50 Years On

273 Articles

16th August 1967:  Rangers v Celtic – League Cup

 Monday 14th August

The players were quite delighted in the immediate aftermath of the opening match against Dundee United. As has been mentioned before, we had rather struggled against them the previous season and to start the new season’s League Cup campaign with a victory against the Terrors was a great boost.

Funnily enough, after giving us much praise in the after-match coverage, by Monday morning the tide had turned and there was just the suspicion in the press that we had been a trifle fortunate –

 Celts Scrape Home in Injury Time

United Standing Up Well to the Celts

 Celts Find It Tough at the Top

 

In the evening papers, though, one of their reporters obviously had time to think and his comments were probably a more accurate reflection of the match –

‘Let’s say straightaway that Celtic’s victory was deserved. They showed more drive and more spirit than United and on that score deserved their winning bonus’.


For the players, this was just another training day but even in the early morning and two days before the match, the fans gathered outside Celtic Park were keen to remind us that they all expected a similar result against Rangers on Wednesday – or even better.

I should imagine that all of us were carrying some bumps and bruises from what had been a tough encounter against United but the only one on the treatment table was Bertie, who had played on from half-time with an ankle knock. Players can be very kind to each other, I don’t think. As Bertie had been injured in the first half then was still on the pitch almost on the 90 minute mark, just in time to lay on that great cross for Jinky to score the winner, more than a few of us suggested that he should get injured more often. That comment was greeted with silence.

Happiest player at training was Tam G, who had re-signed the previous day after a chat with the Boss and the Chairman. Like everyone else, I did wonder how much he got?….but we didn’t ask!


There was news in the papers that Racing Club of Buenos Aires and Nacional of Montevideo would clash on Wednesday in Buenos Aires in the first leg of the ‘Libertadores of America Cup’ with the second leg in Montevideo on 25th August.

The winner will play Celtic in a two-legged tie for the ‘World Club Championship’, the first leg of which will be in Scotland.

Surprisingly, the match against Rangers at Ibrox would not be all-ticket. It will be first come, first served. And Rangers have organised two track events for the crowd’s entertainment – races at 3-miles and one-mile – just before the match and at half-time.

 

Tuesday 15th August

I have mentioned before how much the players could rely on the press for information but on that particular day, there was nothing to enlighten us as to the managers’ thinking or indeed, that of his counterpart at Ibrox;

Stein, Symon Stay Silent      

No Teams Yet for Big One

Ibrox Teams Still on Secret List

 

In fact, the big news was about a match in the future-

‘Celtic seemed to have won an off-the-field tussle with Dynamo Kiev, their first round opponents in the European Cup. The Russians have now agreed to play the game on Celtic’s suggested dates – September 20th (at Celtic Park) and Wednesday 4th October (in Kiev)’

 

And there was also news that a former protégé of Jock Stein’s, Alex Edwards, Dunfermline’s outside-right, was on the transfer list. It was expected that he would move south.

At Celtic Park that night, Celtic beat Rangers 3-1 in a Reserve League Cup tie. Celtic’s scorers were John Hughes and Pat McMahon (2).

One in…….Celtic signed Billy Murdoch, younger brother of Bobby and he immediately went on to the ground staff.

One out……left-winger Tony Taylor was released to join Morton

Wednesday 16th August  

Morning of the Match

These could be long days for players. With the match kicking off at 7.30pm, it meant that quite a few hours of waiting needed to be endured and while the old adage about keeping oneself busy is quite appropriate in most cases, when you have an Old Firm tie coming up in the evening, it does make it difficult to concentrate on anything else in the morning and early afternoon.

After breakfast, I took a walk up to the shops and came home with the papers. The Boss had spoken to them so at least we found out something, even though it was short and succinct –

We have no injury worries in defence but the attack will be chosen from 6 forwards’

The six turned out to be the five from Saturday plus Charlie Gallagher. John Hughes had been pulled out as he had damaged an ankle in the Reserve League cup tie against Rangers the previous evening.

And the papers also had a quote from the Celtic View , where a comment dealt with, as they put it – ‘the derision directed at certain Dundee United players the previous Saturday’.

It stated – ‘People who think they are supporting Celtic by behaving in this manner can think again. We are displeased at the way a few supporters have followed the senseless, useless chants indulged in at other grounds. We intend to stamp this out’.

Even with a long lie in the morning and a nap after an early lunch, it proved a long day and I was really pleased to get on my way to Celtic Park in the afternoon. We had a talk from the Boss when we arrived, merely going over points about our own performance against Dundee United and some thoughts on the way Scott Symon would be laying out the Rangers team. It was thoughtful stuff and concentrated our minds on the task at hand before we headed over to the hotel for the pre-match meal.

 

At Ibrox

Even the older, more experienced pros were surprised by the size of the crowds milling round the entrance at Ibrox and once inside and out on to the pitch, that revelation increased. This was going to an amazing atmosphere.

Back in the dressing-room, the tenseness was almost palpable and Jim Steele, recognising the nervousness, went into action, as only Steeley could do, singing, joshing, laughing, cajoling, anything to get the players’ minds active as they got changed, Then, after a few final words from the Boss, we headed for the tunnel.

