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2nd January 1968: Celtic v Rangers – League

 

Morning of the Match

I was in early for some treatment but I absolutely knew that I was out. The ankle was still swollen and really tender to touch so I had given up all hopes of making the team that afternoon. It is grim when you miss any game; to be injured at the time of an Old Firm game was sickening. Bob Rooney was equally pessimistic and when Doc Fitzsimmons came in to see the ankle, it did not take long for him to rule me out.

Also, Ronnie Simpson had not recovered from his injury sustained in a clash the day before with Clyde’s Dick Staite, so John Fallon was drafted.

We went for a pre-match meal at our usual haunt but curiously enough, not a word was said about the team all the time we were there. There was very little point in the Boss assessing the Rangers side and the way it would be asked to perform – we knew their players really well by that time – but it is nice to get to know the team early, as it sets the chosen ones up for the contest and I think that the boys that lunch-time would have liked to have been told the line-up.

The other regular we were sure would be out was Ronnie, who seemed to be suffering from both rib and ankle knocks, so at least John Fallon knew he was in. And from a selfish point of view, I rather enjoyed stuffing my face with some scrambled eggs – and chips – while the rest had their much lighter pre-match lunch.

 

The Opposition

Rangers at that time were a very good side, having reached the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup only a few days after we had won in Lisbon. They were also top of the table before the match and would be keen to take the points at our home base. They would be missing Alex Ferguson for a previous misdemeanour; we would similarly be without Willie Wallace.

The top of the table before the match that day looked like this–

 

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Rangers 17 15 2 0 47 13 3.62 32
Celtic 17 14 2 1 50 15 3.33 30

 

The bus journey from the hotel over to Celtic Park was as brilliant as ever. It was strange for me to be part of the team and yet, due to the injury, knew perfectly well that I would not be involved so had no problems with pre-match nerves. That’s what should have happened but the reality was that I could feel the tension rising within me as we approached the stadium and I suddenly realised what I was going to be missing over the next few hours. That was very unexpected…..and quite frustrating!


 

Pre-Match

The size of the crowd should have surprised no-one as this had been organised in advance as an all-ticket encounter with the ground limit set at 75,000. And as the bus stopped outside the front door around an hour before kick-off, it seemed that a pretty high percentage of that number were already around the premises, half of them cheering for us and the other half doing the opposite.

From then on, the format was the usual. A walk down the tunnel to check the condition of the pitch and take in the atmosphere; the return to the dressing-room for the team announcement; then the call to get stripped and ready.

As I have mentioned before, even when you are a member of the squad for a match like this, the fact that because of injury (in my case) or non-selection, you are not involved that day, you just do not feel as if you belong in the dressing-room and you usually go elsewhere – anywhere – to try to shake off your disappointment.

That was certainly the feeling I had that day and I headed for the tearoom, where I could have a chat with my fellow non-participants and also meet supporters and press-men. When we all saw the team list, there was a surprise for everyone when it came to the name of the substitute. Jimmy Quinn, the grandson of the famous Jimmy of the early years of the 20th century, had been doing well in the reserves and now the Boss had put him on the bench for that day’s match. Seldom does a substitute not come on so young Jimmy would make his debut in an Old Firm match and that immediately started a conversation about other Celts who had done the same. I chipped in with a couple I knew of – Bobby Collins and Bertie Auld – but it was generally agreed that it was not a common occurrence.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Fallon
Cattenach, Gemmell
Brogan, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Murdoch, Hughes, Auld, Lennox.
Sub: Quinn

Rangers

Sorensen
Johansen, Greig
Jardine, McKinnon, D Smith
Penman, Watson, Hynd, Johnston, Persson.
Sub: A Smith

 

The Play

This turned out to be an exciting  match – or ‘dramatic’ as the papers called it – and right from the team announcements, the fans had some things to ponder. For Rangers, there was no Alec Willoughby or Willie Mathieson, so with John Greig at left-back, Sandy Jardine in midfield and Roger Hynd at centre-forward, they obviously had gone for a bit of power among the skill.

Jock Stein had changed our side too. Although it was read out as above, the fullbacks immediately switched, Tam to the right and Davie to the left; Bobby Murdoch was at inside-right; with John Hughes at centre-forward.

John Fallon got off to a good start when he comfortably clutched a fine volley by Orjan Persson and then John Greig brought down Jinky just outside the box.

18 minutes
Bertie Auld took the free-kick and his shot deflected off Sandy Jardine, the ball heading in a different direction to Eric Sorensen. 1-0 Celtic

It would be fair to say that from that point to the interval, Celtic were all over Rangers, completely dominating the play, forcing the Light Blue players back into defence, so much that our own rearguard had very little to do. And, although I was not present in the dressing room, I could imagine that the Boss would have been quite a happy man with the score – and the performance – and would merely have told the guys to go out and repeat it after the break.

The second half started in the same frenetic fashion as the first but now there was one subtle change in the level of play. From being out of it in the first half, Rangers were now the dominant side, the left-wing partnership of Johnston and Persson proving very difficult for our right side to cope with. And it was not long before they got a reward.

 

55 minutes
Willie Johnston got the ball out on the left and just when it seemed that he did not know what to do, he wheeled and sent in a hard low shot. John Fallon went down to get it but the ball squirmed out of his grasp and slowly rolled over the line and into the net.  1-1

We were shell-shocked in the stands and the guys must have felt the same on the pitch but to give them credit, they rallied. Jimmy Quinn was brought on for his debut in place of Bertie and his pace caused some problems for the Gers defence. Rangers, though, still looked the more likely side to score but we dug in and, against the run of play, came up with a cracker.

78 minutes
the ball was passed by Brogie to Chopper, who swiveled and then hit a wonderful left-foot shot high into the roof of the net. 2-1 Celtic

At that point, everyone sitting beside me – and I should imagine, most of the stands and terracings – would have thought that Celtic had done it but unfortunately – perhaps even tragically – fate was still to intervene and waited till almost the final whistle to do so.

 

88 minutes
with the Celtic fans urging referee Bobby Davidson to blow his whistle for an end to the proceedings, Kai Johansen ventured forward and hit what the papers called a ‘speculative shot’ towards goal. As John Fallon went down to stop it, he seemingly mis-judged its pace and, to the horror of the Celtic end and the delight of the Rangers contingent, the ball rolled slowly under his body and over the line.

Final Score    Celtic  2  Rangers  2

As I believed that there was nothing I could say that was relevant to the situation, I stayed out of the dressing-room at the end and waited for the guys out in the foyer. From what I heard later, the Boss seemed completely shocked rather than angry, everyone else thought that any comments were totally un-necessary and the dressing-room atmosphere was probably one of the quietest-ever. Even Steely said nothing!

A Happy New Year? I don’t think so!

 

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Rangers 18 15 3 0 49 15 3.27 33
Celtic 18 14 3 1 52 17 3.06 31
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30th December 1967: Celtic v Dunfermline – League

25th December

Christmas Day and glory be, we all got the day off. After Midnight Mass and a long lie, I spent mine with my parents, brother, grandmother and grandfather at the latters’ house where several aunts and uncles – along with their children – had also gathered. It was a nice day although the question I was constantly asked was “are you going to win the League again?”

Well, to be perfectly honest, we were doing our best but Rangers were proving difficult to catch.

In Scotland, of course, at that time, there were papers printed on Christmas Day and in the morning editions, there was one eye-catching headline and one significant comment.

The headline was….

Hughes Stakes a Cap Claim

…which was firstly a reference to Yogi’s excellent performance in the match against Morton and secondly, a wee reminder to Bobby Brown, the Scotland manager, that there was another Home International match coming up in the spring, this one against England, and that Yogi on song might be just the player he is looking for.

The comment referred to another big occasion coming up sooner than that : ‘Celtic  are 5/4 on favourites to beat Rangers at Parkhead on January 2nd – but only because they have ground advantage.

Just before I drifted off to sleep that night, it dawned on me that two years before, on this very day, we had been celebrating an 8-1 win over Morton at Parkhead.

 

26th December

Boxing Day…and a full morning’s training. However, the Festive spirit was still very much in evidence and while it was quite concentrated, it was all done in a great spirit with everyone in top form.

Three stories in the press caught my eye –

 

Tuesday’s Celtic v Rangers all-ticket affair is almost a sell-out a week before the contest.

   

among the adults that Santa should have delivered presents to were firstly, Scotland manager Bobby Brown for over-seeing the 3-2 win over England at Wembley and secondly, Jock Stein and his players, for the European Cup win in Lisbon.

