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7th December 1968:  Celtic v St Mirren –  League

2nd December 1968

The whole squad had the day off today and the papers had to try and concentrate on other matters, one of which involved me. I had been included in the squad for the World Cup qualifying match against Cyprus in Nicosia.

I had spoken to Bobby Brown after the match against Hibs at Easter Road and in the course of that conversation, he told me that, as he was going to give WBA’s Doug Fraser a chance in the side, even as substitute, I would probably not even make the subs bench. I explained that as I had just opened a dental practice – in the summer of that year – I would not travel all that way, taking time off the practice to do so and then find, when I got there, that I was not involved. I pulled out of the trip. This effectively ended my international career as I think the word got round that I was more interested in my dental career than representing my country.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. I was keen to represent Scotland and disappointed that I only got the one chance. However, may I say right here and now that I always thought it was strange that I could hold my place in one of the top teams in Europe and yet be kept out of the national side by guys that I did not think were better players.

There was also a story in the evening press about our major rivals –

Rangers Crisis Meeting

‘It is crisis time at Ibrox. Chairman John Lawrence said today “The Board will meet tomorrow night and obviously recent results will be discussed. But I am only one member of the Board and I cannot make any forecast about decisions which will be reached”.

The paper had its own comment;

 ‘Although Mr Lawrence was not prepared to forecast what action Rangers may take, I predict that the days of big money spending at Ibrox are over.

From now on, the emphasis will be on building a successful team from the youths already at Ibrox or expected to join the club. In the past five weeks, Rangers have splashed out £150,000 to sign £100,000 centre-forward Colin Stein from Hibs and £50,000 for Alex McDonald from St Johnstone.

And in the Rangers reserve side which was held to a 1-1 draw by Airdrie Reserves on Friday evening were two players – Alex Smith and Alex Ferguson – who coast the club over £110,000 to Dunfermline when they arrived at Ibrox’.

There was also a headline referring to Celtic’s performance in the previous match against Hibs –

Super Celts Exploded!

3rd December 1968

All of us back and going through the usual routines. By this time of the season, apart from the injured, everyone was fit and it was just a question of ticking over rather than hard work. The main thing, though, was the Boss and his staff always kept the sessions interesting. That was great from the players’ point of view.

The draw was made in Geneva for the quarter-final stages of the European Cup and Celtic were drawn against AC Milan, with the first leg in the San Siro. Now, I don’t know if the Boss was at the draw but in any case he did not seem to be available for comment. Instead, Chairman Bob Kelly spoke in his place – “This is the toughest assignment that we could have been given”. Just what all the boys wanted to hear?

From the comments in the press by the officials of the Italian champions, they apparently were not too happy about facing us either!

In the draw for the quarter-final stages of the Cup-Winners’s Cup. Dunfermline were drawn against West Bromwich Albion.

4th December 1968

The Rangers Board meeting took place and the directors did come to some important decisions.

Rangers Decide    They Build on Youth    No More Big-Money Buys    All- Weather Pitch

Those headlines in one of the evening papers described the situation quite precisely and it was probably quite a good time to make the decisions, as Rangers were some way off the pace in the race for the league title.

When asked about his views on Celtic being drawn against AC Milan in the next round of the European Cup, Jock Stein was quoted as saying

“Right now we are concentrating all our efforts on Saturday’s match against St Mirren. Every game for us now is a hard game but we are not complaining about that fact.

I expect it will be the turn of the year before I am able to go to Italy to see AC Milan in action”.

5th December

Training as usual; nothing out of the ordinary. We were told very little after the sessions and frankly we sometimes learned more from the evening editions, like the two stories appended here –

‘Brand-New’ Simpson in Comeback

Jock Stein spoke today of two matches of vital importance to his Scotland keeper “I am going to play Simpson in my reserve team against Clydebank on Saturday and if he clears that hurdle he will be in the team against Rangers reserves on Monday night. These matches will give him the match practice he needs”.

And down south, Tommy Docherty has resigned as manager of Queen’s Park Rangers after only 28 days.

“ I am resigning on a matter of principle

he said.

6th December 1968

An easy session as usual the day before a match and we were away from the ground well before 12 noon. The Boss had merely announced a squad to report for the match against St Mirren but the evening press was a little more helpful, firstly about the team for the morrow –“There is a very good chance that I shall play Stevie Chalmers and bring on Willie Wallace for the last 15 or 20 minutes of the game” – and also giving some information about an important outstanding match – ‘No new date has been named for the Celtic v Hibs League Cup Final  – postponed because of the fire at Hampden. The Scottish League management committee today decided to defer any decision until the next meeting’.

The Day of the Match  7th December1968

As it was a home match, we reported about 2pm, had a good look at the pitch – which seemed in good condition – and eventually made our way to the dressing room to get ready. The Boss had obviously had a word with his management team, as Sean, Neilly, Bob and Steeley all went into action as soon as we came into the room, raising the noise level, starting some trivial arguments and so on, all of which were a sure sign that we were playing a side we were expected to beat. This was to avoid any slackening of intensity but in actual fact, we were well up for the match, quite aware that the Buddies were in 3rd place in the table. We would treat them in the same way as some of the better-known sides we had played that season.