 

The Teams

Rangers

Sorensen
Johansen, Provan
Jardine, McKinnon, Greig
Henderson,Penman, Ferguson, D Smith, Persson.
Sub: Hynd

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Auld, Lennox.
Sub: Gallagher

 

 

The Play

We all knew each other very well. Indeed, as we lined up I caught the eye of Orjan Persson and smiled. I knew how he must be feeling in his first Celtic/Rangers clash. He smiled back…..and that was the end of the pleasantries.

One of the morning dailies the following day summed up the play very succinctly –

‘The first Old Firm match of the season is over, and at the risk of being presumptious, I would say that the unanimous opinion of the crowd of some 90,000 who thronged out of Ibrox last night was – roll on the next’.

 

It might have been the fact that they were the home side but Rangers set out to put us through the wringer and nearly got a goal in only three minutes when a great run by Sandy Jardine was only stopped when yours truly got in a great tackle just as he was about to shoot.

Play went from end to end, chances were missed or scorned and both keepers had their moments but the match result probably hinged on three incidents –

 

38 minutes:  Dave Smith pulled down Lemon in the box and TG sent Eric Sorensenthe wrong way from the penalty spot.  1-0 Celtic

60 minutes: Bertie barged Sandy Jardine off the ball and a penalty was awarded. New boy Andy Penman took it but Ronnie threw himself across goal and grabbed the ball at head height.

88 minutes: Andy Penman redeemed himself with the Rangers support when he blasted home a free-kick from 25 yards. 1-1

And that was it. A great game to watch, I imagine, and certainly a very competitive one to play in. And might we have got out of jail? A comment in that same paper listed above probably put the match into perspective –

‘Although Rangers had most of the pressure and enough scoring chances to win the game, Celtic performed so magnificently in defence, particularly in the second half, that it seemed for all the world that their goal via the penalty spot in 38 minutes would be sufficient to carry them through’.

It didn’t, though, and we were disappointed but the Boss, never too happy if we did not beat Rangers, seemed quite philosophical about the outcome. Anyway, we showered and got changed as quickly as we could and boarded the bus for the trip back to Parkhead. And on the way, we were told the shock news that Aberdeen had lost 5-0 to Dundee United at Tannadice.

 

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
1 Celtic 2 1 1 0 2 1 2.00 3
2 Dundee Utd 2 1 0 1 5 1 5.00 2
3 Rangers 2 0 2 0 2 2 1.00 2
4 Aberdeen 2 0 1 1 1 6 0.17 1

 

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12th August 1967:  Celtic v Dundee United  League Cup

 

7th August

Quite surprisingly, for a match between a team from Scotland and one from England which ended in a 3-3 draw, the press over the weekend was fairly complimentary about Celtic’s performance at Hampden –

Celtic – You Were Great!

‘Altogether, the match was a great advertisement for the new season and the new 5 shillings ( 25p) admission charge certainly will not frighten the fans away from the gates of Parkhead’.

 

8th August

From one of the morning dailies –

‘By order of a Continental committee, Clyde have been knocked out of the Fairs Cities Cup.

The crime committed in 1966/67 – one of the best years in their history – was to be members of the Glasgow Association.

The Fairs Cities Cup committee flatly refused to allow two teams from the same city to compete in the tournament and that put Clyde out and Dundee in, even though the part-time men of Shawfield finished the season FIVE POINTS in front of the full-time players of Dens Park’.

 

9th August

At Ibrox, Rangers met Eintracht Frankfurt in a friendly and new signing Orjan Person makes an appearance, not in the match itself but in one of those pre-match presentations of a new player. While with Dundee United, he had been a tricky opponent and I, for one, thought that he would do well at Ibrox.

Fortunately, though, in a straight race, I was the quicker, so I never really had any worries about playing against him.

 

In the Celtic View, Celtic chairman Bob Kelly was quoted as saying;

“I appeal to all our very loyal and well-behaved real supporters to do everything in their power to make sure that nothing occurs at any of our matches that could re-bound with discredit on the club”.

There had been a friendly arranged against Cowdenbeath – from the composition of the side it would appear that it had been set-up for guys who either needed some match practice or who had been injured and were recovering. Anyway, the match finished 1-1 and the team was Fallon, Shevlane, O’Neill, Murdoch, Connelly, Cattenach, Gallagher, Chalmers, Wallace, McMahon and Hughes. In the course of the game, Joe McBride got a chance to show his fitness level, replacing Wispy; and Jimmy Quinn came on for Stevie.

 

10th August

 The evening papers went to town with their headline;

Gemmell Still Unsigned

‘After watching a training session today, Celtic manager Jock Stain said that there was no change in the position regarding the re-signing of left-back Tommy Gemmell.

The defender is the only Celtic first-team player still to sign for the new season.

Actually, after training, when we were getting changed, I did ask Tam how things were going but he was obviously wanting to play his cards very close to his chest. All I got was an elaborate wink!


 

11th August

The week had passed quite uneventfully at training. Everyone seemed to be fit – apart from Joe McBride, still struggling a bit after the operation – and it was a bit unusual for us to have a full week at training, especially when we had proved the previous Saturday that everyone was looking in good shape. However, the staff had tried to make the training as interesting as possible and we had all applied ourselves but there is nothing like regular matches to keep a footballer happy. So thank the Lord that tomorrow is a match day!

The supporters would have been looking forward to the first proper match of the new season but one of the evening papers on the eve of the game sounded a warning;

‘On paper, this looks like a pushover for the League Cup holders and European Cup winners – but there are at least two very good reasons  why it may not be all that easy.

