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25th  September 1968:  Celtic v Hamilton – League Cup Quarter-Final

22nd September 1968

You could always get an indication of how the team was being regarded by the fans at Mass and on that particular Sunday, it was like running a gauntlet. I was asked frequently – both before and after the service – “what’s going on?”.  In fact, I was almost getting to the point where I thought I might give a volley back to the next one who asked me.

There are few problems for a group of players who win a European Cup; one of the side-effects, though, is that fans expect you to win every game. And even worse, they do not expect you just to scrape through, they want a comfortable win each time!  Certainly, the showings against St Etienne and Dunfermline were not up to our usual standard. But these teams were not going to lie back and let us roll over them. They were out to show their own fans that they could match these European Champions in every way and that is what made them so difficult opponents for us.

True, it was a bad night in France on the Wednesday but East End Park is always a difficult venue for both halves of the Old Firm and the Pars on the previous Saturday were well up for the clash. Having gone one-down in the first half, I thought we did pretty well to fight back and get the draw, especially when they packed their defence with so many players. It was like playing in Italy!

23rd September

Training on the Monday was fine. The Boss made no comment about the match against the Pars and put us through a good session at Barrowfield. There were some points of interest in one of the evening papers, though, firstly what amounted to a piece of advice for all of us at Parkhead –

Celtic Need a Cool Head

‘The fact to be faced today is that the players have not yet recaptured the form which swept them through to the League Cup quarter-finals with maximum points and both in France on Wednesday and in Fife on Saturday they gave me the impression that they are trying just too hard.

What is needed badly at the moment is cool heads in the ranks to bring down the temperature. Jimmy Johnstone has been booked twice on successive Saturdays – although he can have the excuse that provocation was great. Some of the other players have been angry men on the field and angry men seldom produce the brilliant football that won the European Cup in 1967’.

And the second point of interest concerned our old rivals –

‘Davie White will take his Ibrox men to Old Trafford on 16th October for the Manchester United v Estudiantes World Club Championship Second-Leg’.

24th September

In for a fairly light session and although the Boss made no mention to us of the definitive team for the match against Hamilton, he did drop a couple of broad hints that a few youngsters would be given a chance. And he obviously said more to the press, one of which had this piece that night –

Bertie Auld Plays at Hamilton

‘Auld has missed the last 25 competitive matches since having a knee cartilage operation after the game against Motherwell at Fir Park on 10th February of this year.

Now, he hopes, and expects to come through tomorrow’s League Cup Quarter-final unscathed and practically ensure an appearance against St Etienne at Parkhead in next week’s European Cup tie.

Jock Stein said that he would not announce the rest of the side until nearer the kick-off, although definitely out of the team are Jimmy Johnstone and Bobby Murdoch, who both received leg and ankle injuries at East End Park’.

25th September  The Day of the Match

There was some news about the team in the morning dailies –

Stein Defends His Choice

‘Only Jim Craig of the men who drew 1-1 with Dunfermline on Saturday will line up at Douglas Park in the League Cup Quarter-final. There will be no Ronnie Simpson, Tommy Gemmell, or Billy McNeill – and there will be a completely new forward line’.

In most of the press, there was the odd comment about the fact that Celtic would be fielding a weakened team, a situation against the rules of the Scottish Football League, in charge of the League Cup. However, that prompted a comment by Fred Donovan, secretary of the SFL –“I think there is little likelihood of my committee invoking Rule 50, which says that all clubs must play full-strength teams in all games unless some satisfactory explanation is offered.

Nowadays, when it is the fashion to have a large pool of players, all of them considered first-team men, it is difficult to say just when such a team is under-strength’.

We reported late afternoon for a light session before the match and were immediately hit by a problem when Bertie Auld twisted his knee while turning and was forced to pull out of the match. It was a wet afternoon and perhaps the track was not in the best of condition but it was completely unexpected and a big blow to’ Ten-Therty’s’ hopes of a comeback. After that set-back, it was a fairly subdued set of players who boarded the coach for the fairly short trip to Hamilton.

 

The Teams

Hamilton

Lamont
Halpin, Hunter
Fraser, Small, Gaughan
Goodwin, Wardrope, Thomson, Lawlor, Clifford.
Sub: Gilchrist

Celtic

Wraith
Craig, Gorman
Connelly, Hay, Clark
McMahon, McBride, Quinn, Gallagher, Macari.
Sub: Dalglish

The Play

It was debut night for Bobby Wraith and John Gorman on a wet night at Douglas Park and although the local side put a shift in, they found it difficult to cope with our drives forward and for most of the game were pushed back in their own half, making only the occasional break. Joe McBride opened the scoring from a Pat McMahon pass in the 5th minute but Hamilton pulled one back through Lawlor in 23 minutes. And just before the interval, a Charlie Gallagher free-kick was knocked in by Pat McMahon.

That 2-1 lead was soon added to, with goals by Pat again in 43 minutes; a 30-yard screamer by John Clark in 50 minutes and Joe also getting a double in the 56th minute. Hamilton pulled another back on the 70-minute mark but we also had goals chalked off, for one reason or another, Joe and George Connelly being the victims of the referee’s whistle.

In retrospect, one important moment in that evening was the introduction of our substitute in the 46th minute to replace Charlie Gallagher. It was the first of 320 appearances that Kenny Dalglish would make for Celtic, with a goal tally of 166.

Final Score  Hamilton 2  Celtic  4    Aggregate 2-14

 

Other Results in league Cup

Dundee 6  Stranraer  0   Aggregate 10-0

Hibs 2  East Fife  1       Aggregate 6-2

 

World Club Championship

While it was a good night for Celtic fans at Douglas Park, it was not such a good evening for fans of Manchester United, as the Red Devils went down 0-1 to Estudiantes in Buenos Aires with Nobby Stiles sent off. The English press the following day was highly critical of the Argentinian side for their conduct and lack of sportsmanship and were fulsome in their praise of the way that the United players coped with the treatment they received. Unfortunately, the year before, that same group of pressmen were even more highly critical of Celtic when they were met by similar treatment, the attitude being that the Scots side should have been able to cope with what was being thrown at them and giving us little sympathy. Now, one year later……?