The Teams

Celtic

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

St Mirren

Connaghan,
Murray, Connell
Fulton, McFadden, Murray
Adamson, Pinkerton, Kane, Blair, Gilshan.
Sub: Hainey

The Play

Perhaps these words from one of the daily newspapers pretty accurately described the action in the first half of this match.

‘St Mirren came to Parkhead on Saturday with championship pretensions themselves and for 45 minutes looked worthy candidates as they withstood tremendous pressure with admirable composure and more than once caused hearts to flutter with enterprising attack.

But once the Celtic machine began to whirr and click with the inexorable precision that, for me, makes them a better team now than they were when they won the European Cup in Lisbon, there was nothing that St Mirren could do to keep the score down to respectable proportions’.

We did hit them hard in the second half, with the goals coming as follows –

46 minutes
Lennox corner, Hughes header downwards and Stevie Chalmers toe-ended it into the roof of the net. 1-0 Celtic

59 minutes
good run by Yogi, crossfield pass to Jinky…..2-0 Celtic

63 minutes
cross by me, dummy by Yogi, stroked in by Stevie.  3-0 Celtic

68 minutes
good run by Tid Callaghan down the left, cut back to Yogi….4-0 Celtic

78 minutes
L
emon pulled down in box….penalty…it was slammed home by Tam

Final Score   Celtic 5  St Mirren  0

The Celtic fans making up the vast majority of the crowd of 47,000 were delighted with the display and we left the field to roars of approval; and when we got to the dressing room, the management and directors seemed equally happy, which was not always the case.

And the journalist I quoted from above rose to the challenge again in his summing up of the match –‘Yet again Celtic had separated the men from the boys but if it any consolation to St Mirren, they are not alone in their childhood’.

 

Other Results

Aberdeen 2 6 Hibs
Airdrie 0 2 Kilmarnock
Dundee United 2 1 Falkirk
Hearts 2 3 Clyde
Morton 2 1 Dundee
Partick Thistle 0 1 Dunfermline
Raith Rovers 0 3 Rangers
St. Johnstone 5 1 Arbroath

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Celtic 14 11 2 1 38 11 3.45 24
Dundee United 14 10 2 2 27 16 1.69 22
Dunfermline 14 9 2 3 27 18 1.50 20
Kilmarnock 14 8 3 3 24 14 1.71 19
Rangers 14 7 4 3 33 17 1.94 18
St. Mirren 14 6 6 2 18 16 1.13 18
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30th November 1968: Hibs v Celtic  League

 

28th November 1968

No Rest Celtic Prepare for Hibs

Everyone in for training this morning and as you might imagine, the atmosphere in the camp was excellent. It was quite a tough session too, as the Boss was a great believer in getting any stiffness from the game and the flight straight after the match out of the system as quickly as possible. And he was pleased that there were no injuries from the Red Star game, although Ronnie was apparently not quite ready to play again.

The Boss was also in fulsome mood with the press, explaining how pleased he had been to get back to Glasgow the previous evening –‘if we had stayed overnight, we would have been hanging around Belgrade this morning and probably not have arrived home till sometime this afternoon. We have saved a whole day – and that is an important factor in view of our important match with Hibs at Easter Road on Saturday’.

The draw for the round of the last 16 in the Fairs Cup was made in the afternoon. Rangers were drawn against D.W.S. Amsterdam, with the first leg in Holland; while Hibs were paired with S.V. Hamburg of West Germany, that first leg also an away tie.

29th November 1968

After training, the Boss announced that the defence at Easter Road would be Fallon, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill and Brogan, with the rest chosen from a cast of six, Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Lennox, Callaghan and Hughes. That meant there was no place for John Clark and George Connelly; they would be disappointed but there is little sympathy from above sometimes in football.

In the evening press there a plea from the Boss to the fans – ‘Please be at Easter Road as early as possible to help the entry to the ground in plenty of time. We ask our fans to co-operate with the police’.

And the same paper ran this headline –

Johnstone, Callaghan Back for Celtic

30th November 1968

The chosen squad reported at around 11am and within minutes, the bus was on its way to Edinburgh, heading for our usual hotel for the pre-match meal, with the good result in Belgrade still making everyone feeling on top of the world. However, as was his norm, the Boss had been keen to point out the day before that Hibs would be up for this match and that we could not afford to treat the encounter lightly.

The statement in the press the previous evening by the Boss must have hit home as we made the final stretch into Easter Road through a considerable crowd of our fans, who gave us a great welcome as we arrived. Then it was into the ground and the usual inspection of the pitch, which in those days had a considerable slope from one end to the other. Hibs, if they won the toss, always played up the hill in the first half so that they could put a real drive on in the second, using the slope to their advantage. I cannot really recall if that was the case that afternoon but from the way the game developed, it might have been ourselves who had the slope after the interval.

 

The Teams

Hibs

Wilson
Shevlane, Davis
Cousin, Stanton, O’Rourke
Scott, Quinn, McBride, Cormack, Stevenson.
Sub: Grant

Celtic

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

The Play

I feel that I can state, without any hesitation, that this was one of the most incredible matches that I ever took part in during my Celtic career and it produced a result that no one would have anticipated with 79 minutes of play on the clock. But I am getting ahead of myself so let’s go back to the start.

