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8th April 1967:  Motherwell v Celtic League

6th April

The morning papers were quite clear about the Scottish Cup replay the previous evening –

 Celtic Storm Stunned Poor Clyde

And the report went on to say that we dominated the play and that the Bully Wee just could not get into the match. I would call that a fair reflection of the play.

The problem with matches on a Wednesday – presuming that there is another game on the following Saturday – is the time factor. Thursday becomes a day when the players are recovering from the exertions – and possible knocks – from the night before and of course, you are not asked to do much too much on a Friday as there another match on the Saturday. You don’t feel much sympathy? Ah! come on…you don’t want to make the wee boys work too much, surely!

 

It would not be an easy match on the following Saturday either, as a trip to Fir Park was on the cards. Motherwell were in mid-table at the time but on their day they could be better than that. They had a strong strike force but unfortunately, their main problem was keeping the gate shut at the back.

Like many sides in that area of the league, they had lost nearly as many as they had scored and that usually means that a side draws or loses more games than they win. Still, it would not be easy in Lanarkshire and we did not need the Boss to tell us that. But he did!

 

I saw Chopper doing a spot of running that morning and for the first time in a while, I thought he was moving fairly easily. It would be good to have him back but I could also see the Boss’s dilemma for the Motherwell match. Should he play Bobby in that game and risk the chance of him having coming back just a mite early or wait another five days and bring him back in the home tie against Dukla Prague? I did not offer any comment. After all, those are the types of decisions that a manager gets paid well for….so I left him to it! I did talk to Bobby, though, and he was raring to go.

 

There was a problem for another Celtic star. Wee Jimmy was not at training that morning and we were advised that he was ‘unwell’? Honestly, trying to find out what one of your colleagues was suffering from could be hard work, as the medical staff kept things like that very close to their chests. However, on the way home I bought an evening paper and found the whole story printed out for me –

Johnstone Should Be O.K.

‘Jimmy Johnstone stayed at home today nursing a mild attack of flu but manager Jock Stein said “I fully expect to see him walk into Parkhead tomorrow morning and I am pretty sure he will be able to play against Motherwell”.

Apparently, when Jimmy had been taken off against Clyde in the Scottish Cup semi-final replay – ostensibly for a knee knock – he suddenly looked dazed and groggy. He later admitted that he had been running a temperature before the match but had not wanted to let the side down by calling off just before the 8pm kick-off.

That was typical of the wee man. He could drive you daft sometimes but his heart was in the right place.

 

7th April

One morning paper noted that Aberdeen’s preparations for the Scottish Cup final – their manager and 17 players were at Hampden for the Scottish Cup final replay – would start on the following Monday morning.

Manager Eddie Turnbull said;

“We will be stepping up our training schedule and I will be doing my utmost to talk the lads into the right frame of mind of mind for the final”.

So far, so good. But then, in my opinion, he spoils his statement of purpose by putting his worst thoughts into the public domain and more importantly, possibly into the players’ minds;

 “If Celtic win the league title it means that we play in the European Cup Winners’ Cup next season, even if we lose the final”I can’t imagine that helped the players much. Surely you must be more positive than that?

 

At Parkhead, it was time for sprints on the track. We had loosened up first, of course, but then spent some time sharpening up our pace, with Chopper looking pretty good. Ronnie and Peter went behind the goals and do whatever goalkeepers do with each other over there ( it was like some form of ritual – unless you were a keeper, you were never let into the secret) while the Boss just stood at the side of the track, saying little but keeping an eye on all of us.

Personally speaking, I was feeling really good. I had got over that slight problem with my ankle and the effects of the bang on the head had disappeared, so the first time in a while I was feeling good within my own body and it could not have come at a better time, just as we were closing in on a possible three trophies.

I thought that Chopper was certainly in the frame for the match against the Steelmen but the Boss must have been thinking along the same lines as me (see above) as a headline in a morning paper stated –

Celtic May “Save” Murdoch

‘Celtic right-half Bobby Murdoch, who has missed the past three games because of an ankle injury, could again be a spectator at Fir Park tomorrow.

Manager Jock Stein, who will announce his team just before the match, said today “We will not decide whether Murdoch returns until the very last minute. Bobby is the type of player who is not prepared to spare himself in any game. That fact could weigh against him resuming at Fir Park”.


Morning of the Match

I could never get my head round one aspect of my time at Celtic Park back in those days and to be honest, I thought that there must be such an easy answer to my question that I never posed it just in case I got a shellacking for asking such a question with such an obvious answer.

Are you with me so far on this complicated journey? Good! The question I wanted to ask concerned our eating arrangements before away matches, which varied according to the venue. For instance, if we were playing at Dundee, Edinburgh or Perth, we would go to a hotel en route for a spot of pre-match lunch. On the other hand, if we were heading for Rugby Park or Somerset Park or Brockville, we were told to make our own arrangements before coming in to Celtic Park.

Fir Park was another one in point. On that particular Saturday, when we were told to report to Parkhead at about 1.30pm, I had already arranged to have something to eat in my parents house at about mid-day.

I wasn’t unhappy doing that but it did puzzle me as to the criteria for deciding which grounds were far enough away for food to be provided and which were not. And, unfortunately, as all the management personnel involved at that time are now deceased, I may never find out the answer to my question.

