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4th February 1967: Airdrie v Celtic League – Part Two

A Dip into the Past
Next up for Celtic was a trip to Airdrie where, a few years earlier, had occurred one of the more unusual moments in Celtic’s history.

On 1st October 1960, in the early afternoon, the players, management and directors were on the club bus as it made its way to Broomfield Park for the club’s 5th league match of the season. Thus far, things had not gone well.

In the sectional matches of the League Cup, Celtic, up against St Johnstone, Hibs and Partick Thistle, had finished second to the Perth side in the table.

This meant that they failed to qualify for the quarter-final stages of the competition.

In the 4 league games already played, Celtic had drawn 2-2 with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park, lost 1-5 to Rangers at Parkhead, went down 0-2 to Third Lanark at Cathkin and had drawn 0-0 with Aberdeen at Celtic Park. So, after a start like that, it would be fair to surmise that the players and management were under a bit of pressure!

As the bus wended its way through the tiny village of Baillieston on its way to the match, the Chairman, Bob Kelly, suddenly shouted to the manager, Jimmy McGrory;

“I think we just passed Willie Goldie back there”.

The manager told the driver to pull in and sure enough, a couple of minutes later, Willie arrived at the doorway, smiling away, his Celtic scarf wrapped round his neck.

“Are you going to the game, Willie?” Mr McGrory asked and when Goldie nodded his assent, he invited him to take a lift on the bus.

Willie Goldie was a schoolboy internationalist goalkeeper who had joined Celtic in August 1960 as cover for John Fallon when Frank Haffey and Frank Connor were unfit. On that day, there were few spaces in the bus and Jimmy McGrory told him to sit near the front, alongside the Chairman.

The two seemed to get on well, chatting away during the trip and apparently Bob Kelly was very impressed by Willie’s dedication that would travel to see the team play. So much so that when the squad reached Broomfield and had gone though the usual routine of checking the pitch and then returning to the dressing room to get stripped, the Chairman came in, as was his want, and announced that Willie Goldie would be in goal in place of John Fallon.

Unfortunately, this story did not have a happy ending. Celtic lost 0-2, Willie Goldie made a handling error for the second goal and on 26th October of that same season, he was freed.

The Opposition
At that time of the 1966-67 season, Airdrie were positioned in 9th place in the First Division table, having scored 27 goals and lost 20 in their 21 matches. That goals-for tally is by no means special but the goals-against figure is excellent, the second best in the league after Rangers. So, we could not afford to take this contest lightly and the Boss had been very insistent in his pre-match talks that the Diamonds would be a tough test and that we would have to be at our best.

The Ground
In a book called ‘The Football Grounds of Great Britain’ written by Simon Inglis and first published in 1983, the home of Airdrie FC – Broomfield Park – is described as having ‘a scale and charm which modern grounds never quite capture’. I suppose that statement could be true. After all, it was unusual for a football ground to have the pavilion containing the dressing-rooms in one corner and to have the players coming out through a little gate. It was something you might expect at a cricket ground.
Unfortunately, though, in his full page description of the park and the surrounding area, the author does not once mention the pitch and that, for most visiting players at least, was one reason not to like Broomfield.

The pitch, which at that time was a respectable 112 yards by 68 yards, had two definite slopes, firstly from left to right in front of the Main Stand and then another one towards the far right hand corner. In fact, for the poor right back stationed there, he had uphill views not only to the front but also to the side as well. When we came out for the match, the Airdrie players, naturally, took the high ground and we were consigned to the lower. When they won the toss, they also chose to shoot down the hill in the first half so they stayed on the high ground. As I took up my stance down in the valley and glanced up to the Alps, I could just feel the confidence oozing out of me and I was desperate to get the first half out of the way. Then I would be facing downhill and yipeee! what a time I was going to have!

 

Teams

Airdrie
McKenzie, Jonquin, Keenan, Goodwin, Black, Ramsay, Ferguson, McPheat, Fyfe, Murray, Marshall.
Sub: W Reid

Celtic
Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Auld, Hughes.
Sub: Lennox

 

 

 

 

The Play
Not surprisingly, as we were top and they were 9th, the Airdrie players came out to play the match a bit on the rough side and right from the whistle, our forwards in particular took a fair bit of stick. It was described beautifully in one of the papers as ‘ Airdrieonians paying more attention to the man than the ball’.

Unfortunately for the Diamonds, we were more than willing ourselves to use a bit of muscle where necessary and the home side’s tactics did not work very effectively. And their situation got worse when we opened the scoring.

12 Minutes….simple goal for Jinky, who merely tapped in a loose ball after Roddy McKenzie, normally an excellent keeper, fumbled a shot by Wispy.
1-0 Celtic.

Airdrie did put in a decent shift for the rest of the first half but I never felt we were in any real danger and at half-time, the Boss seemed quite pleased with our efforts, although we got the usual warning about not letting things slip. And, just to make him feel better, two minutes after the break, we got another –

47 Minutes…..Stevie beat two defenders before firing in a low shot.
2-0 Celtic.

The Airdrie guys tried to come back but to be honest, they were kept busy repelling our own attacks and Ronnie had a very easy afternoon. We wrapped the game up halfway through the second half;

69 minutes…..Jinky was pulled down in the box and referee Mr Wilson from Glasgow was in no doubt about giving a penalty. Bertie took it, his first attempt was parried out by McKenzie but he made sure with his second shot.

Final score Airdrie 0 Celtic 3


Getting Out
Russian families evacuated from Peking after running a gauntlet of Red Guards arrived back in Moscow, their luggage smeared with slogans saying ‘Hang Brezhnev’ and ‘Hang Kosygin’.
The special airliner carrying 67 people, about 60 of them children, reached Moscow after an overnight halt at Irkutsk in Siberia. It was the second plane load of evacuees from the Soviet Embassy in Peking to reach Russia.

Wind
The notorious crosswind at Edinburgh’s Turnhouse Airport struck again today. A Comet from London Airport was unable to land at 8.20am and had to be directed to Abbotsinch.
More than 60 passengers waiting in the departure lounge at Turnhouse to travel on the Comet on its return flight south at 9am had to travel to Abbotsinch by bus.

Sudden Demise
French film star Martine Carol was found dead at the Hotel de Paris, Monte Carlo, today. She was 64.
Her husband said she died of a heart attack.
Miss Carol, top French screen sizzler before Brigitte Bardot, was found at five o’clock this morning in a bathroom in the hotel by her husband, British businessman Mike Eland. He said when he found her she was in a coma and died in his arms several minutes later.