The match started very brightly, with end to end stuff and some chances. Then, we got a stroke of luck –

8 minutes
Hibs right-half Cousin was accused of handling the ball and Tam Gemmell took the penalty kick, giving keeper Wilson no chance with his effort.  1-0 Celtic

Hibs came back at us straightaway and got a breakthrough shortly afterwards –

23 minutes
cross into the middle and our old team-mate Joe McBride got there first. 1-1

From then till the break, it was quick, tense play, both sides showing why they were doing well in their respective European tournaments and when the whistle blew for half-time, it was still all-square.

Much to the delight of the crowd – estimated at 35,000 – both sides went hammer-and-tongs at it again in the second half, every player on the pitch giving his all and the ball getting whipped round the whole pitch. Hibs were gaining in confidence and;

23 minutes
they got a penalty, which Joe Davis comfortably stroked home
2-1 the Hibees.

Hibs were playing well and making life hard for us. We were by no means playing badly but their tails were up and if you had asked any neutral -‘what would be the final score?’- then they might have gone for one which favoured the guys from Easter Road.  Almost unbelievably, though, the final score was 5-2, four quick goals by McNeill (79), Hughes (80), Lennox (82) and Hughes again (84) putting Celtic out of reach.

It was an astonishing climax to a very entertaining match, with one end of the green-and-white hordes leaving the ground in ecstasy and the other, also in those colours, almost unable to believe that their side had lost from such an advantageous position!

A headline in one of the evening papers that night probably summed up the story of the match –

Champion Finish by Celtic

Other Results

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

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Celtic 13 10 2 1 33 11 3.00 22
Dundee United 13 9 2 2 25 15 1.67 20
St. Mirren 13 6 6 1 18 11 1.64 18
Dunfermline 13 8 2 3 26 18 1.44 18
Kilmarnock 13 7 3 3 24 14 1.71 17
Rangers 13 6 4 3 30 17 1.76 16

 

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27th November 1968: Red Star Belgrade v Celtic –  European Cup 2nd Round  2nd Leg

24th November 1968

There had been a family do the previous evening and I spent most of it with the males of the species, all of whom wanted to ask questions about the goings-on at Celtic Park, like how did I get on with such-and-such a player, what was Jock Stein really like and did we ever manage to get the ball off wee Jimmy in the bounce games?

The answers – in order of being asked – were ‘fine’, the Boss was good to deal with and we always played two-touch at the training matches, so wee Jimmy got a maximum of two touches like everyone else and the problem was solved.

After the grilling I got the night before, I did not fancy a repeat at Mass on the Sunday so – and may God forgive me – I arrived at the church shortly after the service started and left right after Communion. My parents lived about half-a-mile from the church, so I was home quick!

 

25th November 1968

I have never spoken to the rest of the guys about it but I was really up-tight about what the Boss would ask us to do in Belgrade. It is not often that any team takes a 5-1 win to the second leg of a European tie. Our best previous result had been the 3-1 against Dukla Prague in the semi-final of the cup in 1967.

You may remember that the tactics chosen by the Boss for the second leg were pretty defensive. Since the match finished all-square, you would have to admit that they worked but it would also be true to say the boys were not too happy playing in such a way. Would he now ask us to repeat the performance or, considering the size of the lead, would we go for something more expansive?

And would we be without wee Jimmy? As one of the evening papers mentioned

‘Wee Jimmy Johnstone, the man who stayed behind, enjoyed the luxury of a long lie in bed this morning when his Celtic colleagues left by bus for Prestwick Airport and the flight to Belgrade.

Jimmy will be training tomorrow with Tommy Callaghan, who was signed too late for inclusion in the squad for the tie’.

Tommy’s performance against Partick Thistle deservedly received a mention –

Callaghan?  –  Yes, he’ll do!

The paper also included the list of 22 players for the World Cup qualifying tie against Cyprus and I was included among the fullbacks. It was nice to be included but it would give me a problem that I shall mention later.

Our flight to Belgrade was uneventful and by late afternoon, we were walking round the centre of the Yugoslav capital, led by Field Marshall Neilly Mochan. We did not always take a direct route in Neilly’s Walks but one thing to keep in mind was that we never actually did not get back to the starting point!

26th November

The usual procedure on the day before a match abroad. Up reasonably early, then a quick breakfast, another walk, then an early – and light – lunch. The reason for this schedule was that the match against Red Star had a starting time of 1.15pm and the Boss wanted to get to the stadium for a training session at exactly that time. It was good forward thinking and we were all happy to go along with it. The Crvena Zvezda Stadium looked well up for the match and the pitch was in very good condition; we were, though, rather surprised that a fair-sized crowd turned up to watch us training, just as we had seen in Tbilisi and Prague, towns in two other communist countries.

We heard from some of the journalist who were with us that the Red Star directors had fined three of their defenders £100 each for ‘saving’ themselves for Celtic when they played Zeljeznicar the previous Sunday. In other words, they were accused of not working hard enough in that match and concentrating more on the Celtic match.

And we were also told that the Red Star supporters fully expected wee Jimmy to be in the side. They knew he had not been on the plane but they thought that he might come in some other way?

