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3rd May 1967: Celtic v Dundee United League

Following the Scottish Cup Final

We did not come into training on the Sunday morning, as the Boss had just been winding us up about the Dundee United match. We only found this out on the trip back to Celtic Park from Hampden after the final, which was something special. The streets from the National Stadium to Celtic Park were lined with fans and they gave us a wonderful reception. Then when we arrived at Parkhead, the noise level increased and we almost took a bow on the front step as we made our way inside.

Them we got a bit of a surprise…or at least it was to a few players. I, for one, had been surprised to be informed by the Boss that the Dundee United match was on the Monday; I was sure that I had read in the papers that it was scheduled for the Wednesday, having been postponed on the 29th due to our participation in the Scottish Cup final. Anyway, once inside, the Boss told us that the United match would take place on Wednesday and we would not have to come in on the Sunday – apart from anyone who was feeling that some treatment might help with an injury – and that he would see us all on Monday morning. “And be as fresh as a daisy” were his parting words.

That gave us all ‘carte blanche’ to enjoy ourselves on the Saturday evening…and we did, although, at this long distance, I cannot recall exactly what I did, where it was etc.

The headlines in the papers told the story of the final, even though they were slightly conflicting in their thoughts;–

 Wallace is the  Cup King 

Johnstone was the Ace in the Pack

 

On a personal basis, I thought that while in that season we had put in some special performances, that match against Aberdeen would rank up there with the best of them. It seemed to me that every single player was at the top of his game that day and although the final score was ‘only’ 2-0, much of that was due to the fact that the Dons had also risen to the occasion but on the day, we were too good for them.

 

And while we were winning at Hampden, there had been further good news for us  we returned to the dressing room, when we were told that Rangers had drawn with Dundee at Dens Park. That left the top of the league table looking like this –

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Celtic 31 25 5 1 105 28 3.75 55
Rangers 32 24 5 3 89 28 3.18 53

 

With only three games left for us, it was a situation that many teams would have loved to have been in.

 

Monday 1st May

Training as usual and everyone in the best of humour, although the Boss stressed on more than one occasion that the Tangerines would not be easy opponents on Wednesday. At that point, they were lying in 9th place in the table, with a record of  P32 W13 D9 L10 F65 A57 Pts35. On paper, that looked a far from impressive record but teams like that could rise to a challenge and what bigger one could you be faced that meeting the team which was leading the table and had just won the Scottish Cup. Does the story of David versus Goliath spring to mind? And that one defeat listed in our playing record shown above had been inflicted by those same players of United back on 31st December! It was not going to be an easy encounter.

 

One of the evening papers had a strange headline and story;

Celts’ Heroes Won’t Give Lap of Honour

The headline didn’t really make sense and story underneath was to the effect that the Scottish Cup-winning side WON’T come out for a lap of honour before the Dundee United match the following day. Or indeed after the match, which, if we won it, would almost effectively wrap up the league title.

I, for one, was amazed that a view like that was even considered. The Boss would never have thought of doing that; it would just be giving more ammunition to David in his build-up for the clash against the giant. And even if we won the match, there would certainly be no premature celebrations. They could wait until the title was definitely wrapped up.

 

Tuesday 2nd May

That headline was the talk of the dressing-room before training that morning, with the paper, and the reporter, receiving a fair bit of disparagement. Apart from that, everything was going well, except that a comment made to me at training from one of the forwards stayed in my mind all day.

This colleague – who shall remain nameless – casually mentioned to me that;

 “it is all right for you defenders. Barring injury, you know what the defensive line will be in Lisbon. We have seven forwards for five places and two of us are going to miss out. Imagine missing out on the biggest day in Celtic’s history”.

To be honest, I had never thought of that. I had been so desperate to get into the side in the first place and then maintain my position that I had been a little selfish, I suppose, in not considering what other players were going through. I commiserated with him but could not help any further. At that moment, my own thoughts had to be focused on Wednesday and Dundee United.

For the first time, I would be up against Orjan Persson, whose play I had admired in other matches. Now, the chips were on the table and I had to prepare myself for a tough night. I knew he was pretty quick but until you play against someone, you don’t really know whether he is quicker than you. Well, in 24 hours, we will soon find out.

