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30th April 1966:  Morton v Celtic League – Part Two

The Build-Up

Greenock_Morton_FCAs there was a reserve match on the Friday night against Rangers (see Preview), training on the Thursday evening was pretty light, although all the guys wanted to know the inside story of the defeat and I had to talk for most of the night. It was hard work! I was only getting over the loss myself, having gone through a similar confession with Mum and Dad, my Uncles, my colleagues and even my patients, all desperate to know why Celtic had not won when they had so much of the play.

Sean, Bob and Neilly were very complimentary of my performance in the replay and I was grateful for that, as I was to discover during my later career that it does not happen very often. Praise is not something that is handed out much in football. It seems to be regarded as something that might harm a player’s attitude; surely a boost to one’s confidence should be considered very useful.

As I was not at training or either Thursday or Friday with the full-timers, I had to rely on a second-hand report of the Boss’s attitude. Apparently, he did not say very much at all and the guys just got on with their training, under the supervision of Neilly and Sean.

Quite unusually, considering the importance of the match against Morton, we were all told to report to Celtic Park at 12.30pm, meaning that we would not be stop anywhere for the pre-match lunch. We would have to provide it for ourselves before we got to the ground.

This we all did and there was no great problem. When I got there, I found everyone in the best of spirits and it was as if the defeat in the replay of the Cup Final had been forgotten. In the papers that morning, the headlines told the differing stories coming out of the camps of the two sides vying for the title ;-

 Its Same Rangers              

 

Celtic Battle to Have Stars Fit

 

I spoke to Yogi and Joe at the park and they were both gutted to miss out against Morton. But, to be honest, I was equally concerned about my own position and kept below the water-line, as old sailors used to say, just hoping that I would get another chance.

 

Cappielow

cappielowCappielow was a very compact little ground, tightly sandwiched between the railway line and main road leading from Glasgow to Gourock. The Main Stand faced north and had been built in 1931, with the seats of a most unusual colour. Morton’s playing colours have always been blue-and-white yet the seats are claret and light blue. The pitch itself was about the same size as most other clubs at that time but with the surrounding stands and terraces only a few feet from the touchlines, the whole impression was one of compactness. And the pitch itself, by that time of the season, was like many others, grass down the wings and pretty bare down the middle. Not the most promising to play on but as my old schoolteacher used to say, it’s the same for both sides!

 

The Teams

Once we had had a look at the pitch, the Boss told us to gather in the dressing-room and announced the team. Much to my delight, my name was right there in the number two position ;-

Celtic – Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Gallagher, Chalmers, Lennox , Auld.

Morton – Sorensen, Biyd, Loughlan, Gray, Madsen, Kennedy, Arentoft, Strachan, McGraw, Neilson, Watson.

One familiar name in the Morton side was Jim Kennedy, a Celtic stalwart for many years, so the banter in the tunnel going out was good and the weather was fine, bringing out a crowd of around 18,000.

 

The Play

We took control of the game right from the start, the Morton players, no doubt under pressure because of the relegation issue, looking extremely nervous. Unfortunately, although we were giving the Morton defence a pounding, our recent problem was surfacing ; we just could not get a shot on target.

Then we all got a shock in the 31st minute when Morton were awarded a penalty! Alan McGraw was up-ended – in the box in the view of the home fans, outside the box in the eyes of Celtic fans – by no less than wee Jimmy! I don’t know what was the bigger shock, the penalty itself, or the name of the culprit with the rough challenge? Anyway, a penalty it was and Danish striker Neilson came forward to take it. To the delight of the Celtic support – and us – he sent the ball high over the bar.

 

Just before the interval, Jimmy made his mark at the other end, pouncing on a loose ball and sweeping a shot past Sorensen in the Morton goal.

 

At the interval, the Boss was quite calm and controlled, reasonably pleased with the way things are going and suggesting one or two little changes for the second half.

 

Frankly, we dictated the tempo during the second half too but once again, although there were chances, none were taken. One minute from the end, though, a Wee Jimmy cross was met with his head by Bobby L for the second goal, which made the score-line seem much more respectable.

 

Outcome

Unfortunately, the 2-0 score sent Morton down to the Second Division.

At East End Park, Dunfermline were beaten 1-2 by Rangers, which left the league table looking as follows ;-

P W D L F A Pts
Celtic 32 25 3 4 103 29 53
Rangers 32 24 5 4 87 29 53

 

Reserve Match   

On the same day, Celtic Reserves beat Morton Reserves 2-0 in a reserve league match at Celtic Park. The team was Fallon, Halpin, McCarron, Cattenach, Cushley, Brogan, Connelly, Sweeney, J Quinn, O’Neill, Taylor. The goals came from George Connelly and a Jim Brogan penalty.

 

Leaving the Club

Players had to receive new signing-on terms by 30th April in those days and most of us got the good news that day. Three guys, however – Henry Quinn, Gerry Sweeney and John Divers – were given free transfers.


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

 

Sponsored by the Jim Craig CSC

 

A Game from the Past………After leaving the RAF in August 1951, having completed his National Service, centre-forward John Neil McDonald joined Petershill Juniors and started banging in the goals. This alerted the Celtic scouts to his capabilities and he signed for the club on 2nd December 1951.

And a Moment to Remember……..John made his first-team debut against St Mirren at Love Street in a League Cup tie on 9th August 1952, when he scored the only goal of the game. Unfortunately, John went on to play only one more game for the club before going on to have loan spells with  Kilmarnock and Leith Athletic and then joining St Mirren in December 1953.


The Importance of Being Goldie

Goldie, London Zoo’s escaping eagle, helped to boost last year’s zoo attendances to the highest figure for 11 years, it was stated yesterday at the Zoological Society of London’s annual meeting.

Beep Beep not Burp Burp

The phone went ‘beep, beep’ instead of ‘burp, burp’ in French ears yesterday and throughout the land there was much confusion and slamming down of receivers. The trouble was that the ‘beep beep’ – the new signal meaning the phone is engaged at the other end – is at the same pitch as the shorter, quicker burps meaning that the line is busy.

Drink, Drink, Drink

300 Norwegians have drunk the pub dry at Britain’s Trade Fair in Oslo and organisers have urgently cabled for an extra 48,000 bottles of beer to be sent from Britain by air.

Though the cost is 5s a bottle, about 35% more than Norwegian beer, the locals gladly pay the extra for the pleasure of drinking in what they call a ‘real pub’.