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7th May 1966:  Motherwell v Celtic League – Part Two

 

Motherwell_FCPre-Match

In some ways, the pressure was off. Unless we had some kind of disastrous performance against Motherwell and lost heavily, the League was ours. We all knew that was the case but no one was thinking along those lines ; the Boss had already reminded us that he expected us to end the campaign on a high and that meant a victory that afternoon.

I thought the morning of the match dragged, although probably the fact that I kept looking at my watch did not help. I had got up early and had some breakfast, then lounged around for a bit before having my usual pre-match repast of scrambled eggs on toast. Dad had wished me all the best before heading off to his work but Mum did not really pay much attention to football as her question just before I left the house – who is it your playing again? – might suggest!

When I got to Celtic Park, a few hundred fans had turned up – not all of whom would manage to get to the match – to wish us all the best. The boys were all in good humour but I did detect a sort-off, perhaps apprehension might be the appropriate word, brought on by a desire to get to the ground and get started.

As the bus made the short journey to Motherwell, there were fans on every corner. That made us even more determined to finish on a high.

 

Press Comment

Unlike the Boss, who obviously did not want to come across as too confident, the press corps in general was of the opinion that the title was ours and the match at Motherwell – no matter the result – was a formality. It was nice to read that but from the minute we arrived at Parkhead and all during the bus trip to Fir Park, the message coming down from the top was ‘careful, just treat this match as determinedly as you did all the others’.

We did try but as the bus arrived at the ground and noticed that the welcome we received from our fans was quite exceptional, it was hard to keep one’s discipline.

 

The Teams

MotherwellMcCloy, Thomson, R McCallum, W McCallum, Martis, Murray, Lindsey, Hunter, Delaney, Cairney, Campbell.

CelticSimpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Gallagher, Chalmers, Lennox, Auld.

 

The Play

A crowd of 21,000 was reckoned to be the eventual attendance, although the match had to held up for five minutes to let everyone in.

 

‘The final word of a long campaign was written on Saturday with a timing as symmetrical as the signing of an armistice. For in the last minute of the last game of the last day of all, Lennox scored the goal which beat Motherwell by 1-0 and made Celtic the Scottish League champions on points instead of by the much less satisfying margin of goal average.

 And so Celtic became champions again after an interval of 12 years and for the 21st time in the club’s history. Now, they are Scotland’s representatives in the European Cup next season, their first venture into the most prestigious of competitions which was inaugurated after their last success in the league.

There never was indeed the slightest suggestion that Motherwell would score enough goals to deprive Celtic of their right. Equally, inaccurate shooting and McCloy’s splendid goalkeeping had cost Celtic innumerable opportunities to establish a commanding lead well before half-time’.

 

My own recollection of the match is that were completely in control of the play, made numerous chances but found ourselves up against a defence right on top of its game. In fact, it made us wonder how it could have lost 68 goals in its previous 33 matches.

From our own defence’s point of view, we had little to do and Tam and I were able to come forward, almost at will, to help the forwards.

But with time running out, it was still goalless. Then the breakthrough occurred…….

 

‘It thus seemed that Celtic’s triumph would be tinged with dissatisfaction that it had not been more positive. Then Craig, as he had done several times without success, overlapped Johnstone and having received a pass from the winger took the ball to the bye-line and turned it back for Lennox to shoot home from close range’.

 

Only seconds later, the referee, Mr Crocket of Dundee, blew the whistle for time and that was the signal for pandemonium. The players were all cuddling each other, the fans were going ballistic, we went up the tunnel to roars of appreciation but then soon had to come back out again to take more plaudits from the fans. We lifted Ronnie Simpson into the air and carted him round; Billy went into the dressing room and brought out the manager to join us for a bow; and some fans even climbed up on to the roof of the enclosure. It was crazy!…..but equally wonderful.

 

And that set the scene for the rest of the day. Celebrations in the dressing-room, on the bus back to Parkhead and then later on that evening, at a party at the house of one of the players. For the life of me, I cannot recall whose house it was ( I even asked some of the other guys whose house it was and they cannot recall either) but it sounds like it was definitely a good evening.

 

Celtic….League Champions…sounds great, doesn’t it?

 

The Reserves

On the same day at Celtic Park, the Reserve side beat Dunfermline 3-1; the team was Fallon, Young, McCarron, Brogan, Cushley, O’Neill, ‘Newman’, Connelly, J Quinn, Sweeney and McGowan; the goals were scored by Sweeney, Cushley and McGowan.

 

Final Table

At the end of the campaign, the top and bottom of the First Division table looked as follows ; –

P W D L F A Pts
Celtic 34 27 3 4 106 30 57
Rangers 34 25 5 4 91 29 55
Kilmarnock 34 20 5 9 73 46 45
Dunfermline 34 19 6 9 94 55 44
St Mirren 34 9 4 21 44 82 22
Morton 34 8 5 21 42 84 21
Hamilton Ac 34 3 2 29 27 117 8

 


A Game from the Past…and a Moment to Remember

 

Sponsored by the Jim Craig CSC

 

A Game from the Past…..Half-back Willie Black was one of the very few players that Celtic signed from Queen’s Park in the early days, joining the club on 21st April 1904 and making his first team debut against Port Glasgow Athletic in a league match down the Tail o’ the Bank on 27th August 1904, when the Green-and-Whites won 4-1.

And a Moment to Remember…..Willie had been brought in as cover for Sunny Jim Young and Jimmy Hay but unfortunately, as they were seldom injured, he did not get many opportunities in the first team, making only 10 appearances in total. Possibly, the most unusual match was against Partick Thistle just days before Christmas 1904. After Willie had been taken off badly injured by a vicious tackle by a Jags player called James Sommen, Sunny Jim went on a revenge mission and soon joined Willie Black – ordered off, not carried off – in the pavilion.


Mistake

Founded by Augustus ‘Gusty’ Spence, the paramilitary Ulster Defence Force, based in the Shankhill area of Belfast, committed the first of many bombings and assassinations in its campaign ‘to assure continued rule by the Protestant majority in Northern Ireland’.

The UVF’s first act was to detonate a petrol bomb outside a Catholic-owned pub in Shankhill. Unfortunately, the fire killed Matilda Gould, a 76-year-old Protestant widow who lived next door to the pub.

 

New League

At a press conference in New York, the start of the North American Professional Soccer League was announced, with plans to play professional soccer during the autumn of 1967 in 11 cities. The current league, re-named the National Professional Soccer League, would play in 10 cities in 1967, then merge half of its teams with a rival organization, the United Soccer Association, to create the North American Professional Soccer League.

 

At The Cinema

After ‘The Singing Nun’ had been the top grossing film in the early weeks of April 1966, that spot was taken over by ‘Dr Zhivago’, which topped the list from 17th April to 22nd May, grossing over $4 million during that period.