50 Years On

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17th April 1968:  Celtic v Clyde – Glasgow Cup Final

 

15th April

We had the day off from training. Obviously, the Boss had been pleased with the performance against Dundee on the Saturday and with the Glasgow Cup Final looming two days hence, he was protecting his charges.

The only one that appeared to have taken a knock against Dundee was Ronnie and, according to the evening press, he did go into the park for treatment and received a positive report from the medical staff –

Injured Simpson Likely to Play at Hampden

 

The Clyde match did get a bit of attention but it was nothing compared to the coverage given to the title race between Celtic and Rangers. This is an example of the extensive reports in the press at that time –

Tension Mounts as Old Firm Prepare for the Run-in

‘With only a fortnight or so of the season to run he would be bold indeed who would plump for Celtic or Rangers as League Champions and unless there is a turn-up this midweek the destination of the title may not be decided until Saturday week, when Rangers are at home to Aberdeen in their last fixture of the season.

Before then Rangers have two games to play – against Morton at Greenock on Wednesday and Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Saturday – and must win both if they are to maintain the challenge to Celtic for the flag.

Nor for their part can the champions afford to falter. They have Morton at Parkhead on Saturday but if they are in the same sparkling form as against Dundee, they should not find this barrier insurmountable. Of much more importance could be Celtic’s visit to East End Park to complete the programme against Dunfermline on 1st May (assuming that the Fife club are not involved in a Scottish Cup Final replay that evening)’.

 

16th April

All the squad back in again and feeling good. Without probably realising it at the time, our morale must have received a severe dent at the time of our problems with firstly Dinamo Kiev in the European Cup and then Racing Club in the World Club Championship. While results domestically from then on had been pretty good, we were lacking something for a while. And getting knocked out of the Scottish Cup in the first round by the Pars in late January didn’t help either.

However, we seemed to have managed to put all that behind us and the team was now firing on all cylinders again. There was, though, one factor still ‘bugging’ all of us. The way it stood just now, no matter what we did, as long as Rangers kept winning, they were untouchable. It made us determined to win all our remaining matches but – and I can’t speak for the others – I was praying for a break…and so was my Mum!

Other pieces from the papers that day were –

‘Celtic have arranged an attractive fixture at Celtic Park on Friday 26th April versus Home Farm of Dublin and also a pre-season friendly against Leeds United’.

 

‘For the Glasgow Cup final, manager Jock Stein announced that he will field the same side that has scored 41 goals in the league for the loss of four since the beginning of March’.

 

There was also an unusual headline which took a bit of working out –

 

Celtic Set to Win – and Lose!

‘Celtic seem set to win the Glasgow Cup – and lose the league leadership to ‘Old Firm’ rivals Rangers tomorrow night’.

That refers to the fact that Rangers were due to play Morton on the morrow and if they won, they would go one point ahead of Celtic in the league table. At present, the positions were;

P W D L F A Pts
Celtic 32 28 3 1 102 22 59
Rangers 31 27 4 0 84 27 58

 

 

The Day of the Match

We reported to Celtic Park around 5.30pm and soon boarded the bus for the short trip to Hampden. The atmosphere was good. Clyde were old adversaries of ours and, although no one said anything publicly, we were all quite convinced, I suspect, that we were the better side and had little to fear on the night. The proviso that must always be included in a sentence like that is ‘as long as we put in a shift and turn up for the occasion’. And I don’t think for a minute that any of us were going to take the match lightly.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Gallagher, Hughes.

Sub: Clark

Clyde

McCulloch
Glasgow, Soutar
Anderson, Fraser, McHugh
Hood, Staite, Delaney, Stewart, Hastings.
Sub:  Burns

 

The Play

I can do no more than quote two pieces from the daily papers, which quite neatly summed up the first half  –

‘Celtic won the Glasgow Cup for the 4th successive year with a dazzling display in the first half of the final last night at Hampden Park. In a period of 24 minutes, they scored seven of their eight goals, an avalanche against which Clyde were helpless’.

 

‘Glorious Celtic won the Glasgow Cup at Hampden last night with an incredible first-half goal blitz that left the bewildered Clyde part-timers shocked and well-beaten.

The pace, the style, the sheer power of this majestic Celtic team, who were back to the form which won the European Cup, must have rocked Hampden to its stately foundations.

For Celts joyfully hammered home seven goals in 24 minutes’.

 

Those seven goals came from Jinky (10 minutes); Lemon (22, 32, 33); Yogi (25, 29) and Tam (34). When the whistle blew for half-time, the Celtic fans in the crowd of 35,000 were on their feet and cheering like mad. When we got into the dressing-room, however, and were told the half-time score from Cappielow, where Morton were facing Rangers and were 3-1 ahead at half-time, we realised that the fans were not only applauding our performance but were also in seventh heaven at the thought of a Rangers loss that night.

It certainly made us feel on top of the world and we went back out again ready to bang in a few more. As so often happens at a time like that, though, when a team’s rhythm is broken by the half-time break, we could not reproduce the excellent form of the first half – although we gave it our best shot – and the only other goal of the game came from Chopper with a fine shot.

Still, an 8-0 victory and a 26th winning of the Glasgow Cup was not a bad night’s work and when the final score came in from Cappielow and we, players and fans, were all told that Rangers had drawn 3-3 with Morton, there was firstly a little disappointment then the realization that both of us were level on the same points total but that we had by far the better goal average. Suddenly, the future was in our hands. As long as we won our two final matches, no one could take the League Championship away from us!

 

Table

P W D L F A Pts
Celtic 32 28 3 1 102 22 59
Rangers 32 27 5 0 87 30 59

 


The crew of 11 were killed when a Shackleton aircraft from the R.A.F. station at Ballykelly, Northern Ireland crashed in the Mull of Kintyre. An eye-witness told of seeing the plane hit a hill….and of the hill seeming to burst into a ‘ball of fire’. There were no survivors, an R.A.F. spokesman confirmed.

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13th April 196:  Celtic v Dundee – League

11th April

Up early again, a little stiff after the match at Pittodrie the previous evening, as the Boss wanted to be back in Glasgow, for whatever reason. So, we were on the early train and got into Glesca well before midday.

Curiously enough, although we – and by that I mean all the players plus the management – were very happy at picking up two vital points against a top team in Aberdeen, the evening press was not quite so complimentary, with one headline saying –

 

Are Celtic Feeling the Strain?

 

The journalist then went on to expand his thoughts –

‘Celtic showed signs at Pittodrie last night that the strain of making the championship challenge is beginning to tell. 

Gone was the sharpness that has brought 35 goals in their 8 previous outings. Instead, they were nervous and unusually shot-shy.

Once the goal went in, Celtic relaxed and looked much more effective. Aberdeen, by contrast, appeared disheartened and did not show the same zest and endeavour’.

In mitigation, could I point out that since the beginning of March, in fact from 2nd March to the 10th April, a period of just over five weeks, we had played 9 league matches and 2 friendlies. That is a lot of football and just occasionally a team takes its foot off the pedal, not by choice but because the players’ bodies are just not coping with what they are being asked to do. Once the system receives a boost – like scoring in the 60th minute against Aberdeen – it can pick up again and show just what it is capable of. But it is difficult to do that all the time.

However, although we all knew that, it was still disappointing to read in the papers that we were ‘feeling the strain’. That would be a normal response in the situation we were in;

I’m sure that Rangers would be feeling the same. The team that would win the title would be the one that could cope with the situation most efficiently.

 

12th April

An easy morning, just some light runs, a few sprints and then a six-a-side behind one of the goals at Parkhead.

After the session, the Boss announced the teams for the morrow ( the Reserves also had a match against Dundee at Dens Park). It came as no surprise that the first team was unchanged from the side against Aberdeen, the seventh consecutive time that the same side had represented the club.

This was given a large headline in one of the evening papers, which went on to clarify our recent record –

‘Same’ Celts Go After Century 

‘Celtic’s high-scoring team, which has hit 19 for the loss of only one in the last 6 league matches, will again be on duty against Dundee at Celtic Park tomorrow. 

Celtic, who start tomorrow’s game with 97 goals and a one-point lead over Rangers in the championship race, are out to raise their points total to 59 and their goals to a least 100.

Joe McBride, now fully fit, will be Celtic’s 12th man’.

The paper then went on to discuss the position of Rangers –

‘In the forthcoming 8 days, Rangers will complete their closing 3 away matches – and the 270 minutes of football could decide whether the Ibrox club or Celtic will carry the hopes of Scotland into Europe next season as league champions’.

Fixture
(1)   13th April    Raith Rovers    (A)

            (2)   17th April    Morton             (A)

             (3)   20th April    Aberdeen         (A)

 

I had bought the evening paper on the way home and had a quick scan of the sports section before driving back to my parents’ house. Those details occupied my thoughts all the way home but my Mum soon brought me down to earth with a bump, telling me that we needed some potatoes and I could get them at the shops at the top of the road!


 

Morning of the Match

It might have been a crucial match for the club in the chase for the League title but that apparently did not mean that it was important enough to feed us before the match. So, in my parents’ house, it was Chef Craig who rose to the challenge, not me in this case but my lovely Mum, who served up my traditional pre-match meal of scrambled eggs on toast in splendid fashion.

Then, it was into the car and up to Celtic Park, where I found everyone in good form. Strangely enough, the main topic of conversation was not our own match against the Dark Blues of Dundee – there was an almost arrogant belief that we would win that one and we were taking bets on who would get our 100th goal of the season? – but how Rangers would get against Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park, where the club had been entrenched since 1891.

At that time of the season, while Rangers were challenging us for the league title, the Rovers were fighting relegation, lying in third-bottom spot, with only Stirling Albion and Motherwell below them. Yet, in the chat among the guys before our own match, when it came to a prediction of the Raith/Rangers game, there were slightly more in favour of a home win than an away triumph. Was this a practical assessment of the situation? Or the heart ruling the head? I refuse to say which side I was on.

Even at the arrival time of half-past one for a three o’clock kick-off, there had been a fair crowd gathering outside and as we went into the dressing-room to get ready for the game, we could hear – as at that time the opaque dressing room windows were facing on to the area outside the South Stand – that the noise level was increasing and, no doubt, the expectations rising.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Gallagher, Hughes.
Sub: McBride

Dundee

Donaldson
Wilson, Swan
Murray, Easton, Stewart
Campbell, J McLean, S Wilson, G McLean, Scott.
Sub: Kinninmouth

 

The Play

We were three goals up in this match after 20 minutes. In the 4th minute, after good work by Yogi and Charlie, Lemon opened the scoring. Five minutes later, Yogi went on a bustling run and his shot got number two. Then, in the 18th minute, Dundee’s defender Stewart solved the answer to the question of who would score Celtic’s 100th league goal of the season.

In attempting to knock away a Lemon cross, he completely mis-kicked his clearance and sent the ball whizzing past keeper Donaldson.

Three –up after such a short space of time, it would be a strange team which did not take its foot off the pedal slightly and we were as guilty of that as any other side. That allowed the Dark Blues to pull one back through Scott in 38 minutes but we tightened up a bit after that and it was still 3-1 at the interval.

The Boss was a happy man at the break, merely giving us his usual warning – as he did for all opposition – to make sure that we did not allow them back into the game. And, from the re-start, we did exactly that, pushing them back and getting further goals from Yogi in 53 minutes and Lemon in 58.

The one man in the Dundee ranks who had stood out was George McLean, always aggressive, forever a threat on goal. So, there was some justice for the big striker when he scored probably the best goal of the match, a 20-yard free-kick which fairly whistled past Ronnie in the 64th minute.

And that was it. Dundee tried hard but we held them at bay and still put their defence under pressure with some occasional attacks. But the crowd of 41,500, the vast majority of them Celtic fans, were pleased with what they had seen and gave us an real ovation as we came off.

 Final Score  Celtic  5  Dundee  2

 

Apparently, after the match, a huge crowd had gathered outside the Main Stand, desperate to hear the result of the match at Stark’s Park. They were to be disappointed.

 

Results

Airdrie 2 2 Hearts
Dundee United 2 1 Clyde
Hibs 2 1 Motherwell
Kilmarnock 1 0 St Johnstone
Morton 2 1 Falkirk
Partick Th 1 2 Dunfermline
Raith R 2 3 Rangers
Stirling A 0 3 Aberdeen

 

 

Table

P W D L F A Pts
Celtic 32 28 3 1 102 22 59
Rangers 31 27 4 0 84 27 58

 

 

Reserves

The reserve sides of both Celtic and Dundee met at Dens Park that afternoon and the Dark Blues won 5-1. The Celtic side was Fallon, Murray, Gorman, Cattenach, Connelly, John Clark, Newman, McKellar, Quinn, MacMahon, Jim Clarke, The scorer of Celtic’s goal was Jimmy Quinn.


A 16-month old boy was trapped alone for half-an-hour in a lift as it went up and down a 20-story building in Pollokshields, Glasgow.

The 30 minutes of terror began when the fair-haired toddler walked out of his mother’s maisonette home on the top floor of the building at 124 Shawbridge Street and into the lift.

Seconds later, the heavy steel doors closed behind him and the lift was on its way down. Then, without the doors opening, the lift began to climb again. This was repeated 6 times as the boy cried with fear.

Police and fire brigade with first-aid equipment were called to the scene and eventually the boy was helped out.

 

 

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10th April 1968:  Aberdeen v Celtic – League

8th April

The headlines in the press told the story of the league race at that time –

 Celtic Keep Up the Flag Pressure

 

 Rangers Hang On

 

Every time I popped into a shop or went to Mass, the questions were all on the same topic. It got so bad that I used to get to the church right on time and leave early. My Dad was astute enough to say little about the situation but my Mum suddenly started to take an interest and pummeled me with questions. That was all I needed!

At training, the atmosphere was good. It had been an excellent win against Hearts on the Saturday – Tynecastle was never the easiest place to pick up full points – so the feeling on that front was good. It was also noticeable, though, that the fact that we were relying on Rangers to slip up was never mentioned. We just got on with putting in a good shift and get ready for our next match, against the Dons at Pittodrie.

 

9th April

While we again put in a good session at Barrowfield, the Boss had obviously been talking to the press –

‘Injury-free Celtic will not name their team to play Aberdeen at Pittodrie tomorrow until just before kick-off…and that could mean a change in the side that has played in the last four league games. Celtic need only to draw with Aberdeen to take on leadership of the league on goal average from Rangers, who will then have one more game to play. A Celtic victory would give them a one-point lead’.

Elsewhere in the papers, the attention was on the other big side in Glasgow, who had an important match that night in England –

‘Rangers are at Harrogate, preparing for tonight’s Fairs Cities Cup quarter-final 2nd leg tie against Leeds United at Elland Road. The teams drew 0-0 in the first leg at Ibrox’

 

The headlines were informative but the message seemed split between gloom and hope in their forecasts and reports –

Penman Likely to be Recalled against Leeds

   

Enormous Task for Rangers at Elland Road

Let us not forget that Rangers, although unimpressive of late, are not without hope. In 46 matches this season, they have only been beaten three times, once by Celtic, once by Hearts and once by Cologne in the 2nd Round of the Fairs Cities competition

 


 

Morning of the Match

This was an unusual trip to Aberdeen. Normally, if the match was played on a Saturday, we would travel up on the early morning train, take part in the game in the afternoon and then catch the tea-time train back to Glasgow.

This time round, we were staying in Aberdeen after the match, so again we took the early morning train but then went to a hotel and had some lunch before heading for our rooms and a few hours sleep before the match. It all went uneventfully – even Tam Gemmell did not snore a much as usual.

We had picked up some of the daily papers at the station in Glasgow and were keen to find out what they said about Rangers performance the previous evening, when they had been beaten 2-0 by Leeds United –

‘Rangers went the way of Hibernian last night at Elland Road. They were put out of the Fairs Cup by a confident Leeds United side and it is now up to Dundee in the semi-finals to prevent the Yorkshire team from completing a notable treble over Scottish rivals’.

Unfortunately, there would appear to have been some trouble caused by Rangers fans in Leeds City Centre after the match.

 

Afternoon of the Match

After the few hours in bed mentioned above, we had the pre-match meal in the hotel. The atmosphere was excellent and the eleven guys who had made up the team over the last few weeks were in particularly good form. There were only 14 players on the trip – the three ‘extra’ being John Fallon, Davie Cattenach and John Clark – and although the Boss had not stated officially that the team would be the same one that beat Hearts, the guys who played at Tynecastle seemed pretty confident that there would be no changes.

However, just to keep us on our toes, the Boss delayed his decision and then announced that we would be walking from the hotel to Pittodrie and had even organised a few local policemen to accompany us on the journey.

 

The Teams

Pittodrie was packed to the rafters for this one and thankfully the pitch had recovered after being assaulted with snow in recent days. Once we had been out for the usual inspection of the surface, the Boss called us into the dressing room and announced – to the surprise of no one – that the team would the same eleven that played Hearts.

Aberdeen

Clark
Whyte, Stewart
Peterson, McMillan, Buchan
Little, Smith, Johnstone, Robb, Watt.
Sub: Cummins

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Gallagher, Hughes.
Sub: Cattenach

The Play

This was a tough encounter – a very tense affair that the crowd thoroughly enjoyed. To start with, we did not play as well as in recent matches. We gradually grew into the match, as it were, but over the first half, the defence had to work hard to keep the Dons attackers at bay and Ronnie distinguished himself with three excellent saves.

At the break, the Boss was very calm, congratulating the defence on the way they had coped with the Aberdeen attacks and suggesting that we used the flanks a bit more in our attacks.

Right from the start, though, it was the Dons who upped the tempo and pushed us back, missing a particularly good chance when Shewan headed wide from a Watt cross. Then came the breakthrough;

60 minutes
Shewan mis-kicked a clearance; wee Jimmy picked it up and passed it to Chopper, who merely flicked it into the path of Lemon and he did the rest.      1-0 Celtic

The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Aberdeen. They suddenly looked nothing like the side that had started the second half and that allowed us to dictate the play and make some chances ourselves, some of which we should have converted.

However, much to the disappointment of the local fans, it was not to be and at the final whistle, that single goal was still the difference between the teams.

Final Score  Aberdeen  0  Celtic  1

It was Celtic’s 15th away win in the league that season, a record for the Scottish League.

 

Table

P W D L F A Pts
Celtic 31 27 3 1 97 20 57
Rangers 30 26 4 0 83 25 56

 

 

Reserves

On the same night at Celtic Park, the Reserve side were beaten 4-1 by Aberdeen Reserves, Hugh McKellar getting Celtic’s only goal.


 

Rod Steiger has been awarded the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of a white Southern policeman in ‘In the Heat of the Night’. Katherine Hepburn won the Oscar for best actress in the film ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?’ in which she starred opposite the late Spencer Tracy.

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6th April 1968: Hearts v Celtic – League

 

1st April

The next match due up was a visit to Pittodrie on the 4th April and both managers were pretty sure of the teams they wanted to run out on the Wednesday. Aberdeen had beaten Falkirk 2-0 at the week-end and apparently had no injury set-backs so manager Eddie Turnbull announced an unchanged side for the clash with Celtic.

Celtic manager Jock Stein was quoted as saying

“our team picks itself at present. We trained today and will have another session tomorrow before travelling to Aberdeen on Wednesday. We will stay in Aberdeen after the match”.

 

Celtic’s decision to seek entry to the Second Division for their reserve team brought a head-on clash between Tom Reid, Partick Thistle Chairman and SFA President and Jock Stein.

Reid said

“the idea is detrimental to Partick Thistle. With Celtic operating in the Second Division they would have either their first team or second team playing at Celtic Park every Saturday. This would obviously make it difficult for clubs like Partick Thistle or Clyde to survive.

For some time, Celtic have been advocating 2 leagues of 16 teams. Now, they want to increase the 2nd Division from 19 clubs to 20 clubs. It is completely illogical and I am against the proposal”

Jock Stein replied

“our move is not motivated by selfish reasons. We feel that Scottish football needs a boost and are confident that our having a team in the Second Division would help”.

When questioned on the possibility that a second-string Celtic side could win the Second Division championship and thus win promotion, Mr Stein merely said “ we would not accept promotion”.

 

2nd April

The manager of Kilmarnock, Mr Malcolm MacDonald (an ex-Celt whose career stretched from 1932 to 1945) has been sacked by the Kilmarnock directors.

The statement said

‘the directors had terminated Mr MacDonald’s contract and that pending the appointment of a new manager, trainer Walter McCrae will be in charge of the players’.

 

3rd April

Hampden is fine for the Hearts v Morton Scottish Cup semi-final replay tonight, as is the pitch at Tannadice for the visit of Rangers. Definitely off, though, is the other semi-final replay between Dunfermline and St Johnstone at Tynecastle, an icy pitch being the problem.

And heavy snow swept across the north of Scotland last might and the Aberdeen v Celtic match was called off this morning. It will be re-arranged later.

 

4th April

At Hampden, last night, it took extra-time to separate the teams. Hearts and Morton were level on 1-1 at the end of normal time and it not until two minutes from the end of the extended period, in the 118th minute, that Roald Jensen got the winner for Hearts. The crowd was a paltry 11,565.

At Tannadice, Dundee United and Rangers had drawn 0-0, which left the top of the table like this;

P W D L F A Pts
Rangers    29 25 4 0 79 24 54
Celtic       29 25 3 1 94 20 53

 

5th April

Jock Stein announced that it would be the same side again for Celtic for the trip to Tynecastle to face Hearts.

Training had been good all week. The ground at Barrowfield and the track at Celtic Park were both hard but there was no ice or anything like they obviously had in other parts of the country and we were quite happy with it.

On the positive side, we got the news that Bertie Auld had been discharged from the Victoria Infirmary in Glasgow after his cartilage operation and it was now a question of rehabilitation. As the little guy was always on the move doing something, I’m glad that I would not be in his house over the next few weeks!


6th April 1968 Hearts v Celtic  League – Report

 

Morning of the Match

We always looked forward to heading for Tynecastle, as it was a favourite ground for most of the players. I would have imagined that Wispy would not have been too happy that morning as he could have imagined the reception he would get in going back to this old club. Fans don’t tend to be every sympathetic to players who have, in their words ‘deserted us’ for another team in the same league.

Anyway, the bus trip to the Norton Hotel in Newbridge, on the west side of the city, was uneventful, the lunch was excellent and the chat most enjoyable. Then the Boss asked the serving staff to leave after lunch and gave us a pep-talk, stressing how we could not do anything about Rangers’ slightly more advantageous position. We had to keep our minds focused on our own performances and that meant picking up full points today.

It wasn’t Battle of Bannockburn stuff, by any means, but it was good commonsense and we took it all in.

 

By the time we got to Tynecastle, there was a fair-size crowd gathering outside and the Celtic fans present, although out-numbered, gave us a great reception. From then on, it was usual pre-match routine – a look at the conditions, the announcement of the side, the getting ready etc.

One man probably not given enough credit for his work at a time like that was Jim Steele, the masseur. Not only was he excellent at his job, he was a great presence in the dressing-room. Without realising it, managers – even very talented ones like Jock Stein – can sometimes bring their worries to the surface pre-match and pass them on to the players. Steeley’s great ability was lightening the mood without ever taking it into the frivolous. His attitude was that it was a very tense and stressful time but it was not a matter of life and death and there was still a moment for a touch of lightness. That day, he was invaluable and we all felt the better for his presence.

 

The Teams

Hearts

Cruikshank
Sneddon, Mann
Anderson, Thomson, Miller
J Fleming, G Fleming, Ford, Irvine, Traynor.
Sub: Moller

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Gallagher, Hughes.
Sub: Cattenach

 

The Play

In spite of the Boss’s warnings, we were not at our best initially, although we seldom let Hearts into it and it was our struggle to score that was holding us back. In fact, we did miss some reasonable chances but it took until almost the half-hour mark before we got the goal that mattered –

29 minutes
the ball came down the left via Gemmell and Hughes and when the latter crossed, wee Jinky surprised the whole crowd by jumping higher than anyone else and then powerfully heading the ball in off the underside of the cross-bar. 1-0 Celtic

 

That gave us all a boost and suddenly it was a siege on the Hearts goal. They were having some trouble keeping us at bay and eventually the barrier did crack some 7 minutes from the interval –

38 minutes
nice long high pass forward by Chopper and Lemon was on to it quickly before lobbing it neatly over Jim Cruikshank in the Hearts goal. 2-0 Celtic

It was a happy dressing-room at the interval and we went out for the second half well aware that Hearts would come and have a go at us. And they duly did, putting our defence under considerable pressure but, to be honest, there were few chances made and we might have got another ourselves through Jinky and Lemon. At the whistle, though, the Celtic fans in the crowd of around 27,000 seemed to be happy with what they had seen gave us a great reception.

Final Score  Hearts  0  Celtic  2

 

Other Results

Aberdeen 1 2 Hibs
Dundee 0 1 Morton
Dunfermline 0 2 Airdrie
Falkirk 0 2 Raith R
Motherwell 2 1 Partick Th.
Rangers 4 1 Dundee Utd
St Johnstone 3 0 Stirling

 

 

Table

P W D L F A Pts
Rangers    30 26 4 0 83 25 56
Celtic       30 26 3 1 96 20 55

 

 

Reserves

There had also been a reserve match between Celtic and Hearts that afternoon at Celtic Park. The Celtic eleven had been John Fallon, John Murray, Chris Shevlane, John Clark, George Connelly, Willie O’Neill, Davie Hay, Pat MacMahon, Jimmy Quinn, Joe McBride, Jin Clarke. The score was 3-1 to Celtic, with the goals coming from Joe McBride, Jimmy Quinn and Jim Clarke.

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………On 4th April 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis.

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30th March 1968: Dundee United v Celtic – League

26th March

No training. The reason was provided quite neatly in one of the evening papers –

‘As an immediate reward for jumping to the top of the league table with a crushing 6-1 win over St Johnstone last night, all the Celtic players were given a holiday from training today’.

The report went on to say –

‘Mr Stein was delighted with the performance of the team at Perth but no more pleased than he was with the show put up by the Under-19 players – the boys who held Rotherham to a 2-2 draw at Millmoor’.

 

This latter match had also taken place on the Monday night. The team had been Harkins, Murray, Gorman, Cattenach, Connelly, Hay, Taggart, MacMahon, Quinn, McKellar and Jim Clarke, with the two Celtic goals coming from Davie Cattenach and Hugh McKellar.

 

27th March

Back at training for us but big nights for two of the other teams in Scotland. Rangers were held to a 0-0 draw by Leeds United at Ibrox and Dundee beat Zurich 1-0 at Dens Park, both ties in the quarter-final stages of the Fairs Cities’ Cup. The Glasgow evening paper was keen to give some hope for the Rangers fans  –

It’s Not Over Yet!

 

28th March

Just your normal training day. The atmosphere was pretty light-hearted but as I mentioned last week, the unspoken worry behind all the casual chat was that Rangers would not drop any points in the run in. The assessment in the press of the matches coming up on the forthcoming Saturday – Celtic at Tannadice and Rangers at Broomfield – was that we might struggle against United – who had been the bogey team for us the previous season – whereas the Light Blues would cope with the Diamonds.

 

29th March

The press on this day was more concerned about giving previews of the two Scottish Cup semi-finals due the following day, Hearts against Morton at Hampden and St Johnstone versus Dunfermline at Tynecastle. All four teams seemed to be up for the occasion although I did notice that Hearts manager John Harvey might have a selection problem. Apparently, according to the press, wing-half Eddie Thomson was getting married in Peebles that night and Harvey had to make the decision as to whether to play the new husband or bring in somebody else? Looks as though the wife chose the date?

 

And after our usual ‘day before the match’ routine and just as were about to get changed, the Boss came into the dressing-room and announced that it would be an un-changed team for the match at Tannadice.


 

Morning of the Match

Up bright and early, had some cereal for breakfast then in mid-morning, headed for Parkhead to join the rest of the travelling party. We departed for the trip to Dundee at around 11am, out first stop the Station Hotel in Perth, where we usually had lunch. After the meal, we boarded the bus again for the final stretch to Tannadice, with our arrival always timed for about an hour before kick-off.

Even as early as that, there was a good crowd gathering and we got a great reception from the fans in green-and-white. We then headed into the ground and naturally, made our way down the tunnel to check on the pitch conditions, always an important past of the pre-match routine.

On that afternoon, everything was in good shape, the pitch in excellent condition and even the weather pretty good for the end of March.

 

The Teams

Dundee Utd

Davie
Holland, Cameron
Neilson, Smith, Wood
Seemann, Millar, Mitchell, Gillespie, Wilson.
Sub: Hainey

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Gallagher, Hughes.

 

The Play

There were three ex-Rangers players in the Dundee United line-up – Wilson Wood, Jimmy Millar and Davie Wilson – and overall it looked like a strong side. And right from the start, with the wind behind us, we set out to test them, see how good they were and the United goal got a bit of a going-over in the first 10 minutes, with keeper Davie having to make good saves from Chopper and Yogi. Two minutes later came the breakthrough –

12 minutes
Jinky beat Cameron, Smith and Wood in a wonderful run before giving Davie no chance with a close-in shot.  1-0 Celtic

 

It took until almost the 20th minute before Ronnie had a save to make and then he competently dealt with lobbed shots from Wilson and Neilson. Ten minutes before the break, we increased our lead –

35 minutes
Davie parried a shot from Yogi, the ball re-bounded back to Lemon, who made no mistake from 6 yards. 2-0 Celtic.

 

Compared to previous matches against the Arabs, the scoreline was excellent and the whole dressing-room at the interval – including the Boss – was in positive form. The players did, though, get the usual reminder about the game not being finished yet and how they might come back etc. but I could see from the faces of my colleagues that they – like me – had no intention of letting United back into the match, at least in the scoring sense.

 

From the re-start, they certainly did come at us and the defence had to do its work. We did it competently, though, and kept them out and just as their morale must have been starting to diminish, hit them with two goals in three minutes –

70 minutes
Another good run by Jinky, an excellent pass to Lemon   3-0 Celtic

73 minutes
Lemon got another when he latched on to a pass from Wispy and ran in on goal before giving Davie no chance with his shot.  4-0 Celtic

 

The last 15 minutes was almost a stroll in the park compared to what had gone on earlier and a minute from the end, it was the turn of substitute Davie Cattenach – on for Charlie Gallagher – to get his name on the score sheet for the first time –

89 minutes
.a cross by yours truly, right into the heart of the box and up popped Cat to drive the ball home.

Final Score  Dundee Utd 0  Celtic  5

 

After the match, where usually there would be an explosion of happiness and joy over a result like that, on that particular Saturday, I can recall vividly that the overwhelming feeling was one of anticipation. We were pleased about our own result, obviously, but were also very keen to hear the score from Broomfield and when the news came through that Rangers had beaten Airdrie by two goals to one, it was as if someone had pricked the balloon of happiness at Tannadice and left it flat.

 

Reserves

At Celtic Park on the same afternoon, the Reserve side won 6-1 against Dundee United Reserves. Our side was John Fallon, John Murray, Chris Shevlane, John Clark, George Connelly, Willie O’Neill, John Taggart, Joe McBride, Jimmy Quinn, Davie Hay, Jim Clarke; and the goals came from McBride (2), Quinn (2), Taggart and Jim Clark.

 

Scottish Cup Semi-finals

Hearts 1  Morton  1              St Johnstone 1  Dunfermline  1

 

Table

P          W        D         L          F          A         Pts

Celtic       29          25        3          1         94         20        53

Rangers    28          25        3          0         79         24        53

 


A Glasgow lawyer told Dunfermline Police Court that he would use the train instead of his Mercedes when he went to Dunfermline in future.

Joseph Beltrami, solicitor, of 5 St Andrews Avenue, Bothwell, admitted by letter that on 24th November 1967 he had parked his car longer than the permitted 20 minutes in Canmore Street, Dunfermline. The car had been left for 30 minutes.

Mr Beltrami said that his time was limited and he could not find a proper parking place.

He was fined £2.

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25th March 1968:  St Johnstone v Celtic  – League

24th March

We had been told to come in on the Sunday morning. In the football thinking of the time at managerial level, this was supposed to make the players think twice about having a drink on the Saturday night, as there was another match on the Monday evening. Frankly, after a tough game on one very muddy and wet pitch at Parkhead in the Saturday afternoon, I did no more on the evening than go to the cinema with my girl-friend, where, much to her annoyance, I fell asleep halfway through the film.

 

There was a definite ‘atmosphere’ in the dressing-room at that time. It was nothing serious, it was more a drop in the normal noise level and I found it difficult to work out what the problem was. Footballers, at least in those days, were never very good at expressing their inner thoughts and I suppose that I was as guilty as everyone else. But, in spite of some good wins like the one against Raith Rovers, there was a definite lack of the usual repartee.

 

Of course, when I look back today, after all these years, the reason jumps out. With 8 matches left in the league campaign, we were still two points behind Rangers, having played the same number of games. We had scored more goals and lost fewer than the Light Blues but they had the points that mattered and as long as they kept winning, we could nothing to prevent them picking up the title. No wonder the atmosphere was a bit low.

 

Anyway, the session that Sunday morning was a very light one, designed merely to get the stiffness out of the legs. And the Boss announced the side before we left; the same eleven that had hit five past Raith Rovers. Then, it was back home for a rest, a read of the papers and the Sunday roast!


 

Day of the Match

There was an interesting piece in one of the morning’s papers about our opponents that night –

Saints Plan To Make It ‘Hot’ for Celtic

‘Manager Willie Ormand and his St Johnstone players are angry men today – angry at the bald statement that Celtic will automatically move to the top of the table after tonight’s encounter at Muirton Park.

Says Willie – “No forecasts from me but Celtic will know they have been in a game tonight. We usually play well against the best opposition – and we are definitely capable of pulling off a surprise”’.

 

As for us, we made our way to Celtic Park mid-afternoon and then boarded the Cotter’s coach for the trip to Perth. We had a bite to eat in the Station Hotel then made the final short trip to the ground, where a good crowd of our fans had already turned up and gave us a great welcome.

This was always one of the better pitches in Scotland and also one of the long ones, so there was not going to be any excuse for slip-ups.

 

Teams

St Johnstone

Robertson
McGillivray, Coburn
Ryden, Rooney, McPhee
McDonald, McCarry, Wilson, Gordon, Aitken.
Sub: Whitelaw

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Gallagher, Hughes.
Sub: McBride

 

The Play

This was always a difficult encounter for our physiotherapist BobRooney. The ‘Rooney’ at the heart of the Saints defence was his son Benny so he must have had conflicting thoughts about the outcome of the game, obviously wanting the club that employed him to win but also hoping that his son played well.

Unfortunately, on that particular night, we performed very well, right from the start giving the Saints no chance to get involved, our goals coming at regular intervals –

4 minutes
pass from Jinky and Lemon slotted it home.  1-0 Celtic

35 minutes and  44 minutes
on both occasions good moves involving a few players and then Lemon on the spot to do the necessary.  3-0 Celtic

 

As you might imagine, it was a very happy dressing room – except for poor Bob – and the Boss said little apart from encouraging us to keep going. And we did….and the goals kept coming, Lemon getting his 4th in 73 minutes, then Jinky in 78 and Wispy right on the whistle. In between, McPhee got one for St Johnstone.

 

Final Score  St Johnstone  1  Celtic  6

 

The result put Celtic at the top of the table on goal average but Rangers still had that one match in hand, so, to be honest, what we worried about before was still the case. We were relying on them to slip up!

 

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23rd March 1968: Celtic v Raith Rovers  – League

19th March

As you might imagine, there was a little bit of a mutinous spirit among the players at training on the Tuesday morning after the comments in the evening papers the night before from the Boss and Chairman about our performance in Dublin.

There was a general feeling that the game had been foisted on us at a time when we had played a lot of fixtures in a short space of time and it was not one that we really wanted. We were very aware – in fact, the Boss had first mentioned it before the start of the season – that every team which played us while we held the title of European Champions would try to knock us off our perch. And during the season, we had discovered on more than a few occasions that he had been quite correct in his assessment.

The Shamrock Rovers side that we had met in Dublin on Monday was the same as the others I have mentioned; they played out of their skins that afternoon and made life difficult for us. As a team and in terms of performance, they bore no relation to the side of 1965 mentioned by the Chairman.

However, they were the officials, we were just the players and at training that morning, we just had to put our thoughts to one side and get on with the session.

 

20th March

News came out that Celtic will tour the USA, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda in May. On possible opponent is Inter Milan, who will be touring the USA at the same time.

In Mexico, Celtic will play Atlas, whom they also met on the 1966 tour.

In Middlesborough, the English League beat the Scottish League 2-0, with Gemmell, Johnstone, Murdoch, Lennox and Hughes in the side.

 

21st March

While we were involved in our normal training routines, the draw for the semi-final stages of the two major European competitions was made in Switzerland –

European Cup –

Manchester United v Real Madrid     Benfica v Juventus

 

European Cup-Winners’ Cup –

AC Milan v Bayern Munich              SV Hamburg  v Cardiff City or Moscow Torpedo

 

22nd March

The usual easy workout on the day before a match, merely some sprints and exercises. As the week had gone on, the atmosphere in the camp had improved slightly. The Boss had, quite wisely I think, recognised that we were not all that happy and had taken the opportunity to disappear down to Middlesborough for the Inter-League match, so he was missing for a couple of days, with poor Sean getting the scowls and bad humour.

However, by the Friday, the Boss was back and came into the dressing-room after the session to say that the team against Raith would be the same one as against Falkirk the previous Saturday. He then moved quickly out of the dressing-room. A wise old bird, sometimes, he was!


Morning of the Match

A home game, so no food provided. However, I was in excellent form in my Mum’s kitchen and my scrambled eggs on toast would have been very acceptable in the Rogano, one of the top restaurants in Glasgow at that time.

Then, it was off to Parkhead, an easy journey from my parents’ house along past Ibrox to the centre of town, then a trip along the north bank of the Clyde, eventually cutting down from the Gallowgate to London Road before arriving at the ground.

When we got there, the reserves had also arrived, as they had a match against Raith Rovers to look forward to. And it was interesting that John Clark, who had seemed to have been working away well all week after his injury worries, was included in the Reserve side, which was;

Fallon, Murray, Shevlane, Cattenach, Connelly, John Clark, Taggart, McBride, Quinn, Hay, Jim Clarke.

And, as they all left for Starks Park in Kirkcaldy, we went out to have look at the pitch and it was not a pleasing sight, pools of water everywhere, with mud underneath and the groundsmen forking away to try and get rid of it.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Gallagher, Hughes.
Sub: Chalmers

Raith Rovers

Reid
Hislop, Gray
Polland, Wilson, Millar
Falconer, Wallace, Judge, Gillespie.
Sub: Sneddon

 

The Play

The weather had cut the attendance to 22,500 and they looked as cold and damp as we felt. But we did not stay that way for long as the men came from the east came right at us and had two quick chances, the first when outside-right Wilson struck a fine shot which Ronnie saved and again when the winger drove a hard cross right across the box and it evaded everyone.

That perked us up a bit and we started to come into the game and were rewarded with a quick goal –

15 minutes
a peach of a pass from Jinky into the path of Wispy and he struck an excellent shot past the Raith keeper.   1-0 Celtic

We might have got the goal but Raith kept up their own pressure and it turned into a real end-to-end contest, with the Raith keeper performing heroics. By the break, though, it was still 1-0 and it was great to get a hot drink down us. The Boss was in one of his phlegmatic moods, saying little. Frankly, he could not have complained about very much. The Raith players had put a real shift in, showing why they had taken 7 points from their last 4 matches and we had worked hard ourselves.

But football can be a funny game and within 10 minutes of the re-start, the score had changed radically, again in our favour –

50 minutes
great run by Jinky, the ball then whipped across goal and there was Yogi.              2-0 Celtic

54 minutes
this time Yogi supplied the cross and Lemon, while lying on the ground after a fall, stuck his foot up and propelled the ball home.    3-0 Celtic

 

Not surprisingly, that took some of the fire out of the game, although, to be fair, the Raith guys never stopped trying. But they were struck with two blows in the space of five minutes which put the match beyond them –

70 minutes
nice inter-play between Jinky and Wispy on the right, the ball eventually came to Wispy just inside the box and he slammed it home.   4-0 Celtic

75 minutes
keeper Reid failed to hold a shot from substitute Stevie Chalmers and Wispy got his hat-trick from the re-bound.

Final Score  Celtic  5  Raith Rovers  0

 

Reserve Match

At Starks Park, the Reserves beat Raith Rovers reserves 4-0, the goals coming from Joe McBride (2), Jimmy Quinn and Davie Hay.

 

Results

Dundee 3 0 Clyde
Dunfermline 4 0 Morton
Hibs 1 3 Rangers
Motherwell 0 0 Aberdeen
Partick Th 2 2 Falkirk
St Johnstone 3 2 Hearts
Stirling Albion 0 4 Airdrie

 

 

Table

P W D L F A Pts
Rangers 27 24 3 0 77 23 51
Celtic 27 23 3 1 83 19 49

 

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16th March 1968:   Falkirk v Celtic – League

14th March

One headline in the papers of that day caught the attention –

Clinical Celts Close the Gap

 

-although I got a mention that I was not expecting –

‘Jim Craig looked as though he needed match practice’. I didn’t think I would have looked that rusty?

It was not Celtic who got the best of the headlines but old rivals Rangers, who had lost to Hearts in the Scottish Cup the previous evening. Manager Davie White did not seem to be too happy with the performance and apparently there were going to be changes for their forthcoming league match against Stirling Albion. Dave Smith was going to be moved from the ‘sweeper’ role back into midfield and Alec Willoughby was returning to the first team. And from the wording of the report, there was just the unspoken hint that there was some discord at Ibrox behind the scenes.

All this was good news for the chasing teams, particularly us!

 

And there was more news about Bertie Auld’s injury, with the prognosis that he would need a cartilage operation. Now, today these are done routinely using the ‘keyhole’ method but back then, it was a big operation, a goodly part of the knee needing to be exposed so there was a bigger area to heal and therefore it took longer. He would certainly not be playing during the final two months of the league campaign.

 

15th March

News about a future Celt. Goalkeeper Denis Connaghan had been re-signed by St Mirren after 11 months with the American team Baltimore Boys. Denis had signed provisional forms for Celtic in 1963, was farmed out for spells at Yoker Athletic and Renfrew Juniors before  joining St Mirren in 1966.

He would go back to Celtic in October 1971.

At the end of training that morning, the Boss announced that the team against Falkirk would be the same one that beat Airdrie 4-0. We were all a bit taken aback as that was not the usual practice at that time; you would usually be told the team nearer kick-off. But it was a nice change and we were all appreciative of it.

I was also expecting an announcement that we would be going somewhere for the pre-match meal but nothing was said, so it looked as though I was again having my scrambled eggs on toast at that eating-house called ‘Chez Craig’.

The bookies had suddenly had a change of heart. Before the shock defeat of Rangers at the hands of Hearts, the Light Blues were 3-1 ON to win the league, with Celtic 7-4 against. After that loss, Rangers were now 5-2 ON and Celtic 6-4 against.


 

Morning of the Match

It was a dreadful morning in Glasgow, the rain coming down in sheets, the gutters overflowing on all the houses and tenements. I quite liked to go for a walk on a morning like that. My parents lived just along the road from Bellahouston Park and there was plenty of space there but the rain was so heavy and concentrated that I just stayed in.

The scrambled eggs and toast went down a treat and then it was time to get in the car and head for Parkhead.

When I eventually arrived and went inside to see the guys, the gossip was all about a story in the papers that morning about the possibility of Jock Stein signing a new goalkeeper called Zlato Skoric of Dinamo Zagreb. There did seem to be a problem, though. The boy was serving in the Yugoslav Air Force and was not due to be demobbed until the spring of 1969, so whether the Boss would wait that long was debatable.

 

It would be fair to say that Brockville was not the favourite ground of anyone in the side that day. The pitch was OK in both length and width but the stands and terracings were packed up close to the playing surface, so much so that you got the impression that a fan could reach out and touch you if he wanted to. Not a scenario to the liking of the players.

And, just to make life even more difficult, when we arrived at Brockville, the rain was still coming down in sheets, the surface was covered in water and there was a strong wind blowing from one end to the other. Just what we all loved!

 

The Teams

Falkirk

Devlin
Lambie, Hunter
Markie, Baillie, Gibson
McManus, Scott, Graham, McLaughlan, Watson.
Sub: Kerray

Celtic

.Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Gallagher, Hughes.
Sub…Chalmers

 

The Play

The start of the game was delayed for 5 minutes or so due to the atrocious weather and as we were still in the dressing room and did hear a thing, I was told later that the fans were singing “why are we waiting”.

We found the surface difficult to play on, what with passes stopping short or the ball getting stuck in the mud, so there were few flowing movements in the first half. We did get a goal early on, though, and there was definitely an element of good fortune about it-

20 minutes
.Jimmy sent a cross at chest height into the box and the ball struck outside-left Watson on the arm. Was it intentional? To be honest, Jimmy’s effort was so hard that I doubt if the Falkirk player could have avoided it but anyway, the referee, Mr Anderson of East Kilbride, seemed to have no doubts that he did handle the ball and awarded a penalty. And Tam did his usual efficient job from the spot.
1-0 Celtic

 

And that was about the only interesting moment of the first half. The rest was all blood and guts, both sides going about it with a will. Off the pitch, an incident did occur.

6 minutes from half-time the gale-force wind blew a 20-yard piece of guttering from the enclosure down on top of the spectators and one girl fan was hit on the head by the cast-iron piping.

The game was stopped as ambulance man and the Falkirk trainer rushed to give first aid but the girl did not appear to be too badly hurt.

When the break came, the Boss hardly said anything, as everyone was working hard and it was not a day for trying something fancy or clever. So, I think he was happy enough with what he was seeing.

 

For whatever reason, I though that we played much better in the second half. Perhaps we were getting used to the conditions. We seemed to be in the driving seat and got another goal after 4 minutes

49 minutes
from a high cross , Lemon did a neat back-header and Wispy latched on to it before slamming the ball home.
2-0 Celtic

 

And shortly after that, we scored another –

52 minutes
 I chased a ball – which most people though was going out – to the byeline and whipped it low and hard across goal. And who was there but Lemon.
3-0 Celtic

 

From that point, we coasted. They tried to come back but they were too busy stopping us coming forward and by the end, we were well on top.

Final Score  Falkirk 0  Celtic  3

 

Other Results

Aberdeen 5 0 Hibs
Airdrie 2 1 St Johnstone
Clyde 2 2 Morton
Dundee Utd 3 3 Raith Rovers
Dunfermline 2 0 Dundee
Hearts 0 1 Partick Thistle
Kilmarnock 1 1 Motherwell
Rangers 5 0 Stirling Albion

 

 

Table

P W D L F A Pts
Rangers 26 23 3 0 74 22 49
Celtic 26 22 3 1 78 19 47

 


The family expenditure survey shows that the income per head in England rose from £6/15s a week in 1961 to £9/5s a week in 1966, a rise of £2/10s. 

In Scotland, the income rose from £5/18s in 1961 to £7/19s in 1966, a rise of only £2/1s.

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18th March 1968  Shamrock Rovers v  Celtic – Friendly

17th March

This match had been organised some weeks previously and the Celtic party left for Dublin on the morning after the Falkirk game. The squad comprised the 12 players who been listed for the match against Falkirk plus John Fallon, George Connelly, Davie Hay, Joe McBride and Jimmy Quinn.

It was a lazy day for the most part. We did make a trip out to Dalymount Park, the venue for the match, for a little loosener but apart from that, we spent the time round the hotel, with fans coming in and out all the time.

 

Morning of the Match

Chairman Bob Kelly, Jock Stein and Billy McNeill paid a visit to the Presidential Palace to show the Irish Premier Eamonn de Valera the European Cup and receive a Waterford cut-crystal chalice from the Irish League.

For the rest of us, it was a question of Mass then just resting about the hotel, a light lunch then a bus trip to the stadium.

There was a crowd of 35,000 there for the occasion – including the Irish Premier – and Jock Stein put out a team of Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan, Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Gallagher and Hughes.

The match finished in a 2-2 draw, with three of the goals coming in the first half . Wispy got us off to a good start in 6 mins and Rovers equalized in the 21st minute. A free-kick awarded for a Billy McNeill foul in the middle of the park was hoisted into the box and centre-forward Gilbert got there first to head the ball home.

Ten minutes from the interval, Wispy gave us a 2-1 lead with another good strike and from that point on, it was a pretty competitive encounter but I felt that we were holding them comfortably, without exactly starring! However, just four minutes from time, inside-left Kinsella ran on to a pass from Gilbert and slid the ball home, sending the home supporters into a frenzy.

As soon as the final whistle was blown, hundreds of Shamrock Rovers’ supporters jumped over the barriers round the pitch and raced on to the field. It took the efforts of about two dozen policemen to form a guard so that the players could make it back to the dressing-rooms, where we were given a volley by the Boss.

He accused of not treating the opposition seriously enough and even worse, of not trying hard enough. Players can never win at a time like that and we all knew it, so nobody said anything although the feeling was mutinous. The bus trip to the airport was memorable for its quietness and we were soon on the plane heading for Glasgow.

 

When we got back to our native city, we were firstly appalled by the headline in one of the evening papers –

Stein Slams ‘Too Casual’ Celts

 

– and then disappointed by quotes in the press from both the manager and the chairman which did little for our mood –

Jock Stein – “We were most disappointed with the result and the display of our team. Hundreds of spectators had travelled long distances from far-off points in both Scotland and Ireland to see the game. They were expecting to see European Cup-type football. What they got was far from that”

Bob Kelly – “The Shamrock Rovers team which held us to a draw was not nearly as good as the Shamrock Rovers side we beat 7-0 in Dublin in 1965. I am most disappointed”.

 

I will take this opportunity to give another side to the story. This was Celtic’s 6th match in 16th days; some of the players were feeling it, others, like myself, were coming back from injury and frankly, the fact that we played two games – Falkirk and Shamrock Rovers – 24 hours apart, was not helpful to recovery. Then, there was the circumstance of the match. A team which had won the European Cup the previous year and was now being told to play a ‘friendly’ match it could well do without was up against a side which probably saw an opportunity to make a name for itself. No wonder they played like heroes!

I totally refute the accusations that we were ‘casual’. We were certainly off form but I think the number of matches had a lot to do with that and I was surprised that nobody at the top of the club seems to have thought of that. Whatever the reasons for making those statements, they did not do much for players’ morale and on my way back home from Parkhead by car that afternoon, I was thinking that the atmosphere at training on the following morning could be very interesting!

 

 

 

 

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13th  March 1968:  Celtic v Airdrie –  League

11th March

Everyone in for training as usual and, to my delight, I was feeling much better. It was if I had turned a corner on a long road. The leg was fine when I was running and in the usual two-touch match at the end of the session, I got a couple of blows on it which did not cause much of a problem.

 

Later, when I picked up the evening paper, there did seem to be a problem –

“Ridiculous – that was Celtic chairmen Bob Kelly’s reaction to a Scottish League management committee ruling today that any Celtic player in the Scottish League game against the English League at Middlesborough on Wednesday of next week must NOT play for Celtic against Shamrock Rovers in the St Patrick’s Day game in Dublin on Monday.

The managerial committee edict came within an hour of seven Celtic players being named by Scotland team manager Bobby Brown in a pool of 17 players named for the game.

After learning of the ban, Mr Kelly said  – “This is a ridiculous decision. The sponsors and the spectators in Dublin want to see Celtic’s European Cup-Winning side. That’s why around 45,000 tickets have already been sold. Now the Scottish League’s ban would appear to prevent several of our top players from turning out at Dublin”’.

Apparently Celtic had told the Scottish League that Celtic would have been happy to make arrangements for the players involved to travel to Middlesborough but this was not accepted by the committee. Discussions are on-going at the time of going to print.

 

The 17 players for the match against the English League were – Simpson (Celtic), McCloy (Motherwell, W Callaghan (Dunfermline), Greig, McKinnon, D Smith ( all Rangers), Gemmell, Murdoch, Johnstone, McNeill, Lennox, Hughes (all Celtic), Murray (Dundee), Smith (Aberdeen), Cormack, Stein, Stevenson ( Hibs).

 

12th March

Everyone back in for training again and news that Bertie Auld is probably out for the remainder of the season. His knee problem will require an operation and he is not expected back for the rest of the campaign.

 

The draw for the semi-final of the Scottish Cup was made –

Rangers or Hearts v Morton

Dunfermline v St Johnstone

 

Joe McBride has turned down a chance to move to St Johnstone. Willie Ormond, the St Johnstone manager, contacted Celtic about the transfer of McBride. The Perth Boss feels that McBride could play a big part in helping his club stay clear of relegation.

After Willie Ormond’s approach Celtic brought McBride into the picture. But it did not take Joe long to decide to stay with Celtic and continue his fight to get back into the first team.


 

13th March 1968 Celtic v Airdrie  League – Report

 

Afternoon of the Match

By the time all the guys arrived for the match, around 6pm, an hour and a half before kick-off, there had still been no mention of the side.

I was getting a little apprehensive. I had made it clear to everyone the day before that I felt that I was back to normal but whether the Boss thought so was another matter. And did he want to make too many changes to a side that was playing pretty well?

I had never known the pre-match period to take so long to pass and I was just getting really frustrated when the call came for us to go into the dressing-room and I joined the others…with fingers crossed!

Praise the Lord!…. the news was good.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Gallagher, Wallace, Lennox, Hughes.
Sub: Chalmers

Airdrie

McKenzie
Jonquin, Keenan
Goodwin, Black, Whiteford
Madden, Ramsay, McPheat, Jarvie, Phillips.
Sub: Caldwell

 

The Play

We started off playing into the strong breeze which did not help our play to reach the levels of which we were capable but we kept control of the play all right and took the lead almost halfway through the half….

22 minutes….cross by Tam, header by Lemon and we were in the lead. 1-0 Celtic

 

And the crowd of 17,000 had to wait only 6 minutes for another

28 minutes…low hard shot by Chopper turned in by Wispy.  2-0 Celtic

 

If the Boss was a happy man at the interval then it certainly did not come across, as he was a bit critical of a couple of slack moments at the back and of us wasting some chances up front. We went back out a little chastened – and determined – and got almost an immediate reward –

48 minutes….this time, Lemon crossed into the middle and Wispy reacted quicker than the Diamonds rearguard, sending a nice header past Roddy MacKenzie.                  3-0 Celtic

And, with 16 minutes left, Wispy got his hat-trick –

74 minutes…a high centre by Lemon and Wispy almost hooked the ball into the net over his shoulder.

 

Final Score  Celtic  4  Airdrie  0

 

The Table

That brought us level with Rangers in terms of games played but they were still two points clear of us in the table –

 

P W D L F A Pts
Rangers 25 22 3 0 69 22 47
Celtic 25 21 3 1 75 19 45

However, fans of the Light Blues would not have been too happy that night as Rangers were beaten 1-0 by Hearts in a quarter-final replay in the Scottish Cup at Tynecastle.

That meant it would be the first time since season 1951-52 that neither of the ‘Old Firm’ sides would be in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup.

In that season, Celtic had lost 2-1 to Third Lanark at Cathkin in a 1st Round replay after a goalless draw at Parkhead. The Rangers v Motherwell match in the quarter-finals also went to a replay, the Steelmen winning 2-1, then going on to beat Hearts 3-1 in another replay in the semi-final and Dundee 4-0 in the final.


Cary Grant, the 63-year-old film actor, was injured last night when his chauffer-driven car was in collision with a lorry on a Long Island expressway.

Grant is reported to have suffered a nose injury and a passenger, Baroness Gratia von Furstenberg, had her right leg fractured.

 

 

 

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