   

 Queen’s Park are considering an invitation for a summer visit next year to Rhodesia, the country that Celtic turned down an invitation to visit for a show game against West Ham because of the political situation.

 

27th December

All the players – apart from Jinky, who had a cold – reported again for training, which again was pretty tough. While we were all concentrating on our fitness, behind the scenes, there were other expectations, as one of the evening papers pointed out –

‘Celtic have not yet received their copy of the referee’s report on the ‘Mayhem in Montevideo’ World Championship match on November 4th and it is not likely to be in their hands until the weekend at least.

The report on the Celtic-Racing Cub game – the match in which four Celtic players were ordered-off – will be studied by Mr Willie Allan, secretary of the SFA, before a copy is made and sent to Celtic Park’.

 

The European Cup – won in a blaze of glory by Celtic in Lisbon in May – will be put on show for the first time at the Odeon Cinema, Renfield Street Glagow, on Sunday. The film ‘Celtic’ will be screened twice on Hogmanay – at 4.30pm and 7.30pm

 

28th December

Jinky was back today and looking OK. He said that he had just had a runny nose and was told to stay away in case he passed the symptoms on to others. How very sensible! And it was good to have him back again, as the little fellow was a hard man to fall out with and for that reason, he was a very popular presence in the dressing-room. And obviously somebody had passed news of his little problem on the press –

Johnstone Fit

‘Jimmy Johnstone, who was sent home from Celtic Park on Tuesday after being examined by the club doctor, resumed training today after spending yesterday at his house in Viewpark, Lanarkshire’.

 

I’m sure that Jimmy and his family were delighted that his home address – while not named precisely but near enough – had been printed in a newspaper.

 

29th December

We did the usual fairly light work-out specifically designated for the day before a match and left without the Boss saying much, apart from listing the squad of players which had to report the following day.

The evening press tried to make a story out of some words from him –

Stein Delays Celtic Team

‘Manager Jock Stein said today “We have no reserve games over the New Year period and all our pool of first-team players will be on call for each of our three games. Good conditions could be a deciding factor in the choice of our team.

Celtic have not placed the straw mats on the pitch as the forecast is that it will be mild tonight and tomorrow’.

 

There was a warning from Glasgow’s Chief Constable, Mr James Robertson –

‘With the full support of the Celtic and Rangers football clubs, stringent measures will be taken by the police against persons waving or displaying flags or banners of any description and using obscene and/or provocative language’.

 

And while both halves of the Old Firm had tough matches on the morrow – Celtic v Dunfermline at Parkhead and Rangers away to Aberdeen – one journalist had no doubts about the outcomes of both matches. In big letters, the headline read –

 

The Old Firm Won’t Slip Up


 

Morning of the Match

With the exception of Willie O’Neill – who had a back problem – everyone else seemed to be fit for the match and certainly from the atmosphere in and around the dressing room, we were really up for the game. Whether it was a hang-over from the Christmas festivities or a prelude to the New Year celebrations, I don’t know but whatever the cause, it was having a most fascinating effect, as I had never heard the guys quite so noisy.

Naturally enough, success, I suppose, brings contentment – and noise! – so we all must have been boosted by the fact that of the 8 matches played since the loss to Racing Club on 4th November, we had won 7 and drawn one, scoring 23 goals in the process. And there was also the added incentive for this match against Dunfermline that it was against one of Jock Stein’s former clubs as manager, from 1960 to 1964. It goes without saying that any manager would want to beat one of his former teams and while the Boss did not go over the top in his pre-match advice, I always got the impression that he wanted us to make a point.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Chalmers, McBride, Auld, Hughes.
Sub: Cattenach

Dunfermline

Martin
W Callaghan, Lunn
Fraser, Barry, Thomson
Edwards, Paton, Gardner, T Callaghan, Robertson.
Sub: Hunter

 

We were without the suspended Willie Wallace, of course, while in the Pars side was one former Celt, goalkeeper Bent Martin and one future Celt in Tommy Callaghan.

 

The Play

Dunfermline at that point were lying in 6th place in the table, with a record of P15, W7, D3, L5, F24, A17, Pts17. They could play some good football and this was the first meeting of the two clubs that season. They came out for the match in their usual strip of black and white stripes, while we had green jerseys, white socks, green socks.

 

From the start, both teams found the rain-sodden pitch a bit difficult and the long ball seemed a useful ploy. Stevie had a shot which went just over and then a header which did the same. Yogi, who always loved these conditions, powered his way through a couple of times but was blocked by the defence. Then, the breakthrough came –

21 minutes
Jinky was up-ended, Bertie took the free-kick and Cesar rose above the Pars rearguard to head home. 1-0 Celtic

 

And only a minute later, we added another –

22 minutes
good run by Jinky, pass to Stevie and his shot was palmed in to the roof of the net by Bent Martin. 2-0 Celtic

 

From that point on, it was all Celtic and we put the Pars defence under some real pressure without further reward. Then, right out of the blue, they pulled one back –

40 minutes
an Alex Edwards shot was blocked by Ronnie but it fell into the path of Pat Gardner, who did not miss from 10 yards.   2-1 Celtic

Curiously, only minutes later, Pat did miss an even easier chance, this one only eight yards out.

The Boss seemed quite calm at the break and merely told us to continue as we had been doing and we did just that, putting the Pars defence under some pressure. And within minutes, we made another breakthrough –

51 minutes
McBride cross from the left wing and Stevie was on the spot to head home. 3-1 Celtic

That should have made the game safe for us but in actual fact, Dunfermline rallied and made some chances, two shots by Lunn and Fraser which Ronnie dealt with superbly. The temper of the game also deteriorated from then on, culminating in an incident in the 83 rd minute when Roy Barry and Bertie Auld clashed, our man needing treatment from Bob Rooney and their man being sent off. Then, with only two minutes left, the Pars scored again –

88 minutes
.this time a penalty was awarded for what appeared to be an innocuous challenge in our box. There was a fair bit of complaining to referee Mr Small of Selkirk but he held his ground and Alex Edwards made no mistake from the spot.

Final Score Celtic 3 Dunfermline 2

 

Other Results

Aberdeen 1 4 Rangers
Dundee United 9 0 Stirling Albion
Falkirk 0 2 Dundee
Hearts 3 0 Morton
Kilmarnock 1 0 Hibs
Motherwell 2 1 St. Johnstone
Partick Thistle 3 1 Airdrie
Raith Rovers 1 1 Clyde

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Rangers 16 14 2 0 42 11 3.82 30
Celtic 16 13 2 1 47 13 3.62 28
Hearts 17 10 3 4 38 26 1.46 23
Hibernian 16 9 2 5 32 20 1.60 20

 

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23rd December 1967: Morton v Celtic – League

18th December

The press was fairly positive about Celtic’s performance at Dens Park, with one player singled out for special attention –

Super Celts at Dens Park

Three Late Goals for Celtic

 Hughes is Celtic’s Trump Card

 

However, another was fairly critical of one aspect of our play –

Dundee Exploit Celtic’s Defensive Weaknesses

 

I, for one, thought that last headline a trifle harsh. We did not have any ‘defensive weaknesses’; we were 5-2 up with half-an-hour to go and we were going for more. That meant that Cesar was coming up for every corner and fee-kick and occasionally coming forward himself while Tam and I were bursting down the wings at every opportunity. That also means that the defensive set-up starts to unravel and lets the opposition in – which they did – but that is more a display of over-confidence rather than a weakness.

 

At the SFA Referee Committee, Willie Wallace, Alex Ferguson and Colin Stein were all suspended from football until the 5th January 1968. Bertie Auld fared better, being fined £10 for his ordering-off in the Alfredo Di Stefano testimonial in the Bernabeu. I could just picture wee Jimmy’s reaction –“you clatter Amancio and you get fined a tenner! I might have been banned for life”. Jimmy did have a habit of exaggeration occasionally.

 

As usual, on a Monday at this time of year, everyone got the day off and I mean ‘everyone’ as there did not appear to be single injury among the squad.

 

19th December

Everyone back and a tough morning at Barrowfield. We worked on a few things that the Boss had not been keen on recently but I think even he would have acknowledged that we were playing pretty well, were knocking in the goals and were still, for the most part – unlike the end of the Dundee Match – keeping things pretty tight at the back as well.

 

One comment in an evening paper that night really made me think –

‘Football fame is so fleeting. Celtic have had their hour or two of glory as European Champions. Now, Dinamo Kiev, who put the Scots out of this year’s European Cup competition, are out themselves – beaten by Gornik of Poland, who have now been drawn against Manchester United.

