50 Years On

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18th October 1967 Celtic v Racing Club – Inter-Continental Cup

15th October

We had quite a lazy day at Seamill. Up at a reasonable time for breakfast then taxis to Mass at Saltcoats. Back to the hotel for lunch, which was followed by one of those walks along the beach – have to keep the legs in shape – before a session in the pool brought us up to dinner time. And after that, as the Boss told us, we could do whatever we wished.

That sounded great but I must point out that we were based in a hotel on the Ayrshire coast with no access to cars and knowing full well that if we went anywhere by taxis, the destination would get back to the Boss. If you take all that into account, then it was not quite the generous gesture that it might appear! So, once again, for most of us, it was TV or chatting or playing cards (usually Hearts), with the ubiquitous glass of lemonade in our hands. It made me  promise never to complain about Sunday in my parents’ house again.

 

The papers were unanimous that we had deserved to win against the Jags……..

Super Fit Celtic

McNeill Breaks Firhill Curtain

 

……..although they also had sympathy for the player involved in the ordering-off incident  –

McParland Didn’t Deserve This

 

16th October

We might have had an easy day yesterday but the coaching staff certainly made up for it this morning, putting us though a very tough routine. It was described very well in one of the evening papers –

‘Today they put in the hardest work schedule since arriving at Seamill. They had the usual early morning walk – then the real football business of the day took place after breakfast.

They were taken by coach to Ardeer – a place famous for the manufacture of explosives – and they got down to the preparation which they hope will end with the blow-up of the senors from Buenos Aires at Hampden’.

 

The reader must remember that while all this was going on, we were quite detached from hearing about any other aspects of life on the likes of radio and television. For instance, we knew that earlier that morning, Jinky had left in the Boss’s car to make an appearance before the SFA Referee Committee as a result of being ordered off in the St Johnstone match on  23rd September.  But we were only given a brief report of how he actually got on and the full details did not emerge until someone managed to get a copy of one of the Glasgow evening papers from a guest in the hotel. The headline and underlying comment were quite shocking –

Johnstone Suspended for 21 Days

‘Jimmy Johnstone was suspended today by the Referee Committee of the SFA for a period of 21 days. This will keep him out of football from Thursday 19th October and will mean him missing the Northern Ireland/ Scotland match, the League Cup final against Dundee on 28th October and the World Club Championship second leg against Racing Club in Buenos Aires on 1st November’.

Jinky would be badly missed in our side. However, further down the back page, the newspaper had a story which tended to suggest that there was one law for Scottish clubs and a different one for Argentinian clubs.

Racing Field Banned Star at Hampden

‘Humberto Maschio, one of Racing Club’s most experienced players, who was ordered off in a league match a week last Saturday, is at present serving a six-match suspension. However, as under the rules of the Argentinian Association, this only applies to league matches, he will be able to play in Wednesday’s match against Celtic at Hampden’.

 

17th October

We travelled again from Seamill by bus – or as the press kept referring to it ‘by coach – to Ardeer in the morning for another session after having had the usual start to the day with a walk. After lunch, we got the opportunity to use the pool and baths and in the evening we were shown some brief films of Penarol and Racing Club. Having played the former earlier in the season, we did not need to brush up our knowledge of them. Unfortunately, though, of the team about which we did want to find out something, there was a very brief clip of one of their matches which frankly was of no help at all.

 

All this was reported in the evening papers but both the morning and evening editions seemed to be more concerned with Jimmy Johnstone’s situation –

Johnstone Has Little Chance of Playing

‘Jimmy Johnstone, who starts his 21-day suspension on Thursday morning, will almost certainly not play against Racing Club of Argentina in the World Club Championship match at Hampden Park tomorrow night.

This morning, Jock Stein was still angry at the ban which has ruled Jimmy Johnstone out of the Northern Ireland v Scotland game on Saturday, the League Cup final on the 28th and the second match against Racing on 1st November.

Mr Stein said “I have added Charlie Gallagher to the pool of players for tomorrow night and I think you can take it that Johnstone will not play. I could not expect him to be in the right frame of mind for a match of this importance and it might not be fair to the player to ask him to go out when he is not feeling 100% physically and mentally’.

Was all this for the benefit of the papers? When I spoke to him, wee Jimmy, while annoyed at the length of the ban, was dead keen to play at Hampden.

 

While we were preparing down at Seamill, the Argentinians had arrived eight days before the match and based themselves at the Marine Hotel in Troon. When they deigned to speak to the Scottish press – which was a rare event – they usually complained about something, the cold, the bouncy pitches they had to train on or the rain. However, in their party, there were only one or two who spoke English – was this true or was this the first salvo in the psychological battle? – so whether they were complaining or not might have been debatable.

Apparently, the Racing officials had chosen the Marine Hotel because they had found out that Real Madrid stayed there before wining the European Cup at Hampden in 1960. If it was good enough for Real, then it seemed to good enough for them.


 

Morning of the Match

We missed out on the walk that morning, as was the usual practice on the day of the game. Instead, after breakfast, we did a light workout on the lawn behind the hotel. Now, as the entrance was just off the main road, the lawn was actually facing the sea, only a wall separating it from the beach. It was just a loosener of a session and everyone in the squad seemed fit and ready, although Jinky’s position was still unclear.

 

As I headed for the entrance to the hotel, I met a journalist from one of the ‘dailies’ in Glasgow, a man who often traveled with the team on foreign trips and dealt regularly with Jock Stein. He told me something that morning that made my blood boil. I had already made my mind up that whole set-up for the World Club Championship was a little unfair and what he told me only confirmed that.

I never found out where exactly the draw for the competition was made but it was certainly a strange affair. We were punished by the fact that the first match was to be played in Scotland. It meant that the second leg would be played in South America and if a third match was required – the ‘away goals’ rule was not in operation at that time; it was a league system with 2 points for a win and 1 point for a draw – then it would also be played in South America.

Now, I already knew that and thought that it was totally biased against us. However, what the journalist told me that morning was even worse.

There were three referees nominated by the organising committee. One of these was Senor Juan Gardeazabel from Spain and it came as no surprise that the Racing Club. officials chose him. That meant that the referee and the players from Racing could converse in their native tongue. More importantly, as a Latin, he would more readily accept some of their tactics like shirt-pulling and obstruction, while clamping down on heavily on ours, like shoulder-charging. And also, if we wanted to speak to him, then we were reliant on his having a good command of English, which, in the event, was not the case.

The way things turned out, would a German or Swedish referee have allowed the Racing players to get away with some of the tactics they employed at Hampden.

 

I spoke to Jock Stein about the choice of referee and was quite surprised that he seemed quite au fait with the situation. However, when I look back all those years ago today, I wonder if he was quite as ready to accept the decisions of the organising committee after the kicking- match in Montevideo.

 

Pre-Match

After a few hours in bed, we headed for the restaurant and the pre- match meal, before boarding the bus – sorry, coach! – for the trip to Hampden. Lemon did not let me down on the way up the A77, pointing to the gate to nowhere; and I thoroughly enjoyed the blast through the city, with the police out-riders clearing the way.

It would be a strange player who was not stimulated by the trip down the Hampden driveway and that atmosphere – and our excitement – was further enhanced when we went out on to the pitch to the check the conditions and the state of the pitch. The latter, in fact, had been too wide under the rules of the event and was narrowed for the occasion.

Unknown to us, there were some off-field problems. The Boss had been apparently been furious that the match was not being shown across Britain, the Football League having protested that there were League Cup ties being played in England that night.

It was agreed that the BBC and STV could show 30-minute, late-night recordings. However, on the night, a strike involving around 100 technicians at STV caused the station to close at 10.30pm, which meant that no highlights were shown. And the Prime Minister was also affected by industrial action. Harold Wilson had every intention of being at Hampden but prolonged negotiations in a docks dispute held him up and he missed the game.

 

The Teams

Celtic

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

Racing Club

Cejas
Martin, Perfumo
Basile, Diaz, Rulli
Mori, Maschio, Rodriguez, Cardenas, Raffo.

 

The Play

It was obvious from the first minutes of the match that Racing Club had come to defend. One of the things we did find out about them beforehand was they apparently preferred a 4-3-3 system. Well, that night, that idea was put to bed and they defended in depth. It was also fairly obvious, from the beginning, that they were not too concerned as to how they would stop us playing some football.

The Spanish referee was put in a difficult position. He was faced with two sides which were completely incompatible in style and philosophy. But while he seemed to willing to punish Racing Club by awarding free-kick after free-kick to us, he seemed unable to distinguish the difference between physical challenges and downright thuggery, with some seriously heavy tackles going unpunished.

All this made it difficult for us to play football and in spite of all our efforts, we were unable to play the fluid game that suited us. It had been decided before the match that we would try to work Racing on the flanks, using the trickery of Jinky on the right and the speed and power of Yogi on the left. But any time that they threatened at all, they were just up-ended and the culprit merely walked away, holding his hands up in contrition.

However, I must give then credit for one aspect of their play. They might have been ready to foul but they were also clever enough to rotate the offenders, which made the referee’s life even more difficult.

 

By the interval, we had been in possession for most of the first-half yet had nothing to show for it. Wispy did have two good chances that he would normally have taken but that night pulled them wide. The Boss was furious, not with us but with the opposition and particularly the referee. I wanted to say that I had warned him about all that the previous day but it did not seem an appropriate time to mention it.

When the second half got underway, things were no different. We had all the possession, we played the better football, we made better chances but we were still the subject of some pretty serious offences, with the referee still seemingly oblivious to it all. The outcome of the game hinged on two incidents almost 20 minutes apart –

69 minutes

Cesar 

Cejas pushed a shot from Yogi round the post and from the resultant corner, Yogi found the head of Cesar whose header flew into the far corner of the net. 1-0 Celtic

The crowd of 83,437 had been waiting for such a moment since the start of the match and almost went ballistic in their celebrations. It was great for us too but unfortunately, also put us in a tricky situation. Should we continue to push forward against a defence which has already conceded one or sit back a bit and hold on to the one-goal lead. I don’t recall us deciding one way or the other but we seemed to be still in charge until nearly the final minute.

