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30th April 1968: Dunfermline v Celtic -League

28th April

My parents’ house in Cardonald was only about half-a-mile from our local church, Our Lady of Lourdes, so we normally just walked the short distance. That Sunday morning, though, was a special walk. The church was at the bottom of a drive and the whole way down the avenue, people were coming up and congratulating me and wishing me all the best. I was a bit embarrassed, to say the last as technically, I suppose, I had not done anything. The Dons of Aberdeen had done all the work and God Bless them for their endeavours! However, although I did feel a bit of a fraud, I was very pleased to take the plaudits.

 

29th April

Back in for a light work-out and it was performed in an atmosphere of near delirium. Everyone was as noisy as I had ever seen them – including the Boss – and when he came in to the dressing-room after the session and gave us his usual warning about taking the match seriously and making sure that we did not allow the new Scottish Cup holders to claim victory against us, the warning was taken on board but with a smile on all our faces.

 

One of the evening papers pointed out that a win for us at East End Park might set up two new records. Firstly, victory would give us 63 points, which would be a Scottish First Division record; and secondly, the interest in the match might result in a new record attendance for the Pars’ stadium. The biggest crowd to that point had been for a Dunfermline/Rangers Scottish Cup tie in March 1958, when 24,377 had packed in.

However, all the signs pointed to the Pars/Celtic match exceeding that total.

 

It was also announced in the press that Dunfermline would be going on tour to Canada and the USA during the summer and would meet Manchester City no less than FIVE times!

Manager Jock Stein announced that George Connelly would be 12th man for the match against Dunfermline. The Boss said

“Young Connelly is a Fifer and this is a tribute to his good form in our reserve team this season”.

And Rangers have announced that they will free 9 players tomorrow!


 

Morning and Afternoon of the Match

A lazy start to the day, to be perfectly honest. I did not have to be at Celtic Park until late-afternoon, so I had a late breakfast, then drove my Mum to the shops for some provisions. I normally went in with her to carry any bags but on that day, I could see some folk outside the store so Mum went in herself but managed to sweet-talk one of the young lads in the place to carry her bags back to the car, where I was seated with a newspaper covering up my face. It was ridiculous, I know, but the interest and attention of the fans at that point was becoming worse than after Lisbon.

 

Back to the house, where I went to bed for a few hours, then had my usual scrambled eggs on toast before heading to Celtic Park. The guys were, like myself, all up for this match. We were all aware that a win was crucial to prove beyond all doubt that Celtic were worthy holders of the title. So, while the chat and ambience was excellent, you could almost sense the determination in the air and most of the journey passed uneventfully.

I used the words ‘most of the journey’ deliberately because there was soon a spanner in the works. As we reached the outskirts of Dunfermline, it was obvious that there was going to be a large crowd at this one. The road were chock-a-block and the bus inched its way along the main road. Suddenly, though, we were joined by a couple of police cars who managed to clear a path for us and we got to East End Park with about an hour to spare.

 

Once inside, things were much the same as usual. We went out for a look at the pitch, had a chat with our opposite numbers and then the Boss brought us in and motioned for us to get ready.

While this was going on inside the stadium, we were unaware of the fact that it was estimated that around 50,000 Celtic fans had gone through for the match and about half were struggling to get entry. In the dressing-room, though, no one mentioned the problem with the crowds outside. The final comments from the Boss were about the necessity for a good performance to show that we were title-holders. And then it was handshakes all round and down the tunnel.

 

The Teams

Dunfermline

.Martin
W Callaghan, Lunn
McGarry, Barry, T Callaghan
Lister, Paton, Gardner, Robertson, Edwards.
Sub:  Mitchell

Celtic

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

The Play

The match had started in the best of spirits. The Celtic fans in the stadium were voluminous in their praise for the Pars side as they paraded round the pitch with the Scottish Cup.

Unfortunately, that good will vanished after only four minutes when a barrier collapsed, the players were shepherded off the pitch and both managers appealed to the younger spectators clinging precariously on the top of the enclosure.

Nine minutes later, the match re-started but within minutes a drive by Bobby Lennox hit the side-netting, the crowd swayed alarmingly and the players were off for another nine minutes.

When play did get underway again, it turned out to be a fairly even contest until the interval, with the Pars having opened the scoring through Pat Gardner in the 27th minute.

And that half-time break turned out to be a rather unusual one, as the talk inside the dressing-room – including the so-called booster from the Boss – was more about the obvious over-crowding inside the ground and the state of affairs for the fans rather than what was coming up in the second half on the pitch.

When play did re-start, there could be little doubt that we controlled the play, although we could sense on the pitch that there was some unease on the terracings and we could see that there still some fans on the roof of the enclosure. It was a most unusual atmosphere in which to play a major game but we probably deserved some praise for sticking to our task and the two goals by Lemon, in the 47th and 72nd minutes – taking his total to 20 in the last 12 league matches – gave us a victory we probably deserved.

Celtic Create Record with Lennox Goals

 

The win meant we did reach our tally of 63 points for the season, which was a new record ; as regards the attendance, no official figure was ever provided for the size of the crowd, which was a shame, as from all accounts, the previous record for East End Park would almost certainly have been exceeded.

 

Final League Table

P W D L F A Pts
Celtic     34 30 3 1 106 24 63
Rangers      34 28 5 1 93 34 61

 

Just for comparison purposes, the final table for the 1966-67 season was;

P W D L F A Pts
Celtic     34 26 6 2 111 33 58
Rangers      34 24 7 3 92 31 55

 

Aftermath

The headlines told the story of the off-pitch troubles –

49 Injured In Break-in at Celtic Game

Fans Climb Enclosure to Escape Crush

 

Reserve Match

On the same evening at a much quieter Celtic Park, the Celtic Reserves drew 1-1 with Dunfermline Reserves. The Celtic eleven was Wraith, Cattenach, Gorman, McGrain, Young, O’Neill, Clarke, Chalmers, McBride, Hay and Macari, with Lou Macari getting Celtic’s goal.


Europe’s first heart transplant patient, M Clovis Roblain, a 66-year-old lorry driver, was still unconsciousness, 40 hours after his operation at a Paris hospital.

Hospital sources said that the new heart was working well but the patient’s brain was partially blocked.

Dr Philip Bialberg, until Sunday the world’s only surviving heart transplant patient, has sent M Roblain best wishes form South Africa for a speedy recovery.