 

20th December

Training as usual. As Wispy would not now be available until 5th January, all the usual moves in attack were played out without him in a major role, as was normally the case. And there was bad news for another member of the squad; Willie O’Neill picked up a back injury which might keep him out until the New Year.

 

The Boss obviously had been annoyed by some activities of the supporters as he gave a piece to the evening papers –

“The Morton-Celtic game at Cappielow won’t have a delayed kick-off to allow latecomers into the ground.

The match will start at 3pm as scheduled and I advise Celtic supporters to be at Cappielow as early as possible”.

 

After training in the morning, we headed for the City Chambers, where, in the Satinwood Room, Lord Provost John Johnston presented Celtic with a silver-coated plaque ‘for the lustre they brought to the city and on behalf of the people of Glasgow, who were thrilled by the club’s success in winning the European Cup’.

The event was attended by many Scottish football personalities, as well as Mr Bob Kelly, the chairman of Celtic, his directors, Jock Stein and his staff and the players.

On that evening, down at Elland Road, Leeds United beat Hibs 1-0 in a 3rd Round first-leg tie in the Fairs Cup.

 21st December

After training, the Boss spoke to the assembled press corps but he was playing his cards very close to his chest, merely commenting that he would not be announcing a team until he had taken a look at the Cappielow pitch. There had been some rain during the week and the pitch might be a bit heavy but I was wondering if might have been considering a run-out for Joe McBride?

 

22nd December

Nothing from the Boss after training, merely a list of the players to report for the match and all the usual names were on it including, I noticed, Joe McBride.

A journalist in one of the evening papers was very positive about our chances –

‘Certainly Morton will fight all the way but I can’t see them upsetting the victory plans of Jock Stein’s Celtic – even with the suspended Willie Wallace sitting on the sidelines’.


 

 

Morning of the Match

We got to the park about 12.30pm, all ready to go and it was an easy trip down to Cappielow. It was the type of ground that is always referred to as a ‘tight pitch’. What that means in a lot of cases is that the stands and terracings are very close to the playing surface, with only a yard or two of track separating them. In the case of Cappielow, though, it meant more than that, it also referred to the dimensions of the pitch.

At Celtic Park, for instance, the pitch was 115 yards by 75 yards; this one in Greenock was 110 yards by 71 yards. Now, the length is not so important but the width certainly is. That 4-yard difference down at Cappielow meant that forwards would have less space to try to stretch out the defence in their attacks; while from the defensive point of view, we would have had 4 yards less to cover in width as we protected our goal.

When we arrived and took a look at the pitch, we found that the forecasts had been quite correct. The pitch was heavy and would definitely cut up as the match progressed. Even in the warm-up, we could feel it breaking up.

 

The Teams

Morton

Russell
Murray, Loughlan
Arentoft, Strachan, Rankin
Thorup, Jensen, Mason, Stevenson, Sweeney.
Sub: Taylor

Celtic

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

 

A couple of names we knew well in that Morton line-up. Tony Taylor and Gerry Sweeney had been mainstays of the reserve side at Celtic before moving to Morton and would be keen to show that they should have been kept on. And, of course, we were without the suspended Wispy.

 

The Play

The score-line may suggest something different but this was one tough encounter and we may have flattered a bit by taking an early lead –

5 minutes
a cross-field pass by Cesar and Joe McBride latched on to it to open the scoring. 1-0 Celtic

Then the hard work started, as the Morton guys rose to the challenge and gave as good as they got. The pitch was a trifle on the muddy side, let’s say, and did not make silky football easy to fashion. So, it turned into very much a competitive encounter, with no quarter asked and none given. Such a surface is liked by some players and disliked by others; one man who thrived on it was Yogi and he was the main man for us that afternoon, using his height, weight and sheer balance to keep the Morton defence under pressure.

There was not much the Boss could say at the interval. He could have no complaints about the work-rate or our enthusiasm for the task; the stumbling block to us making the match secure was the sheer intensity of the Morton guys’ play. They went at it with a will and were a great credit to their manager and the support.

However, as the game went on, you could the Morton players beginning to find things tougher, their pace dropping and their marking less secure. And that gave us the opportunity to get some goals –

76 minutes
Yogi cut the ball back and Joe scored from close-in. 2-0 Celtic

81 minutes
a solo from Yogi, who just bulldozed through and shot from 20 yards. 3-0 Celtic

84 minutes
good run by Yogi, fine cross by Bertie and Joe was there.

Final Score  Morton 0  Celtic  4

 

Sometimes, after a match in which your team has triumphed in what appeared to have been a bit of a cakewalk, you shake hands and try not to have any feelings of superiority. In this case, I was full of admiration for the way in which the Morton boys had been set up and the determination and endeavour which they had brought to the match. Their situation in the league table after this game was not great (8th place with a record of P16 W6 D4 L6 F27 A25 Pts 16) but on that day they were a credit to both the manager and the supporters.

 

Other Scores

Airdrie 1 0 Aberdeen
Clyde 2 3 Motherwell
Dundee 4 0 Raith Rovers
Dunfermline 2 2 Dundee United
Hibs 1 1 Falkirk
Rangers 4 1 Kilmarnock
St. Johnstone 2 1 Partick Thistle
Stirling Albion 1 4 Hearts

 

Table

 Pos Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
1 Rangers 15 13 2 0 38 10 3.80 28
2 Celtic 15 12 2 1 44 11 4.00 26
3 Hearts 16 9 3 4 35 26 1.35 21
4 Hibernian 15 9 2 4 32 19 1.68 20
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16th December 1967: Dundee v Celtic – League

16th December 1967 Dundee v Celtic League – Preview

 

11th December

As we were only playing one match a week at this time of the season, it had become the norm for us to get a Monday off and this one was no different. You could come in if you wished, of course (and run the risk of getting some stick later in the week from those who did not come in) and I did, as I had missed several matches due to that South American virus and felt that I had to work on my sharpness.

I was joined by several other guys who had been carrying injuries and we just did some track work under the supervision of Neilly Mochan, who always seemed to be around the place. Did he not have a home to go to?

 

The press in general was very complimentary about the performance against Hearts but was even more generous in its praise of Celtic’s new pitch coverage –

Celtic’s Frost Plan Pays Off  Star Blankets Could Be The Ideal Answer

 

Even the Boss had been pleased –

Celtic Are Delighted

‘Jock Stein said after the match –“We were delighted with the state of the pitch for the game against Hearts. There was absolutely no frost.

Our match versus Hearts finished at 4.40pm and by 5.30pm the mats had been replaced”.

Rumour is that Celtic paid around £1200 for the straw mats and are convinced it was money well spent’.

 

There was two other items of note in the papers. Firstly, that there would be a 75,000 limit to the Old Firm match on 2nd January. And secondly, it was pointed out that while the official attendance at the Celtic/Hearts match had been 35,000, the estimated crowd at the game between promotion hopefuls Hamilton and Queen of the South was 350. The gulf between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in the Scottish game seemed to be substantial.

 

12th December

All the players back, including Bertie Auld, who missed the match against Hearts with a heavy cold. Bertie was not looking forward to the following Monday, when he was due to appear before the Referee Committee of the SFA for being ordered-off against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu back in early June. It did seem to be a long time ago and Bertie was complaining along those lines to all and sundry. His moans, however, were brought to an end by Jinky, another Celt who had occasionally been in trouble with the authorities, who had the dressing-room killing themselves when he said to Bertie – “listen, man, did you punch Amancio or did you not punch Amancio?!” There was no answer to that one.

Jim Baxter was on the move. The ex-Ranger signed for Johnny Carey’s Notts Forest for the sum of £100,000.

 

13th December

Jinky was missing. I did wonder if Bertie had sabotaged him after his comment of the day before but apparently he was suffering from a cold. Everyone else was there and we did a good workout.

 

14th December

One of the evening papers had this story on its back page –

‘Jock Stein was a very happy man today. Jimmy Johnstone had turned up again after being off yesterday with a cold and that meant that for the first time this season the Celtic manager had no injury or illness problems when he checked in at Celtic Park to supervise the training’.

 

15th December

The Boss announced that the defence for the match against Dundee would be the same as against Hearts but he had also added Charlie Gallagher to the seven forwards from which the choice would be made – Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Auld, Hughes, Lennox and Charlie. As usual on a Friday, we did a little track-work before heading off, although I stayed behind and put in an extra shift on the short stuff.

The press announced the manager of Clyde – Archie Wright – had resigned for reasons of health.