 

The Day of the Match

The daily papers gave the match the big build-up;

‘Stevie Chalmers may yet play for Celtic tonight in the match that is likely to hoist the League Championship flag to the top of the Parkhead flagpole.

Manager Jock Stein said “Chalmers has not been written off. He will report to the ground an hour before we meet Dundee United and we will see how he feels. He was badly knocked about in Prague and he had another hard game against Aberdeen in the Cup final. He is doubtful but by no means a definite non-starter”.

 

Judging from the Boss’s similar comments to another paper and the resultant headline;

Celtic May Leave it to Chalmers

…..it looked as thought the final decision may be left up to Stevie.

 

And the paper finished the article on a very positive note for all Celtic fans –

‘Tonight’s 90 minutes are likely to be historic ones for Celtic. Unless they lose they are champions again – and over 40,000 fans are likely to be there to cheer the team past the winning post’.

 

Just Prior to the Match

This was obviously a big night for Celtic Football Club – they had decided to take us for a pre-match meal over at the Cathkin Braes. That did not happen for every home game.

And it was also a very special night for the city of Glasgow, as both of their more successful football sides were involved in major games.

While we were having our meal prior to the match against Dundee United, the Rangers squad was probably doing the same at their chosen hotel, just before they travelled to Ibrox to face Slavia Sofia in the second leg of a semi-final of the European Cup-Winners’ Cup. The Light Blues were in good position to reach the final, too, as they had won the first leg 1-0 in Bulgaria.

However, while that fact got a brief mention in our hotel, the main topic of conversation was the match against Dundee United, with the Boss analyzing their strengths – and possible weaknesses – while explaining what he thought we should do on the night.

 

Unlike most players, as I discovered throughout my career, I found those moments made me very nervous. Every time the Boss put forward a ploy that he thought would be suitable, I always thought the opposite. In my opinion, either the plan would not work or the player involved would not be capable of doing what he was supposed to be doing. As I sat there, I could feel the butterflies gnawing away at my insides and I just wished the talk would end.

Curiously, though – and this continues to happen to this day, whenever I am involved in a major event – the closer we got to the match, while the rest of the guys started to show their own nervousness, I got calmer and calmer, so much so that for the last half-hour before the game, I was almost completely nerve-free.

 

The Teams

The Boss had a couple of changes from the Scottish Cup final side; Yogi came in for Bertie and Charlie for Stevie, who took a place on the bench.

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Gallagher,Wallace, Lennox, Hughes.

Sub: Chalmers

Dundee Utd

Davie
Millar, Briggs
Neilson, Smith, Moore
Berg, Graham, Hainey, Gillespie, Persson
Sub: Dossing

 

The Play

A crowd of 44,000 was in the ground (there was an estimated 65,000 at Ibrox) and I got my evening off to a good start. In one of their first attacking moves, the ball was knocked down their left wing and Orjan Persson and I went for it. Much to my delight, I discovered that I was quicker than he was, so I could then plan the way I would play against him. That is a great time for a fullback, to know you are faster than the guy you are up against.

That might have got me off to a good start but the team as a whole was not firing on all cylinders. Contrary to what a few fans suggested, it was nothing to do with extended celebrations at the week-end and all that nonsense. We were becoming some of the best-known faces in Scotland; what chance did we have of keeping anything secret. No, it was probably more likely to be a collective poor reading in our Biorhythmic Cycles and if so, it had come at a very bad time. However, it also got it out of the road for some weeks, too.

According to the papers, the goals came like this;

25 minutes: Lemon got pulled down in the box ; Tam made no mistake from the penalty spot. 1-0 Celtic

And that was the score at the interval, when the home crowd was given a boost by some ball boys parading the Scottish Cup round the track. In the dressing-room, the Boss was reminding us that he had been less than impressed by our showing, bluntly telling us that the second half would have to be better.

 

54 minutes: Somebody was not marking centre-forward Hainey, who picked the ballup in the clear, rounded Ronnie and knocked it home. 1-1

61 minutes: United’s goalkeeper and centre-half had a misunderstanding, Wispy nipped and did the needful.  2-1 Celtic

68 minutes: Gillespie was the only one who seemed to rise to a corner kick from the right and he nodded the ball home. 2-2

71 minutes:  a fine pass from Hainey to Graham and he slipped it home. 3-2 Dundee United.

