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12th February 1969: Clyde v Celtic – Scottish Cup

3rd February 1969

Nine of the squad – including myself – were in the Scotland pool of players who had undergone a day of light training down at the Centre on the Clyde coast on Sunday 2nd February. The session was based mainly on organisation – both in defence and in attack – and some variations for free kicks and corners. It always puzzled me though, right throughout my pro career, that, no matter which team I was with in Scotland, England or South Africa, there was little in the way of attempts to try out variations at throw-ins, of which there were many more than free-kicks or corners during any game. And on that Sunday, there was again a lack of thought put into throw-ins.

On the Monday morning, the papers were full of praise for the play of the team against Hearts –

   Just One Word for the Celts – S – U – P – E – R

There was also good news for the fans –

  Johnstone  ;   Hughes   O.K. for Cup

‘Just one day after Jock Stein announced that he would not be leaving Parkhead to become manager of Manchester United or any other English club, the Celtic Park Boss was able to forecast that wingers Jimmy Johnstone and John Hughes will be fit for Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie with Clyde at Shawfield.

Jock Stein went on to say that he will give up the job as manager of Celtic at 55, which means that he will be with Celtic – all being well – till 1978’.

Jock Stein also said “our friendly with Albion Rovers at Cliftonhill tonight will now be played on Wednesday. The Albion Rovers pitch was unplayable today”.

4th February 1969

We all got the day off, apart from Jinky and Yogi, who were both in for treatment.

5th February 1969

All of us back in again, apart from the squad chosen for the trip to Coatbridge, where the Cliftonhill pitch seemed to be in good order again. 14 players had been listed – Fallon, Murray, O’Neill, Gorman, Dalglish, Connelly, Clark, Hay, Wilson, Chalmers, Auld, Macari, McMahon and Davidson.

6th February 1969

There was some rather gloomy news in the press that morning –

‘Saturday’s Scottish Cup ties went on to the danger list today with a forecast from the Glasgow Weather Centre of snow followed by moderate to severe frost for the next few days’.

Shawfield was described as ‘heavy but playable’ by manager Archie Robertson.

At Parkhead, Yogi joined the rest of us for a full training session, while Jinky was a little more doubtful.

3,000 fans had turned up at Cliftonhill the previous night and they all witnessed an exciting match which ended goalless.

7th February 1969

There was further news about the possibility of play in grounds round the country. The Aberdeen versus Dunfermline clash had already been called off and the news for Glasgow’s Big Two was varied –

Clyde – Celtic In Danger But Ibrox is Playable

In Milan, A.C. manager Nereo Rocco showed his players a film – shot last week by a four-man Italian film crew – of Celtic’s 8-1 thrashing of Partick Thistle.

8th February 1969

The news was not good for players and fans –

Frost K.Os Big Games

‘The two big Scottish Cup ties – Clyde v Celtic and Rangers v Hearts – were both declared off due to the weather. Both matches will now go ahead on Wednesday, weather permitting’.

9th February 1969

We were told to come in today – a Sunday – for some training. Managers and coaches were paranoid – at that time anyway – of their players getting more than a day off ( presumably in case their fitness levels dropped?) so we had to come in and perform the usual runs and then a seven a side match on half the pitch. At least it passed the time?

10th February 1969

Celts Wait and Wonder

‘Celtic definitely want the Clyde Scottish Cup tie on but today they were making arrangements for one of the fastest long-distance dashes ever made by a Scottish club. A match had already been arranged to be played in Malta against either Hibs or Valleta’

The draw for the next round of the Scottish Cup was made –

Clyde/Celtic v East Stirling/ St Johnstone                              
Rangers/Hearts v Airdrie/ St Mirren
Dundee United v Morton                                             
Aberdeen/ Dunfermline v Montrose/ Kilmarnock

Even at this early stage, it would appear that the Aberdeen v Dunfermline tie – also due to be played on Wednesday – will be called off again as Pittodrie is snow-bound.

11th February 1969

As we trained all week, the whole club avidly kept an eye on the press for information about not only our match but the others throughout the country. The news for the matches in Glasgow seemed to be pretty good –

All Clear for the Cup   No Inspection at Ibrox  Shawfield Looks Good

The Aberdeen v Dunfermline match is definitely off ; Clyde manager Archie Robertson will not announce his team until shortly before the 4.30pm kick-off time; and Jock Stein will take a fairly large pool of players to Shawfield and decide then.

Day of the Game 12th February 1969

Morning

The Shawfield pitch was passed as playable at 8am by referee Mr W. Anderson of East Kilbride but Jock Stein, who was also present, was apparently not a happy man, describing the pitch as ‘not only frozen but rutted’.

There did appear to be a slight thaw by lunchtime but by the time we all arrived by coach from Celtic Park, the pitch was indeed hard and rutted and you could sense that a number of the boys – including myself – were unhappy about playing on it, especially in a cup tie. Such a pitch becomes a great leveller, preventing the better side – Celtic, naturally – from playing their normal game and making a game of football into a contest of ability to keep one’s feet. None of the players said anything but the signs were definitely there. We were not a happy bunch!

The Teams

Clyde
Wright
Glasgow, Mulheron
Anderson, Staite, McHugh
McFarlane, Hood, Quinn, Burns, Hastings.   
Sub: Stewart

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

The Play

On a bitterly cold night, an excellent crowd of 25,000 had turned up at Shawfield. The pitch played a great part in the result of this match, as the Boss – and most of his players – probably thought before the match. The words of a report in one of the following day’s papers gave a pretty accurate account of the circumstances –

‘Clyde and Celtic will replay their Scottish Cup tie at Parkhead on Monday week but a second meeting of the clubs would not have been necessary if Celtic had taken their chances with the customary sharpness.

Simpson was hurt in the opening exchanges in saving at Quinn’s feet and had to leave the field after 17 minutes with a dislocated shoulder. Gemmell went into goal and Auld came on as a substitute but it would be difficult to say what, if any, differences these enforced changes made on the pattern of Celtic’s play, which was well below their usual high standard’.

It was far from an ideal surface on which to play effective football and we were up against a team which, quite naturally being the under-dogs, sat back in defence and tried to hold out for the draw. We did make some chances, though. In the first half, Wispy, Stevie and Bertie all missed reasonable chances while after the break, Jinky missed an even more glorious chance. Goalkeeper Wright could only parry a shot by Wispy, the ball landed at Jinky’s feet and he managed to screw it past the post.

 The report summed up the whole affair pretty well –‘In the end, Celtic must have been pleased with the draw. They could have – even should have -won but considering their handicap and remembering that the pitch was no spring meadow, they put up a remarkable display of bravery, drive and rollicking attack’.

 Final Score  Clyde 0  Celtic  0

The injury which Ronnie Simpson picked up could not have been more ironic or disastrous. The other player in the clash was Jimmy Quinn, on loan from Celtic and the collision which injured Ronnie’s  shoulder precipitated the end of his career.

Other Scottish Cup Results

Kilmarnock  4  Montrose 1            Airdrie 1  St Mirren 1