 

Morning of the Match

An early report to Celtic Park, then a bus trip up to Perth, where we had lunch in the Station Hotel. The boys were all in good form and the chat ranged from the chances of Bertie and Wispy being HAMMERED ( not my choice of words) when they reported to the SFA on the following Monday for ordering-off offences; how Hibs would get on against Leeds in their Fairs Cup tie; and also the chances of Dinamo Kiev getting through against Gornik in the European Cup?

‘Vociferous’ was the word to describe the atmosphere, the journey and lunch passing quickly so it was not long before we arrived at Dens Park and got a look at the conditions. This was one of the best pitches in the country and it was in good state, considering the cold weather that had struck the whole country earlier in the week. It was firm but just soft enough to take a stud, so what were known as the ‘leathers’ (as opposed to the ‘rubbers’) were laid out at our places.

 

The Teams

Dundee

Donaldson
Wilson, Houston
Murray, Easton, Stewart
Scott, J McLean, Wilson, G McLean, Campbell.
Sub:  Stuart

Celtic

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

 

Dundee at that point were lying in 15th place in the league table (only Raith Rovers, Motherwell and Stirling Albion were below them), with a record of P14, W3, D4, L7, F19, A25, Pts 10. Now, with a record like that, it is easy to see their problem. They were losing nearly two goals per match while scoring just under one-and-a-half goals per game. However, those figures tell only a bit of the story. Dundee could be a really fine-moving side, making life difficult for any opposition but they also had flaws, the major one being inconsistency.

Still, we all remembered how difficult the Dark Blues had made the recent League Cup final for us and went out keen to stamp our authority on the proceedings.

 

The Play

This was a match in which we dominated for the most part but had the unfortunate habit of switching off our concentration on occasion and Dundee took advantage of those moments, as they had done in the League Cup final. The goals came as follows –

5 minutes
corner by Bertie, header by Cesar. 1-0 Celtic

8 minutes
Luggy missed a ball into the middle and George McLean took advantage. 1-1

26 minutes
George Stewart missed his clearance and Lemon blasted the ball into the roof of the net. 2-1 Celtic

36 minutes 
Yogi beat a couple of men, passed to Bertie, who crossed into the middle and Jinky was there to head home. 3-1 Celtic

38 minutes
Yogi moved in on goals then suddenly wheeled and cut the ball back to Wispy, who made no mistake. 4-1 Celtic

41 minutes
a Campbell cross and Scott slipped the ball under Ronnie. 4-2 Celtic

 

At the break, the dressing-room was a noisy place, as was the crowd. After all, when Celtic FC is involved, you don’t often get six goals in a first half! The Boss, I thought, was non-committal, neither praising our play or criticizing our lack of what you might term concentration of consistency. Anyway, we were keen to get back out and try for some more. And we got one more –

56 minutes
long corner by Jinky and Wispy sent in a fierce shot. 5-2 Celtic

That should have sealed the game up but as so often with Dundee, they seemed to be able to come back almost from the dead and they did it again that afternoon. Did we slacken off or did they raise their game? Was it individual errors that caused the problem? Or was it that being 5-2 down meant that they had nothing to lose by coming forward and the quality side of their overall play came to the surface, possibly as we slackened off.

Whatever the reason, they came back with goals from Campbell in 76 minutes and Wilson in 85 and while we were not exactly hanging on at the end, you could hear that the Celtic supporters in the crowd of 23,000 (apparently there had been long queues waiting to get in when the game started) were not exactly enamoured with what they had been seeing in the last 30 minutes.

Final Score  Dundee 4  Celtic 5

However, at the end it was still a good win and another two points, although the mood in the dressing-room at the end could be described as ‘cool’. We had done our bit now we were hopeful that our main rivals might have struggled a bit against Raith Rovers at Ibrox. When we came out of the bath, though, and heard the news – Rangers had won 10-2 – it did little to improve the atmosphere and it was a slightly disheartened party which made the trip back to Glasgow.

 

Other Results

Aberdeen 1 0 Stirling Albion
Clyde 5 0 Dundee United
Dunfermline 4 0 Partick Thistle
Falkirk 1 1 Morton
Hearts 3 1 Airdrie
Motherwell 0 1 Hibs
Rangers 10 2 Raith Rovers
St. Johnstone 0 1 Kilmarnock

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
1 Rangers 14 12 2 0 34 9 3.78 26
2 Celtic 14 11 2 1 40 11 3.64 24
3 Hibernian 14 9 1 4 31 18 1.72 19
4 Hearts 15 8 3 4 31 25 1.24 19
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9th December 1967:  Celtic v Hearts – League

4th December

 

Some of the papers on the Monday went for the obvious –

Dundee United Again Prove Stumbling Block

 

Others had obviously been annoyed by what they had seen –

Ruined – A Superb Football Match

‘Celtic’s image was badly tarnished again at Parkhead on Saturday – despite all the efforts the club has made in recent years to set a high standard of sportsmanship both on the field and on the terracings.

An excellent, exciting and skillful match was ruined by the events of the last 6 minutes and all the good football on show in the 1-1 draw with Dundee United will be forgotten long before the ordering-off of Willie Wallace and the disgraceful bottle-throwing that developed almost simultaneously’.

 

While in no way condoning the actions of either Wispy or the bottle- throwers, I thought that the referee should also shoulder some of the blame for what happened. It appeared that he did not see the punch which Wispy obviously threw at Davie Wilson; he only saw the Rangers player lying on the ground. I did not see the punch either but I did see Davie hit the deck and I thought that Wispy must sure pack a real punch?

However, from that point on, it seemed to take the referee a long time to speak to his linesman, hear the story of what occurred and then take the decision to send Wispy off. And all through this period of time, the Celtic support were getting more and more annoyed that their man was in trouble and also that an opponent – and an ex-Ranger at that – may, in their opinion, have over-reacted to Wispy’s challenge.

The Celtic players had gathered round the referee but he was not for turning and motioned for Wispy to head for the pavilion. Unfortunately, that was also the flashpoint for the bottles and cans to come raining down.

Monday morning was usually a busy one at Parkhead but on that day, most of the squad got the day off. Those who had missed the encounter with the Arabs did come in and were put through quite a thorough work-out by Neilly. Lemon said he was feeling good; and I was experiencing very little of the nausea that had bothered me for the past couple of weeks. Could I be on the mend?

 

5th December

Everyone in for training and I loved it. The hustle and bustle of the dressing room, the walk up to Barrowfield, the chat on the way, the various exercises and routines, then the final match of Bibs v Non-Bibs, it was fantastic and it remains one of the aspects of my career as a football player that I still truly miss.

There was a surprise for a few of us after training. Apparently, a friendly had been arranged for the following evening against Clydebank at Kilbowie Park. The team chosen was John Fallon, Myself, Davie Cattenach, Sammy Henderson, George Connelly, Davie Hay, Pat McMahon, Joe McBride, John Hughes, Charlie Gallagher and Lou Macari.

The Boss had not spoken to us at all about the Hearts match on the Saturday, at least not as a group, although he might have spoken to one or two privately. Anyway, the evening papers carried a story that sure caught us all by surprise –

Hughes At Centre – Celtic May Switch for Hearts Game

 ‘John Hughes at centre-forward. That could be Celtic’s surprise choice for the game against Hearts.

Hughes, who has been at outside-left this season, will be at centre-forward for Celtic in the friendly against Clydebank at Kilbowie tomorrow night and Jock Stein said “Hughes is not playing centre-forward for the fun of it”.

The Boss also mentioned that “Jim Craig and Bobby Lennox will be available for Saturday”.

 

6th December

With a match in the evening, there was, of course, no training for those involved. The rest did turn up and I’m sure that Neilly did not let them have an easy day.

In one of the evening papers, there was a quote from Jock Stein, who, in an interview given to the Celtic View said – “What has to be cut out completely from our players’ make-up is this tendency to be tempted into feuds or niggling and thereby be reduced in ability”.

Jock Stein had another comment under the headline –

Stein Helps McBride

‘Celtic’s decision to field seven top team players at Kilbowie Park tonight is not only a fine gesture to Clydebank – it has been made to give Joe McBride every possible chance to shine.

Said Mr Stein – “We feel that Joe is getting closer and closer to his old form. I intended giving him another comeback chance tonight but I felt it would only be fair to him to have round him men who are not only first class players but who know exactly the McBride style of play”.

