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5th September 1967: Celtic v Penarol –  Friendly

4th September

 

A good morning at training. With both the first team and the reserve side having won their weekend fixtures, the atmosphere was great and the training consisted mainly of the short stuff which everyone loved, followed by everybody’s favourite – shooting practice!

It was a very happy bunch of players who made their way – on foot – back to Parkhead from Barrowfield but en route, as I chatted with some of the guys, I realised that we did not know much about our opponents of the morrow. It then dawned on me that everyone else would be in the same boat.

 

So, what did we know about Penarol?

Very little, to be honest. Most Scottish fans of the time had very little knowledge of South American football. Certainly, we were all aware of Pele and the quality of not only Brazil but Uruguay and Argentina as well. However, when it came to the club sides, they received much less attention than the international teams and TV coverage in those days hardly covered the European scene far less any matches from South America.

 

Penarol, in fact, came from Uruguay and played in the capital Montevideo, where their ground – the Centenario Stadium – had a capacity of just over 73,000. From its early days, the club has always provided players to the international side, especially the World Cup-winning teams of 1930 and 1950.

Penarol won the South American Libertadores Club Cup {the equivalent of the European Cup } in 1960, 1961 and 1966 and also picked up the World Club Cup in 1961 (beating Benfica in the final) and 1966 (Real Madrid).

 

So, as used to hear fans say about opposing teams when I was wee boy –“well, they’ll be nae mugs”.

And with a record like that, never were truer words spoken. We would have to be at our best against this team and although it was only classed as a ‘friendly’, the Boss kept reminding us that European Champions didn’t play friendlies.

From what I read in the morning press that day, Jock Stein was keen to play his full European Cup-winning side against the South Americans – “I think out full line-up will give us a big psychological advantage. We want to play as we did against Inter Milan and we want to win the match”.

 

We also got news of our visitors;  ‘Penarol – who had been playing in a tournament in Spain where they lost 0-2 to Valencia – arrive in Glasgow this evening, too late to train. However, it is expected that they will come to Celtic Park in the morning to check the pitch and also have a run-out on it’.

Penarol, in fact, had been taking part in the Ramon de Caranza tournament in Cadiz. After losing that match to Valencia – who went on to beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the final – the Uruguayan side beat Vasco Da Gama of Brazil 3-1 in the 3rd place match.

 

There was an unusual piece in one of the evening papers. Three players – Bertie Auld, Peter Cormack (Hibs) and Jimmy Smith (Aberdeen) had all been called up by the SFA Disciplinary Committee to answer charges of misconduct. That seemed to be quite normal but the offences were for incidents occurring nearly two months previously.

Bertie’s offence was in the testimonial match against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu on 7th June and the other two players were ordered off in a close-season tournament in the USA.

That does seem a long time to keep the players waiting but when challenged on the decision, the Committee said that they had only received the paperwork this week.

 

In the Glasgow Cup semi-final at Hampden later that evening, Clyde beat Queen’s Park 2-1. The Bully Wee will now face Celtic or Rangers in the final.


5th September  – Morning of match

Whenever we had a night match, I always found that the morning and afternoon dragged and I had too much time on my hands. I was quite keen to take on some dental work but also wondered how the Boss would feel about that. Anyway, that day my Mum solved my problem as she asked if I would run her up to the City Centre where she wanted to visit Lewis’s, the large department store on Argyle Street. I was delighted to do so but while she was doing her shopping, I stayed in the car, happy to read the papers. Meeting our fans was great but not everyone supported Celtic.

 

By late afternoon, I was on my way up to Parkhead, the excitement growing. It might have been only a friendly but they were a ‘big team’ in the football world and a victory over Penarol would do our image no harm at all.

When I arrived and started chatting to the guys, I could feel from their manner that they were getting worked up too, so it looked as though we were in for a good night, as we always played better when a little apprehension was showing. After all, this was the World Club Champions we were facing; we needed to be at our best.

 

The Teams

The Boss had certainly hinted beforehand that the Lisbon eleven would take to the field and that is exactly what happened –

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

Penarol
Mazurkiewicz
Lezeano, Figueroa
Forlan, Goncalves, Gonzalez
Abbedie, Rocha, Spencer, Cortes, Joys

 

The Play

The words in this first report are from a Scottish reporter, whom we might expect to be a little biased –

‘On their display against Penarol at Parkhead in the first half Celtic had all the appearance of world beaters. Before a crowd of 56,000, Celtic for speed, variety of moves and directness of approach had the Uruguayans outclassed and the two goals scored by Wallace in 8 and 37 minutes inadequately reflected their general superiority’.

 

However, this second report comes from an English writer, who from his comments in the past had shown little sympathy or respect for the Scots –

‘Glasgow belonged to Celtic last night and even the most ardent, dyed-in-the-blue Rangers fan would not deny this after the manner in which they hammered world club champions Penarol.

The glory of Celtic was not only in their victory but the manner in which they triumphed – and the impeccable behaviour of the players and spectators, which could give points to the hooligans of England.

When the exciting action of the night was through the 56,000 crowd roared their appreciation as Celtic lined up to applaud the Uruguayans off the field.

Proud Celtic, the first Britons to win the European cup, went straight for the world champions. They stormed forward, urged on by a crowd who endlessly roared, sang and chanted.

And finally they walked off, their faces glowing with pride, to light up a typical Glasgow autumn night heavily burdened with black rain clouds.

It was the wee Scots terrier spirit that finally made the giant men from Uruguay look flat-footed and ponderous.

These great men of Celtic in the green-and-while shirts played with confidence – but most of all with pride.

And they inevitably, joyously triumphed, unflattered by the score, to emphasise that British football, played the British way, can beat the world – like England and so very much like Celtic.

Match star? Only one here – the magnificent Celtic’.

 

Quite an accolade. And the headline in another paper also was very complimentary –

Celtic Outclass World Champions In First Half

 

Final Score  Celtic  2  Penarol  1

 

It was a great night for Celtic. For yours truly, the first half was much better than the second. Halfway through the latter, one of their midfield players launched himself at me from the side, catching me just where the muscle meets the shin bone at that point. It was agonizing. I was taken off to the side where Neilly Mochan, after a look at it, called for the assistance of first Bob Rooney and then our club doctor John Fitzsimmons. They ruled that I had to come off and to be honest, it was so painful that I lost all interest in the match. I was more worried about my leg.

I went into the dressing room, washed as best I could and then just sat there until the end of the match. Everyone was quite delighted when they came in from the pitch and it had been a great victory over a team who were world champions. I’m afraid, though, that all the celebrations went right over my head. The leg was throbbing away and I was taken into the treatment room, where the wound was washed and cleaned and the gash closed with plaster sutures meantime. Apparently, we would see the cut in the morning and make a decision on it then. So, once nearly all the crowd had dispersed, I walked – slowly – to the car park to get myself home. Probably I should not have driven in that state but in those days that was never thought of. I just got on with it!