One is that Dundee United are something of a jinx team for Celtic. Last season, the wee United had the effrontery to beat the men in green- and-white not once but twice.

The second reason is that Celtic will be up against three men who were Rangers players until a few weeks ago and men who have worn light blue dearly love to be on the winner’s end at Parkhead’.


People are always surprised when I say this but we were slightly apprehensive about this match. Not that we ever thought that United were better than us, there was never a worry about that. It was just the fact that the previous season, we had struggled to get a good result against the Terrors and often it was difficult to understand why.

We could never be accused of under- estimating the men from Dundee; we certainly put in a shift against them; we probably even dominated possession; it was just the fact that when it came down to goals, we did not score as many against them as our dominance would suggest; and in our desire to get on the score sheet, we probably left ourselves a bit open defensively.

They were also managed by an older, shrewd manager in Jerry Kerr, who knew all the tricks of the trade and he used these to full effect when setting out his team to face Celtic.


Morning of the Match

And yet, when we reported to Celtic Park about 1.30pm for the 3pm kick-off, everyone seemed to be in good spirits and the chat and gossip were as noisy as usual. There would a big crowd for this one and even an hour-and-a half before kick-off, they were flooding in. The new admission fee of 5 shillings (25p) was not seemingly making much of a difference.

The Boss had not said much about the match midweek but it was just assumed for such a big clash, the side which took to the field in Lisbon would do the same on that afternoon. And before the match, he was quite calm, going over how he thought United would, as he put it, ‘set out their stall’ and reminding Ronnie about the new rule whereby keepers had to get rid of the ball within four steps.

For my own part, I had spent a few moments towards the end of the week trying to figure out who the United manager would play at outside-left, as Orjan Persson had moved to Rangers. They did have some other Scandinavians who could play there but I was of the mind that I would end up playing against an old rival from Glasgow.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Auld, Lennox.
Sub: Hughes

Dundee United

Mackay
T Millar, Briggs
J Millar, Smith, Wood
Berg, Gillespie,Hainey, Graham, Wilson.
Sub: Mitchell

 

The Play

And my prognostication turned out to be correct, as at outside-left for United was ex-Ranger Davie Wilson, an excellent player who by that time was in the twilight of his career. However, that did not make him any less dangerous. And, of course, he was joined in the United side by two other ex-Rangers stars, Jimmy Millar and Wilson Wood.

 

Right from the first whistle, we took the game to United, who shuffled back into a very defensive formation and this, of course, gave us plenty of possession. But for the whole of the first half – and most of the second – while we made chances, they were either not taken, saved by keeper Mackay or blocked by the tightly-knit Arabs defence. In contrast, United had only one chance before half-time, when a Hainey shot just slipped past the post.

 

Having all that possession without anything to show for it must have difficult for a manager to watch, so I was rather expecting a rocket at half-time but the Boss could be amazingly phlegmatic at times and he merely reminded us that we had been through all this the previous season against United and that we must just keep plugging away.

 

And we went out and did that, maintaining possession and creating further chances, everything we had been asked to do, except that the crucial goal just refused to come. Towards the end, we were getting worried, the crowd was going spare, the Boss was beginning to show some flashes of exasperation, the referee was checking his watch, the crowd was leaving in droves, sure that the match would end in a draw, when suddenly the breakthrough came;

Wee Jimmy – at last!!

90 minutes:  Bertie, who seemed to be out of sorts during the game, got the ball just a yard or two from the touchline halfway in the United half. He sent a lovely cross right on to the head of Jinky at the far post, his header was blocked by the United keeper but the ball came back to him and he prodded it home. 1-0 Celtic

 

United only had time to re-start the match before referee Mr Webster of Falkirk blew for time up. The crowd roared their delight, the guys went bananas, the manager did too before composing himself to commiserate with the Dundee Utd management and we all trooped back to one of the happiest dressing-rooms of the year. Now, we could say, bring on the others!

Celtic  1  Dundee United  0

The others (the other two sides in the four-team League Cup sectional group), in fact, were playing at Pittodrie, where the final score was Aberdeen 1 Rangers 1. So that put Celtic at the top of the group after the opening matches.

In the Reserve League Cup, on the same day at Tannadice, Celtic lost 2-4 to Dundee United, the goals coming from Lou Macari and Pat McMahon.

And in the FA Charity Shield clash at Wembley, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur shared the trophy after a 3-3 draw.

 

 

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5th August 1967: Celtic v Tottenham Hotspur – Friendly

After the ‘closed-doors’ match against Albion Rovers at Cliftonhill in midweek, training for the next couple of days was quite relaxed. All the hard work had been done and now we could look forward to some competitive action in front of a big crowd, even if the first match had been designated as a ‘friendly’. Even so, the younger lads in the training pool always kept the first-team guys on their toes and we had been joined by some newcomers keen to show what they could do as well, like Jim Harkins, Tony McBride, Vic Davidson, Kenny Dalglish, Freddie Pethard, Danny McGrain and Tony O’Brien

The first match may have been proclaimed as a ‘friendly’ but as every football fan in both countries would testify, clashes between sides from Scotland and England are seldom regarded as ‘friendlies’ and we were well aware that our opponents – Tottenham Hotspur or Spurs as they were usually known – would be keen to show that they were right up there alongside a side which had just won the European Cup.

Spurs themselves had played out a decent season in 1966-67. They had won the FA Cup, beating Chelsea 2-1 in the final and finished 3rd in the league table, only four points behind top-placed Manchester United.