 

7th December

The match at Kilbowie Park the previous evening had gone well, with Celtic winning 3-0. Once it was clear that we were going to win, the Boss made several changes to the side, with Danny McGrain coming on for Davie Cattenach, John Gorman for Sammy Henderson, John Taggart in for Pat MacMahon and Kenny Dalglish replacing Charlie Gallagher.

In the Clydebank team that night was Ayrton Inacio, one of the Brazilians who had trained at Celtic Park – and also got some run-outs in the reserves – in the 1965-66 season.

There were two conflicting remarks – or perhaps comments might be the right word – in one of the evening editions. Now, one of the things we all must remember when reading a report of a match is that the journalist sometimes does not like the player he is describing on a personal or football level and he brings that dislike into his report.

 

For instance, one heading in the evening paper read –

Stein May Stage New Double-Act

‘Jock Stein’s bold experiment of playing John Hughes and Joe McBride as Celtic’s twin strikers at Clydebank last night was such a big success that the new partnership may be sent out against Hearts on Saturday”.

 

So far, so good. That reporter seems to be a fan of both Joe and John. However, another report about the match against Clydebank – in the same paper – said ;

First team men Jim Craig and Joe McBride were Celtic stars. Their class and polish was very obvious. The same could not be said of John Hughes, whose shooting and passing were sometimes woeful’.

You win some; you lose some!

 

8th December

Craig and Lennox Back

‘Right back Jim Craig and inside-left Bobby Lennox are back in the Celtic team tomorrow – for the first time since their return from South America.

Out of the team to play Hearts, however, is Bertie Auld, who is unwell.

Craig and Lennox were in the Scotland team against Wales on November 22 – their only appearances in the big time since the return of Celtic from the games against Racing Club in Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

Both players had stomach upsets but now they are fully fit and back in first-team action.

Bertie Auld became ill on Wednesday and missed training yesterday. Today manager Jock Stein ruled out Auld and decided to play Lennox at inside-left with John Hughes at outside-left.

Again missing from the Celtic team is Joe McBride, who was a scorer in the friendly game against Clydebank on Wednesday.

The forward line is Johnstone and Wallace ; Chalmers; Lennox and Hughes.

With Craig back in the side, Tommy Gemmell switches back to the left-back role, with the half-back line being Murdoch, McNeill and Clark’.


Morning of the Match

This was a bad day in Scotland. Heavy snow had fallen in the north of the country and there was frost almost everywhere. Three First Division matches had been cancelled already but the pitch at Celtic Park seemed to be fine, as it had a new covering –

‘Celtic’s new style anti-frost mats are being given their first real test of the winter in the hope that the Parkhead pitch will be in good condition for the match against Hearts.

When the Celtic players gathered for training yesterday their first task was to help place the mats, filled with a new type of straw, on the pitch to prevent frost making it bone hard for the game.

The main value of the new-type mats is that there is no residue left on the pitch.

Last season Celtic placed ordinary straw on the pitch but they found that the residue left ‘dead’ patches’.

By the time we got there about an hour-and-a-half before the kick-off, the mats had been removed by the ground staff and the pitch looked in good nick. Unfortunately, while the ground staff did not have anything left to do on the pitch, they were busily employed round the stadium, clearing any frost patches and putting down some sand on the approaches.

 

Matches against Hearts were usually close-run affairs and this one would be no different, as the two teams were placed pretty close to each other in the league table –

 

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Rangers 13 11 2 0 24 7 3.43 24
Celtic 12 9 2 1 32 6 5.33 20
Hibernian 13 8 1 4 30 18 1.67 17
Hearts 13 7 3 3 27 23 1.17 17

 

Only three points of a difference but look at the difference in the goals-against column. Was their defence a bit porous?

Anyway, the atmosphere was as good as usual and I was welcomed back by the boys as if I was a newcomer. To tell the truth, I felt like a new boy, as I had not been in the first team for some time and although I had come through everything I had been asked to do, including the friendly against Clydebank in midweek, there was just the feeling at the back of my mind that a recurrence of the nausea might occur. I quickly put the thought out of my mind and got ready for the match.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Lennox, Hughes.
Sub: O’Neill

Hearts

Cruikshank
Sneddon, Mann
Anderson, Thomson, Miller
Jensen, G Fleming, J Fleming, Ford, Traynor.
Sub: Kemp

 

The Play

Sometimes football match are described, to use an old cliché, as being a ‘game of two halves’. Well, this one came under a different category; it was ‘a game of one half’. Most of the action came in the first period, all the goals came during that time and the second half, by contrast, was pretty comfortable for us.

I mentioned that the pitch was in good condition but perhaps I should modify that statement by saying that it was certainly not hard but was a bit on the slippy side and right from the first whistle, it appeared that we could keep our balance better than the Hearts guys. And we got off to the perfect start –

3 minutes
in attempting to prevent the ball reaching Lemon, George Fleming blasted it away but in doing so also hit it past his own keeper.  1-0 Celtic

12 minutes
trouble in the centre of the Hearts defence, Anderson fluffed his clearance and Stevie was on hand to head home. 2-0 Celtic

Naturally, that gave us a real boost and we dominated the play, getting another just past the half-hour mark –

31 minutes
good work by Jinky out on the right, a low cross to the far post and Lemon was on the right spot to knock the ball in. 3-0 Celtic

 

Just before the break, Hearts pulled on back –

40 minutes
Jim Fleming hooked a cross by Jensen into the net from close range. 3-1 Celtic

In spite of losing that late goal, it was a happy dressing-room at half-time, with the usual admonition from the manager to ‘keep up the good work’ in the second half. The play after the break was well reported in one of the following day’s papers;

‘After the interval, Hearts, tighter in defence, much more mobile in midfield and working the ball better made the game a more balanced affair but although some of the gloss had gone off Celtic’s play, notably in attack, they never looked in danger of yielding even one point’.

 

Final Score  Celtic  3  Hearts  1

 

Reserve Match

Over at Tynecastle, the reserve teams drew 3-3, with Celtic’s goals coming from Joe McBride (2) and Davie Cattenach.

 

Other Results

Airdrie P P Dunfermline
Dundee United P P Rangers
Hibs P P Clyde
Kilmarnock 3 0 Aberdeen
Morton 0 0 Dundee
Partick Thistle 2 2 Motherwell
Raith Rovers 1 1 Falkirk
Stirling Albion 0 0 St. Johnstone

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
1 Rangers 13 11 2 0 24 7 3.43 24
2 Celtic 31 10 2 1 35 7 5.00 22
3 Hibernian 13 8 1 4 30 18 1.67 17
4 Hearts 14 7 3 4 28 24 1.17 17

 

 

 

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2nd December 1967:  Celtic v Dundee United – League

27th November

Even two days after the match, the press was still going on about how well Raith Rovers had played –

 

Celtic Won’t Find It Tougher

 

Fortunately, though, further down from the headline, the report did give the players some praise, saying that we had coped with the Raith attacks pretty well, although I was also delighted to read one other comment

‘there is no doubt that the absence of Craig is not helping the defensive situation and further forward, the pace of Lennox is badly missed’.

Under the heading  – A Happy Man – we were given some information on the problems of another Celt;

‘Bobby Murdoch, the Celtic right half who was sent off in the European Cup tie against Dinamo Kiev on 4th October, reported to a meeting this morning with the Referee Committee of the SFA.

Murdoch looked a worried man as he arrived for the meeting just after 10am but one hour later, he was almost bouncing down the stairs. “I have been severely censured” he announced “and you could say that I am a very happy man”.

 

Apart from the injured ones, which still included me, the rest of the squad was given the day off. I worked pretty hard and was feeling better, as was Lemon, another victim of that South American virus.

 

28th November

Everyone back to training, so Barrowfield was a crowded place. Long runs, short runs, passing, shooting then a match to finish with the two usual teams – the ‘Bibs’ and the ‘Non-Bibs’ – taking part in what was sometimes an 18-a-side contest, with a maximum of only two touches allowed. It was the hardest – and quickest- match of the week and we all looked forward to it.

An Aberdeen party of 15 players plus management and directors left Dyce Airport for Belgium to play Standard Liege in a second round first-leg tie in the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Liverpool were beaten 1-0 by Ferencvaros of Hungary in Budapest in the first leg of a 3rd round tie in the Fairs Cities Cup.

 

29th November

The previous evening, Rangers had been beaten 1-3 by FC Cologne but the late away goal – scored by Willie Henderson in time added on – made the aggregate score 4-3 in favour of the Light Blues.