 

Anyway, on that day, the bus left Celtic Park in plenty of time to get us to Fir Park well before the designated kick-off time, with much of the discussion – in whispers of course – centering around the possibility of Chopper making a comeback. Tam was convinced he would be back; I still thought the Boss might wait a few more days. As I looked out of the window and reflected what had been said, I realised that our conflicting views represented our outlook on life, Tam, extroverted, always looking on the bright side, certain that something would turn up, while I was more of a worrier and a planner. Still, what is the old proverb? Opposites attract!

 

The Teams

After we had gone out on to the pitch for a check on the surface, the Boss announced the team and it transpired that I was right and Tam was wrong. Chopper was being held back for the Dukla Prague match. At least that was our assumption. Certainly he was not in the team that day. And neither was Jinky. Yogi had been brought in to replace him on the right wing. This will be interesting, I thought, as I had seldom, if ever, played on the same side of the park as the big fella.

Motherwell
McCloy
Whiteford, M Thomson
I Thomson, Martis, W McCallum
Moffat, Hunter, Deans, Campbell, Weir
Sub: Murray

Celtic
Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Wallace, McNeill, Clark
Hughes, Lennox, Chalmers, Gallagher, Auld
Sub:  Brogan

 

The Play

Wispy – a screamer.
© Daily Record

My recollection of the first half was that the Steelmen gave as good as they got and there were chances at both ends, with both keepers in good form. One paper suggested afterwards that we had half an eye on our forthcoming European Cup semi-final against Dukla Prague rather than concentrating on this match but I do not accept that. None of us ever felt like that and the reason we found things hard in that first half was that, as often happens, the  Motherwell players, keen to show the team at the top of the table that they were pretty good themselves, rose to the challenge and fought furiously. We were expecting something like that and competed ourselves. Somebody once said, or wrote, that you have to win the battle before you win the war and even in a football match, a scenario like that often crops up. But having competed and made our point in the first half skirmishes, could we then complete the campaign in the second half? The answer was – yes, we could!

 

 

 

 

 

We had to make a change at the interval – Jim Brogan on for the limping Charlie Gallagher – then set out to take control in the second half and did just that. Peter McCloy was in grand form, though, and kept out shots from Wispy and Lemon plus a header from Cesar but we kept plugging away and soon got a break –

57 minutes…..Yogi was fouled out on the left. His resulting free-kick went right across goal to Bertie, who knocked it back to Wispy and he met it on the volley to blast it into the roof of the net.  1-0 Celtic

That set-back seemed to rock the Motherwell guys and their fluency deserted them, putting us even more in control. Eleven minutes from the end, we got the clincher;

79 minutes…..Bertie was brought down inside the penalty area and Tam did his usual efficient job from the spot.

Final Score  Motherwell 0  Celtic  2

 

The headline in one of the evening papers that night summed up the biggest moment of the afternoon for Celtic –

 Willie Wallace Wonder Goal for Celtic

 

Other Results

Aberdeen 6 1 Falkirk
Ayr United 1 0 St Johnstone
Clyde 1 0 Dundee
Dundee United 2 0 Hearts
Dunfermline 1 1 Kilmarnock
Hibs 1 1 St Mirren
Partick Thistle 2 2 Airdrie
Stirling Albion 0 1 Rangers

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
1 Celtic 30 25 4 1 105 28 3.75 54
2 Rangers 31 24 4 3 88 27 3.26 52
3 Hibernian 31 17 4 10 66 45 1.47 38

 

Reserves

Back at Parkhead, Celtic Reserves were at home to Motherwell Reserves in a Reserve League match and won 4-2.

 

The Grand National

And while all this action was going on in Scotland, down in Liverpool, at Aintree, an incident-packed Grand National was won by a complete outsider;

1………..Foinavon         J Buckingham    100/1

2………..Honey End      J Gifford              15/2 Fav.

3………..Red Alligator  B Fletcher            30/1


More Traffic

There is a big increase in traffic using the Forth Road Bridge, the bridge authorities reported in Edinburgh.

The number of vehicles crossing in the first quarter of the year topped the million mark – 1,048,458 – compared with 878,458 in the first quarter of 1966. This is an increase of nearly 16 per cent.

 

Free

Davy Jones, 21-year-old Manchester-born member of the Monkees pop group, has not been called up to the the US Army, a spokesman said in Hollywood.

Teenagers picketed the U.S. embassy in London on Wednesday complaining that Jones had been called up for service.

 

Bare to the Waist

Voss Boreta and Peter Mattioli, the men who sponsored topless entertainers in San Francisco nightclubs, are planning to invade London.

They fly to London on April 17 to search for a site for what they describe as the ‘world’s largest topless European club’.

Close Call

A man and a woman were seriously injured and 18 others hurt when a bus toppled over on its side at Calderbraes, Uddingston.

All the injured were rushed to Glasgow Royal Infirmary in a fleet of ambulances.

The Central S.M.T. bus was taking the passengers, all employed at a factory in Tannochside, to Glasgow.

 

No Consultation

Helensburgh reacted angrily today to the lack of consultation before the Ministry of Defence announcement of plans to establish a dockyard port in an area of the Clyde which includes the popular holiday resort.

A storm of protest is likely to break at a public meeting to be held in the Victoria Hall, Helensburgh on April 21, to which local councils, maritime bodies and authorities, commercial firms, yachtsmen and others concerned with Clyde amenities have been invited.

 

Try, Try and Try Again!

Actor Mickey Rooney has told friends he plans to marry again – for the seventh time. Bride number seven will be Jerry Greene, ex-wife of American comedian Shecky Greene.

The couple intend to marry as soon as Rooney gets a divorce from Maggie Lane, his sixth wife.

Close friends say that seven is Rooney’s lucky number.