27th November 1968

It was just as well that we had rehearsed the unusual circumstances of the 1.15pm start. Having your pre-match meal at around 10am did take a bit of getting used to but we were all in good form and looking forward to the match. The previous evening, the Boss had gone over the plan for the match and, thank goodness, we were not going to stay back in some ‘catenaccio’ system. Certainly, as we were well ahead from the first leg, we would not go hell-for-leather, either; we would play just that little bit deeper but would be ready to come forward whenever a chance presented itself.

The Teams

Red Star

Djurkovic
Djokic, Krivokuca
Pavlovic, Dojcinovski, Klenkovski
Antonijevic, Ostojic, Lazerovic, Acimovic, Dzajic.

Celtic

Fallon
Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Clark, Connelly, Lennox, Chalmers, Hughes.
Subs:  Wallace, Simpson, O’Neill, Hay, Quinn.

The Play

There had much talk the previous evening – by the Boss in particular – that we would not be going for a defence-in-depth match. Unfortunately, the personnel in the team that had been picked rather suggested  a back four of myself, McNeill, Clark and Gemmell with another threesome of Connelly, Murdoch and Brogan stationed just in front and that is exactly the way we started the match and continued it for the most of the first half.

The Red Star players were good. Indeed, Dzajic – trying to live up to his World-star status – was as good a winger as I ever played against, with great touch and vision. He had a fatal flaw, though, when facing me. He continually tried to go past me down the outside and never seemed to work out that I was the quicker of the two!

It must have been a good match to watch, as, although Red Star did most of the attacking, at least in the first half, we were quite good at making the occasional break ourselves. And even the most biased Red Star fan would have to admit that their finishing was extremely poor.

Ours was a quite content dressing-room at the break, the Boss happy with our form and merely telling us to continue in the same way. In actual fact, after the break, it was a case of us controlling more of the play, with them looking frustrated. And when we took the lead, it effectively gave us the match –

76 minutes
Right out of the blue, Wispy – making history as the first Celtic sub in a European match -walloped a peach of an effort from 30 yards which flew high before dipping over the Red Star keeper and into the net.  1-0 Celtic 

The few fans we had with us were ecstatic; the home support started to leave and we took our eye off the ball. Just when we thought that we were going to finish the match with a win, the Slavs equalised, Ostojic knocking in the ball after a scramble in the Celtic goalmouth.

Final Score  Red Star  1  Celtic  1      Aggregate   Red Star 2  Celtic  6

What an atmosphere there was in the dressing -room, with everyone – the players, the Boss and his management team plus the directors – all crowding in to join in the celebrations. Then, it was straight to the airport for the return flight to Glasgow and as we reached home that evening, there was time to pick up one of the evening papers and check the headlines –

It’s All Star Celts

Wonder Defence  –  Wallace Goal –  And They’re Through to the Last Eight!

 

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23rd November 1968:  Partick Thistle v Celtic –  League

18th November 1968

The guys who had played against Raith Rovers on the Saturday were given the day off. The Reserve team full-timers were in because the Reserve side had a match on the Wednesday, a Reserve League cup tie against Falkirk at Brockville.

Tommy Gemmell was unsuccessful with his appeal against a caution in the match versus Hearts at Tynecastle and while the papers that Monday were not exactly fulsome in their praise of the players’ performance against Raith Rovers…..

Celts Lose Sparkle

…..they did provide some information for the fans about matters behind-the-scenes –

Celts All-Fit and Simpson ‘Improving’.

Sometimes, as a player, what you read in the press can make you laugh. Any ‘sparkle’ that we tried to put into the game with Raith Rovers the previous Saturday was rather negated by the fact that for long periods of the match, the Kirkcaldy side had ten men behind the ball and believe me, when a team does that and is also putting in a real shift, it can be very difficult to break down. But with our record, I suppose we were expected to ‘star’ in every match. That is a nice idea…but the opposing sides want to spoil it!

19th November

The big news was that firstly, Rangers had signed Alex McDonald from St Johnstone for a fee of £50,000. Secondly, that Tam Gemmell was going to appeal against the caution he was given by Swedish referee Kurt Leidberg in the international between Scotland and Austria at Hampden. And thirdly, Red Star seemed to have come back from their thrashing by Celtic with a good result of their own, beating local rivals Partizan 6-1, which led to the headline –

6 Goals!  –  Red Star Sparkle Again! 

20th November 1968

Celtic today received planning permission from Glasgow Corporation to build a new roof over the east terracing.

The Boss was quoted about the match at Falkirk –

“The Celtic team for tonight’s game at Falkirk will be the youngest-ever to represent the club in a competitive match” he said and named the side as Wraith, McGrain, Gorman, Dalglish, Connelly, Hay, Wilson, McMahon, Quinn, Davidson, Macari”.

And there was a very good result for Hibs in East Germany, where they beat Lokomotiv Leipzig 1-0, going through to the next round on a 4-1 aggregate.

21st November 1968

At Brockville the previous evening, the Reserves rather ran over Falkirk and won 6-0. That would appear to make the second leg something of a formality.

It was reported from Belgrade that the match between Red Star and Celtic will have a 13.15pm kick-off time.

There were also statements from both Jimmy Johnstone and Jock Stein about the little guy’s position in relation to the match in Belgrade. By this time, everyone knew the story about the Boss having told Jimmy that if the team did well, he would not have to travel to Yugoslavia. On that day, both had their say on the situation –

Jinky – “If Celtic need me against Red Star in Belgrade next week, then I will fly out with the team on Monday”.

