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16th November 1968:  Celtic v Raith Rovers – League

14th November 1968

The previous evening had been a good one for Scottish football, with the four clubs involved in European competition all having good results. The main headlines went to European Cup representatives Celtic, especially the showing of wee Jimmy –

Johnstone the Tornado

It’s Ace Destroyer Jimmy!

Belgrade Fans Want to See Wee Jimmy

 

One member of the Rangers team which beat Dundalk 4-0 in Northern Ireland got a special mention-

£100,000 – Colin’s Cheap at the Price

This was a reference to new signing Colin Stein, who had joined Rangers from Hibs recently – for that sum of £100,000 – and had managed to get among the goals in Dundalk.

There were also good results for Dunfermline, who beat Olympiakos 4-0 at East End Park in the Cup-Winners’ Cup and Hibs, 3-1 victors over Lokomotiv Leipzig in the Fairs Cities Cup at Easter Road.

The players were back in training, as we had a match on the Saturday, and did a fairly light session, mainly on the track. Now, it is always easy with hindsight to pick on possible mistakes of one sort or another but I thought back then, and still do to this day, that the management got things wrong at that time.

There had undoubtedly been an enormous out-pouring of good-will from the fans about the result against Red Star. Now, a 5-1 win looks to be an excellent result but, in truth, we had not played too well in the first half and any judgement of our showing in the second half must be balanced against the performance of Wee Jimmy, which was wonderful, even if it was in response to a bribe from the Boss. Frankly, the other outfield players, including myself, were like bystanders to the main event.

Perhaps it was the fact that we were playing against Raith Rovers at the weekend – a team completely at the wrong end of the table – that made those in charge think that we should do very little in training. Whatever the thinking was, we did not do much – and the atmosphere was far too relaxed.

One player who did get a pack on the back from the Boss in the press was Ronnie –“he was not fit but he got stripped and was prepared to go on if anything happened to John Fallon”.

 

15th November 1968

We did even less than the day before in training and it was all performed on the track, which on that day was greasy and slippy, so you had to be careful about footing. Before we left the ground, the Boss merely announced that the team would be chosen from the eleven who played against Red Star plus Bertie Auld, fit again and ready to take a starting role in the top team for the first time that season.

The Boss was more expansive with the press – “there is a very good chance that Auld will play from start to finish. He is fully fit now. He has been used as substitute on a few occasions this season but I now feel that he is ready to make a complete comeback”.  

Again there was that too relaxed attitude around the club, which seemed to affect the papers that evening and the following morning too. There was hardly a mention of our opponents from Fife, with all the column inches still talking about the Red Star match. I was a bit worried about the situation remembering what one of the teachers in charge of the school team once told me –“never under-estimate an opponent; always give them your full attention and that way you will never be caught short”.

Good advice, which I have regularly passed on to my own children in their own sporting endeavours.

 

The Day of the Match  16th November

The usual procedure for a home match and by the time we went down the tunnel, there was a reputed 31,000 in the ground.

The Teams

Celtic

Fallon
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Auld, Hughes.
Sub: Chalmers

Raith Rovers

Reid
Hyslop, Gray
Miller, Polland, Bolton
Wilson, Falconer, Wallace, Sneddon, Gillespie.
Sub: Richardson  

The Play

The relaxed attitude which had been the norm on Thursday and Friday unfortunately carried on till Saturday too, with more than one comment in the press referring to it –

‘Raith weren’t overawed  by Celtic’s power’…..’Celts’ tempo had dropped somewhat’…..’little was seen of Johnstone, who was being deprived of the ball’. 

There were three critical moments in the match –

11 minutes
Chopper picked up a loose ball in midfield, accelerated past three Raith defenders and slammed a drive past keeper Reid.   1-0 Celtic

63 minutes
Raith’s keeper, Bobby Reid, was ordered off for a foul on Lemon. The Raith players protested but referee John Gordon from Newport would not change his mind. Left back Grey took over the goal-keeping duties.

74 minutes
a shot by Chopper from 30 yards went under Grey’s body.

Final Score  Celtic 2  Raith Rovers  0  

 

Results

Aberdeen 2 2 Arbroath
Airdrie 3 0 St. Johnstone
Dundee United 4 2 Hearts
Dunfermline 2 1 Clyde
Falkirk 0 1 Dundee
Hibs 5 0 Morton
Partick Thistle 0 2 Kilmarnock
St. Mirren 1 0 Rangers

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Celtic 11 8 2 1 24 9 2.67 18
St. Mirren 11 6 5 0 17 8 2.13 17
Dundee United 11 8 1 2 22 14 1.57 17
Kilmarnock 11 6 3 2 22 12 1.83 15
Rangers 11 6 2 3 28 15 1.87 14
Dunfermline 11 6 2 3 19 15 1.27 14