89 minutes

perhaps we had pushed forward a little too much but they made a quick break, the defence was a bit slow in clearing the ball, it bobbled round a bit in the box, then fell to Rodriguez, who, with only Ronnie to beat, hammered the ball against the old guy and it ricocheted clear. Give credit  to Ronnie, though, he had spread himself beautifully.

 

Final Score  Celtic  1  Racing Club  0

 

Our cars had been left outside Celtic Park for the period when we were down at Seamill, so after the match, we were taken by ‘coach’ again back to Parkhead to pick up our own vehicles.

I had managed to get tickets for my Dad plus three uncles and the four of them were waiting for me when I got to my parents’ house, all keen to congratulate me and re-live the best moments of the match.

Eventually, my uncles left for their own home, Dad – who was working the following day  – went to bed, leaving me – who always found it difficult to sleep after a night match – and Mum, who never seemed to sleep much at all, sitting there on our own, talking about this and that. Suddenly, though, she switched over to football and made a comment that sure went right to the heart of a possible problem – “your Dad and your uncles were saying that if you thought it was pretty rough at Hampden tonight, you can expect it to be a lot worse in South America!”

I just shook and head and muttered to myself – “Gee, thanks, Mum, that’s made me feel a lot better”.

 

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14th October 1967: Partick Thistle v Celtic – League

12th October

Down at Seamill, there was no rest for the team of the previous evening. As was the norm, we were up early and did our usual pre-breakfast walk, along the main road to the far end of West Kilbride golf course, down the lane to the beach and then along the sand to the back of the hotel. It was a very pleasant journey on a fine day; if the wind was blowing strongly, you felt as if you were being cut in half. Fortunately, though, on that particular morning, the weather was not too bad and we went into breakfast feeling on top of the world.

After that, we got the opportunity for a few holes of golf before coming back to the hotel in time for lunch. Then followed a period of rest before we did a workout on the lawn at the back of the hotel. This consisted of some short stuff followed by a 7-a-side match, 2-touch and no tackling! The 2-touch bit was easy, the no tackling much more difficult and I am in no doubt you can easily decide which of the two rules we found most difficulty with.

After the workout, we headed for the swimming pool and the baths. What a tough life it was!

 

While all this was going in down on the Ayrshire coast, Celtic fans in Scotland were devouring the papers to find out what was happening behind the scenes. They would have been delighted with the headline and comment in one of the morning ‘dailies’ –

The Magnificent Seven

‘No team that I have seen since the days when Real Madrid were truly great would have stood up to the Celts of last night. They burned up the Hampden turf, linked top speed play with brains working at the same pace and they shot with the accuracy of a Queen’s Prize winner at Bisley’.

 

More surprising was the story under another heading –

Johnstone Capped

‘Scotland’s team manager Bobby Brown today dropped a football bombshell when he chose Jimmy Johnstone, Celtic’s outside-right, to play against Northern Ireland in a European Nations Cup tie on Saturday of next week.

Johnstone has been chosen despite the fact that he appears before the SFA Referee Committee on Monday and faces possible suspension for being ordered off against St Johnstone at Celtic Park on 23rd September.

Scotland’s football writers are astounded at his choice of outside-right but last night Brown merely said “I do not pre-judge. Johnstone is the man I want and that’s why he is in the side”.

 

13th Friday

This date can cause a few problems for anyone of a superstitious mind  but it apparently meant little to Jock Stein, who again got us to start with the trek along the road etc. The routine varied little from the previous day but the golf was out and in the evening, we were addressed by the Boss, who dealt with not only the match against Partick Thistle but looked ahead to the World Club Championship game against Racing Club the following Wednesday.

He also announced the team for the Jags match, which was the same side as against Hibs and Morton.

 

The evening papers also had some information. –

‘Celtic will field the side which hit Morton for 7 in Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final when they line up against Partick Thistle at Firhill.

Manager Jock Stein made a fitness check today at Seamill where Celtic are relaxing and decided to field the team which drew 1-1 with Dinamo Kiev in Russia before beating Hibs 4-0 and Morton 7-1.

John Fallon, Steve Chalmers and Willie O’Neill will play in a strong Celtic reserve side at Celtic Park tonight against Partick Thistle reserves’.

 

Because of the Northern Ireland versus Scotland international in Belfast on Saturday of next week, the Rangers v Dundee and Celtic v Motherwell games due to be played that day have been re-arranged for October 23rd and 24th respectively.

 

As we were having a final cup of tea before heading for our rooms that night, we heard the news that in the reserve match at Parkhead, Celtic had beaten the Jags 3-1. Was that an omen for the first-team tomorrow?


 

Morning of the Match

We did not start the day with the usual longer walk I mentioned previously but we did go down on to the beach at Seamill just to stretch our legs. Then it was back to the hotel and breakfast, before spending the rest of the morning just lazing round the place.

 

A quick glance at the morning papers showed that almost no one believed that Partick Thistle had any chance in this match. In fact, one headline summed up the situation in rather brutal fashion –

Pity the Poor Old Jags

 

The Boss, though, was having none of it, once more reminding us that the Thistle players would, like most of the others we had faced in the league and league cup campaigns so far, be really up for the match, determined to show that they were as good as this team which had won the European Cup. We might have heard the words before but in the matches we had already played, they had turned out to be an accurate estimation of what had occurred, so we had no reason to think that the Jags players would be any different.

 

We were being treated like royalty down at Seamill and we were even provided with some lunch before the match. As we were eating in the dining room, we could see the Cotter’s bus in place to take us up to Firhill and before long, we were on our way. Once more, Lemon and I had a laugh when we saw our favourite gate in the farm field and I was really impressed when we reached Thistle’s ground to see the size of the crowd. Firhill, of course, had a much smaller capacity than our recent venues of Hampden and Parkhead but on that day, the fans had certainly turned up in droves and would certainly provide the sort of atmosphere we loved.

 

The Teams

Partick Thistle

Niven
Campbell, Muir
O’Neill, McKinnon, Gibb
Rae, McParland, Coulson, Flanagan, Duncan.
Sub: Divers

Celtic

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

 

The Play

It did turn out to be a very tough match from the start. We were certainly the better-moving side and had the majority of the possession but the Jags were never out of it and made some good chances. The crowd – estimated at 30,000 – was obviously loving it. A crucial incident, though, occurred just on the half-hour mark –

30 minutes
Wispy and Davie McParland tangled, it became a bit serious, then the referee broke it up, pulled McParland to one side, booked him, then ordered him off.

The Thistle players were naturally very upset by all this and protested vehemently but it was all to no avail and Davie was not coming back. Curiously enough, with Davie off, I think that we took our feet off the pedal, relaxed a bit and did not take full advantage of being a man up.

We certainly made some chances. Wispy, Bertie and Lemon all had good chances but all of them fluffed their lines. But it was just before the break that we got the goal we badly needed to take some of the pressure off –

43 minutes
a low cross by Bertie was hammered in by Cesar. 1-0 Celtic

I suspect that this goal changed the ambience of the Boss’s talk at the interval. Up till then, he must have been almost pulling his hair out as we failed to take advantage of the extra man but by the time we came in for the break, he was once again his usual calm, constructive self as he tried to steady the ship

As usual, his words helped and right from the whistle, we assumed control and scored another four, all of then by Lemon.

52 minutes
fine pass by Bertie, good finish by Bobby.  2-0 Celtic

59 minutes
this time I provided the low cross, Bobby met it at the near post. 3-0 Celtic

71 minutes
through ball by Wispy, which Lemon met perfectly. 4-0 Celtic

76 minutes
Thistle pull one back when a cross-cum-shot by Arthur Duncan from just outside the box swerved past Ronnie. 4-1 Celtic

89 minutes
square pass by Yogi driven hard and true into the net from 10 yards by Bobby.

Final Score  Partick Thistle 1  Celtic  5

 

Other Results

Clyde 1 3 Rangers
Dundee 1 4 St. Johnstone
Falkirk 1 1 Kilmarnock
Hibs 2 0 Dunfermline
Morton 4 0 Airdrie
Motherwell 3 1 Stirling Albion
Raith Rovers 2 4 Hearts
Aberdeen 6 0 Dundee United

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
1 Rangers 6 5 1 0 10 2 5.00 11
2 Celtic 5 4 1 1 17 3 5.67 9
3 Hibernian 6 4 1 1 16 3 5.33 9
4 St Johnstone 6 2 4 0 10 6 1.67 8
5 Kilmarnock 6 2 4 0 8 5 1.60 8

 

A Night at the Coast

The day ended in an unusual fashion. Instead of our usual routine, where we headed for home before doing whatever each of us did on a Saturday night, we boarded the bus again for the trip back to Seamill.

It turned out to be a night to forget. Dinner with the whole squad was followed by us sitting round chatting, watching TV or playing cards, all with a glass of lemonade in our hands. Most of us went to bed before 10pm, more out of boredom than anything else!

 

 

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11th October 1967: Celtic v Morton – League Cup Semi-Final

9th October

Over the weekend, press coverage had been positive towards Celtic after the performance against Hibs –

Celtic Serve Flag Notice

 Hibernian Soundly Beaten by Determined Celtic

 

And by Monday, the assessment of our chances against Morton was even more optimistic  –

Super Celts

No Injury for Any Celtic Player

Celtic Ready for Morton Cup Clash

 

Most of us reported for training on the Monday morning. When I say ‘most’ I refer to the fact that five of the team – Bertie, Stevie, Ronnie, Tam and Wispy – got the day off to play in a golf competition. It was all right for some!

However, according to a comment in one of the evening papers, the Boss had given them all a warning before they set out –“I have told them that if the rain starts pouring down to call a halt to their games. We can’t afford any of them catching a cold just two days before our game with Morton”.

We picked up all that in the paper before we – those not playing – left Parkhead after our training session in the morning. Loyalty is an essential attribute in any team…so I will leave you to guess the name of the team-mate who said he hoped it would be chucking it down on that golf course! Answers on a postcard, please!

 

A match had been organised for that night at Hampden, where a Celtic eleven would play a British Olympic X1. The team chosen was Fallon, Young, ‘Newman’, Henderson, Connelly, Brogan, Clark, McBride, Quinn, McMahon and Macari.

 

10th October

A training day for the full squad, where we heard that golf day had gone well, with never a hint of rain, so one of my colleagues would have been very disappointed.

The atmosphere in the camp had improved considerably after the victory over Hibs and all of us were looking forward to the visit to Hampden and the match with Morton. The men from Greenock had started the season pretty well and were just outside the top six in the table, a very fine performance for a team which had only won promotion from the Second Division the previous season.

However, even though the football public might have expected that this match would be easy for Celtic, we were all well aware that things don’t always work out like that and at training that morning, the Boss hammered home the message that the Morton players would be up for the match and that we would have to be as good as we were against Hibs.

 

We also found out that after Wednesday’s match, in fact on Thursday morning, we would all be heading for Seamill to prepare for the World Championship game against Racing Club of Argentina at Hampden Park on Wednesday of next week.

We would be coming up to Glasgow for Saturday’s match against Partick Thistle and then returning to Seamill until the Racing Club match.

 

At Hampden on the previous evening, the British Olympic X1 had been beaten 4-0 by the Celtic eleven, the goals coming from Jimmy Quinn (2), Pat McMahon and George Connelly.


 

Morning of the Game

As it was a match day, we were allowed a longer lie-in than normal down at Seamill and did not do the usual walk along the beach. Instead, we breakfasted around 9am and then spent the morning round the hotel or outside in the grounds. At that time of year, the hotel was pretty quiet, inhabited only by the regulars, the vast majority of whom were senior citizens, so you can imagine that the atmosphere was pretty quiet, although our lot could be relied on to change that. The residents were nice people, though, and even if our antics sometimes annoyed them – which, I imagine, could occasionally have been the case – they were never anything other than civil to us.

In the morning papers, which we managed to get a look at, the Boss was quoted as saying that he would be playing the same side that had beaten Hibs. As he had not mentioned the semi-final to us at that point, we could only accept that the journalist who wrote the piece knew more than we did about the Boss’s intentions.

 

We got the team news just after lunch, before we retired to our rooms for an afternoon nap. The Boss gathered us in the lounge and made the announcement, merely adding that we all knew the importance of the occasion so he did not have to say anything else. It was brief and blunt and the message got across to us.

 

Pre –Match

Later in the afternoon, we gathered again for the pre-match meal, then boarded the bus for the trip up to Hampden. Halfway there, up the A77, Lemon gave me the usual shout and pointed to that gate I have mentioned before, which was in the middle of a field, separating nothing from nothing. We both laughed, then I got ready for one of my favourite moments, when we were met by two policemen on motor-cycles, who guided us, at a fair lick, through the traffic on the south side of the city.

I always enjoyed that bit and it got even better when we arrived at the National Stadium, where the bus slowly wound its way down the avenue to the ground, eventually stopping right outside the front door. Led in by the Boss – and to the cheers of the fans who had already gathered – we walked into the stadium and made our way out to check on the pitch.

All was good and we came back in again and started to get ready for the match, for which we had been provided with an unusual strip of green shirt, while shorts and white socks.

 

The Teams

Celtic

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

Morton

Crawford
Loughlan, Kennedy
Arnetoft, Strachan, Gray
Jensen, Mason, Allan, Stevenson, Sweeney.
Sub: Taylor

 

There was a fair representation of ex-Celts on the field for Morton. Jim Kennedy at left-back and captain plus two guys I used to play with in the reserve team at Parkhead – midfielder Gerry Sweeney and winger Tony Taylor, on the bench that evening. Both were fine players but at Celtic Park at that time, there was a lot of talent and sometimes guys had to move on to find a niche.

This match was described in one paper the following day as –

‘Celtic destroyed Morton with a devastating performance at Hampden despite the Morton team putting up a fight full of heart’.

 

That seems a trifle harsh but another report was pretty similar –

‘Celtic’s victory over Morton in the Scottish League Cup semi-final at Hampden last night was hardly an exhilarating game of football, more an academic exercise with the Parkhead club working out most of the answers while their opponents merely guessed.

Yet it was never dull. How could it be with the adrenaline once more flowing freely through the Celtic veins?’

 

It was also a match I particularly recall, as I scored two of the goals. As one of the dailies remarked –‘its not often that a full-back scores twice in one game but Jim Craig did that last night’.

The goals came in this fashion –

4 minutes
a cross by Wispy was dummied by Jinky and Yogi cracked the ball home off the underside of the cross-bar.  1-0 Celtic

7 minutes
this time Yogi cut the ball back for Wispy to blast home. 2-0 Celtic

12 minutes
midfielder Arnetoft struck one from a very acute angle and it fairly zipped past Ronnie. 2-1 Celtic

18 minutes
Jinky kneed a Yogi cross-cum-shot into the net. 3-1 Celtic

20 minutes
Lemon hammered home, again from an acute angle. 4-1 Celtic

21 minutes
this time it was me, from an even more tight angle. 5-1 Celtic

It would not take a genius to work out that it was a very happy dressing-room at the interval. In fact, I do not remember the Boss saying anything about the match; he just joined in the happy atmosphere. But we were not finished ……

53 minutes
up for a corner, the ball dropped in front of me about 12 yards out and I struck it hard into the corner of the net. 6-1 Celtic

66 minutes
this was the best of the seven. Yogi ran from halfway, shaking off challenge after challenge before hammering home. That run brought him a standing ovation.

Final Score  Celtic  7  Morton  1

 

I had thought that the atmosphere in the dressing-room at half-time had been good but at full-time, it was even better, with everyone – squad players, backroom staff and directors – all piling in to join in the celebrations. However, the Boss soon brought all that to a halt, reminding us that we were getting back on the bus to return to Seamill and that we would be doing some work the following morning. He also reminded us that big games were ahead and that we must keep our minds on them. And when we got to Seamill, there was a cup of tea waiting for us – when we might have liked something stronger – and then it was good night, everyone and bed!

 

Other Semi-final

In the other semi-final at Tannadice, Dundee beat St Johnstone 3-1 so the Dark Blues would be our opponents in the final on 28th October

 

European Draws

Three Scottish teams were still involved in the draw for the next round of the European competitions.

Rangers would meet either Cologne or Slavia Prague; Hibs would play either Napoli or Hannover; while Dundee were drawn against FC Liegeois.

 

Good News

Just before we went to our rooms, we were told that Racing Club had lost 0-2 to Lanus the day before, their 3rd defeat in 10 days.

 

 

 

 

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7th October 1967: Celtic v Hibs – League

5th October

The headline in one of the morning dailies summed up the match against Dinamo Kiev quite succinctly;

Murdoch Ordered off As Celtic Lose European Cup

Another one was fairly critical of the referee;

Celtic Lesson Never Argue with a Referee

‘Signor Bardelli used his whistle like a piccolo player. For every timid offence perpetrated by either side he gave out an ear-splitting blast no matter whether the offending player was in possession of the ball’.

 

By the time the evening press came out, Signor Bardelli had said his piece;

‘I had to send Murdoch off for unsporting conduct’.

 

The goal scored by John Hughes also came under the spotlight, with Yogi giving his own account of what occurred;

‘I am convinced that the goal I scored was perfectly legal. Everybody at that end of the ground must have seen what was obvious. The goalkeeper dropped the ball and I put it through his legs into the net. I did not make physical contact with the goalkeeper’.

 

Meanwhile, as the fans back in Scotland were reading all this in the press, we were travelling back from Kiev and, as you can probably guess, the atmosphere in the plane was not of the best. We were all bitterly disappointed, not only at losing the match but also picking up that un-wanted tag of being the first winners of the European Cup to go out at the first stage the following season. That was hard to take in particular and was the main reason why the atmosphere on the plane coming back was, up to that point, probably the quietest we had ever experienced.

What did not improve matters at all, either, was the news that the three other Scottish clubs in European competition had all come through their ties;

Dundee’s Weak Finishing 

Dundee 3  D.W.S. Amsterdam 0         Aggregate 4-2

 Last Gasp Victory for Rangers

Rangers 2 Dinamo Dresden 1              Aggregate 3-2

 Hibs Through on Aggregate

Porto 3  Hibs  1                          Aggregate 3-4

 

6th October

The atmosphere at training on the Friday had not improved much and the Boss and his staff – who must have been feeling pretty down themselves – had to work hard to raise the tempo. Still, a good session on the track does help matters and we went to it as ordered. Bertie was the only one who had picked up a knock in Kiev, so he sat it out and at the end of training, the Boss, obviously recognising the mood in the camp, gave us a brief pep-talk, to the effect that we now had to put the European Cup disappointment behind us and concentrate on the competitions that we were still involved in, starting with Hibs on the morrow. He had obviously given the same thoughts to the reporters at the Friday press conference, as one of the papers that night led its story with the headline;

Celtic Have No Time For Tears Now The Big Push Is On

‘Tomorrow the big league push starts at Celtic Park and Celtic could hardly have picked tougher opponents for their title bid than Hibs, who come to Parkhead with the same points as league leaders Rangers but with an inferior goal average’.

 

And at the bottom of the back page was a fascinating story about an ex-Celt who by then was managing one of England’s top teams –

‘Chelsea manager Tommy Docherty has been suspended from all football for 28 days from Monday as a result of incidents in the clubs’ two matches in Bermuda during the summer’

After reading that, every Scots fan was thinking the same thought – ‘What did he do?’


 

Morning of the Match

As if we were not under enough pressure already, the back pages of the dailies on the day of the game were full of adverse comment, firstly on our inability to pull back the 1-2 deficit against Dinamo Kiev in the Ukraine and secondly, on the difficulty of facing Hibs in our next match. From the way they were praising Hibs, you would have thought that we were going to face the best team on the planet! In actual fact, we were quite comfortable about facing the Hibees.

 

The Opposition

Being a Hibs fan – as my Dad was – has always been a roller-coaster of an existence. They have always been able to play exciting and attractive football; at the same time, all through the years, their defence has also been likely to let them down.

And they had this in-built confidence – you might even call it ‘arrogance’ – whereby they seemed to think that they had the ability to take on any side and outplay them in the various attacking arts of the game. We all recognised that and it was one of the reasons why at that time we liked playing against Hibs. They would make no effort to strengthen an occasionally shaky back line and go for all-out attack against any opposition, including us. Unfortunately, we were much the better footballing team and while they tried to match us going forward, we took advantage of their defensive foibles while being able to maintain our own strength at the back.

 

Pre-match

No lunch again, so we came prepared, having arranged to have something at home. The so-called Battle of the Greens has always been a popular affair with both sets of supporters, so by the time we came out for a warm-up, there was quite a crowd already in the ground, with more coming in all the time.

Football players are never given much credit for their intelligence. In reality, they can assess a situation as well as anyone else and we all realised that we would have to put in a good shift that afternoon to allay the fears of the home support that we might not have any success that season.

The atmosphere in the dressing room, for instance, had been a lot more sombre than usual; the pre-match warm-up had been completed with determination; and we listened carefully to the Boss’s pre-match instructions. By the time Cesar was ready to take us down the tunnel, he was followed by a team ready to show just what we could do.

 

The Teams

Celtic

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

Hibs

Allan
Duncan, Davis
Stanton, Madsen, McGraw
Scott, Quinn, Stein, Cormack, Stevenson.
Sub:  O’Rourke

 

The Play

After all the criticism we had received in the previous 48 hours, all the guys were really up for this match and from the first whistle, we just took control and seldom let Hibs into it. The goals came as follows –

26 minutes
corner kick from Yogi reached Chopper, standing at the edge of the box and he fairly hammered his shot into the net.  1-0 Celtic

48 minutes
a corner from the left, this time by Lemon and Wispy headed home. 2-0 Celtic

59 minutes
great run by Jinky, who evaded several tackles before giving goalkeeper Allan no chance. 3-0 Celtic

65 minutes
free-kick awarded to Celtic when McGraw upended Jinky. Bertie slid the ball into the path of Chopper, who got his second of the game. 4-0 Celtic

After that, Hibs did come into it a little, mainly because we had taken our collective foot off the pedal and they made a few chances. However, the defence coped well with these moments and Ronnie had little to do.

Final Score  Celtic  4  Hibs  0

 

Other Results

Aberdeen 0 1 Dunfermline
Dundee United 3 2 Morton
Falkirk 1 1 St. Johnstone
Hearts 2 3 Clyde
Kilmarnock 0 0 Dundee
Motherwell 0 2 Rangers
Partick Thistle 2 1 Stirling Albion
Raith Rovers 1 1 Airdrie

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Rangers 5 4 1 0 7 1 7.00 9
Celtic 5 3 1 1 12 2 6.00 7
Hibernian 5 3 1 1 14 6 2.33 7
Airdrieonians 5 2 3 0 8 5 1.60 7
Kilmarnock 5 2 3 0 8 5 1.60 7

 

Reserve Match

There had also been a reserve league match at Easter Road that afternoon, when a team of Fallon, Shevlane, O’Neill, Hay, Connelly, Brogan, Gallagher, McBride, Quinn, McMahon and Macari beat Hibs 2-1.

 

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4th October 1967:  Dinamo Kiev v Celtic – European Cup

1st October

On the Sunday, the day after we had beaten Stirling Albion 4-0 at Annfield, a match for which the headline said…..

Celts in the Groove Again

…….. we all reported to Celtic Park for a light loosener and also the announcement of the squad of players who would travel to Kiev.

It was the so-called ‘Lisbon eleven’ plus John Fallon, Willie O’Neill, David Cattenach, Charlie Gallagher, Chris Shevlane, John Hughes and Joe McBride. As well as those players, a backroom staff of Sean Fallon, Neilly Mochan, Bob Rooney, Jim Steele and Doc Fitzsimmons would also make the trip, one of the latter’s immediate jobs being the care of the Boss, who did not look – nor sound – too healthy after his bout of ‘flu.

 

2nd October

By 9am, the whole party had left Celtic Park for Prestwick Airport, from where we took off in our chartered jet for Kiev. It was an uneventful trip – even the reluctant fliers would have said that – and we arrived in the Ukraine in mid-afternoon. From the airport, it was a bus to our hotel before relaxing with a cup of tea and the allocation of rooms.

Later, we got back on a bus again for a trip to the stadium – which had been known as the Nikita Kruschev Stadium – but after his ‘retirement’ or perhaps downfall in 1964, it was usually called the Central Stadium

Anyway, whatever they decided to call it, we were less than impressed with some aspects, mainly the pitch which was uneven and bumpy. However, we did some work but it was light-hearted, as everyone was fit and it was important for all the squad to stay clear of any injuries.


Talking of injuries, mine was feeling OK. In consultation with the management and the doctor, we all took a good look at it and I did a little workout just to keep Neilly happy. He was quite pleased with my movement, the cut was again healing – although the Doc warned me that in a contact sport, the chances were that it would occasionally open up all during the season – and it was now thought that what I had been suffering from on the Saturday was a ‘dead leg’ where the nerve supply to some area of the leg is struck and the area is effectively paralysed. When I thought about it, that was exactly how it did feel  and I was delighted that I was now back to ‘nearly’ full-fitness.


Back in Glasgow, the evening papers, as well as discussing the trip and the fact we would be training, had two other relevant stories.

The first came under the heading –

Kiev Will Take No Chances

‘Kiev trainer Viktor Maslov said today that his team were in fighting spirit for Wednesday’s 2nd leg European Cup tie against Celtic.

The Russians are favourites to eliminate the Scots but Maslov said the“we expect a hard, sporting encounter. Celtic are a strong team. I have no doubt at all that they will win the Inter-Continental Cup. Over the past year, Celtic have become even stronger”.

 

And the second story concerned tickets –

Old Firm Fans in Ticket Rush

‘Celtic and Rangers fans joined forces today to form fair-sized queues outside Glasgow  shops where tickets for big games were on scale.

Celtic fans were buying tickets for the League Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on October 11 when Celtic face Morton and also for the World Club Championship game against Racing Club of Argentina at Hampden Park on Wednesday October 18.

Stand tickets for Wednesday’s Fairs Cities Cup against Dresden Dynamo were also on sale for Rangers fans’.

 

3rd October

It was a beautiful day when we breakfasted in our hotel, at the relatively late hour of 10am. From that point on, though, it was a fairly long day, as we were not training until 7pm. So, we hung around the hotel in the morning, had a very late lunch –almost in mid-afternoon – and then headed for the stadium. The floodlights were, as we thought the night before, first class but the pitch was truly awful, the balls bobbling all over the place as we did some passing moves. How it got the nod from UEFA was hard to believe. Then, it was back to the hotel and a team meeting, where the Boss explained that he was going to make a slight alteration to the way we usually played, although he would say more about it the following morning after breakfast.

That left us somewhat in limbo, as most of us would have liked to have known right then as to the new ‘variation’. And he must have mentioned the idea to the Scottish reporters who were with us, as everyone back in Glasgow who bought an evening papers found out a little of what was happening almost before we did;

Stein Gamble – He Must Bank On Surprise Tactics

‘Mr Stein has clamped a security ban an all information coming out of his camp. Scores of Soviet football writers, television and radio cameramen and interviewers have spoken to Mr Stein since the Celtic plane touched down to a welcoming party of hundreds of Soviet citizens yesterday. Mr Stein talked plenty and said precisely nothing’.

Now, you have to read slightly between the lines here. Those words in the headline ‘surprise tactics’ obviously meant that he was going to make s light change to the way we played – could be in system or in personnel – and he has told the Scottish press that but given them no further info.

So, what would we be doing on the night that was ‘new’?; well, we would just have to wait until after breakfast on the morning of the game.

In our respective beds that night, Tam Gemmell and I discussed the situation and gave each other our personal views. He thought that Jinky would be given a roving commission and I was more inclined to the idea of two strikers and the rest in supporting roles. We would find out in about 12 hours!


Morning of the Match

A fairly late breakfast at which all the discussion was about the Boss’s new plans for the team that night. Time was dragging and it seemed an age before we got the nod from Neilly to head for a room on the first floor, where the Boss was waiting with a board of sorts beside him.

Tam and I had both been wrong. The new idea was that Jinky would play on the left wing; Yogi would come over to the right and Stevie would be the man who dropped out. I wasn’t exactly sold on the idea – nor was Tam, when I spoke to him later – but I suppose it was worth trying. The Kiev coach had prepared his side every well for the first leg so a change like this might upset his plans. Anyway, the Boss had made his decision, so who were we to argue? As John Steinbeck wrote in the Grapes of Wrath – ‘a man got to do what he got to do’.

 

Afternoon

A light lunch was on the cards then back to bed for a few hours before coming down again for the pre-match meal. Wherever we were, the routine was usually the same and Kiev was no different. However, later on, when we left the hotel by bus to make our way to the stadium for the match, we did notice a difference in the city. Suddenly, there were crowds everywhere, all seemingly heading for the game. We did not know this at that time but many fans were protesting that tickets were being sold for the match outside of the Ukraine; while in Kiev itself, tickets were selling on the black market for up to 10 times their value!

The Teams

Dinamo Kiev

Bannikov
Schegolkhov, Sosnichin
Levchenko, Krulikovsky, Turnanchik
Byshevetz, Sabo, Medvid, Serebranikov, Pusach.

Celtic

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

 

The Play

As you might imagine, it was a tense affair for both sides, with Kiev desperately trying to hold on to their lead from Glasgow and our lot doing our damnedest to avoid going out of the Cup we had won the previous season in the first round. A lot of aggression was obviously on display, tackles were flying in and it needed a strong – and more importantly talented – referee to take control of proceedings. Unfortunately, we did not have one, we had Signor Antonio Bardelli from Italy.

Now, the dictionary definition of the word ‘nightmare’ is ‘a very unpleasant or frightening situation’. What we were experiencing in Kiev was certainly not frightening but, thanks to referee Bardelli, it was definitely becoming a very unpleasant situation. He just would not allow any challenges for the ball, blowing for every petty misdemeanour, making it impossible for either team to build up any sort of rhythm.

 

Kiev had obviously been told to sit back and defend and they did that very competently, in spite of every one of us putting in a real shift. So, for the whole of the first half, we had by far the best of the possession but made few chances and at the interval, it was still goalless.

 

At half-time, the Boss, annoyed with the referee like the rest of us, controlled his temper and changed the plan again, bringing Jinky back to his right-wing berth and pushing Yogi back to the left. To be honest, changing them over for the first half had not made any difference although if another referee had allowed play to flow a little more freely instead of constantly interrupting it, then it might have worked. But all the Boss could say was to keep working hard and we had certainly done that in the first half.

And we continued to do so after the interval, maintaining our control of possession but in spite of all our efforts, we just could not make the chances that we needed and amid the hard work, we heard the referee’s whistle blow constantly. Then, we were struck with possible disaster –

 

59 minutes
Chopper had been booked for showing dissent in the first half so when he reacted badly for being penalised for a tackle in midfield by throwing the ball away, Signor Bardelli showed his annoyance by ordering him from the field.

That meant we had to re-arrange again, Wispy coming back into midfield; and it also gave a boost to Kiev, who, now with a one-man advantage, raised their game. Still, we stuck at it and even re-doubled our efforts and only two minutes later, managed to take the lead –

61 minutes
free-kick from Bertie was screwed into the goal from a near impossible angle by Lemon.   1-0 Celtic

We all realised that we needed one more goal to go through and it was amazing what a boost that gave to us. But Kiev were defending well and our chances were few and far between.

Halfway through the half, though, we did get the ball in the net when Yogi rushed in on a loose ball in the box and pushed it between goalkeeper Bannikov’s legs. Signor Bardelli, though, had other ideas, pointing out that Yogi had made contact with the keeper before scoring, a decision which almost had all of us nearly in despair although, as you might imagine, it was loved by the vast majority of the 85,000 crowd.

We never stopped putting the pressure on but with only 10 men, we were also tiring and almost on the final whistle, we were hit by a sucker punch –

90 minutes
a quick break by the Kiev forwards gave an opportunity for Byshevetz to have a crack and he took it to full effect, the ball flashing into the corner of the net past Ronnie.   Kiev 1 Celtic 1

 

Final Score  Dinamo Kiev 1 Celtic 1    Aggregate Score  Dinamo Kiev 3  Celtic 2

 

We were all devastated. The dressing-room was full of heart-broken players, not to mention the Boss and his backroom staff. All the usual after-match activities – the bathing and showering, the getting dressed, the going out into the main entrance of the ground, the bus trip back to the hotel, the post-match meal, the chat among the boys and so on – were all done as quickly and quietly as possible. Usually the Boss and his staff had to be quite tough about getting us to go to bed but that night we were only too ready to disappear upstairs. And as we did so, we were all well aware that we had become the first European Cup winners to go out of the competition at the first stage the following season.

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30th September 1967: Stirling Albion v Celtic – League

28th September

Those who had not played the previous evening did the usual training; those who had played got the day off. However, it was a lovely day and the workout was very enjoyable.

Apart from that, all the guys were in good form, although Joe McBride would have been very disappointed with a comment in one of the dailies;

‘The return of Joe McBride was eagerly anticipated but Joe, so desperately keen to win back his first team place was sadly out of form. Missing were the razor-sharp reflexes that last season made McBride top goal-scorer in the First Division despite the fact that he had been a first-team absentee since late December.

Celtic just could not find the proper understanding in attack and over an hour had passed before they managed to penetrate Ayr’s defensive wall’

 

Such thoughts were reflected in the headlines

United’s Players Rose to the Occasion        

Uninspiring Win for Celtic

Celtic Through but Stein Has His Problems

A Lack of Punch Up Front

The draw was made for the semi-final stages of the League Cup. It was –

Celtic    v  Morton            Hampden

Dundee v  St Johnstone  Tannadice

A surprise from the night before – not for the players but for all the support – was announced in the evening papers –

Celtic Praise for Morton Well-Trained Team

‘Jock Stein and Sean Fallon of Celtic made a car dash from Ayr to Kilmarnock last night to watch some of Morton’s 2-1 victory over the Ayrshire side – and if they were not worried men when they left Rugby Park they certainly know now that their semi-final opponents are not in the pushover class’.

 

29th September

Everyone back in; just some track-work and an early finish to the morning. The big news was that the Boss was ill, apparently with ‘flu and both Sean and Neilly took the training and handled any team news.

As regards the latter, it was announced that the eleven for the first-team encounter at Stirling would be chosen from the Lisbon side plus Pumper, Yogi and Pat McMahon. There was also a reserve team match against Stirling Reserves on the Saturday afternoon at Parkhead and at that match, there would be a sale of tickets for all parts of the ground for Celtic’s World Club Championship game against Racing Club of Argentina at Hampden on Wednesday October 18th.

 

In the evening papers, there a little piece to the effect that Dinamo Kiev had drawn 0-0 with Moscow Dynamo at the latter’s ground in front of a crowd of 60,000.


 

Morning of the Match

When we played at Perth, we always had a pre-match bite in a hotel. However, as Stirling was only 30-odd miles away and you could drive there in just over half-an-hour, we had to provide our own food and arrive at Celtic Park ready to travel.

None of the boys travelled to Stirling with any great enthusiasm as the pitch had a decided slope on it and our record there was not a good one, having drawn 1-1 the previous season on a muddy pitch and in the season before that, we had lost 0-1. It seems to have been touch and go as to whether the Boss would make the trip but he certainly looked OK he boarded the bus.

The trip was uneventful and soon we were getting ready, when I had a moment I have always remembered. I had probably put my playing gear on far too early and was sitting at my place waiting for the others to go out for a pre-match warm-up. Somebody had left a match programme at each place, so I picked up the one nearest me and flicked through it.

Now, I must confess that I never, in my whole life, had given a thought as to why Sirling had the name-tag ‘Albion’ attached to the place name. Well, that afternoon I found out.

It came from a time in 1945, when, after the former Stirling club -called Kings Park – had ceased to operate because  its ground was bombed ( it was the only bomb ever dropped on Stirling) during the 2nd World War, a group of businessmen bought the Annfield estate and started to lay out a new ground. That took time and because the pitch was ready before any stands had been built, when they were watching matches the club officials sat on chairs placed in the back of newly-scrubbed lorries. These were Albion trucks, from which the club derived its new name. It’s amazing what you learn in a dressing-room.

 

The Teams

Stirling Albion

Murray
Cunningham, McGuiness
Reid, Rogerson, Thomson
McPhie, Kerray, Grant, Peebles, Hall.
Sub:  McKinnon

Celtic

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

 

The Play

The start had been held up for 10 minutes or so while the crowd tried to get in but eventually we got underway and straight away, as so often in matches like this, took immediate control of the play without getting any definitive end product. For most of the first half, we did make some chances but again as usual, the opposing keeper was in top form and had great saves from Wispy, Chopper with other tries from Bertie, Chopper again and myself going over the bar. Two minutes from half-time, we did get a breakthrough –

43 minutes
a quick break by Yogi and Bertie, the ball went loose and Wispy reacted quickest to prod it home.  1-0 Celtic

Just before the interval, my own part in this match came to an abrupt end. I was in full flood down the wing, evaded a challenge from my immediate opponent by swerving past him but I never saw his colleague coming in behind and he caught me– possibly over the top? – right on the spot where I was just recovering from my previous injury. It was really painful and when I glanced down, I saw, to my disgust, that the cut had re-opened and blood was pouring down my leg.

Bob Rooney and Neilly both came on and I saw them signal to the dugout, although I was in such pain that I did not know what they were signaling. The next thing I knew was that I was limping off the field and Pumper was going on to play at left-back, with Tam switching to the right.

When the whistle went and all the guys came into the dressing-room, they were very solicitous about my problem but life had to go on, there was a game to be won and the Boss was quite clear that we had to do better in the final third. When they had gone out, he waited behind and said to me “have a bath, take your time and make sure you don’t put any weight on it. I need you for Wednesday”. So, although I was in a fair bit of pain at the time, at least it was nice to know that I was in the team for the Kiev return, if fit.

I did not see much of the second half, as I spent nearly all of it having the wound cleaned and dressed and then getting into my normal clothes. But from what I read in the papers, the other goals apparently came as follows –

66 minutes
Bertie sent in a screamer from 25 yards.  2-0 Celtic

And apparently, from them on, we dominated the play in comfortable fashion and picked up two further goals though Lemon (70 minutes) and Bertie again (78 minutes), so it was a happy group of players who trooped back into the dressing-room at the end of the match, where this pretty miserable figure was sitting in a corner, trying to keep out of the way. At least I had found out why Stirling had ‘Albion’ in its name!

 

Other Results

Airdrie 2 0 Dundee United
Clyde 0 2 Falkirk
Dundee 2 1 Motherwell
Dunfermline 1 2 Kilmarnock
Hibs 5 1 Partick Thistle
Morton 3 3 Aberdeen
Rangers 1 1 Hearts
St. Johnstone 1 0 Raith Rovers

Table

1 Rangers 4 3 1 0 5 1 5.00 7
2 Hibernian 4 3 1 0 12 4 3.00 7
3 Airdrieonians 4 2 2 0 7 4 1.75 6
4 Kilmarnock 4 2 2 0 7 4 1.75 6
5 Celtic 4 2 1 1 8 2 4.00 5

 

15 Raith Rovers 4 1 0 3 8 7 1.14 2
16 Stirling Albion 4 0 2 2 4 7 0.57 2
17 Motherwell 4 0 1 3 4 7 0.57 1
18 Partick Thistle 4 0 0 4 3 12 0.25 0

 

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27th September 1967: Ayr United v Celtic – League Cup QF 2nd Leg

25th September

After two defeats and one draw in the previous seven days, I had anticipated a fairly strenuous session on the Monday following but I could not have been more wrong. The Boss spoke to us before leaving for training, quite calmly pointing out that while it had been a bad week as far as results were concerned, he had not been unhappy with either our commitment or our enthusiasm. The problem as he saw it was that – in his words – we had ‘gone off the boil’ something that can happen to any club at any time. So, taking that into account, what we needed to practice at training was teamwork, the passing moves that we could do so well would be worked on during the session and he was keen for us to work hard at those and make sure that they finished with a ‘result’, in other words a ‘goal’.

And that is what we did on that Monday morning, the first team versus the reserves, and there could be little doubt that play improved during the morning.

The Boss had also mentioned in his talk that he would be making changes to the side for the second leg of the Ayr United quarter-final but, as usual, in the evening papers we found out a bit more’

‘Celtic manager Jock Stein may make at least 5 changes to his team for the second leg of Wednesday’s quarter-final tie against Ayr United at Somerset Park.

The changes are not as a result of Celtic’s defeats by Rangers and Dinamo Kiev plus the draw against St Johnstone. Injuries are the problem. Doubtful starters are Craig, Clark, Wallace and Lennox.

Jock Stein said today “Craig, Clark, Wallace and Lennox are being treated for knocks. We will see how they are before we decide on a team for Somerset Park”.

 

All the players, except Jinky, who was given some time off, travelled by bus to Largs for a stay of a few days.

 

24th September

Down at Largs, most of the players spent the day relaxing. Some played golf; others went to the baths. Joe McBride was the only one who did some training. It must have been a tough time for Joe. He was of the build that could put flesh on quite easily, so there was the constant necessity to diet – difficult when you are a professional footballer – and also, as he was recovering from a serious injury, there was also the constant need to build up the muscles round the knee and also work on stamina and sharpness. And to be fair to him, Joe never complained.

The press was pretty adamant that Celtic were through, although with the Hoops 6-2 up from the first leg, they were not exactly going out on a limb. The headlines were clearly in Celtic’s favour;

It Must Be Celtic

although they were a little more circumspect about who would also go through to the semi-finals. Dundee were already there, having beaten beaten East Fife 5-0 on aggregate. Of the others, though, Kilmarnock were 2-3 down to Morton from the first leg; while St Johnstone were 5-0 up on Queen’s Park at a similar stage. The suggestion was that the first named teams in both those ties – with home advantage – would go through.

 

The Morning of the Match

All the major stories in the morning papers were about Joe McBride;

McBride Wants Midas Touch

‘Joe McBride faces the most important game of his football life tonight.

If he comes through the hard and punishing 90 minutes at Ayr completely fit and right, back to his old form, he will almost certainly play against Stirling Albion on Saturday and then in the ‘all out attack’ match v versus Dinamo in Kiev’.

 

It would be an important match for another Celtic player, with John Fallon making his first appearance between the posts since the friendly against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu in May for Alfredo Di Stefano’s benefit.

It had been a nice couple of days down at Largs. Golf, baths even a visit to the cinema. Ah! being a pro footballer is such a tough life!


Pre-match

Since we were staying just up the road from the venue for the game, it was easy enough to get there. We had gone for a walk before breakfast, had a lazy morning, then went back to bed for a couple of hours before the pre-match meal and then the drive to the stadium.

 

The Stadium

We would have to cope with a slightly different size of pitch for this contest. The pitch at Somerset Park was 110 yards by 72 yards, slightly shorter than Celtic Park but, as the width was about the same as ours – and that is the important criterion for both defending and attacking – it should not make much difference.

 

We knew the team by this time, so it was just a case of going out for a look at the pitch, then getting ready. Everyone was keen to make amends for what had been a hard week, especially the guys who did not usually get a game. They, in particular, were determined to show what they could do. That is the only way to try to force your name into the manager’s thoughts; I was through all that myself fairly recently so I could empathise with their predicament. At the same time, I hoped that they did not ‘star’ too much?

 

The Teams

The supporters who had travelled down to Ayr would have read the papers and knew that some changes to the usual side were on the cards but when the team was read out over the loudspeaker system, there were a number of expressions of surprise. By this time, I was seated in the Main Stand and could hear these quite clearly. As we were 6-2 up from the first leg, I don’t think that anyone had any fears of losing the tie but there were reservations about the number of changes. Would these affect the team’s performance?

 

Ayr United

Stewart
Quinn, Murphy
Thomson, Monan, Walker
McMillan, Mitchell, Ingram, Hawkshaw, Black.
Sub: Barrowman

Celtic

Fallon
Shevlane, O’Neill
Cattenach, McNeill, Brogan
Wallace, Gallagher, McBride, Auld, Hughes.
Sub:Macari

 

The Play

Although it might sound as sour grapes coming from me sitting in the stand, our play was not good. ‘Stuttering’ was a word used in one report and that could describe it very well. There was a lack of fluency in the team play and up front, we did not, at least in the first half, seem to have the firepower necessary to trouble the Ayr defence.

Joe McBride, in particular, looked off the pace. He never really settled against the tall centre-half Monan and his confidence must have taken a further knock when he missed a penalty in the 41st minute. Yogi was the only forward who looked likely but at half-time, it was still goalless.

I do not know what the Boss said at half-time but it must have been a difficult interval for everyone. The Boss was the one who had decided to make all the changes – few of those named as ‘injured’ could not have played – and so far things had not worked out. Joe was a shadow of the star he had been in the first half of the previous season and whereas in a settled team he might have had more help, in this side he struggled like the rest. On reflection, Ayr’s best bet might have been to come out of their packed defence more often to test this uncertain Celtic rearguard.

The fans were not pleased and let the team know it when they come out after the break but it did not make much difference to the play. Five minutes into the second half, there was another change of personnel, when youngster Lou Macari came on for his debut in place of Bertie. Ayr, however, held out quite efficiently until almost halfway through the half until a defender showed his forwards what to do –

63 minutes

Jim Brogan – Opener

Jim Brogan came forward on to a Charlie Gallagher pass and beat goalkeeper Stewart from 20 yards.  1-0 Celtic

Rather surprisingly, even when one-down, Ayr still decided to sit in, which gave Celtic most of the play but it was uninspiring and the crowds began to head for the exit. Just before the final whistle, it was the fans who had not decided to leave early who were rewarded with a second –

89 minutes
Cesar broke forward and passed to Wispy, whose long-range effort sailed over the keeper.  2-0 Celtic

Final Score Celtic 2 Ayr United 0            Aggregate 8 – 2

 

Other Matches

In the other quarter-final, second leg matches, Kilmarnock lost 1-2 to Morton at Rugby Park, which put the Greenock side into the semi-finals on a 5-3 aggregate; and St Johnstone beat Queen’s Park 3-1 at Muirton Park, going through on an 8-1 aggregate.

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23rd September 1967: Celtic v St Johnstone – League

21st September

In the press on the day following the Kiev match, we got a doing in the coverage. Most of it was quite justified. We had not played well and probably, in spite of all the effort we put in, particularly in the second half, did not deserve to win the match.

However, at a time like that, some of the press guys – and it has happened time and again in the years since – feel obliged to go OTT in their criticisms. ‘We were getting a bit big-headed after our win in Lisbon’ was one comment; as if the Boss would have stood for that for one minute. ‘We under-estimated the opposition’ was another, completely forgetting that we had played the Ukrainians in season 1965-66 in the QF of the European Cup-Winners’ Cup and only went through after two tough matches.

Frankly, there was no clear answer to our lack of form on the night. In spite of all the preparations beforehand, in spite of all the players getting themselves worked up for the occasion and in spite of the tremendous support and enthusiasm of the home crowd, we just failed to deliver.

 

A resume of the history of sport through the years might show that such occurrences are not all that rare. It is what makes sporting contests so fascinating and un-predictable.

In the press that night, the Boss gave us his reflections on the situation under the heading;

It Will Be Hard

‘It would be wrong to say that we are not concerned about this half-time result but it is not the end of the world and we are not beaten yet. Things cannot run for any team all the time. They did not run for us last night – but now we appreciate that we have a very, very big job ahead of us in Russia’.

The coach of Dinamo Kiev also provided his thoughts –

‘Actions on the football field speak louder than hundreds of words spoken off it. My players obeyed their instructions – and we won last night. Now we are sure we will win the tie in front of our own supporters. If we cannot do that, we do not deserve to be in the tournament’.

 

22nd September

It had been a tough couple of days. We had been back in for training on the day after the Kiev match, where there was a noticeable coolness on the part of the coaching staff. It was not as if they were angry with us or anything like that but it was more a feeling of disappointment and that came across as a quietness. Even among the players, while there no recriminations after the match about the result, it seemed as though everyone just wanted to be on their own and concentrate on their own job.

An attitude like that, of course, does nothing for a group of players trying to make up a team and the Boss, quite rightly, set out to change the mood. We did little on the morning after the match but on the Friday, it was quite tough – not the norm for a day before another match – but the whole exercise was designed to get us out of whatever trough he thought we were in. And to a certain extent, it succeeded. We did some running, some sprinting, a bit of shooting practice then finished the session with one of those 15-a-side contests where everyone had only two touches. That made it quick and brought everyone into the play.

By the time we finished, the noise level was noticeably higher and if it was a planned manouevre, then it certainly seemed to have worked.

 

At the end of training, two sets of players were listed for the morrow. Both the first team and the reserves would be playing St Johnstone – the reserves at Muirton Park – but there was little further info, although I noticed that Pat McMahon was listed among the first team squad.

 

In the evening papers, we found out a bit more. Both the big Glasgow clubs were playing the following day – Celtic at home to St Johnstone, Rangers away to Falkirk – and the reporters obviously fancied their chances;

Old Firm ‘Double’ – They Look Far Too Strong

 

In another comment, the position of Pat McMahon was clarified –

McMahon Plays Against Saints

‘Celtic’s Pat McMahon, who celebrated his 21st birthday on Tuesday, received a belated birthday present today when manager Jock Stein said McMahon would definitely play against St Johnstone tomorrow in a re-cast forward line. Mr Stein is not naming the forward who will drop out but it seems almost certain that his choice will be between two players, centre-forward Steve Chalmers or inside-right Willie Wallace’.

 

While all this was happening in Scotland, down in South America, the Buenos Aires newspaper ‘Cronica’, in its comments last night, cautiously refused to take Celtic’s defeat by Dinamo Kiev at face value.

The news paper expressed surprise that Celtic should have suffered two defeats in less than a week and went on to say that the losses had turned ‘a fiery lion into a mouse’. However, under the headline;

Are Celtic Hiding Something?

’Cronica’ went on to confirm that the Scottish club would still be tough opponents for Racing Club in the forthcoming World Club Championship.


 

Morning of the Match

It was not one of those occasions when lunch was provided, so we reported to Parkhead about an hour-and-a-half before the kick-off, the reserve side having already left by bus for Muirton Park. It seemed a normal match day, with everyone getting themselves mentally ready to get the League campaign under way again after the loss to Rangers – and of course, the set-back against Dinamo Kiev.