The Boss – “Everything depends on what happens at Firhill on Saturday. If one or two of our key men are injured, Jimmy has told me that he will be in the party on Monday”.

Unanimity seems to be the name of the game…..but I’ll bet you the wee man was more worried about it than the Boss?

Oh! I had better mention at this point that while all this talk was going on, the first team squad was training every day – apart from being off on the Monday – and was putting in a good shift as well. Neither the Boss or Neilly Mochan believed in a ‘quiet’ day so each session was as tough as the one before.

22nd November 1968

In a surprise move – I say surprise because there had never been any mention of it, either within the playing pool or the press – Tommy Callaghan of Dunfermline signed for Celtic today and apparently will play against the Jags tomorrow. I knew Tid ( as he was always known) slightly and he was a real nice guy. A good player too and at least he was not a full-back, so he was not going to affect my position. Selfish or what?

The Day of the Match 23rd November 1968

As we were only travelling across the city, we did not have to report too early for this one and rolled up about 1.15pm. Within a few minutes were all on the bus and heading for Firhill, where we were met by a wet pitch and a bit of a wind, neither of which was going to affect the play too much.

The Teams

Partick Thistle

Ritchie
Campbell, McAlindon
McParland, Gray, Hansen
Cunningham, Flanagan, Divers, Bone, Duncan.
Sub: Cumming

Celtic

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

The Jags team had an interesting twosome in the forward line of former Celt John Divers and future Celt Jimmy Bone.

The Play

It seemed that everyone agreed after the match that the side had been much more impressive that afternoon than it had been at Parkhead against Raith Rovers. The play seemed sharper, the atmosphere better, the individual performances good and most importantly, our new signing – Tommy Callaghan – not only showed that he could play but he also fitted in very well with the other players. The big moments were as follows –

14 minutes
fierce shot by Jinky which Billy Ritchie could only push out. Unfortunately for the Jags, it landed right at the feet of Yogi, who hammered it home.  1-0 Celtic

22 minutes
pass by Yogi into the pass of Tid Callaghan and he fairly hammered it home from about 25 yards.  2-0 Celtic

The Boss appeared a happy man at the break and held his words until we were just about to go back out again –

“We’ll have some more of that, please!”

We did, although for the next score, the fans had to wait a while –

68 minutes
Charge through the middle by Yogi and a blast into the net.   3-0 Celtic

84 minutes
Lemon took advantage of hesitation in the Jags defence.

 

Final Score  Partick Thistle  0  Celtic  4

 

Other Results

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

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Celtic 12 9 2 1 28 9 3.11 20
Dundee United 12 9 1 2 24 14 1.71 19
Kilmarnock 12 7 3 2 23 12 1.92 17
St. Mirren 12 6 5 1 17 10 1.70 17
Dunfermline 12 7 2 3 21 17 1.24 16
Rangers 12 6 3 3 29 16 1.81 15

 

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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

 

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13th November 1968:  Celtic v Red Star Belgrade –  European Cup  2nd Round First Leg

10th November 1968

After a very light training session at Celtic Park on the Sunday morning – more of a wind-down in reality – we all boarded the bus for the trip to Seamill, our usual haunt before a big game. I should perhaps clarify the use of that word ‘all’. Ronnie Simpson had been left behind at Parkhead in the hands of physio Bob Rooney, as the keeper had not quite recovered from the leg knock he picked up in Scotland’s World Cup qualifying match against Austria the previous week.

The Boss was on his way back from watching Red Star in action in Belgrade, so it was Sean Fallon who told the press corps – “Simpson is improving. It was quite a nasty knock and it is too early yet to say that he will definitely play.” Personally, I thought there was not a hope in hell of Ronnie making the game. He was still limping a bit and when that occurs, you are not going to make a miraculous recovery, especially in the position of goalkeeper, where bodily movement and flexibility are essential. However, I kept my thoughts to myself.

11th November 1968

Red Star’s ‘master spy’ – Tosa Zivanovic – got further mentions in the daily press and there were stories that he had given very pessimistic reports on the chances of the Red Star players stopping the runs of Jimmy Johnstone. The reports on that morning of the match against Arbroath were very complimentary about Jinky’s performance and the heading would have given every Celtic fan a boost-

Wee Jinky Ready for Big Night

There was only some light training for all of us down at Seamill and it was mostly done on the lawn between the Hydro itself and the wall separating it from the beach. Some loosening up work, some short sprints and a bit of ball work; that was it and we moved indoors to make use of the baths and pool. It could be a tough life! And we got fed as well!

12th November 1968

The usual start to a day at Seamill. An early call (except on the day of a game), dressed, downstairs to meet at the front door, then, led by Neilly Mochan, we headed along the main road towards Largs before cutting down a lane at the far end of the golf course to the beach and back along the strand to the hotel. It certainly got the lungs going and if there was a wind blowing – which was normally the case – it helped to re-arrange the hair styles as well!

From then on, it was breakfast, then another walk, an afternoon siesta, a short stint in the baths and dinner was followed by the moment we had all been waiting for – the announcement of the team. We had been joined by Ronnie after lunch as it had been decided that his leg was definitely getting better. That was what he were told anyway. What Ronnie thought I never found out, as he was keeping shtum. It was great to see the old guy back with us but when I saw him favouring one leg over the other – ever so slightly, mind you – I realised that my original diagnosis was spot on. He had ‘nae chance’ of playing.