As you might imagine, it was a result that delighted Rangers fans all over the world but judging by the headline in one of the West German papers, not everyone thought they deserved to go through

Lucky Rangers

 

Back in Glasgow, it was just another day at Barrowfield, with now fewer players on the treatment table. It had been a while since we last had a full week’s training and everyone was feeling good, although there were the usual complaints about sore legs and knees. One of Neilly Mochan’s special strengths was that he seldom listened at a time like that; even back then, it was called ‘old school’ but it sure made his job a lot easier.

Later that night at Easter Road, Hibs pulled off an amazing result. 1-4 down from the first leg in Italy, they hammered Napoli 5-0 in the home leg to go through to the 3rd Round of the Fairs Cup on a 6-4 aggregate.

 

30th November

Not much information was being given out to the press that week about the injured ones. We could tell that by the fact that the papers were full of other stories, like the Hibs comeback or the interview by Bob Kelly for the BBC in a special programme to celebrate St Andrew’s Day. Mr Kelly traced the history of Celtic from its foundation through the early days.

 

There was one other story which caught the eye. Under the heading;

Now Spurs Know How Celtic Felt

…….the report gave some details of the match the previous evening, when Tottenham Hotspur lost 0-1 to Lyon in France. The result was disappointing enough but what was worse was that the match degenerated into what was effectively a punch-up, with several Spurs players suffering some damage.

 

1st December

It was announced that the team to play Dundee United would not be announced until tomorrow. I, for one, was annoyed when I heard that. I had just volunteered for one of Neilly’s special fitness test – you know, the one behind the goal where you sprint from bib to bib at his command – and came through it –if I may say so – superbly; in fact, Neilly, plus the Boss, who was watching, said that I was probably the quickest at doing this particular test. But the Boss refused to say anything about my chances of a game.

I think he was being advised by ‘Fitsy’, who could be very pessimistic sometimes, probably to compensate for the optimism demonstrated by players in general where injuries are concerned. They always want to come back as quickly as possible.

 

Everyone was pretty confident of our chances the following day. However, there was a piece in one of the evening papers which might have made every Celtic fan think a bit;

‘Tomorrow Celtic entertain the only club to beat them in the league last season. The club has a date with danger; for they cannot boast an unbroken of success against Dundee United – even at Parkhead.

The fact that Jim Craig and Bobby Lennox are doubtful does not help – but Jock Stein has so many first-class men under his command that I think they will pick up full points’.


2nd December 1967 Celtic v Dundee United League – Report

 

Morning of the Match

It was a non-provision of food day so we came in just over an hour or so before the kick-off, having taken on our provisions at home. I was a bothered man that morning. Something – I know not what – was nagging at my mind, telling me that I was not in the side. I could not get rid of the thoughts and must have been a fairly quiet team-mate to everyone that morning.

Right on cue, just as I was wondering if the Boss was ever going to announce the team, he did…and I was not in it again. He must have seen something in my facial expression, as he motioned for me to go outside and then joined me there, taking me into his room. He explained that they were all very pleased with the way I was progressing but the Doc had mentioned (I knew it!) that a virus can take some time to leave the system and with the way I played requiring 100% fitness, he was going to give me another seven days of training and I would come back in against Hearts next week.

I was disappointed but appreciated the chat and the reasoning. Now, it was up to me to take advantage of the extra seven days.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Shevlane, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Chalmers, Wallace, Auld, Hughes.
Sub: McBride

Dundee Utd

Mackay
Miller, Briggs
Wood, Smith, Gillespie
Seeman, Rolland, Hainey, Graham, Wilson.
Sub: Berg

 

The Opposition

At that point, Dundee United were lying in 6th place in the table, with a record of P12, W4, D5, L3, F18, A25, Pts13.

 

The Play

From my position in the stand, I thought that we started quite brightly. Still, that did not mean that United retreated into their shells, far from it. They would just do the defensive routine when we attacked and then come forward to put our own defence under the cosh. As the first half went on, our guys probably had more of the possession but when the Arabs did get it, they could cause some problems, with old-timer Davie Wilson, nominally at outside-left but obviously having been given a roaming brief, showing his class.

In different circumstances, it might have been funny to hear the older supporter, who had suffered through the years of the early 60s when Davie Wilson was a constant thorn in Celtic’s side when with Rangers, complaining that he was now doing again..and with a different club.

 

I was not in the dressing-room at half –time. Instead, I retreated to the tea-room, where I was well attended to by the serving ladies, the tea and cake both excellent. However, I heard from the guys later that the Boss was in top form at the break and not a happy man, complaining about a number of matters, sparing no one but being particularly critical of the defence.

 

Things did not start any better in the second half and halfway through, matters became even worse for Celtic –

73 minutes
Ronnie had been forced to make two fine saves from Davie Wilson but this time his left-foot shot was quite unsaveable. 1-0 United

The small coterie of United fans were delighted and raised their voices, hopeful that this would be another of the days when Celtic were put to the sword. Their happiness, however, only lasted for a minute –

74 minutes
a hard shot by Chopper came back off the keeper to Stevie whose own attempt hit Donald MacKay again and re-bounded back to Chopper, who made no mistake second time round. 1-1

Thus endeth the football…..but the boxing soon started. 16 minutes from the end, Chris Shevlane came off with a leg knock, Wispy went to right-back and Joe McBride came on.

Almost immediately, the relationship between Wispy and Davie Wilson became fractious and when Wispy clattered Davie off the ball in the 84th minute, referee Mr R. C. Greenlees, who had not seen the incident but had spoken to Wispy earlier in the match for rough play, accepted the advice of his linesman and sent Wispy off.

It had been an interesting week for Mr Greenlees. Nine days previously, in a match at Ibrox, he had ordered off Alex Ferguson of Rangers and Colin Stein of Hibs; now it was the turn of Willie Wallace of Celtic to be sent to the pavilion.

At the whistle, it was still a drawn game, with the United fans certainly the happier. A comment in one of following day’s papers was very relevant;

‘If Rangers, now four points ahead, succeed in wining the championship, Celtic may look back on the point they dropped in this game as the most important one to get away. At all events it was not an afternoon on which the club will reflect with any great pleasure!’

 

Other Results

Dundee 3 4 Partick Thistle
Dunfermline 6 0 Stirling Albion
Falkirk 2 2 Aberdeen
Hibs 0 1 Morton
Kilmarnock 3 2 Hearts
Motherwell 2 2 Raith Rovers
Rangers 2 1 Airdrie
St. Johnstone 0 2 Clyde

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Rangers 13 11 2 0 24 7 3.43 24
Celtic 12 9 2 1 32 6 5.33 20
Hibernian 13 8 1 4 30 18 1.67 17
Hearts 13 7 3 3 27 23 1.17 17
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25th November 1967: Raith Rovers v Celtic League

20th November

While Ronnie, Lemon, Jinky and myself were down at Largs with the Scotland party, our Celtic guys had been taken to Seamill for a few days. I wonder how they managed without me!

The press had been quite complimentary about the performance against Falkirk …..

 All-Star Celts in Top Form

……..so our guys would have enjoyed the relative peace and quiet of the Hydro – only residents would have been there at this time of year – with few pressmen turning up to shatter the tranquility. They would have been covering the Scotland- Wales match.

 

23rd November

After a few days out of the limelight, I suspect that Boss thought it was time to hit the headlines again and he certainly did in that days evening editions –

Celtic’s Big Push

Jock Stein Steps Up Training Schedule

Now We will Get Down To Work In Earnest

 

‘Manager Jock Stein said “there will be no more days of relaxation at Seamill. We had four boys with the Scotland team at Largs so we thought it would be a good idea to give the others a break too. But that is it. From now on we will be working harder than ever at Barrowfield”.

 

24th November

On the Friday morning, we were all back at work, although it was a fairly relaxed session, the norm on the day before a match. Lemon and myself were pulled aside by the Boss after training and told that, just as a precaution, he would not be playing either of us against Raith Rovers. His reasoning was that, although we had both played in midweek against Wales, he thought that the two of us were not quite firing on all cylinders after that attack from the virus and he felt that he had the squad to cope with the Rovers. Bobby and I looked at each other, each one waiting for the other to say something but we did not do it in time and the Boss merely clapped us on the shoulders and left.

Then, Bobby and I said to each other almost in unison – “why didn’t you say something?”


 

The Opposition

Raith Rovers had only been promoted to the First Division the previous season and were where no team wants to be at that time of the year, just above the bottom two. And it was expected by everyone that they, like a lot of other clubs we had met recently, would pack their defence and try to keep us out.

