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9th October 1968:  Celtic v Clyde – League Cup Semi-final

7th October 1969

There was a reduced number that Monday morning at training, as a friendly match had been organised at Cowdenbeath to celebrate the new floodlighting system at the ground and quite a number of the first team squad had been selected for that game. The rest of us, though, put a decent shift in at Barrowfield and then after training, discussed the items in the paper, where Wee Jimmy nearly got the back page all to himself –

Johnstone Rests

‘Celtic’s suspended outside-right star, Jimmy Johnstone, did not train at Parkhead as expected.

Manager Jock Stein said “Jimmy Johnstone has been given a couple of days off”.

So, from the club’s point of view, that was that particular incident done and dusted!

The performance against Dundee United was almost dismissed in a few words as obviously the incident with Jinky seemed to more important, as this example might show –

Strict Code

‘Strict discipline inside and outside of the dressing-room is one of the reasons why Celtic won the European Cup in 1967 and it is also why they are Scotland’s top team today.

At Parkhead, there is no room for prima donnas. Every man has to work for the good of the club and the team. Anyone who steps out of line is certain to find himself in trouble and running the risk of suspension – exactly what happened to Jimmy Johnstone on Saturday night’.

8th October 1968

In front of a crowd of around 3,000, a Celtic eleven had turned out at Central Park in Cowdenbeath the previous evening to inaugurate the new lights. The team had been
Fallon, Murray, O’Neill, Dalglish, Hay, Clark, Gallagher, McMahon, Quinn, Macari, Auld.
The match had ended in a 1-1 draw, the ‘Blue Brazil’ opening the scoring just before the interval and Pat McMahon getting Celtic’s equaliser in the 56th minute. And the Boss had not only run things from the bench but kicked-off too!

At Parkhead that morning, everyone was back in again for a lighter session, at the end of which the Boss announced that 12 players would be required to turn up for the match against Clyde the following evening. It would be the same defence as against Dundee United the previous Saturday – Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan – with 6 forwards also listed – Lennox, Connelly, Wallace, McBride, Chalmers and Hughes.

Unfortunately, in most of the press we were certain favourites to go through. I say ‘unfortunately’ because when the opposition players read things like that, they then go out on the night to try even harder to prove the pressmen wrong. So, we all preferred it to be called a ‘close encounter’. It would be a tough match against the Bully Wee; and we all thought that the other semi-final – Dundee v Hibs at Tynecastle – would be equally close.

However, a headline from one of the evening papers summed up the general feeling –

Celtic and Hibs to Contest Final

 

The Day of the Match  9th October 1968

It did not take long to travel by coach from Parkhead to Hampden, so we reported around 5pm and left shortly afterwards to navigate the evening rush-hour traffic across the south side of the city. Once there, we went out for the customary look at the pitch and took the opportunity to have a chat with the opposition, whom, by that time, we had to know quite well.

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell,
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Lennox, Wallace, Chalmers, McBride, Hughes.
Sub: Connelly

Clyde

Wright
Glasgow, Mulherron
Anderson, Fraser, McHugh
McFarlane, Hood, Staite, Burns, Hastings.
Sub: Stewart

The Play

The crowd was later given as 34,676, the vast majority of whom were supporters of the Hoops and also were expecting a comfortable romp through to the final for their team. As I mentioned above, though, their team, that group of players in the colours of Celtic, was not expecting an easy passage and to explain just how the play went both accurately and precisely, I give you these two paragraphs – one the opener and the other the closer – from one of the following day’s ‘dailies’ –

‘On the face of it this was a game that most people thought beforehand Celtic should win comfortably but the fact is that from first to last they were confronted by opposition which would have extended any club in Scotland’.

 

‘Maybe we have come to expect too much from the Celtic players, who last night were certainly not as incisive as they have been but full credit to Clyde for a gallant display which must have won them many friends’.

Those words neatly summed up the night. It is undoubtedly true that we dominated the play and made numerous chances. However, the defenders also come forward to assist the attacks, which then means that if the opposition can break quickly, there are fewer players at the back to deal with. Clyde did manage a few of these attacks…but also squandered them!

The crucial moment came 15 minutes from time –

75 minutes
after a good run by John Hughes down the left flank, Yogi cut the ball back from the bye-line into the path of Geordie Connelly – on for Joe McBride – who hammered it high and hard past the Clyde keeper.

Final Score  Celtic  1  Clyde  0

Other Result

Over at Tynecastle, a goal scored in injury time by Alan McGraw, who had returned to the field after being carried off on a stretcher only 15 minutes earlier, saw Hibs beat Dundee 2-1.