That same Chelsea, on the Wednesday evening, had lost 1-2 to Aberdeen at Pittodrie, also in a friendly and manager Tommy Docherty was fairly positive in his praise of the home side :”Aberdeen will be one of the toughest teams in Britain to beat, particularly at Pittodrie. We were beaten by a better team on the night’s showing. Aberdeen played with tremendous zest and terrific skill. They are quite a side”.

The papers had a field day in their coverage of the prospective contest between Celtic and Spurs, reminding all and sundry that the match was being played at Hampden to commemorate the centenary of Queen’s Park Football Club. Both managers – Jock Stein and Bill Nicholson – had agreed beforehand to allow three substitutions but on the Saturday, that number was increased to four.

I can honestly say that the players were all up for the match and arrived at Celtic Park on the morning of the game full of enthusiasm. The first major match of any season – whether a friendly or not – is a big occasion, a day when after the summer break, the playing staff get back to what they do for a living. The game is always an indication of just how well the pre-season preparations have been going and both managers would have wanted to start out with a win, as it would be a great boost for morale and equally importantly, keeps the fans happy as well!

We boarded a bus to take us over to the Cathkin Braes Hotel for some lunch, which we all thoroughly enjoyed and while we were there, the Boss announced that the Lisbon side would start the match, with four substitutes – Fallon (Peter), O’Neill (Pumper), Hughes (Yogi) and Charlie Gallagher – on the bench. Then, it was over to Hampden, a drive down the avenue with the crowds all making way for us and then an entrance into the main foyer with the cheers of the fans ringing in our ears. What more could a player want?

The draw for the Fairs Cup First Round had been made the previous day and three Scottish clubs were involved:

Rangers v Dynamo Dresden
Hibs v Porto
Dundee v DWS Amsterdam

 


 

 

Gillie – outjumped Celtic defence to score

Right from the first minute that we walked out to the Hampden pitch – and don’t forget this was perhaps 90 minutes before kick-off – we could feel that this was going to be a special occasion. The crowds were pouring into the ground, the sun was shining, the pitch looked in pristine condition and the dressing-rooms had been given an impressive touch up since we had played there in the Scottish Cup final in late April.

Just before kick-off, the Boss merely said that he wanted us to remember what he had said earlier in the week. Every team this season would be trying to knock Celtic off their perch and this would be a first test. It was said quietly but the message got across and the players took it in.

As we came out on the pitch at Hampden that afternoon, both sets of players – and I know this from talking to many of them afterwards – were impressed by the size of the crowd, particularly for a friendly. The figure given later was 91,708.

In a curious twist before the match, the two captains – Billy McNeill and Dave Mackay – exchanged rugs instead of pennants. Both players then paraded the rugs before the spectators.

 

The Teams

 

 

Celtic
Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Lennox, Auld.
Subs:  Fallon, O’Neill, Hughes, Gallagher.

Spurs:
Jennings
Kinnear, Knowles
Mullery, England, Mackay
Robertson, Greaves, Gilzean, Venables, Saul.
Subs:  Brown, Beal, Clayton, Jones.

 

 

The Play

On a warm, sunny afternoon, both teams set out to play football in an adventurous fashion, although we went one-down in the first minute-

I minute: Outside left Saul hammered a cross into the box and it arrived at the feet of Jimmy Greaves – looking suspiciously offside – standing beside the near post.  He did not miss from that distance. Celtic 0 Spurs 1

We took control of the player after that and in fact, received some criticism in the press the following day for being a little too open. However, play was swinging from end to end and the crowd certainly got their money’s worth in terms of goals –

7 minutes: Jinky beat three men in a run into the box, squared a pass back into the path of Bertie and he made no mistake. 1-1

25 minutes: A great series of ‘one-twos’ between Wispy and Bertie gave the latter another chance and he fairly lashed it home. Celtic 2 Spurs 1

36 minutes: Back came Spurs. This time a run down the right by Robertson and his cross into the middle was met by Alan Gilzean, who out-jumped the Celtic defence. 2-2

At half-time, I thought the Boss would have been disappointed with our defending but he was quite calm, pointing out that this was a very good side we were up against and merely  prompting us to take more care in our final pass. From the re-start, we tried to emulate his words but the opposition got an early breakthrough.

49 minutes:: Perhaps the defence was too high up the park pushing for a goal because when the ball fell to Greaves there seemed to be no one near him. That gave him time to kill the ball and then send Ronnie the wrong way with his shot.   Celtic 2  Spurs 3

We might have been 2-3 down but we were in control of the play by then and soon got an equaliser –

60 minutes: Lemon made a good run the left, cut the ball back to Steve, whose shot was too powerful for Pat Jennings, although he did get both hands to the ball.. 3-3.

And from there to the end, we dominated play, hit the post through Stevie and the bar through Jinky but the winner just refused to come. However, when we spoke to the fans afterwards, they seemed pleased with what they had seen rather than disappointed at not winning.

Full Time Score   Celtic  3   Spurs  3

Ironically, while there had been discussions in the days leading up to the match about allowing three substitutes, a figure which was changed to four on the morning of the game, neither manager made any changes during the course of the contest.


While this was going on at Hampden, in front of that crowd of 91,708, down at Highbury, before a smaller attendance of 34,586, Rangers, with their new signings in place – Eric Sorensen, Andy Penman and Alex Ferguson – were losing 0-3 to Arsenal.

