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


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


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



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