 

Dennis Gillespie – Equalised for United

We were shell-shocked…as was the crowd. And they soon showed their displeasure, too, raining choruses of booing down on us from the stands and terracings. Startled by these unusual sounds, we tried to raise our game but try as might, things were just not working out and when the referee – Mr Small from Kelso – blew the whistle for time-up, United were still – and rightly – holding on to that one goal lead. Being booed off the field was not something we had experienced that season, but that night, we fully deserved that treatment!

 

We were expecting a similar reception in the dressing-room too but the Boss was more phlegmatic. He made it quite clear that he was disappointed by the performance but was also realistic, being critical of our showing in terms of quality football but said he was also aware that we had all put a shift in, the defeat certainly not coming form a lack of effort.

“We’ll just have to make sure on Saturday……I’ll see you all tomorrow morning” were his parting words and with that, he left the dressing-room to face the press, many of whom, like most Celtic fans, thought they would have seen the club pick up another championship that night.

 

I have never seen the dressing-room as quiet as it was that night. There was almost a complete silence as we got into the bath for a wash and then got dressed. Even when we were leaving the ground, we spoke to few, not many spoke to us and we walked to our cars through a very subdued group of fans, all of them as disappointed as us but too tactful to say anything.

 

News from Ibrox

Glasgow had another team in big European occasion. Over in Govan, Rangers beat Slavia Sofia 1-0 to win the tie 2-0 on aggregate and qualify for the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup, where they would meet Bayern Munich.

 

Our Opponents

Just before we left the ground, news came through that our opponents in the European Cup final in Lisbon would be Internazionale, of Milan, who beat C.S.K.A. of Sofia 1-0 in the play-of match in Bologna.


Pulling Out

The United States and Britain announced plans to withdraw 40,000 troops and more than 100 supersonic combat aircraft from West Germany, beginning next January 1.

 

Pipe Expert

Bearded Girglo Gandellini (25) won Italy’s first pipe-smoking championship trophy in Milan by keeping his pipe alight for 23 minutes 58 seconds, on one load of three grammes ( about one-tenth of an ounce) of tobacco.

 

Dangerous Cargo

As men stood by with guns, experts from Edinburgh zoo manoeuvred for 90 minutes aboard a ship at Leith docks today to get a three-year-old Bengal tigress into a cage.

They finally shot an anaesthetic dart into the animal and pulled the tigress on a rope into the cage.

 

Ambush

A Royal Mint van loaded with gold bullion was hi-jacked by bandits in London today.

The raid was planned with the precision of the Great Train Robbery……and first reports said that the gang escaped with 150 gold bars worth £750,000.

The raiders, armed with coshes and ammonia, overpowered the three- man crew and tied them up.

After the ambush, in Bowling Green Lane, off Faringdon Road, Islington, the bandits drove the van to Twisden Road, a quiet narrow street off the busy Highgate Road in Kentish Town….where it was found later abandoned with the three crew members tied up in the back.

 

Marriage on the Cards

Elvis Presley, ‘king’ of the rock ‘n’ roll singers, is about to lose his title as the most eligible bachelor in show business.

Elvis and 21-year-old Phyllis Anne Beaulieu, the girl he dated regularly during his Army days in Germany, took out a marriage licence in Las Vegas early today.

Elvis, who gave his age as 31, and Phyllis arrived at the marriage licence bureau in the Clark County courthouse at 3.30am to sign the papers and pay the $15 (£5 6s) fee.

 

Cough Up!

Five teenage Celtic supporters were fined a total of £80 at Glasgow Central Police Court today …..after the stipendiary magistrate had talked of ‘pygmy-minded people’ whose physical development outstripped their mental development.

The five admitted a breach of the peace in Renfield Street, near St Vincent Street, on Saturday night by shouting and swearing.

Stipendiary magistrate T. McLaughlin said a lot of people were delighted with Celtic’s success but deplored the behaviour of some of their supporters.