Throughout Britain that afternoon, other friendlies were taking place, most of them Scotland/England encounters  –

Arbroath  2   Ipswich  1                      Blackpool 1  Partick Thistle  1

Dundee Utd 0  Sheffield Utd 1           Falkirk  2  Motherwell  5

Hearts  2  Preston North End 0           Queen of the South  4  Grimsby  3

Raith Rovers  1  Notts Forest 5          Southend  1  Clyde  3

Tranmere Rovers 2 Motherwell  2      Walsall  3  Morton  0

 

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2nd August 1967: Communication – Celtic style!

I did mention in a previous piece that all the guys were getting a bit annoyed that no actual matches seem to have been arranged before the friendly with Spurs on the 5th August and possibly those noises got though to the top brass as it was announced that two games had been arranged for midweek. However, after telling us that, no further news was put out so we were no further forward as to the opposition.

 

However, someone in authority had been talking to the press, as most of them in the first part of the week ran with the same story, which was some reflections on our proposed game against Spurs.

Firstly, they were all adamant that it would be the most important ‘friendly’ in Scottish football since Rangers had played Eintracht Frankfurt for the switch on of the Hampden lights in October 1961, which had attracted a crowd of 104,679.

Secondly, all the papers had seemed to have been given the nod that the eleven which had won the European Cup in Lisbon would take to the field for the friendly. And thirdly, they had also been obviously promised that the crowd could expect to see Celtic play in an attacking manner.

Isn’t it amazing sometimes what a player can learn from the papers?

 

The bigger news in the early part of the week came from Ibrox, where the press officer announced that Rangers had signed Dunfermline’s goal-scoring centre-forward Alex Ferguson. The fee of £60,000 was a club record for Rangers and makes Ferguson the most costly player to wear the light blue strip.

Ferguson arrived at 10.30am and dashed through the front door. One hour later, Pars manager George Farm, who yesterday paid £20,000 to his former club Raith Rovers to sign inside-forward Pat Gardner, arrived at Ibrox. Just before 1pm, Rangers manager Scot Symon, Ferguson and Farm emerged to meet the press corps and Symon announced “Ferguson has signed!”

 

Tam – ‘slight dispute’

Then when the Celtic View came out there was a big surprise for the Celtic fans – apparently Tam Gemmell had not signed a new contract. The Boss, though, was quick to put the minds of the fans at ease – “it is true that Gemmell has still to sign on. There is a slight dispute about his contract – but he is still under contract and he will be playing on Saturday”.

 


Now at this point, I am going to give you all a little tip. When a manager of that generation made a comment like that – “there is a slight dispute about his contract” – especially to a player of Tam’s ability, then it was certainly not about the type of boots he was wearing or the quality of the shampoo in the showers. It was definitely about money. To be honest, like the rest of us, Tam did not think he was being paid enough and was just making a point. Good on him…I, for one, was right behind him!


On the Tuesday evening, we – all the signed players – reported to Celtic Park for a so-called ‘closed doors’ match. These were very popular with the guys who were not in the first team whereas, as you might imagine, the experienced pros could see them far enough. They were more concerned about coming through such a match – where the guys were just mixed up into two teams with fairly constant substitutions – without an injury before the real stuff started on the following Saturday. The young guys, by contrast, knew that this was a rare opportunity to show what they could do in front of the Boss and his staff, so they treated it like a cup final. And it did turn out a bit like that, plenty of effort put in before an empty and painfully quiet stadium, although the regulars who always turned up at Parkhead on the chance of seeing the players or picking up an autograph or two would have heard plenty of noise from the players as they waited outside.

 

Afterwards, just when the first team pool was counting the cost in physical terms of the first competitive match of the season, checking for cuts, bruises and so on, the Boss came into the dressing-room and announced that on the next day – Wednesday – we would do a light loosener in the morning then report again at 5pm to travel to Coatbridge where we would meet Albion Rovers in another ‘closed doors’ match. As food was not mentioned, we just assumed that the pre-match meal would be provided by us.

 

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29th July 1967: Joe to Go Slow

29th July 1967

While training at Barrowfield continued in the usual tough fashion, news came in from Ibrox that the deal with Orjan Persson – currently with Dundee United – was off and that the winger had returned to his home in the town of Smogen in west Sweden.

Frankly, there had been so much discussion and false news in this particular transfer that I was really unwilling to believe any story about the then current situation. I was happy to wait for a final definitive resolution to all the rather complicated negotiations.

One piece of news that I was willing to believe was also about Rangers, who had apparently scrapped the pre-season trial, a staple of Scottish football for many years. Now that made sense, as most players of any club never liked them and I presume the Ibrox guys would have felt the same.

News from Celtic Park. First that the balance sheet for the year ended 30th April 1967 showed a profit of £25, 068. It is difficult after all these years to put that amount of money into some kind of perspective but if I mention that Ayr United FC, which announced their figures on the same day, proclaimed a profit of £2153, then it easy to see the difference between the two clubs. Celtic, winners of five trophies the previous season and Ayr, who were relegated from the First Division.