The Boss was in one of his crafty moods at the team talk. Instead of naming the team outright, he used the numbers when discussing the play, so instead of Simpson, Craig and Gemmell, it was numbers 1, 2 and 3. That way he could keep his chosen ones to himself till nearer the game, which keeps everyone on edge and does away with the chance that someone not included might have a strop and upset the mood. The Red Star party had travelled from Belgrade the day before and had spent the morning and afternoon resting. They trained at Celtic Park in the evening, timing their session to coincide with the kick-off time of 8pm.

Hibs would also be in action on the Tuesday night, against Lokomotiv Leipzig at Easter Road in the Fairs Cities Cup, with a certain Joe McBride wearing the number 9 shirt in the green-and-white strip; while Rangers had a trip to Dundalk for their match in the Fairs Cities Cup due to be played on the Wednesday.

Back down at Seamill, as I was coming out the lounge where Jock Stein had given the pre-match talk, John Clark suddenly appeared alongside me. “Cairney, I was flicking through this book on European football last night and this guy Djazic that you will be up against tomorrow is apparently one of the world’s best wingers………Do you fancy a coke or something?” And with that we headed for the coffee shop. Just as well I didn’t get too worked up before a big match, eh!

The Day of the Match 13th November 1968

A later start to the proceedings on a match day. Breakfast was followed by a walk round the grounds, then a light workout on the lawn before we headed in for lunch. That was followed by the usual siesta, by which time I was beginning to feel a little uneasy about the game, not just this one but any one. And matters were not helped by the fact that Tam Gemmell just hit the pillow and went straight off to sleep! I hesitate to say that he was snoring loudly? Let’s just say that he was usually breathing very deeply ….and noisily!

Those picking up an evening paper that night would have noticed an interesting comment from Jock Stein –“The whole squad will appear on the field a full 20 minutes before the start and put in a short training burst. On the field will be Simpson to see how he stands up to a barrage of shots from the Celtic forwards.

Only after the players have been recalled to the dressing-room will I make the important decision about the team”.

In the late afternoon, we had the re-match meal and then boarded the bus for the trip back up to Parkhead. I always enjoyed these journeys; there was always a ‘buzz’ on the bus. As we approached the city, there were some supporters lining the streets and making their way to the ground and, especially on a big occasion like that night, we would be met by a police motor-cycle escort once inside the city boundary which steered us safely – and quickly – all the way to Celtic Park. Once there, the size of the crowd was amazing and you began to wonder how they could all be fitted inside the ground?

However, our job was to keep an eye on the game, so, in order to fulfil the scenario laid out in the papers that night, we got into our strips pretty quickly and made our way out to give Ronnie a test. And, as I had thought for the previous two days – please forgive my gloating – he failed to convince the Boss that he ready and as we went back inside, it was John Fallon who was in the number one position.

The Teams

Celtic

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

Red Star

Djurkovic
Djoric, Krivocuka
Pavlovic, Dojcinovski, Klenkovski
Antonijevic, Ostojic, Lazervic, Acimovic, Dzajic.

The Play

This was a game of two halves. The first half was a very competitive affair, with Celtic, naturally, as the home team, putting on most of the pressure but the Yugoslavs often showing that they had the talent to threaten. We got off to the perfect start through Bobby Murdoch in the 3rd minute, which gives any team a real boost and it certainly helped our cause that night.

From then on, though, although we had most of the play, we did not make too many chances and when centre-forward Lazervic equalised six minutes before the break, the huge crowd was not slow in telling us that our play was not to their liking.

The Boss was not a happy man at the interval but he said what he wanted to say briefly and straightaway and then allowed us to collect our own thoughts and deal with any knocks and so on. Something else seemed to have happened in the dressing room, though, a discussion which was to play a most important role in the events of the second half but …. and I must stress this ‘but’ ….. only one player and the Boss were involved in whatever went on. The rest of us only found out after the match.

We started the second half in determined mood and suddenly we could all feel a difference in our play. The quick, sweet-moving style returned and the Red Star players were suddenly under the cosh. Even better, the fine play was being rewarded with goals – four them, from Jinky (47), Lemon (50), Wispy (75) and Jinky again (81) – and at the final whistle, the score was Celtic 5 Red Star Belgrade 1, a wonderful result to take to Yugoslavia for the second leg.

The crowd gave us a great reception at the end and it was one of those nights when the hordes do not want you to leave the pitch and the players are equally reluctant to do so. There was also little doubt that Jinky had been the star attraction and he received enormous praise for his endeavours. Unfortunately, though, we eventually had to leave the field although, once back in the dressing-room, the celebrations continued, with other players, back-room staff and directors pushing their way in to join in the fun.

However, there was one player showing an aspect of behaviour that no one could understand. Wee Jimmy was running up and down the dressing-room, weaving in and around the folk standing there, shouting “I’m no goin’; I’m no goin” at the top of his voice.

Only later did the story break. Apparently, the Boss had taken Jimmy aside (that ‘discussion’ I mentioned above) and told him that if we got ourselves a good lead in the first match, he would not have to fly to Belgrade for the return leg. For someone with Jimmy’s fear – if not terror – of flying, that was a challenge that he could not refuse and he went out determined to show what he could do. And he did it! A performance that would only be bettered by his showing in the 7-1 match against Dundee United at Parkhead a year later.

It was a wonderful – and privileged – night to be a Celtic player and as we left the ground, there were still hundreds of spectators milling around, savouring the atmosphere and revelling in the score. Oh! and how did the world’s best outside-left mentioned by John Clark, Mr Dazjic, do on the night? Well, as his immediate opponent, I hesitate to say that I had him in my pocket but just let’s say that he did not get much chance to show what he could do!

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9th November 1968: Arbroath v Celtic – League

4th November

All the guys – except those who were in the international squad – had the day off, which gave me the chance to be in the dental practice full-time and catch up with some paperwork.

The papers were more concerned with match coming up against Austria on the Wednesday and the weather seemed to be causing some problems down the Ayrshire coast –

Extra Stint for Scots Tonight

‘Scotland’s World Cup players, preparing for Wednesday night’s vital qualifying match with Austria at Hampden, will put in an extra training session tonight – because the ground at the Inverclyde Recreation Centre was icy and dangerous this morning.

They did take part in some light running, then headed for Glasgow, firstly to see a World Cup film and then they all travelled over to Hampden, not only to see the makeshift dressing-rooms after the fire but also the pitch itself’.

In spite of all the discussions about the position of Jimmy Johnstone over the previous few days, the Wee Man was with the squad. His display against Dundee in the 3-1 win on the previous Saturday had been very impressive and one of those who agreed with that description was Red Star’s master spy – Tosa Zivanovic – who told the press how impressed he had been by Jinky’s talent.

The Yogoslavs had beaten local rivals V.O.K. Belgrade 2-0 at the weekend and were now lying 4th in the league table. Star outside-left Dragan Djazic was not in the team because of a leg injury but he did fly to Brazil on Sunday to play for a FIFA Select.

 

Glasgow was fine for our work at Barrowfield but cold and icy winds were in evidence down at Largs, causing Scotland manager Bobby Brown to cut short his training sessions. The press seemed to know just where Scotland could win the match against Austria –

Johnstone Ready

Scotland to Win on the Wings

 

5th November

We all trained at Barrowfield; down at Largs, Bobby Brown announced his team for the Austria match –

Simpson, Gemmell (Celtic), McCreadie ( Chelsea), Bremner (Leeds), McKinnon, Greig (Rangers), Johnstone (Celtic), Cooke (Chelsea), Law ( Manchester Utd), Lennox, Hughes (Celtic).

For one of our stalwarts, it was a big day –

McBride Gets Ready for Ibrox

‘Joe McBride, one of the greatest goalscorers ever to play for Celtic, left Parkhead for the last time yesterday  – and today he was out in full training with his new club Hibernian at Easter Road. Jock Stein told the press – “Joe invariably gave 100 % effort. He was exciting to watch, a gentleman on the field and a great credit to this club. If he does half as well for Hibs, the transfer fee will be money well spent”.

6th November

The previous evening, at Hampden, Scotland had beaten Austria 2-1 and as the press had suggested, it was the wingers who did most damage –

High Praise for Johnstone and Hughes

It was rather a strange affair, really. Certainly it was competitive enough with Scotland always seeming to have that extra ‘edge’ but referee Kurt Leidberg of Sweden was quoted as saying  – “it was a clean game…I had no problem in keeping control of the players” – a statement which would appear to be at odds with the bookings count of four for Scotland ( Cooke, Gemmell, sub Gilzean and Lennox) and two for Austria?

The Austrian Boss was gracious in defeat and complimented the Scots for their efforts –

Scots Can Reach Mexico

7th November

The boys arrived back from the Scotland camp so everyone was together for a good work-out. Ronnie had taken a bit of a blow to a leg so he did not do much. Tam was in the best of form, until he was informed by the Boss that the booking he got against Austria meant that he now had three for the season and would be appearing before the SFA Referee Committee. He was not a happy bunny! In fact, I never knew bunnies knew as many bad words as that?

8th November

The usual light day-before-the-match routine, with Tam still complaining. The Boss announced that the team against Arbroath would be the same as the one against Dundee and then also informed us that he would be going to Belgrade on Saturday to see Red Star in action, so Sean Fallon would be in charge of the team.

The Day of the Match 9th November 1968

It might have been an all-ticket sell-out of a match at Arbroath but it did not obviously merit a pre-match lunch, so we all ate at home then headed for Parkhead to catch the coach for the east coast.

There was a forced change in the team. Ronnie’s knee was still not quite 100% so with a big European tie coming up, the management were taking no chances so out went Ronnie and in came John Fallon.

