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4th March 1967: St Mirren v Celtic League – Part One

2nd March

Ivan Brzic – ‘Bulldozed’ Stevie

The reports in the press were quite positive, stressing the quality of our performance in Novi Sad, while lamenting the lapse in concentration that led to the only goal.
And there appeared to one injury worry for the weekend game;

‘Steve Chalmers has a badly bruised shoulder and may not be available to play for Celtic against St Mirren at Paisley on Saturday. Chalmers was bull-dozed to the ground by centre-half Brzic in last night’s bruising European Cup tie with Vojvodina.
Today when Chalmers boarded the aircraft taking the Celtic team back from Belgrade he was in pain and will be assessed over the next 24 hours’.

The local press in Novi Sad were happy with the result but were also of the opinion that the return match in Glasgow would be tough;

Vecerni Novosti’ – The Scots have remained a riddle. We have seen their defensive qualities. They lost deservedly. In Glasgow, Vojvodina will have a chance to preserve their lead.

Borba’ – the Celtic players were faultlessly prepared. They are a team of athletes who never slow down, either in defence or attack.
But they were so stingy in expressing their true values that they remained a mystery throughout. The legends about them are not over-done but they are not invulnerable either.

Sport’ – That only goal – let’s call it the goal of hope – that was not sufficient to allow the Novi Sad team to leave the stadium with happy hearts, satisfied about their chances for the return match.

Politika’ described the match as “ a procession towards a Celtic goalmouth defended by eight and nine players.
The Scots functioned very well as a skillful well-blended, machine-like team but they have no great master like Stanley Matthews or Denis Law”

3rd March
The press in Glasgow had by now switched their attention to the league match on Saturday;

Manager Jock Stein returned to Celtic Park this morning hoping to learn that sharp-shooting Joe McBride would be fit for tomorrow’s league game against St Mirren in Paisley.
When Celtic were in Yogoslavia this week McBride stayed behind in a big effort to touch peak fitness. The club is keen to have McBride fit not only for Saturday but also to come on in the European Cup return tie next Wednesday.

We had not done any training on the Thursday as we were travelling back from Yugoslovia but on the Friday morning, it was back to normal and the whole squad put in a good shift.
The reserve match against the Buddies – which was due to take place that night at Parkhead – had been cancelled the day before as the pitch was water-logged and more rain was forecast for the weekend. The Boss certainly did not want the pitch cut up before the return with Vojvodina on the following Wednesday.

I was feeling good myself – although still being a bit of a devil by taunting Tam about his pass-back in Novi Sad>

In fact, I told him I would show him how to do it properly at training; he gave me the sign designating it was two minutes to eleven!

But I was also slightly annoyed that the club was still doing the ‘let’s get Joe fit’ nonsense. It was painfully obvious at training that Joe was constantly keeping the pressure off the bad leg when running – so he ran with a lop-sided gait – and did not shoot at all with the damaged leg. He should have been in hospital for treatment yet in the papers, he was still being put forward as a candidate for one of the club’s biggest matches of the season. Poor guy! I felt sorry for him.

Celtic’s fans were feeling good too, as most things were going quite well. However, there was a little piece in one of the evening papers that Friday that gave all of us – players, management and fans – food for thought;

Rangers Could Put Strain on Celtic

Rangers, who were five points behind Celtic in the championship race on February 4th are confident that they can be two points ahead of Celtic by Saturday night of next week.
On 4th February, Celtic had 39 points from 22 games and Rangers had 34 points from 21 outings.
Tonight Celtic have 42 points from 24 games with Rangers trailing by two points for the same number of games.
Within the next eight days, however, Rangers will play THREE league games – at Motherwell tomorrow, Airdrie on Tuesday and against St Johnstone on Scottish Cup day, 11th March.
Celtic, who entertain Queen’s Park in the Cup, have only one league game in that period, against St Mirren at Love Street tomorrow. So, the league table could look quite different by next weekend.

I was finding the life of a professional footballer very satisfactory, with many more ‘pluses’ than ‘minuses’. However, one of the latter surfaced that weekend. I was still living with my parents at that point in Cardonald, in the south-west of Glasgow. It was about three miles or so from St Mirren’s ground in Love Street, so on the Friday, I asked if I could go straight to Paisley instead of heading the eight miles or so to Parkhead then coming all the way back to Love Street, before, at the end of the match, going back on the bus to Celtic Park before driving all the way back to my parents’ house.
As we were not doing any training pre-match or were being provided with a pre-match meal, it did not seem a big issue but you would have thought that I had asked for the moon. Reaction to my request among the management staff ranged from astonishment to amazement and time involved.


V.C.
The family of a Scots hero who won the Victoria Cross has decided to give the medal to his regiment.
Sergeant David Finlay, 2nd Batallion the Black Watch, won the V.C. in France on May 9, 1915.
The citation says that ‘the then Lance-Corporal Finlay carried a wounded mana over a hundred yards of fire-swept ground into cover’. He was killed on January 21, 1916, in the first assault on Hanna during the fighting for the relief of Kut.
His brother, Mr James Finlay, Biggs Place, Cupar, Fife and 12 members of the family, will hand over the V.C. and other medals at the regimental headquarters of the Black Watch at Balhousie Castle, Perth, on Friday March 17.

Lucky Driver
An empty oil tanker careered across a busy main road, ploughed through a 3 feet high parapet and crashed 30 feet on to a disused railway – and landed the right way up.
The accident happened on the Glasgow-Dumbarton road at Dumbuck Junction, Dumbarton. The driver was taken to Vale of Leven Hospital with face and hands injuries but was released three hours later.

Freedom
Svetlana Alliluyena, the daughter of the former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who died in 1953, walked into the American Embassy in Delhi, India, announced her identity and demanded asylum.