 

As the first match – against Spurs at Hampden – was by now only a week away, the intensity of the training was increasing, with the emphasis by now on the short, sharp stuff. Everyone was looking good, including one player who had rather fallen out of the scene in the previous season, yet still finished the top goal-scorer in Scotland. I am referring, of course, to Joe McBride, who, to the delight of all the guys in the dressing-room, seemed to be looking fine during all the exercises. However, a piece in one of the evening papers advised some caution –

‘Joe McBride, rated by Celtic as ‘still the greatest potential goalscorer in Scotland’ has been ordered to ‘go slow’ in his fight to regain full fitness.

For months McBride has been making slow but steady progress from a cartilage operation and today manager Jock Stein insisted that Joe had not had another major setback. He said “we are trying to save the player from himself. We feel that in his great effort to come back as quickly as possible he may have been doing a little too much and he has been told to tone the training down. This is a deliberate policy…and we think it will pay off”.


And for those who, since they did not have any football to watch, fancied a night out at the cinema ( or the pictures, or the flicks, or the movies, whatever you wanted to call it), these films were showing in Glasgow –

Curzon Classic: Michael Caine – The Ipcress File

Odeon: James Coburn – In Like Flint

ABC Regal: Robert Redford/Jane Fonda – Barefoot in the Park

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26th July 1967 – Fitness Levels Rise as Man in Black arrives at Ibrox

26th July 1967

 

Training was going on as usual. Tough would be the word to describe it but then why wouldn’t it be. We were all part of a team that had won every competition the previous season and we knew that the management – and fans – would expect a repeat performance in the forthcoming season. And the Boss was obviously happy with the effort we were putting in, judging by his comment in one of the evening dailies –

 

“One of the most pleasing things so far about our preparation is the willingness shown by the players. It is to their great credit that they all reported for the start of training in good shape. They have obviously kept themselves fit during the close season”.

 

And by that time, 10 days or so before the first friendly match of the season – v Spurs at Hampden – we had raised that fitness level quite considerably. We all felt good and the runs, passing and shooting exercises were being performed at an even higher temp than before.

 

However, that also meant that there was a queue at Bob Rooney’s door, all of whom were complaining of the little things, like blisters, muscles aches, sore feet etc. These are quite natural for any athlete in any sport and what you are looking for is a few words of sympathy and perhaps some form of rub to make the complaint feel better. In the Parkhead of that time, the latter was supplied in great number but as for the former, that depended on the injury ….and whether they thought you had brought the injury on yourself!

 

We heard little within the club about any new players coming in, unlike our rivals over at Ibrox who had been pursuing Orjan Persson of Dundee United for some time. From the coverage in the press, ever time the deal was about to be concluded, some minor details arose to scupper it. But on that particular day, Rangers did enter the transfer market and buy a foreign player, although it was not Persson. The newcomer was a Dane, Eric Sorenson, who had been Morton’s keeper for the previous three years and would now be number one at Ibrox

One topic of discussion among the boys        was that we were not playing any matches, apart from the one of 5th August. We usually got in a couple of game against smaller sides but that did appear to on the agenda this time round, as least as far as we knew. A list appeared in the press of the matches already lined up for the teams in Scotland –

 

2nd       August            Aberdeen v Chelsea

3rd        August            Motherwell v Ipswich

4th        August            Queen’s Park v British Amateur Select

Clydebank v Chelsea

5th        August           Celtic v Spurs

Arsenal v Rangers

Blackpool v Partick Thistle

Southend v Clyde

Tranmere v Motherwell

Dundee Utd v Sheffield Utd

Arbroath v Ipswich

Raith Rovers v Notts Forest

Hearts v Preston North End

Falkirk v Millwall

Walsall v Morton


Top of the Pops in the USA was the Doors, with Light My Fire. In the UK, A Whiter Shade of Pale, by Procul Harum led the list.


 

 

 

 

 

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21st July 1967: Week 1 Ends

The first week was nearly at an end and judging by the voluble chat in the dressing room, we were all surviving pretty well.

Oh! there were the usual complaints. The sprinters complained that there was too much long stuff; the middle distance runners objected to the amount of short runs; and those who did not like running at all moaned at just about everything. And there was usually a queue at Bob Rooney’s door complaining of blisters/muscle strains/cuts/grazes/etc. He did not deal with dandruff ; and if you were suffering from diarrhea or constipation, you normally phoned in sick! And yes, sometimes his room it could be like the TV series of the period ‘Emergency Ward Ten’.

The fans were always keen to know about what was going on at Celtic Park and on that particular day they got the chance to find out some club thoughts as the latest edition of

The Celtic Football Guide, covering the previous season, became available. I will deal with the ‘Manager’s Report’ after the weekend but the section which caught the eye of most fans was the ‘List of Players’ for the new season of 1967-68 –

 Name                Last Club                     Date Joined
Robert Auld Birmingham City 1965
James Brogan St Roch’s 1963
David Cattenach Stirling Albion 1963
Stephen Chalmers Ashfield Juniors 1959
John Clark Larkhall Thistle 1958
James Clarke St Michael’s Kilwinning 1967
George Connelly Tullialian 1966
James Craig Glasgow University 1965
John Fallon Fauldhouse United 1958
Charles Gallagher Yoker Athletic 1959
Thomas Gemmell Coltness United 1962
David Hay St Mirin’s Boys Guild 1966
Samuel Henderson Ashfield Juniors 1962
John Hughes Shotts Bon Accord 1959
James Johnstone Blantyre Celtic 1962
Robert Lennox Ardeer Recreation 1961
Joseph McBride Motherwell FC 1965
Hugh McKellar Ardeer Recreation 1967
Patrick MacMahon Kilsyth Rangers 1967
William McNeill Blantyre Victoria 1958
Lou Macari St Michael’s Kilwinning 1966
Robert Murdoch Cambuslang Rangers 1961
William O’Neill St Anthony’s 1960
James Quinn St Roch’s 1965
Anthony Shevlane Hearts FC 1967
Ronald Simpson Hibernian FC 1964
John Taggart St Patrick’s Coatbridge 1967
Anthony Taylor Kilmarnock FC 1964
William Wallace Hearts FC 1966
John Young Neilston Juniors 1961

 

John Cushley : left for WHU
© Daily Record

So, 30 players in total to cope with what everyone expected to be a tough season, with one player in particular having a lot depending on him, as one of the Glasgow evening papers pointed out that night –

‘Billy McNeill, who joined Celtic from Blantyre Victoria 10 years ago, is now the only recognised centre half on the Parkhead playing staff.

Since the end of the season, three pivots have left Celtic – John Cushley at a fee of £20,000 to West Ham plus John Halpin and Frank McCarron, on free transfers’.

 

 

 

 


There was some debate among the guys as to whether we would get the weekend off but right up to the end of training on that Friday, not a word had been said. Then, just as were changing  after our baths and showers, Sean stuck his head round the door and with a twinkle in his eye and a lilt in his voice, uttered the definitive words ‘”See you in the morning, lads”. That put a Friday night out into perspective!

 

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19 July 1967: Blistering Paces!

19th July 1967

Chris Shevlane – New Bhoy

There were several areas in their bodies where players felt the problems of pre-season training. For those who had not done anything at all during the summer, there were blisters to contend with and these could come along at any time. In fact, in my own case, I could be three-quarters of the way though a season and still suffer from a breaking up of the skin round my toes. I can still recall the voice of Bob Rooney, as he blasted out “how the hell can your feet still be blistering when it’s nearly May?”

The answer was I did not know why but just had to put up with the discomfort – and the nagging!

The other problem that everyone suffered from was the damage to the muscles of the anterior thigh. Even if a player did keep himself in shape during the close season, these particular muscles – the quadriceps – were only really given a workout during shooting practice and few did that during the summer. So, when we did start doing those particular sessions, we went at them at full tilt right from the start and the muscles did get a real working out.

The end result was that the quadriceps were extremely tender at that time and trying to lower oneself on to a chair could be quite a feat. Lowering oneself on to a toilet seat was even more troublesome and on more than one occasion, alarmed by the noise, my lovely Mum banged on the door of the bathroom to see if I was all right. By that time – since I was by then sitting on the toilet seat – everything was OK. It was the drop down from the vertical to the seated position that caused all the problems….and the noise!

Another aspect of training around this time that I can still vividly recall was the sheer happiness around the club. After all, we had won every trophy that we entered for in the previous season and finished the campaign with a great showing against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu. So, in a sense, why shouldn’t we all he happy?

And yet, as I walked up to Barrowfield one morning in the company of a member of the first-team pool who had not made the eleven who won in Lisbon, I was given a different insight into the feelings of other players at that time. This guy was really delighted that his team – Celtic – had had all that success – but he was also sad that, as he put it it –‘Everyone will always remember the eleven guys who won the cup on the day but those of us who played a part in the earlier rounds will be forgotten!’.

In the years since, I have often recalled those words and as time went by, recognised the truth in the statement. Through those years, I have always been careful to refer to the Lisbon Lions as a pool of players, eleven of whom were lucky enough to make the team in Lisbon. Truly, it must have been very difficult to go through one’s life in the position of that particular player; as an essential member of a very small group of successful players but not one of those who actually played on the big day.


 

On the previous day, our major rival in Glasgow took the main headline –

Rangers are Back In Active Business

‘This morning the players who hope to oust Celtic from the role of top club in Scotland reported to Ibrox Park to meet new assistant manager Davie White, the former Clyde manager and then don their training strips.

This season Rangers will play in the Fairs Cities’ Cup for the first time.

They hope to win entry to either the European Cup or the European Cup Winners’ Cup in season 1968-69 by winning either the Scottish League Championship or the Scottish Cup – both won by Celtic in their clean sweep of the football honours of Scotland in the past season.

Rangers have not made any close-season captures so far but manager Scot Symon is expected to do so before the new season. The names of Orjan Persson of Dundee United and Bobby Hope of West Bromwich Albion have been put forward’.

 


 

Chris Shevlane, the former Hearts full back who joined Celtic last month after being released by the Edinburgh club because of ankle trouble, has stood up to everything asked of him at training this week.

 

And the only other newcomer in Celtic’s full-time staff since last season has been Pat MacMahon, the Kilsyth Rangers inside forward, who Celtic expect to break through quickly into their first team pool.

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Back to the grind – 17 July 1967

17th July 1967

Most folk reached the park early and the gossip was plentiful, with stories about the holidays and also what was happening in the rest of Scottish football. The Boss, though, was quick to bring us to heel and gave us a little pep talk which at the time seemed a trifle banal but also one which proved to be very precise in the context of the ensuing season.

 

It was to the effect that by our hard work in the previous season, we had reached the top of the tree, as far as football was concerned. The problem was, he went on, that those who reached the top of the tree were the target for all those in the lower positions, so we could expect that the players of every single team in the country would do their utmost to upset our day. And, to be honest, once the season got underway, it did not take us long to figure out that what he had said was perfectly true. Teams that we had beaten comfortably the season before were determined to show that they could compete – in terms of football and physicality – against this team which had won the European Cup.

