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25th January 1969: Partick Thistle v Celtic – Scottish Cup 3rd Round

20th January 1969

For most of the guys in the squad, this was a week of some light training which meant, at this time of year, some sprints, some shooting practice and some tactical innovations. The hard work to get fit had all been done already; from now till the end of the season, it was just a question of maintaining that fitness. And we were in that Monday morning, apart from any of the squad who were in the party for the match against Carlisle. They turned up in the afternoon, ready for the trip over the border.

One surprising addition to the travelling party was this man, the subject of a headline in one of the evening editions;

Johnstone Plays for Celts in Carlisle Friendly at his Own Special Request

Apparently, Jimmy had just gone up to the Boss that morning at training and asked if he could play in the match?. The gaffer was only too keen to accept the offer.

The morning press, in its report of the previous Saturday’s win over Dundee United, had been particularly effusive in its praise of one member the team

Mud?   It’s All the Same to Hughes

‘This match had everything – star footballers, penalty claims, brilliant football and some tackling that could have been done without!’

21st January 1969

One headline in the morning press caught the eye;

Spurs May Bid for John Clark

‘Spurs Boss, Bill Nicholson – who will be without the services of Joe Kinnear for a while as the result of a broken leg sustained against Leeds last Saturday – travelled all the way from London to Carlisle last night and he had eyes for only two men on the rain-soaked field, John Clark and Willie O’Neill, neither of whom can find a place in Celtic’s first team at present’.

There was a crowd of 9,000 in the ground for the encounter and the Celtic team was

Simpson, McGrain, O’Neill, Clark, Connelly, Hay, Johnstone, Dalglish, McMahon, Chalmers and Auld.

Bertie Auld got Celtic’s goal in the 33rd minute but after 56 minutes, with the score tied at 1-1, the game was stopped due to a water-logged pitch.

22nd January 1969

We trained as usual but the press coverage was all about Rangers, who had a match that night against D.W.S. Amsterdam in the Fairs Cup at Ibrox. The Light Blues had a 2-0 lead from the first leg.

23rd January 1969

Footballers are always complaining about something or other. There are times when the complaint is that we are playing twice a week and how hard that is. Unfortunately, the opposite has its own problems. In that particular week, for instance, with only a match on the forthcoming Saturday, we were training every day and no matter how hard the coaching staff tried to make it varied and interesting, we were frankly all longing for a match to break the monotony.

At Ibrox the previous evening, Rangers had won 2-1, putting them into the quarter-finals on a 4-1 aggregate. Next up would be Atletico Bilbao.

24th January

Thank goodness for Friday. The very light work-out meant that there was a match the following day, one which had hardly received a mention all week. Partick Thistle were our opponents in the 3rd Round of the Scottish Cup and everyone – management, directors, press and supporters – seemed to be in no doubt that we would win – and comfortably. I was slightly surprised by what I might call the lack of urgency in our thinking. However, as a foot soldier, who was I to stick my head above the parapet?

Before we left for the day, the Boss merely announced that the team would be the same as played at Tannadice. The unspoken advice was – get on with it!

25th January 1969    The Day of the Match

There would not be much travelling involved, so we were told to be at Parkhead for about 1pm and shortly after that, we boarded the coach for the short trip across the city to Firhill, where we found, to our liking, that the pitch was in excellent condition.

The Teams

Partick Thistle
Ritchie
Campbell, Gray
Hansen, McKinnon, O’Neill
McLindon, McParland, Flanagan, Bone, Duncan.  
Sub: Cumming

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

The Play

It would be fair to say that from the start, we dominated the play but Thistle were pretty good at breaking quickly, a good ploy against a team which is attacking most of the time. There was only one goal in it by half-time and that arrived just short of the interval –

40 minutes
great run by Jinky then a pass to Yogi, who scored from close in.  1-0 Celtic

It was a quietish dressing-room at the break, always the case when you have dominated the play but only have one goal to show for it. The crowd – especially our section – were wanting more goals and they did not have long to wait;

56 minutes
good pass by Lemon gave Wispy the chance.   2-0 Celtic

62 minutes
future Celt Jimmy Bone scored from a pass by O’Neill.   2-1 Celtic

64 minutes
.Chopper was on the spot to take advantage of a cross by Yogi.   3-1 Celtic

71 minutes
.centre-forward Flanagan broke forward and took advantage of two rebounds from Cesar’s legs to get the Jags’ second.    3-2 Celtic

And that appeared to be the end, as we comfortably held out against the sporadic attacks of the Thistle forwards. Yogi hit the crossbar and Lemon hammered a shot off a post, we kept the pressure and the fans started to leave early to catch their transport home. They missed the roof falling in – after a quick Jags attack and the melee which followed in our penalty area, it was the foot of Jimmy Bone which managed to prod the ball over the line for the equaliser.

Final Score    Partick Thistle  3  Celtic  3

It was not a happy dressing-room room afterwards but to be blunt, the result was no more than we deserved on the day and my original thought that we were not taking this match seriously enough was not far off the mark. I would have bet that the attitude coming from above for the replay would be entirely different. We would soon see!

Other Scottish Cup results

Aberdeen 3  Berwick  0                 
Ayr Utd  1 Queen of the South 0               
Dumbarton 0 St Mirren 1
Dundee  1  Hearts  2                       
Dundee Utd  2  Queen’s Park  1                 
East Stirling  2  Stirling Alb. 0
Falkirk  1  Morton  2                       
Kilmarnock 6 Glasgow Univ. 0                    
Montrose 1 Cowdenbeath 0
Motherwell 1 Clyde  1                   
Raith Rovers 0  Dunfermline 2                    
Rangers  1  Hibs  0
St Johnstone 3 Arbroath 2           
Stenhousemuir 0  Airdrie  5                         
Stranraer  3  East Fife  1