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6th April 1968: Hearts v Celtic – League

 

1st April

The next match due up was a visit to Pittodrie on the 4th April and both managers were pretty sure of the teams they wanted to run out on the Wednesday. Aberdeen had beaten Falkirk 2-0 at the week-end and apparently had no injury set-backs so manager Eddie Turnbull announced an unchanged side for the clash with Celtic.

Celtic manager Jock Stein was quoted as saying

“our team picks itself at present. We trained today and will have another session tomorrow before travelling to Aberdeen on Wednesday. We will stay in Aberdeen after the match”.

 

Celtic’s decision to seek entry to the Second Division for their reserve team brought a head-on clash between Tom Reid, Partick Thistle Chairman and SFA President and Jock Stein.

Reid said

“the idea is detrimental to Partick Thistle. With Celtic operating in the Second Division they would have either their first team or second team playing at Celtic Park every Saturday. This would obviously make it difficult for clubs like Partick Thistle or Clyde to survive.

For some time, Celtic have been advocating 2 leagues of 16 teams. Now, they want to increase the 2nd Division from 19 clubs to 20 clubs. It is completely illogical and I am against the proposal”

Jock Stein replied

“our move is not motivated by selfish reasons. We feel that Scottish football needs a boost and are confident that our having a team in the Second Division would help”.

When questioned on the possibility that a second-string Celtic side could win the Second Division championship and thus win promotion, Mr Stein merely said “ we would not accept promotion”.

 

2nd April

The manager of Kilmarnock, Mr Malcolm MacDonald (an ex-Celt whose career stretched from 1932 to 1945) has been sacked by the Kilmarnock directors.

The statement said

‘the directors had terminated Mr MacDonald’s contract and that pending the appointment of a new manager, trainer Walter McCrae will be in charge of the players’.

 

3rd April

Hampden is fine for the Hearts v Morton Scottish Cup semi-final replay tonight, as is the pitch at Tannadice for the visit of Rangers. Definitely off, though, is the other semi-final replay between Dunfermline and St Johnstone at Tynecastle, an icy pitch being the problem.

And heavy snow swept across the north of Scotland last might and the Aberdeen v Celtic match was called off this morning. It will be re-arranged later.

 

4th April

At Hampden, last night, it took extra-time to separate the teams. Hearts and Morton were level on 1-1 at the end of normal time and it not until two minutes from the end of the extended period, in the 118th minute, that Roald Jensen got the winner for Hearts. The crowd was a paltry 11,565.

At Tannadice, Dundee United and Rangers had drawn 0-0, which left the top of the table like this;

P W D L F A Pts
Rangers    29 25 4 0 79 24 54
Celtic       29 25 3 1 94 20 53

 

5th April

Jock Stein announced that it would be the same side again for Celtic for the trip to Tynecastle to face Hearts.

Training had been good all week. The ground at Barrowfield and the track at Celtic Park were both hard but there was no ice or anything like they obviously had in other parts of the country and we were quite happy with it.

On the positive side, we got the news that Bertie Auld had been discharged from the Victoria Infirmary in Glasgow after his cartilage operation and it was now a question of rehabilitation. As the little guy was always on the move doing something, I’m glad that I would not be in his house over the next few weeks!


6th April 1968 Hearts v Celtic  League – Report

 

Morning of the Match

We always looked forward to heading for Tynecastle, as it was a favourite ground for most of the players. I would have imagined that Wispy would not have been too happy that morning as he could have imagined the reception he would get in going back to this old club. Fans don’t tend to be every sympathetic to players who have, in their words ‘deserted us’ for another team in the same league.

Anyway, the bus trip to the Norton Hotel in Newbridge, on the west side of the city, was uneventful, the lunch was excellent and the chat most enjoyable. Then the Boss asked the serving staff to leave after lunch and gave us a pep-talk, stressing how we could not do anything about Rangers’ slightly more advantageous position. We had to keep our minds focused on our own performances and that meant picking up full points today.

It wasn’t Battle of Bannockburn stuff, by any means, but it was good commonsense and we took it all in.

 

By the time we got to Tynecastle, there was a fair-size crowd gathering outside and the Celtic fans present, although out-numbered, gave us a great reception. From then on, it was usual pre-match routine – a look at the conditions, the announcement of the side, the getting ready etc.

One man probably not given enough credit for his work at a time like that was Jim Steele, the masseur. Not only was he excellent at his job, he was a great presence in the dressing-room. Without realising it, managers – even very talented ones like Jock Stein – can sometimes bring their worries to the surface pre-match and pass them on to the players. Steeley’s great ability was lightening the mood without ever taking it into the frivolous. His attitude was that it was a very tense and stressful time but it was not a matter of life and death and there was still a moment for a touch of lightness. That day, he was invaluable and we all felt the better for his presence.

 

The Teams

Hearts

Cruikshank
Sneddon, Mann
Anderson, Thomson, Miller
J Fleming, G Fleming, Ford, Irvine, Traynor.
Sub: Moller

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Gallagher, Hughes.
Sub: Cattenach

 

The Play

In spite of the Boss’s warnings, we were not at our best initially, although we seldom let Hearts into it and it was our struggle to score that was holding us back. In fact, we did miss some reasonable chances but it took until almost the half-hour mark before we got the goal that mattered –

29 minutes
the ball came down the left via Gemmell and Hughes and when the latter crossed, wee Jinky surprised the whole crowd by jumping higher than anyone else and then powerfully heading the ball in off the underside of the cross-bar. 1-0 Celtic

 

That gave us all a boost and suddenly it was a siege on the Hearts goal. They were having some trouble keeping us at bay and eventually the barrier did crack some 7 minutes from the interval –

38 minutes
nice long high pass forward by Chopper and Lemon was on to it quickly before lobbing it neatly over Jim Cruikshank in the Hearts goal. 2-0 Celtic

It was a happy dressing-room at the interval and we went out for the second half well aware that Hearts would come and have a go at us. And they duly did, putting our defence under considerable pressure but, to be honest, there were few chances made and we might have got another ourselves through Jinky and Lemon. At the whistle, though, the Celtic fans in the crowd of around 27,000 seemed to be happy with what they had seen gave us a great reception.

Final Score  Hearts  0  Celtic  2

 

Other Results

Aberdeen 1 2 Hibs
Dundee 0 1 Morton
Dunfermline 0 2 Airdrie
Falkirk 0 2 Raith R
Motherwell 2 1 Partick Th.
Rangers 4 1 Dundee Utd
St Johnstone 3 0 Stirling

 

 

Table

P W D L F A Pts
Rangers    30 26 4 0 83 25 56
Celtic       30 26 3 1 96 20 55

 

 

Reserves

There had also been a reserve match between Celtic and Hearts that afternoon at Celtic Park. The Celtic eleven had been John Fallon, John Murray, Chris Shevlane, John Clark, George Connelly, Willie O’Neill, Davie Hay, Pat MacMahon, Jimmy Quinn, Joe McBride, Jin Clarke. The score was 3-1 to Celtic, with the goals coming from Joe McBride, Jimmy Quinn and Jim Clarke.

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………On 4th April 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis.