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11th January 1969: Aberdeen v Celtic – League

6th January 1969

This was a nice day for all the troops, neatly summed up in one of the evening papers –

Seaside Celts

‘Celtic got away from the Arctic wastes of Glasgow today – away from Parkhead, which was unplayable and Barrowfield, where training would have been difficult if not dangerous’.

As soon as he heard the weather forecast last week, manager Jock Stein immediately arranged to take his players to Seamill for a two-day break. Just before leaving today for the Clyde coast, Mr Stein said

“we are lucky. I have checked up and there is not going to be a flake of snow at Seamill or on the West Kilbride Golf Course.

That means that we can get on with business as usual. We will train in the hotel grounds this morning, play golf in the afternoon and have a session in the salt-water baths tonight. And it will be the same routine tomorrow’.

The draw for the Round One ties in the Scottish Cup was made this afternoon, with Celtic paired with Partick Thistle, the match due at Firhill; and Rangers getting a home tie with Hibs.

7th January 1969

Old Firm Games May Be Switched

That was the headline in the morning dailies and it referred to the league matches for both teams on 12th March, when Celtic were due to meet Kilmarnock at Rugby Park and Rangers were facing a trip east to face Dundee at Dens Park.

The problem was the Scotland v West Germany World Cup tie due to be played on 16th March and the concerns of manager Bobby Brown about the fitness of his players. He was due to meet the SFA selectors this afternoon.

Jock Wallace, the Berwick Rangers manager and goalkeeper, today joined Hearts as coach/assistant manager.

Everything was going well at Seamill and the boys were thoroughly enjoying the break.

The top scorers for the First Division were listed in the press –
20 -Cameron (Dundee Utd);
18 -Stein (Rangers), Lennox (Celtic);
16 -McBride (Celtic), Harper (Morton);
15 – Hall (St Johnstone), Wallace (Celtic);
14 – Chalmers (Celtic).

Interestingly, top of the Second Division was future Celt John Deans (Motherwell) on 21

8th January 1969

We did our last stint at Seamill in the morning, had lunch in the Hydro and then came back up to Celtic Park by coach before getting into our cars and heading for home. We did notice, though, this piece in one of the evening papers, a quote from A.C. Milan manager Nereo Rocco –

“We know all we need to know about Celtic after Cesare Maldini saw  them twice and I watched them against Dunfermline. What we don’t know are the dates we will play them. I am hoping that UEFA will fix them both in March. The later we meet Celtic the better it will suit us’.

9th January 1969

Training today at Barrowfield, which was in good state although it lacked the sea breezes of the Ayrshire coast. Anyway, we put in a good stint where I was paired with Tam Gemmell and in between the runs, he was telling me about his problems with the SFA. The normally happy-go-lucky Tam was not a happy bunny that morning! And it is not easy to give out some sympathy when you are struggling for breath.

One of the evening papers summed the story up neatly

‘Celtic left-back Tommy Gemmell will appeal against the caution he received in the Scotland/Austria World Cup match on 6th November at Monday’s meeting of the SFA Referee Committee – and if the appeal is thrown out then Gemmell will face a three-caution charge on the same day’.

No wonder he was looking gloomy.

10th January 1969

We did not appear to have any injuries after the final session of the week – nor, it appeared from the press, did Aberdeen – but there was one rather surprising headline in one of the evening papers –

  Simpson Set to Return

Now, it may seem strange that we had to find these matters out from the press but managers are notably reticent the day before a match and even if a player knows he is about to make a return, very often he is under orders not to say anything. Hence, the reading of newspapers by players, which nobody ever admits to but everybody does.

‘Manager Jock Stein said after training –“I will check on the pitch before naming our team but Simpson is practically certain to play”.

You will notice that there was not a word of commiseration – or even thanks – for John Fallon, who had been in good form in the first-team jersey. That’s the way of managers!

It was also reported that Jimmy Quinn was to go on loan to Clyde for three months.

And it appeared that the date for the first leg of the Quarter-Final tie in the Cup-Winners’ Cup would be on 19th February in the San Siro.

11th January Morning of the Match

Pittodrie was the only senior ground in Scotland at that time which we travelled to by train so we all reported early at Celtic Park and were then bussed in to Queen Street Station for the journey north. We always had a light breakfast on the train, then on arrival in Aberdeen, walked just a few yards to the hotel chosen for the pre-match meal. The team was also announced at that point and as expected, Ronnie was back in goal and wee Jimmy also made a return, Stevie Chalmers dropping to the bench.

After lunch, and a short rest at our tables, we then usually, unless the weather was very bad, walked the rest of the way to Pittodrie, with a police escort alongside, the Boss very keen to get the legs moving after the train trip and the lunch.

The Teams

Aberdeen
McGarr
Whyte, Shewan
Petersen, Boel, Murray
Johnston, Smith, Forrest, Robb, Craig.   
Sub: Buchan

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

The Play

It was an unusual situation for me, in direct opposition to a guy with the same surname. That seldom happens, in any team, and it certainly got me fired up to assert my authority. In fact, the whole team, on that particular day, was in fine form and although the Dons tried hard, having the majority of fans in the crowd of 31,000 urging them on, we were always in control, getting two goals in the first half and the other after the break.

The first came really early –

3 minutes
Bobby Lennox cut the ball back from the bye-line and Yogi came thundering in to blast home a 20-yarder.    1-0 Celtic

Our fans did not have long to wait for the second –

27 minutes
Wispy picked up a loose ball on the left wing, took it forward a few yards before lashing the ball home from 25 yards.      2-0 Celtic

We could always tell when the Boss was happy with our first-half performance as he was missing from the dressing-room for the first few minutes at the interval, spending time talking to everyone in the foyer and the corridors. Everyone wanted to speak to Jock Stein and he was, particularly at a time like that – with his team 2-up and coasting, particularly in Aberdeen – very approachable. When he eventually did come in to see us, he merely told us to ‘keep it going’.

And we did, although, to be fair, the Dons players fought well but our rear-guard was very composed in keeping them in check and soon got another crucial goal –

52 minutes
corner by Yogi and his cross was flicked into the net by Wispy. The ball did touch Boel on the way in but Wispy made it quite clear that he was claiming it. Typical striker!  3-0 Celtic

That effectively sealed the game for us and although Aberdeen kept trying and in fact pulled one back through Jim Forrest in 79 minutes, we always looked the more likely to score.

Final Score   Aberdeen  1  Celtic  3