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26th February 1966: Stirling Albion v Celtic – Part Two

Morning of the Match

Much to my surprise, my Mum had been very concerned as regards my current injury. Her normal response was “well, you shouldn’t be playing that daft game, anyway” but this time, she was much more sympathetic. Deep down, I think she was enjoying the fact that the people she met while doing her shopping were now asking her questions about me, the club, the players and so on and she had become a wee bit of celebrity.

At tea-time, for instance, she had been asking me questions about the Boss (whom she had never met), Sean Fallon (whom she thought was lovely), all the backroom staff (she rhymed off the names of Bob Rooney, Neilly Mochan, Jimmy Steele and Doc Fitzsimmons as though she knew them well) and even mentioned the names of a couple of players she had obviously picked up from the evening paper. What the hell was going on?

 

Anyway, as I came down for breakfast on the Saturday, Mum was quite sympathetic. In fact, I did not feel too bad, although there was still a bit of pain when I tried to turn . However, perhaps with a strapping on?

 

Pre-Match

I was the first player at the ground that morning and got myself all kitted out to do a fitness test. This consisted of some longer runs, then some sprints and although it was un-comfortable, I could not say it was painful. When the Boss asked how it was, I was keen to replay in the affirmative.

The Neilly Mochan took a hand. Taking a handful of bibs, he took me down to the grassy area behind one of the goals before dropping the bibs, one by one, all over the grass. He then explained to me that he wanted me to sprint to the bib he pointed to as quickly as possible, then to another, then to a third and so on, so I would have to both twist and turn all the time.

I had come through the longer runs quite comfortably…but I failed Neilly’s test quite comprehensively! And the Boss was watching. Afterwards, he came over to see me. “You’re out, Jim!” he declared, “now just get yourself home and keep the weight off that ankle for the rest of the weekend!”

And that was me out! At that moment, I suddenly realised what a condemned man must feel like when the judge pronounces sentence!”

 

Position of Stirling

At that time of the league campaign, Stirling were sitting fourth from bottom. Everyone connected with the club was well aware that a tough battle was on the cards to avoid the dreaded drop into Division Two, something the Binos had suffered from in season 1961/62, only coming up again the previous campaign of 1964/65.

One thing that Stirling Albion did have in their favour was their ground, or more particularly, their pitch, which none of the visiting players found easy to play on. Annfield had only been built after the Second World War and the dressing-rooms were in a building just behind one of the goals. The pitch, while having a reasonable surface, did have a decided slope and this was used by the home side as a tactic, Stirling preferring – if they won the toss – to kick up-field in the first half and then downhill in the second. All the visiting clubs knew of this ploy, so it they won the toss, then they decided to do the same. But no one seemed to take advantage of the slope as effectively as the Striling players!

 

The Play…First Half

I was not there, so I can only go by the reports in the press.

 

The team which took the field at Annfield was Simpson, Young, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, McBride, Chalmers, Auld and Hughes. And, unfortunately, for all those guys involved, this match turned out to be one of the big shocks of the season and was watched by an impressive crowd of 17,000, which took some time to pack in, causing the start of the match to be delayed by 10 minutes.

 

Much to everyone’s surprise, Stirling came out positively and right from the start, competed with Celtic in every aspect of the game. There were chances at both ends and as the pitch began to cut up, it appeared that silky football was out and the hard, combative stuff was in. That provided just the perfect conditions for a team near the bottom to match a side at the top.

 

Stirling took the lead near the end of the first half;-

38 minutes
cross from outside-right Bowie caught the Celtic defence leaving the ball to each other and inside-right Grant reacted quickest to knock the ball home. 1-0 Stirling.

Only two minutes later, Bertie Auld had a great chance to equalize but sent his close-range shot just past the post.

 

The Play….Second Half

In the second half, with Celtic now playing up the Annfield slope, the play became more physical, another great leveller in any contest between sides at opposite ends of the table. But from the reports, although there were further chances at both ends, the respective goalkeepers – Simpson and Taylor – were up to the task, with each making several good saves. And at the whistle, that invaluable goal by Grant in 38 minutes was the one that made all the difference.

Stirling Albion 1 Celtic 0

 

The Aftermath

There could be little doubt that the result was a shock on a cataclysmic scale and the press gave it the full treatment, first of all in the headlines…….

 

Sterling Show, Albion    

Celts Slip Up    

Minnows on Top

 

and then in the reports, which almost accused the players of everything from ‘thinking it would be too easy’ to ‘not preparing properly’ ‘. They seemed to take not the slightest heed of the manager’s comments, in which he merely said that his team had ‘disappointed every Celtic fan with its showing’ but, at the same time, he was keen to congratulate Stirling for ‘rising to the challenge’.

However, no matter what or who was to blame, it was a result that did little for Celtic’s chances in the league championship race, especially as Rangers beat Hamilton 4-0 at Ibrox on the same afternoon.


 

 

A Game from the Past….and a Moment to Remember

 

Sponsored by the Jim Craig CSC

 

A Game from the Past…….Frank Collins was a goalkeeper who caught the attention of the Celtic scouts when playing for Ireland’s Juniors against Scotland at Parkhead on 12th March 1921. He signed for the club on 2nd May 1921 and joined the party for a tour of Czechoslovakia, Germany and France, making his first-team debut versus R et C Athletique in Paris on 28th May.

And a Moment to Remember…..While a reserve at Celtic Park, Frank was capped at senior level for Ireland v Scotland – the match played at Parkhead on 4th March 1922 – and he did make two appearances for the first team, against Dumbarton ( 4-0) on 6th September 1921 and versus Queen’s Park (2-1) on 19th November 1921. However, by the end of that season, Frank was back in Dublin with Jacobs FC.


 

Lucky Escape

38 West Fife miners had a remarkable escape from serious injury when part of an underground train of nine cars, taking over 150 men to the pit face at Comrie Colliery, became derailed.

The men in the open cars were thrown around like ninepins, bouncing off the steel walls and wooden benches round the sides.

 

Parking– in the Wrong Place!

Scottish racing driver Jackie Stewart, who is now in Australia, was fined £2 on a parking charge at Glasgow Central Police Court. He pled guilty by letter.

 

Minister Flees!

The reverend John Hencher, a 34-year-old bachelor vicar of Amblecote, Staffs, who is reported in the ‘Worcester Diocesan Messenger’ to have said he wanted a ‘nice, cosy wife’ was so swamped with telephone calls that, before 9am yesterday, he left for an unknown refuge.

 

 

 

 

 

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