 

The Teams

Bobby Lennox and John Clark, who, like myself, were also recovering from injury, played in a reserve match at Celtic Park against Stranraer Reserves, a match which Celtic won 9-0. The team was Fallon, Young, Cattenach, Hay, Connelly, Clark, Macari, McKellar, Quinn, Gallagher, Lennox.

I rather fancied being there as well but was told to travel to Kirkcaldy with the first team. I have always liked the Fife Coast but have never been a great fan of wind, so that day I had several layers on to make sure that my watching brief in the stand would be a warm one. And I hoped a pleasant one.

Raith Rovers

Reid
Hyslop, Grey
Stein, Davidson, Porterfield
Murphy, Sneddon, Wallace, Richardson, Falconer.
Sub:  Cunningham

Celtic

Simpson
Gemmell, O’Neill
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Auld, Hughes.
Sub: McBride

 

The Play

I think that a quote from Jock Stein summed up the essence of the contest that afternoon. He said after the match ;

“we went to Stark’s Park expecting the usual dour defensive set –up that we have encountered already this season. The Raith Rovers side, newly promoted and finding their feet in the First Division, surprised us all by throwing a spanner in the works and, instead of sticking strictly to defence, they came at us from the kick-off and knocked us completely out of our stride”.

 

That is a wonderfully precise description of what happened that afternoon. Goodness, the man should have taken up journalism!

The crowd of 16,000, not all Celtic fans by any means, witnessed a real contest and at the end of the match, the Raith players got an ovation from both sets of supporters. There could be little doubt that we made more and better chances but every single man in Raith’s un-numbered blue jerseys put a shift in and stuck to the task.

 

Before the season started, Jock Stein advised us that teams from all divisions would try to show that they were as good as the team which won the European Cup. Well, that afternoon in the Kingdom, those words were very relevant. The boys from Kirkcaldy did try their best to knock the European Champions off their perch.

 

Both goals came in the second half –

56 minutes
Yogi was pulled down by goalkeeper Reid, Tam stepped forward and hammered his shot off the bar and the into the net.  1-0 Celtic

 

66 minutes
Wispy got a fine shot in which beat the keeper. 2-0 Celtic

Other incidents in an eventful game were –

44 minutes
Jim Brogan injured in a challenge. It was treated at the interval but he could not continue and Joe McBride came on to replace him.

 

88 minutes
another penalty for Celtic. Yogi was pulled down by keeper Reid and Tam went into action. Unfortunately, though, when this one hit the cross-                          bar, it ricochetted back into the field of play and was cleared.

 

Final Score  Raith Rovers  0  Celtic  2

 

 

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1st January 1968: Clyde v Celtic – League

31st December 1967

No doubt many of the guys had enjoyed the evening of the 30th, after the Dunfermline match. The Pars always gave Celtic a good workout at that time and the last game of the year had been no exception. So, I suppose we were all entitled to enjoy ourselves but with moderation, as we had two games in three days coming up.

That was the reason why we were all in on the morning of Hogmanay and put in a fairly light session on the track. That word ‘we’ should perhaps be qualified as one of our number was struggling a bit –me!

Late in the Pars match, on a run forward, I had been tackled by two of their players, one coming in from each side, and my left ankle took a real battering. After Neilly’s cold water treatment, I managed to finish the match but on the way home and all during the night, I could feel it stiffening and it was extremely painful on pressure and turning.

By the morning of the 31st, when I reported to Parkhead, it was swollen, hot and very tender to touch. When I saw the reaction of both Bob Rooney and Doc Fitzsimmons, I just knew there was no chance of me playing at least in the Clyde match the following day. And the Boss was fuming, not with me I hasten to add but with the two Pars players involved in the challenge, whom he almost accused of targeting me. He then went on to tell Bob that he wanted me back fit as soon as possible so I just knew that for the next few days I would be spending a fair bit of time in the treatment room.

 

Morning of the Match

My parents did not go in for great celebrations at New Year, so I was in bed shortly after the bells, although it seemed a fair while before I dropped off, long enough to hear the noise from all the revellers going up and down the street.

On New Year’s Day, I was the first player to arrive at the park and was soon on the treatment table. Later on, the rest of the squad arrived in dribs and drabs, there were handshakes and good wishes all round and the atmosphere could hardly have been bettered, although I suspect that I was a fairly miserable beggar all the way through the festivities.

Then it was a short bus journey across the south side of the city to Shawfield, where a good number of fans were waiting to greet us. And, as you might imagine, among the ‘sair heids’, there were many full of the spirit of the New Year.

 

The Opposition

At this time, Clyde were a part-time side and were without a manager, their previous boss Davie White having recently left for Ibrox. They were in 7th place in the table, with a record of
P17, W9, D1, L7, F28, A23, Pts19
compared to Celtic’s
P16, W13, D2, L1, F47, A13, Pts28.
However, no matter the difference in league placing the Bully Wee players always rose to a challenge against Celtic and they would be up for another one that afternoon.


Pre-Match

It seemed to have been raining for days in Glasgow and when the guys went out to check on conditions, they found that the going would be heavy. That was not good news for us because those types of conditions are great levelers and as Celtic would have been regarded as the better team of the two, the Clyde players would have been very happy to see the sticky surface.

 

The Teams

As well as yours truly out with injury, the Boss had left out John Clark and Jimmy Johnstone.

Clyde

Wright
Glasgow, Soutar
Anderson, Fraser, McHugh
McFarlane, Hood, Staite, Stewart, Hastings.
Sub: Delaney

Celtic

Simpson
Cattenach, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Lennox, Chalmers, McBride, Auld, Hughes.
Sub: Gallagher

 

The Play

This was quite an odd match to watch as Clyde scored first, Celtic knocked in three before half-time and then the Shawfield men came back in to the game with another just after the break. And, as one of the following day’s papers pointed out – ‘Celtic’s defence did not look comfortable at these stages’.

Four goals in the first half caught the attention of the fans –

6 minutes
Anderson hit a great shot which dipped in just under the bar.  1-0 Clyde

35 minutes
a cut-back from the bye-line by Jim Brogan was met by Steve Chalmers  1-1

38 minutes
A fine shot by Brogie was side-footed in by Joe McBride.  2-1 Celtic

45 minutes
This time a shot by Stevie was deflected in off Glasgow.  3-1 Celtic

The Boss no doubt was quite happy at the interval ( due to my injury I was not present ) but he would have been less happy after two minutes of the second half –

47 minutes
McFarlane was allowed to come forward unchallenged and he took his chance to lash a great strike past Ronnie. 3-2 Celtic

From then to the end, we dominated the play but the Clyde guys worked hard too and there was always the worry that they might get another breakaway, as they had for their second goal.

A worrying feature for us was that Ronnie took what looked like quite a severe knock when going up for a high ball and needed some on-field treatment before resuming; and nobody in the Celtic camp was pleased when Stevie scored what looked like a perfectly good goal near the end which was disallowed for offside.

Final Score  Clyde 2  Celtic  3

 

It was a happy dressing –room at the end but the Boss was quick to warn us – as if we didn’t know – that there was another game coming up on the morrow. So, it was a more subdued squad of players on the bus journey back to Celtic Park; once there, the vast majority headed for their cars but two waited behind. Ronnie, who was being taken to hospital for a look at his injury and me, who went back on to the treatment table.

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22nd November 1967: Scotland 3 Wales 2 – Home International Championship

You will forgive me, I hope, if I break away from Celtic matters to cover the days leading up to my first international appearance. It was quite heartening to have been chosen but whether to take the opportunity of playing was quite another matter.

As you will have realised from my previous reports, I was still suffering from the virus I had picked up in South America, a vicious little brute which was causing me to be affected by nausea, sometimes there all the time, at others only occasionally but almost always present when I was playing. Most of the time, it was not too bad; then there were the moments when it felt as though someone was grabbing my insides with a glove covered in spikes.

I had spoken to two people about the risk of playing. In other words, I asked if I should take the opportunity to pick up my first cap even though there was the chance that I would not be performing to 100% of my ability. These two men were my Dad and the Boss. Both of them replied in the same way – “well, its up to you, son”.

Not much help, you’ll agree. But I learned from it; whenever any of my sons or daughter was in a similar position, I unhesitatingly told them not to play. I just wish, though, that I had been quite so positive about my own case.

 

What follows is a brief resume of the days with the international squad leading up the clash with Wales on 22 November –

 

19th November

The chosen squad meets up at SFA headquarters in Park Gardens, from where we are bussed down to our hotel in Largs. When the rooms are allocated, I find out that I am paired with Jim Baxter and he proves a nice laddie, with an entertaining line of chat in that Fife accent. Later, I found out that he thought my Govan one a bit gruff!