 

The Opposition

In the previous season, St Johnstone had finished 4th bottom of the league table, an area which they seemed to habitually inhabit, as they finished 5th bottom in 65-66 and 6th from last in both 63-64 and 64-65.

This season, they had started well, drawing with Aberdeen in their previous league match and certainties to reach the League Cup semi-finals, after thrashing Queen’s Park 5-0 in the League Cup QF first-leg tie.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, McMahon, Wallace, Auld, Lennox.
Sub:  Cattenach

St Johnstone

Donaldson
McGillivray, Coburn
Miller, Rooney, McPhee
Aird, Whitelaw, McCarry, McDonald, Wilson.
Sub: Michie

 

The Play

After a couple of quick attacks by Saints, we raised our game and took control, putting together some nice moves, although possibly without our usual fluency. And when we did make chances, we found the Saints keeper, like so many others we played against, in wonderful form. The big moment of the match came just before half-time –

36 minutes
Jinky was tackled heavily by St Johnstone outside-right Aird, who in the next moment was lying flat on his back on the ground apparently out for the count.

Now, I did not see what happened but I wondered afterwards if there was some ‘previous’ between these players. Kenny Aird had been at Parkhead for a few seasons, being released just after Jock Stein came in during March 1965. The two players were of similar heights, played in the same position and could be keen to make up for their lack of height with a determined or even aggressive attitude towards their play. So, there could have been a bit of verbals from the start of the game.

Anyway, no matter what had happened in the moments leading up to the incident, it would appear that the Saints player tackled, the Celt retaliated perhaps too vigorously and possibly with his fist – and Kenny Aird hit the deck. The referee, Mr Padden, of Ardrossan, seemed to be in no doubt as to what he had to do and Jinky was ordered to the pavilion.

You might have though that Saints would have been boosted by being a man up but the opposite was the case. We flew at them and made more chances but either from poor finishing or good goalkeeping, it was still goalless at the interval.

It was not a happy dressing-room at the break. Sympathy for Jimmy – who was apologetic – was split; we were more concerned that we had to go through the next 45 minutes with only 10 players. And that against a side  which could play some good football and had been given a real boost to their morale.

From the re-start, the Saints players went for it and quickly took the lead –

46 minutes
nice cross from the left by Aird and McDonald flicked the ball past Ronnie.  1-0 St Johnstone

From that point on, play was about equally split in terms of pressure. In the 57th minute, the Boss pulled off Pat McMahon, brought in Davie Cattenach at midfield and pushed Chopper up front.

There were chances at both ends but none taken and we had to wait until halfway through the half before parity was restored;

76 minutes
a simple cross into the middle was not cleared by the Saints defence and after it had bobbled about a bit, Chopper slammed it into the net. 1-1

From then to the end, with the fans pushing us on, we moved the ball about well but ten men against eleven is always tough and we just could not get another goal. However, it would be fair to say that the defence had done well in keeping out the Saints attacks.

At the whistle, though, you could hear from the reaction of the crowd that, ten men or not, they were not particularly happy with what they had seen.

Final Score  Celtic  1  St Johnstone  1

Other Results

Aberdeen 1 2 Clyde
Dundee United 2 2 Hibs
Hearts 1 0 Dundee
Falkirk 0 1 Rangers
Kilmarnock 2 2 Airdrie
Motherwell 1 1 Dunfermline
Partick Thistle 0 1 Morton
Raith Rovers 7 1 Stirling Albion

Reserve Match

Just as were leaving the ground, news came through that the reserves had beaten St Johnstone Reserves 2-1 at Muirton, the goals coming from Lou Macari,

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20th September Celtic v Dinamo Kiev European Cup

17th September

I had been in on the Sunday for a work-out and some treatment and was able to give the Boss some good news; at least I hope it was good news. The info was to the effect that my leg felt much better, the cut was now healing over and I could run – and twist – with only the minimum of pain and even that would not stop me from performing at my usual level.

When I told him all that, he replied merely with a “good” but I also got a pat on the back for all my hard work on the training ground. He then raced away, saying that he had to meet the Kiev team when they arrived at the airport. After my work-out, I travelled home and just rested for the remainder of the day.

Meanwhile, at the airport, the Boss met the Ukrainians and escorted them to their hotel in the centre of Glasgow and then had a chat with the officials. He was informed that the manager, Viktor Maslov, would like to have his players at a pre-breakfast training session on the Monday morning. The Boss apparently agreed to this and the respective parties then went their separate ways, to enjoy Sunday evening in their own fashion.

 

18th September

When I arrived for training on the Monday morning, the atmosphere at Celtic Park could have been described as chaotic. From the details gathered later, the sequence of events early that morning was as follows –

8.45am…..Mr Maslov and his players, all dressed in royal blue track suits, leave the hotel and disappear into the damp morning air of Glasgow. Meanwhile, at Celtic Park, Jock Stein has been in the building for the best part of an hour, waiting for the Ukrainians to arrive. When they still had not turned up by 9am, he jumped into his car and drove along London Road to Barrowfield, assuming that the Kiev party had gone straight to the training ground. However, when Mr Stein got there, the place was empty.

9.30am…….This was the chaos into which I arrived on the Monday morning. Everyone was asking where the ‘Russians’ were, with a few unusual replies being put forward, the daftest being that they had all applied for asylum and wanted to play for British clubs. I’ll leave you to guess who came up with that beauty.

Anyway, just as the scenario was becoming ridiculous, ex-manager and by now PRO Jimmy McGrory solved the problem, thanks to a few phone calls. Apparently, the Kiev party had stopped at Glasgow Green and put in a 20-minute loosening-up session before returning to their hotel for breakfast.

10am…..after a shower, the Kiev players come down for breakfast in their hotel. They apparently started with rashers of thinly-cut salami sausages and slices of Edam-like cheese; this was then followed by a large omelette, with tea the drink of choice.

It was all a bit of a shambles and when the Boss was asked about the mix-up, he merely said “they are not talking so I am not talking”. However, when the papers heard about the shambles, some clever editor could not resist putting up this headline –

Kiev Team on the ‘Green’

 

While this was all happening, Rangers were leaving the city by plane for their Fairs Cup tie against Dinamo Dresden, which would involve a change of plane at Copenhagen.

 

19th September

The Kiev players return to Glasgow Green while we put in a normal training session at Barrowfield. At the end of the session, Jock Stein holds a press conference back at Celtic Park, at which he announces that the ‘Lisbon side’ would represent Celtic on the morrow.

 

Over in East Germany, manager Scott Symon announces that his side will be the eleven who beat Celtic at the weekend.


Thanks to some hard work – not only on my own behalf but also utilizing the experience, wisdom and expertise of Doc Fitzsimmons, Bob Rooney and Neil Mochan – I was by then feeling pretty good after my injury and well capable of putting in a good shift for 90 minutes. And I can recall with some clarity the really good atmosphere in the dressing-room at that time. Since the start of the season, the team had not fired on all cylinders all of the time but we were proving hard to beat and could have spells in matches when we were quite exceptional in our team-play, passing etc. The problems were, as far as I was concerned and I’m sure that the Boss would have noticed them as well, that we did not play to the height of our powers all of the time and could be caught out sometimes by our attitude to attacking play, which, just occasionally, left the defence a bit isolated.

Still, a record like ours in that season to date (League, League Cup, Glasgow Cup and Friendlies) – P12 W9 D2 L1 F33 A10 – would have delighted more than a few managers.


 

20th September

The main headlines in the evening papers were mainly concerned with Rangers efforts in the Fairs Cup that afternoon, when they drew 1-1 with Dinamo Dresden in East Germany. A draw away from home in European competition is always a respectable performance, although the report of the match made it quite clear that the reason for the draw was a quite exceptional showing by goalkeeper Eric Sorensen.

A comment by Jock Stein also caught the eye. He apparently told the reporters at the press conference the previous day that he was hoping for – or did he say he was ‘expecting’? – a 3-goal lead to take over to the Ukraine. He certainly never said that to us and when discussing the match was his usual cautious self.

 

The evening papers also dealt with Celtic but they merely re-printed a piece from that Wednesday’s Celtic View on the subject of referees ;

‘In recent games, some of the opposing sides have gone out to stop Celtic playing attractive football by any means. They have been getting away with it due to weak refereeing. Celtic have tried to instill into their players that they must play fair at all times but in the game against Rangers on Saturday they were eventually provoked into indiscretions that are foreign to their play.

Everyone agrees that football is a tough game with the physical challenge being a important part of it but surely a line must be drawn somewhere. Rangers in the first half had 14 fouls while Celtic had only 5. Several Rangers players kept fouling repeatedly and did not get even a word of warning from the referee.

The first essential in a referee’s make-up is control. It is a problem that must be solved if ‘BRAWN’ is not finally to overwhelm and reduce Scottish football to a state when instead of looking for footballers, scouts will be asked to keep an eye open for experts in un-armed combat.

 

Quite a piece……I wonder of anyone from the Dinamo Kiev party read it?

 

However, a big story of the front pages tended to get more coverage than the European ties of the Old Firm. That afternoon, at John Brown’s shipyard in Clydebank, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth launched the QE2.

 

At Easter Road that evening, Hibs beat Porto 3-0 in a Fairs Cup, First Round, First Leg tie.


 

Pre-Match

I could never quite work out why we went down to Seamill (or other sites like the Marine Hotel) before some big games and did not do so for others. This particular occasion – the first match we would take part in with the title of European Champions – was, I would have thought, certainly a big one. Yet, we merely reported to the park in the late afternoon and were driven to a hotel for the pre-match meal.

By the time we came back to Celtic Park, the crowds were gathering and we suddenly realised that the expectations of the support were high. That certainly helped to concentrate our minds and the atmosphere in the dressing-room – usually quite jocular – suddenly became very quiet and tense

 

Teams

Celtic

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

Dinamo Kiev

Rudakov
Schegolkov, Sosnichin
Levchenko, Sabo, Krulikovsky
Turvanchik, Bychevetz, Medved, Serebrianikov, Pusach.

