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18th January 1969: Dundee Utd v Celtic – League

13th January 1969

The headline and comment in one of Monday’s dailies after the Aberdeen match was right on the button –

   That Celtic Gold -Mine!

‘This was a triumph of teamwork by a Celtic side confident in their own ability and that of their colleagues’.

Over in Italy, our European Cup opponents A.C. Milan drew 0-0 at Varese. It was only their 14th goal in 13 matches.

Another comment from the press, this time in an evening edition –

‘Celtic never miss a trick…and that is why manager Jock Stein and his players will be at Easter Road for Wednesday’s Hibs v SV Hamburg Fairs Cities 3rd Round second-leg match’.

And because of that trip, we were in for training today, with everyone in the best of spirits.

14th January 1969

Normal training routine. News in the press that Sir Matt Busby will retire at the end of the season and, of course, mention of his name led to discussions as to why Jock Stein was only given a CBE. It is amazing the conversations you can have in between sprints on the track.

15th January 1969

We were taken by bus to Dalmahoy for a round of golf before having an early dinner and then a trip to Easter Road for the Fairs Cup match, which Hibs lost 1-2. Jock Stein was very precise with the press –

“we are not having a day off. Golf is part of our training programme. On the course the players are walking, exercising and getting the fresh air”.

16th January 1969

The morning papers gave a quite precise report on the travails of Hibs the previous evening –

Hibs Blunder out of the Fairs Cities Cup

‘Hibs had two goals dis-allowed and missed a penalty. And when they did get on top in the second half, they threw away that advantage by a terrible defensive blunder, a half-hearted pass-back giving Uwe Seeler the chance to put his side into the quarter-finals’.

Celtic have arranged a friendly game against Carlisle United on Monday 20th at Carlisle. Jock Stein said “it will be good to give some of the guys in the pool a workout against good-class opponents’.

17th January 1969

 Same Celts for Tannadice

The Boss said that he was pleased to announce that the starting eleven for the Dundee United game would be the same as against Aberdeen last week. And he added –

“we will be taking 14 players to Carlisle for the match on Monday and only one or two of our top team will make the trip. But a lot depends on what happens in the way of injuries at Tannadice!”.

18th January 1969   The Day of the Match

We reported round about 11am in plenty of time for the bus to get us to the Station Hotel in Perth for the pre-match lunch. As was usually the case after a good result over Aberdeen, the atmosphere was quite relaxed and the boys enjoyed the journey.

After lunch, the bus took us to Tannadice which, for those of you who have never been there, is situated about 300 yards down the street from Dens Park, the sole difference being that the Main Stand at Dens faces south and the Tannadice version faces north.

The Teams

Dundee United
McKay
Rolland, J Cameron
Gillespie, Smith, Wood
Hogg, Millar, K Cameron, Mitchell, Wilson.   
Sub: Reid

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

The Play

When we ran out, it was absolutely pouring down and that did not help a pitch that was already soft, so it was going to be an afternoon where silky football would not be the order of the day. Instead, it would be hard graft and hefty challenges.

And right from the start, before a crowd of around the 20,000 mark, that is exactly the way the game turned out, no quarter asked from either side and none given. Not a lot of good football on display but plenty of tension and excitement to keep the fans interested.

It would be fair to say that what football was playing being played came from us and near the half-hour mark, we got a reward –

29 minutes
Jim Cameron passed the ball back to his keeper and Donald McKay slipped as he came for it, allowing Bobby Lennox the chance to nick in and score.
1-0 Celtic

That made for a happy dressing-room at the break, although we all needed a complete change of strip, thanks to the rain and the mud. As we went out for the second half, the dressing-room looked like a bomb site!

It was much closer in the second half, although, as the rain continued to fall, the pitch was becoming more and more sticky and mistakes were the order of the day.


80 minutes
Eventually, with 10 minutes left, The Arabs equalised through Mitchell and then sat back a little, seemingly happy with a draw. But that gave us more possession and we made it count –

84 minutes
lob forward by Wispy was controlled by Yogi and then he slipped the ball past McKay.  2-1 Celtic

86 minutes
some indecision in the United defence and Pat McMahon was on the spot to take the chance.

Final Score    Dundee United  1  Celtic  3

Our fans went into raptures and to be honest, the players were very pleased as well. In terrible conditions, which cut-back on our fluent football, we managed to almost ‘dig’ a victory out of the rain and mud. It was a very happy dressing-room afterwards, players, management and directors all celebrating like mad. And if my memory serves me correctly, we sang nearly all the way home!

Results

Airdrie31Hibs
Clyde00Dundee
Falkirk03Rangers
Hearts32Aberdeen
Kilmarnock10Arbroath
Partick Thistle21Morton
Raith Rovers02St. Mirren
St. Johnstone21Dunfermline

Table

TeamPWDLFAGAvPts
Celtic22155253163.3135
Rangers21135348212.2931
St. Mirren16118331241.2930
Kilmarnock22117438231.6529
Dundee United22133641341.2129
Dunfermline22124646331.3928
Hearts2295835331.0623