 

However, on that Monday, after the pep talk, training got underway and was as tough as most of us had expected. As in the previous season, the ‘heavy’ bunch – which did not include my 6 feet 1 inch and 12 stone – were forced to wear the plastic under-garments designed for those trying to lose weight. When they took them off at the end of the session, the water fairly poured out of them. When I saw the discomfort that these guys were suffering, it made me even more pleased that I had continued to train all during the close season.

 

The session was indeed a tough one – even for those who had kept themselves ticking over during the summer break – but as usual, the coaching staff made it varied and interesting, so we could have no complaints on that score. And, rather surprisingly, we were not asked to come back in again for an afternoon stint

 


 

Naturally, the press covered the start of the new season and this offering was in one of the evening papers that day;

‘Celtic, who swept the boards last season, are back at work.

First arrival for the new season at Celtic Park today was Bobby Lennox, who was at the ground half an hour before the 10 o’clock deadline.

Before the arrival of his players, manager Jock Stein said  – “we will be training each morning of this week at Parkhead”.

Jock expects to have Joe McBride, who was out of the team in the closing months of last season after a cartilage operation, taking part in all the training sessions.

Celtic open at Hampden Park on Saturday 5th August, with a glamour game against FA Cup winners Spurs.

The game is creating such interest on both sides of the border that Celtic have decided to allocate a fifth of the available stand tickets – 3,000 out of 15,000 –to Spurs supporters.

Celtic are almost certain to send out the side which beat Inter Milan in the European Cup final in Lisbon.

Celtic have still not arranged any dates for their European Cup tie with Kiev Dynamo.

Other full-time clubs who started training today were Dundee, Dunfermline, Hearts, Motherwell, Morton and St Johnstone’.

 

 

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Summer of ’67

15th July 1967

It had been a fascinating summer.

After we returned from the final match of the 66-67 season – the friendly against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu – the boys all went their separate ways with their families, most of them heading for the popular and sunny spots of Majorca or the Spanish mainland. I had no plans to go anywhere myself and was quite looking forward to a few days of peace and quiet, as it had been a very hectic season.

As so often happens, though, the reality turned out to be very different from the anticipation and right from my first day back in my parents’ house, the whole world seemed to be on the phone, wanting me to do this or turn up for that. And the fact that I was almost certainly the only member of the Lisbon side who was still in the city at that time only increased the pressure. For a while, I gave it my best shot but it got to the stage where I was reluctant to go out. I would still drive Mum to the shops but while she was in the bigger stores getting whatever was needed, I sat in the car reading the papers, only dashing out to help when I saw her coming back again with the bags.

Eventually, I suggested to my brother Denis that we push off somewhere and we did just that, driving down to Stranraer then taking the boat over to Larne, from where we headed firstly for Donegal, where we had relatives to visit and then swinging across the country back to Dublin, where we had aunts, uncles and cousins.

The weather was good, everyone seemed pleased to see us and Denis and I were treated royally. Only one incident marred the whole trip. It occurred when was driving near the border of the county of Sligo heading for the county of Roscommon. I was doing around 60mph on a fine tarmac road when suddenly the surface changed to something gravelly and the car swung sideways, first one way, then the other, before straightening up itself as it arrived at another tarmac surface.

I just about wet myself and I don’t think Denis was too comfortable either but we carried on as though nothing had happened. A few miles later, though, when I was paying for some petrol at a road-side garage, I mentioned the incident to the guy taking my money and he laughed. “The problem is that the councils of Sligo and Roscommon cannot agree on who has responsibility for that bit of road, so they just put down some gravel. It does give you a fright I must admit…but it is exciting!”.

Exciting was not the word I would have used myself but through the years since since I have always wondered whether he was giving us the true story or was he telling us what could be regarded as an Irish joke?

 

16th July 1967

There might have been a bit of a flutter among the chests of a few of my teammates on this particular day. Not because it was a Sunday but because it was the last day of the holidays; on the morrow, we would be officially reporting for the first training day of the new season.

Now, I have been told in the past that some of my actions have been a bit on the not-too- sensible side. In other words, stupid! However, when it came to keeping myself fit I was right up there in the sensible category. All through the summer holidays – not just that summer but all through my career, even when I went on honeymoon in 1969 – I kept myself in shape.

Bellahouston Park – Home on the Range

I never went to Celtic Park to do the training. After all, would you go back to your school in the summer holidays? My parents lived just along the road from Bellahouston Park in the south-west of Glasgow, there was a one way street at the east end which was ideal for parking and that area was also probably the quietest part of the park, so ideal for a bit of running.

Unfortunately, not everyone prepared along the same lines, hence my comment about the fluttering in the chest. It was always assumed at every club I have been to that the players would keep themselves in some sort of shape during the summer break, so there was no breaking-in period. It was full tilt right from the start. More than a few suffered and little sympathy was handed out. Monday would be an interesting day.

The fact that Monday 17th July would be the first day of training for the new season had been well publicised in the press and an astonishing number of folk came up to me after Mass, the vast majority of them wishing me all the best. However, there were also the jokers commenting on how I was going to suffer etc. I merely smiled but could not help but notice that a spot of training might get their weight back on to a healthy level.

Should I perhaps have asked them to join me in Bellahouston Park?

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