For the rest of the day, it was just a question of catching up with guys I knew and meeting ones I had only heard or read about. It was amazing how many questions I had to ask about Lisbon and the events surrounding it. It brought it home to me just what a big moment that was for – not only Scottish football – but the British game as well.

 

20th November

Practice match at Rugby Park, where Malcolm McDonald has arranged for us to play against his Kilmarnock side. It seemed to go well for everyone and I felt reasonably good, only once or twice being struck by the ‘intestine-crusher’ and even then it was fairly mild.

After dinner in the evening, Bobby Brown announced the team for the match. There had been reports in the press that he was going to drop Ronnie and play Bobby Clark of Aberdeen, one of the reasons being given was the 16 year gap in their ages. And when the team was read out, there was indeed no Ronnie. However, that still left three Celts in the side –

Clark (Aberdeen), Craig (Celtic), McCreadie (Chelsea), Greig (Rangers), McKinnon (Rangers), Baxter (Sunderland), Johnstone (Celtic),
Bremner (Leeds), Gilzean (Tottenham Hotspur), Lennox (Celtic) and Johnston (Rangers).

 

21st November

Bobby Brown had us up early and well before 10am we were training at the Inverclyde Training Centre in Largs.

After lunch, we boarded the bus again for a trip back up to Glasgow where one of the TV stations had prepared films for us to see, which included the Scotland v England encounter at Wembley earlier in 1967 and the recent Wales v England match which England won 3-0.

 

22nd November

The morning papers gave big coverage to the match but what made the most prominent headline was the possibility that the game would be affected by fog, forecast by the experts to come sown around dusk. The authorities take no chances and arrange for referee Jim Finney of England to inspect the ground firstly at 3pm and then again at 5pm.

 

Down at Largs, we had a final training session before heading for Hampden. By the time we arrived, there was some light fog floating around but it would not interfere with the match going ahead.

 

The Match

It was not a good performance by the Scots; in fact, the only commendable feature was that we won 3-2, with the winning goal coming from centre-half Ronnie McKinnon, not noted for his goal-scoring. Few in the side played particularly well, with several being castigated in the newspaper report the following day –

‘This was a good result, against a surprisingly good Welsh team but the fact remains that a number of men in dark blue jerseys were failures. Jim Baxter was one; so too was his Anglo pal Billy Bremner; while Willie Johnston struggled to impose himself on the game. Jim Craig made one or two slips but generally he had a good first international match.

Jimmy Johnstone had a sprightly start but gradually faded from the picture, although he would not have been helped by stupid – and unpatriotic – shouts of “Henderson…..Henderson”.

 

Frankly, I had found it a long night. All through the game I could feel the cramps just there, as they were waiting to burst out. It meant that I found running flat-out quite uncomfortable, so did it as seldom as possible. In fact, in one report, I noticed that I was described as ‘slow’. Now, you could accuse me of many things but ‘slow’ wasn’t one of them. In all the teams I played for, when it came to the sprints, I was right up there at, or near, the front. No, the truth is that I should probably not have played. However, you also have to remember the circumstances and I would ask you this question. If you received a phone call to say that you have been picked to play for the national side for the first time, would you call off because you were having a problem with an injury that ‘occasionally’ was a problem? Or would you take a chance?

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18th November 1967: Celtic v Falkirk – League

16th November

Training as usual, which meant that those who had played the previous evening did very little and those who had sat the game out worked pretty hard. On a personal basis, I was still feeling a bit off-colour. Oh! I could take part in most of the activities relevant to a training session but when running flat-out I felt decidedly queasy.

I saw the Doc after training and heard what I frankly did not want to hear, which was that a condition like that was not suddenly going to clear up and that I would have to be patient. I felt like asking him how he would have felt if the doctor at the time ‘Fitsy’ played for Celtic – between 1934 and 1938 – had said the same thing to him. Patience is the last thing a professional player takes into account; even a longish career is a short one by most other standards and I was very keen to get back into the swing of things. I was even due to pick up my first ‘cap’ the following week so it was imperative for me to get better. But he was as adamant as before. “Plenty of fluids and keep taking those tablets” was his consistent message.

I nodded but was not a happy bunny.

The press that morning had been not too complimentary about the team’s performance but very enthusiastic about the play of one player;

Celtic Slow To Turn Pressure Into Goals

Johnstone Turns on the Magic

 

I had heard nothing more about the international against Wales the following week – and neither had the Boss – so a headline in one of the evening papers was all I had to go on;

Brown Delays Naming Scots Team

 

17th November

After the usual fairly light session on the track, the Boss pulled Lemon and myself aside and told us that he had spoken to Bobby Brown and that the Scotland team manager was quite happy at the fact that neither of us would be playing against Falkirk on the Saturday. There was to be a practice match for the Scotland side on the Monday and Bobby Brown would see then if Bobby or myself was fit enough to take our places in the team to face Wales.

And there was a surprise when the team to play Falkirk was announced. Willie Wallace dropped out and was replaced by Joe McBride; apart from that, it was the team which had beaten Kilmarnock 3-0.


Morning of the Match

I came in to Parkhead about an hour before the kick-off and I noticed that the guys had all been coming in around the same time, so no pre-match meal had obviously been provided. That meant that the message from the top was quite clearly being laid down – this is a match that must be won!

I was quite delighted when I heard the Celtic team. Joe McBride’s name was read out.  Joe was a popular guy with the squad and everyone was willing him to get over his injury problems, so it was great to see him getting ready for the match that afternoon.

When you are not playing and you come into the dressing-room before a match, you always feel a bit like a spare ‘whats-it’ at a wedding. So, with a quick ‘all the best’ to the guys, I left them to it and went outside in search of some food.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Gemmell, O’Neill
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Chalmers, McBride, Auld, Hughes.
Sub: Wallace

Falkirk

Devlin
Moreland, Hunter
Scott, Baillie, Gibson
Marshall, Smith, Vincent, McLaughlin, Watson.
Sub: Gilmour

 

The Play

The Bairns were down near the wrong end of the table and I would have thought that manager John Prentice must have been in a difficult position as Celtic must have been the last team he wanted to visit just then. Should he try to shut up shop knowing that one goal against would rather spoil his plan or should he just let his players off the leash and go down fighting – or even spring a surprise?

Before we could work out what exactly the plan was, we were struck by a problem –

2 minutes
going up for a high ball, Joe McBride clashed heads with Gibson and was led from the field by Neilly Mochan with blood streaming down his face. It was obviously serious and Willie Wallace was immediately brought on.

The change of personnel did not make much of a difference to our system of play and we went into top gear, making a few chances which were either saved or cleared. In fact, the highlight of the opening period was when an Alsatian dog ran on to the pitch and in spite of efforts by players and police, spent a couple of minutes being really evasive.

Eventually, he was taken off, the crowd settled down and we went ahead –

21 minutes
low cross by Bertie, back-heeled by Wispy out to Yogi, whose shot was headed into the net by Stevie. 1-0 Celtic

Frankly, although goals were proving difficult, we were well on top and it only seemed a matter of time before we breached the Falkirk defence again. And that happened 10 minutes later;

32 minutes
a lob into the box by Tam and Stevie was again the man on the spot. 2-0 Celtic

The fans relaxed, now expecting more. By half-time, though, none had come and I was surprised coming down from the stand to hear one or two adverse comments about the lack of goals.

I would have imagined that the Boss would have been fairly happy with a 2-0 score-line at half-time and certainly when the guys came out for the second period, they once more went into control mode and peppered the Falkirk with shots and headers. Unfortunately for us, the Falkirk defence was having one of those day when it could have stopped a Panzer tank and kept the tally down to two until almost the end –

89 minutes
great run by Jinky to the byeline followed by a cut-back which Yogi, from very close-range, hooked home.

Final Score  Celtic 3  Falkirk  0

 

Reserves

In the reserve match at Brockville, Celtic Reserves drew 2-2 with Falkirk Reserves.

 

Other Results

Morton 3 1 Clyde
Motherwell 1 2 Kilmarnock
Partick Thistle 3 3 Hearts
Raith Rovers 0 1 Dundee United
St. Johnstone 0 0 Airdrie
Stirling Albion 2 4 Rangers
Hibs 1 0 Aberdeen

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
1 Rangers 11 9 2 0 20 6 3.33 20
2 Celtic 10 8 1 1 29 5 5.80 17
3 Hibernian 11 8 1 2 30 15 2.00 17
4 Hearts 11 7 2 2 24 7 3.43 16

 

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