 

The Play

We ran out in the all-green strip that had proved lucky for us in the past but I was not at all impressed by another feature of the match that night. The referee was Kurt Tschenscher; yes, the guy who had awarded a penalty in Lisbon, when Renato Cappellini dropped like a sack of potatoes as I ran across his path. I had been mentally abusing him all summer but suddenly had a terrible sense of déjà vu!

 

It can be difficult sometimes to give an assessment of a match when the writer was one of the participants but I can make an exception in this case. To put it bluntly, right from the start, we were poor; in fact, for a lot of the game, we were worse than that! And matters were not helped by the loss of a quick first goal –

 

4 minutes:

Jinky mis-placed a pass in midfield and the visitors showed a piece of great skill, the ball going from Levchenko to Byshevetz to Sabo and finally to Pusach, who fairly lashed it home.  1-0 Kiev

That put us on the back foot and it took us some time to get going. The problem, as I mentioned earlier in the preview, was that the passing was off and we kept giving the ball away in both midfield and up-front. That keeps the defence under pressure and we never got the chance to come forward to help out in attack. And just as we were improving very slightly, we lost another –

30 minutes:

this time Cesar lost the ball, it landed at the feet of Byshevetz, who sent a screamer past Ronnie.
2-0 Kiev

 

By now, the fans were stunned and then started – quite rightly – to give us a going over. And that was continued by the Boss in the dressing-room, who was furious and more or less told us to ‘get the finger’ out in the second half. I did not think that the comment was very constructive but decided it was not the time to mention that so just held my peace, had a wash and got ready for the second half.

We were better after the interval. Suddenly, the passes were being strung together, possession was being maintained and chances were made. From one of these, we got the goal which brought us back into the game –

62 minutes:

a pass from Bertie which Lemon hammered low into the corner of the net. 2-1 Kie

That certainly gave us – and the support – a boost and we started to make more chances. Unfortunately, the Kiev players showed that they could defend as well as attack and they covered their goal well. The other thing you need on a night like that is some luck and we just did not get it near goal. Bertie clipped the bar with a rising shot; Jinky, with the whole goal to aim for, sent a header straight into the keeper’s arms; Schegolkov cleared a Cesar header from just underneath the cross bar; and Rudakov made the save of the game from another Cesar header.

At the final whistle, the Kiev players celebrated frantically, we slumped in disappointment and the fans left quietly. We would have a lot to do in Kiev in the return.

 

The night was summed up fairly accurately in one of the following morning’s dailies;

Hesitant  Celtic  Let European Cup Almost Slip Away

‘A depression settled over Parkhead last night which could almost be touched. What was probably Celtic’s worst display for many a long day led to their being unexpectedly beaten by Kiev Dinamo in their European Cup first- round tie and they now face possible elimination from the competition when the teams meet again in the return in Russia on October 4’.

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16th September 1967: Rangers v Celtic – League

 

14th September

Like the manager, or so I was led to believe since I was not in the dressing room after the match, the press on the day following the League Cup quarter-final against Clyde was only reasonably enthusiastic about Celtic’s performance. This headline perhaps summed up the evening –

Comfortable Celtic  Win Despite Ayr’s Spirited Challenge

However, the wording alongside the headline was more praiseworthy of the manager –

‘They don’t come any smarter in football than Celtic’s Jock Stein. His orders to blitz Ayr in last night’s League Cup quarter-final first leg at Celtic Park served a double purpose.

The instructions, followed to the letter by Celtic in their 6-2 win, snuffed out any glimmer of hope Ayr had of providing a League Cup shock.

And it also means that the astute Stein will be able to rest some of his pool of first team players in the second leg at Somerset Park on Wednesday 27th September, precisely one week before the European Cup match against Dinamo Kiev’.

 

The other guys got the day off, whereas I was in again – twice! Both in the morning and again in the afternoon, I received some heat treatment in Bob’s room, then did some running on the track at Celtic Park, then showered before dressing again. It was hard going, especially when Bob’s broad fingers were massaging the area round the cut but most of all, it was lonely out there. And you also get the feeling in those circumstances that the injury is not improving, indeed you sometimes feel that the treatment is doing more harm than good.

I was hoping that was not the case!

 

15th September

More headlines –

Old Firm Are Ready 

  • Persson in Rangers 12

  •  Craig Fit for Celtic

Good for Orjan but I was amazed when I saw that headline about me. I was even more astonished when I read the paragraph underneath, which was a direct quote from the Boss –

‘Craig could have played last night but we decided to take no risks. He is definitely available for the Ibrox game’.

Frankly, I could not, at that point, have been any use to the side over 90 minutes. The leg was certainly getting better and I could nearly run flat out but I needed a few more days to be ready for a major game. So, on that Friday afternoon, while the guys set off in their different ways, I was back on the treatment table and on the track.

One man who had been in a similar position for some time and was now experiencing a change for the better was Joe McBride; he got a heading and story all to himself in one of the evening papers.

McBride in Reserve Team

‘Joe McBride will be in the Celtic team against Rangers in the Reserve League Championship game at Parkhead tonight.

Although McBride played in the 9-1 win in a friendly against Queen’s Park at Hampden last Friday, he has not played a competitive match since his cartilage operation in March.

The fact that he is considered fit enough to play against Rangers must mean that McBride is on the way back to full fitness – great news for every Celtic supporter’.  

 


Morning of the Match

If I remember correctly, the players did go for lunch although, as I was once again on the treatment table and then the track, I am not really sure. However, if you were going by the morning press, then you might have got a truly different picture –

Celtic’s  ‘Europe Men’ Stand By

Late Test for Craig

Celtic to Nose Home!

 

An unusual expression, that last one and I suppose it means that Celtic would come through by a narrow margin. I could not disagree with that. The first clash of the season had resulted in a 1-1 draw and although we won the second 3-1, with 14 minutes to go, Rangers were still one-up. So, as has been the case in all the years that this particular encounter has taken place, it would be unwise to be too confident about the outcome, There is a considerable difference between confidence and arrogance. The latter leads to trouble!

On the previous evening, the reserve team match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park had finished in a 2-2 draw. Joe McBride got his name on the score sheet – his effort coming from the penalty spot – while Lou Macari got the other.

I finished the treatment and workout just in time to catch the bus with the rest of the team over to Ibrox. As usual, there were crowds everywhere and it was just as well that we had a police motorcycle escort to get us through.

On a day like that, the football divide of Glasgow really comes to the fore. As we went from one major ground to the other, you would be cheered by your own support and castigated (to be polite) by the opposing one. From the safety of the enclosed bus, it was almost enjoyable but it might not have been quite so pleasant if you had been walking along.

However, from Parkhead to Ibrox, even on a day like that – especially with police outriders – does not take long and soon we were pulling up outside the ground and making our way into the foyer and thence to the dressing rooms. It always feels funny when you are not playing. You automatically take part in all the usual pre-match activities, get an idea of the banter in the dressing-room, even, if asked, listen to the managers’s words pre match yet deep down, you also know that, at one point, you will have to take your leave, wish the guys all the best and go and take your place in the stand like any other punter.

 

The Teams

Rangers

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

Celtic

Simpson
Cattenach, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Auld, Lennox.
Sub: O’Neill

 

The Play

So, another try-out in the number 2 shirt in my absence. First it was Chris Shevlane and now Davie Cattenach. And for the Gers, Willie Johnston on the bench and Orjan Persson on the left wing. Approximately 90,000 were in the ground by the time referee Mr Syme blew the whistle and the mayhem started.

The dictionary definition of ‘ mayhem’ is ‘chaos’ or ‘disorder’ or even ‘pandemonium’ but whatever word that you pick, the end product is much the same. Both sets of players went at each other right from the start and there were some really hefty challenges going in, one of which was to result in a serious injury for one of Rangers’ defenders –

   Davie Provan: Injured

4 minutes:
a clash between Davie Provan and Bertie Auld caused the former to be carried off on a stretcher, with Rangers having to re-arrange, John Greig moving to full-back, Willie Johnston coming on to cover the left side and Orjan Persson getting almost a roving commission. Provan was taken to hospital.

Some words from a report in one of the papers may give some idea of the action;

‘Only a passing nod was given to the most elementary skills of the game; for the most part, power, stamina and scarcely containable vigour rode roughshod over any consideration of disciplined and thoughtful football.

Some of the tackling was intimidating, to say the least, and in this respect several players could feel extremely fortunate not to have their names taken. As it was, a fairly lenient Mr Syme saw fit to book only Chalmers, for the relatively minor offence of booting the ball away in anger after a free kick had been awarded against him and to utter a few words of wisdom to Jardine, Smith, Chalmers and Auld’.

I thought that we did not play too well but Rangers rose to the occasion, making a number of chances, none of which were taken. That it was a tough match was evident by a number of injuries, mainly for Rangers, with Henderson ( shin and scalp), Johnston (twisted ankle) and of course, Provan, all needing treatment.

In another part of the newspaper report, the occasion – and the crucial moment – was summed up fairly precisely

‘In a game like this, victory is the over-riding factor and how it is achieved matters little.

The goal which gave Rangers their narrow but deserved victory just had to bear the stamp of genius……McKinnon began the move in 47 minutes with a deft lob to Persson….in a devastating run of some 30 yards, he beat Gemmell on the inside, swerved past Murdoch and Clark and then again side-stepped Gemmell, who had chased back to cover the route to goal.

Even then a goal seemed improbable, as the angle was acute and the range about 18 yards but Persson, showing admirable control and coolness, suddenly wheeled round a cracked an unsaveable shot past Simpson’.

It was a wonderful goal and if I am being strictly honest ( difficult when an Old Firm contest is the subject) I thought that Rangers did deserve their win. However, when the initial excitement had died down and you picked up one of the papers that evening, the main headline gave us all – players and fan alike – something to think about –

Rangers Pay High Price for Victory Over Celtic

Davie Provan was taken to the Southern General Hospital, just to the west of Ibrox, where after examination, his injury was diagnosed as a broken tibia.

 

Other Results

Airdrie 1 1 Falkirk
Clyde 4 2 Partick Thistle
Dundee 2 2 Dundee United
Dunfermline 1 3 Hearts
Hibs 3 0 Raith Rovers
Morton 2 1 Motherwell
St. Johnstone 1 1 Aberdeen
Stirling Albion 0 0 Kilmarnock
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