and management went to Mass as it was Corpus Christi. We were joined by some fans too and it was a very happy atmosphere; however, the Boss was quick to get us away and back to the Palacio Hotel for some lunch.

 

Early Afternoon

I was lying in my bed trying to get some shut-eye ( Tam Gemmell was snoring his ‘heid aff’ in the adjacent bed at the time) when the door opened and Neilly Mochan walked into the room.

“You’re a bloody nuisance” he says to me.

“Why?”, I asked

“We’ve just signed a contract with Adidas for the match and you are the only one in the team who wears Pumas. Now, where’s your boots?”

“Over there”. I answered, pointing under the window.

“Well, I’ve got to take these downstairs, find some black paint to cover the white flash along the side then find some white paint to put three stripes down the outside of the boots to make them look like any other Adidas boots. You’re a bloody nuisance”

And with that, he went out of the room, leaving me wondering if the Inter Milan players were having the same kind of problems in their hotel?

 

Middle of the Afternoon

We boarded a bus outside the hotel and headed for the National Stadium. However, we seemed to have the only driver in the Lisbon area who did not know where the ground was and it was pointed out by some of the guys that all the other buses and cars were going in the opposite direction, so he turned the bus round to go along with them.

 

Pre-match

Because of our late arrival at the ground, we only had time for a quick look at the pitch before getting ready. But when we did come out, I was astonished at how many green- and-white strips were in the crowd. Don’t forget, in those days, few Glasgow people travelled abroad and even fewer flew, so how they got there was a story in itself but the important thing was that they had made the trip and we were very grateful to them for their support.

 

 

As we came out of the dressing-room, headed across the courtyard and waited at the foot of the steps leading up to the pitch, there came a surreal moment. Just as Jinky was suggesting to the future captain of Italy Giacinto Facchetti that they swap their jerseys after the match, Bertie Auld suddenly broke into the words of the Celtic Song. We all joined in and it did relieve the tension at that crucial moment.

 

The Play

Right from the start, we took the game to Inter but no sooner had the game started – or that’s how it seemed to me – when I was involved in what became known as a ‘penalty incident’.

I had been assured before the game that my immediate opponent – Cappellini – was all left foot so when he ran in on goal from the right wing, I assumed that at some point that he would pull the ball to his left. I decided that I would block any attempt to do so, but when the challenge came, he went down rather like an ageing actor and I believe the referee was completely conned by it.

 

Up in the stand behind the goal, my Dad, who had been reluctant to come as he thought that Inter would be too strong for us, turned to his brother-in-law Philip, my uncle, and declared “I’ve come all this way to see that”.

 

On the pitch, one or two players were uncomplimentary about my tackle while others told me to forget it. At half-time, Jock Stein came over with instructions to put the incident behind me and do something to redeem myself. Fortunately, everything turned out fine. This match has been shown on television and discussed so often that there is no reason for me to go into any details here. Let’s just say that everyone played their part and, from a personal viewpoint, my laying on of the equalising goal probably made up for my indiscretion in the seventh minute.

 

Post Match

It was pandemonium. I arrived back in the dressing-room minus jersey, boots and socks, holding on to shorts and jockstrap to preserve my modesty.

Later, at the so-called banquet, we waited an extraordinary length of time for the Italians to appear, then an official from UEFA put what looked very much like a shoe-box in front of Jack Stein. This was the medals for the winners and the Boss handed them out to us.

It was a rather disappointing end to a wonderful day – and a superb season.