 

The Teams

       

Arbroath

Williamson
Booth, Riddle
Kennedy, Stirling, Hughes
Sellers, Reid, Jack, Bruce, Wilkie.
Sub: Cant

Celtic

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

The Play

Arbroath had been promoted from Division Two in the summer and were struggling a bit, lying bottom of the table and only having taken one point from their previous 9 matches. And unfortunately for the home support, the gulf between the two sides showed right from the start of the match and the goals soon came along –

12 minutes
Steve Chalmers dragged the ball across the 18-yard line and hammered a left -foot shot past the Arbroath keeper.  1-0 Celtic

15 minutes
cross by me and Cesar was in the right spot. 2-0 Celtic

Then something strange happened…..the goals dried up. Whether we took our foot off the gas or they defended better than they did in first quarter-of-an-hour is debatable but what we can say for sure is the score-line of 2-0 stayed like that until well into the second half –

53 minutes
cross by Yogi and Mr Wallace was on hand to blast the ball home.  3-0 Celtic

61 minutes
by this time Jinky was having one of those days where he took on everyone in the opposition ranks and the run and pass to Stevie for goal number four was quite exceptional.   4-0 Celtic

89 minutes….there was quite a wait for the last, nearly till the final whistle but when it did come, it was Stevie Chalmers who got it, giving him a hat-trick on the day.

Final Score  Arbroath 0  Celtic  5

 

Results

Clyde 1 0 Airdrie
Dundee 1 0 Dunfermline
Hearts 2 0 Partick Thistle
Kilmarnock 5 1 Falkirk
Morton 1 0 Aberdeen
Raith Rovers 1 2 Dundee United
Rangers 6 1 Hibs
St. Johnstone 2 3 St. Mirren

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Celtic 10 7 2 1 22 9 2.44 16
St. Mirren 10 5 5 0 16 8 2.00 15
Dundee United 10 7 1 2 18 12 1.50 15
Rangers 10 6 2 2 28 14 2.00 14

 

 

 

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2nd November 1968:  Celtic v Dundee –  League

28th October

The whole squad was given the day off from training, although, as was the norm, anything with an injury of any sort did report. However, from what I heard from the guys in the days following, no one turned up that day and the Boss was apparently quoted in the press as “expecting everyone to be fit for the match against Dundee at Celtic Park on Saturday”.

The report about the match against Morton had the headline –

Brilliant Russell the Hero!

This was a tribute to the Greenock club’s goalkeeper, Bobby Russell, who had been absolutely outstanding in the clash at Cappielow. I was not the only Celt to walk towards him at the end of the match and congratulate him on his performance.

There was also news for Celtic fans, under another headline –

Johnstone in World Cup 16

‘Jimmy Johnstone, Celtic’s ‘reluctant’ international outside-right, now looks certain to be ORDERED to play against Austria in the World Cup qualifying tie at Hampden on Wednesday of next week. Also in from Celtic are Simpson, Gemmell, McNeill, Hughes and Lennox’.

 

29th October

All of us back in again for a good session. Wee Jimmy was the subject of a few questions but eventually we were told by the Boss to leave him in peace. He had said little about his position and the evening press summed it up in one headline –

Johnstone Stays Silent

 

30th October

For a change, the big news was not about Jimmy Johnstone but about a forward from an Edinburgh club –

Rangers to Move for Stein

‘It has been reported that on 29th October, Colin Stein of Hibs turned down a signing-on fee of £4500 plus more than £100 per week when Everton made a £90,000 bid for his transfer’.

 

31st October

On the previous evening, Rangers had beaten Dundalk 6-1 in a Second Round First-Leg tie in the Fairs Cup…and only 24 hours later, it was announced that the Ibrox club had agreed to buy Colin Stein for a fee of £100,000.

 

1st November

It had been a hard-working few days for us at Barrowfield and we ended the week in a more relaxed fashion on the track at Celtic Park, just a loosener the day before a match. The Boss then made the announcement that the 12 who had played against Morton the previous week would also be the ones he would be relying on against Dundee.

One not so good feature at that time was the weather, which had not only turned much colder but the rainfall had dropped as snow in the areas around the city.

 

The Day of the Match     2nd November 1968

The day turned out to be cold but quite sunny and when we went out to inspect the pitch, we found it in pretty good nick, hard but able to take a stud, a situation most players prefer.

The Teams

Celtic

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

Dundee

Donaldson
Wilson, Houston
Murray, Easton, Stewart
Campbell, McLean, Gilroy, Kinninmonth, Scott.
Sub: Bryce

The Play

These comments in a daily newspaper summed up the match pretty succinctly;

‘Frankly, Celtic, in their efforts to retain the league championship, are unlikely to have it any easier than they did on Saturday.

When within the first four minutes Wallace had struck Donaldson’s cross -bar and, at the other end, Simpson saved splendidly from Mclean, it looked as though we were to be treated to a contest as memorable as Celtic’s recent 5-4 league win at Dundee. But disillusionment was to be swift.

Primarily through the efforts of Craig, Murdoch and Johnstone, the three most accomplished players afield, Celtic so dominated proceedings thereafter that for practically the entire second half they hardly rose above walking pace’.

The goals came as follows-

9 minutes
I took the ball down the right and passed it to Wispy who made some ground then slipped it across to Jinky, who swept it home off the keeper’s legs.  1-0 Celtic

 

17 minutes
goalkeeper Donaldson allowed a corner by Yogi to slip from his grasp and Stevie Chalmers was on the spot to slam it home.  2-0 Celtic

32 minutes
a fine shot by Campbell seemed to catch Ronnie by surprise and it slipped under his body.  2-1 Celtic

51 minutes
Yogi went on a run from his own half, mis-kicked his first attempt at goal, then hit the keeper with his second effort, which re-bounded to Stevie, who made no mistake.

 

Final Score  Celtic  3  Dundee  1

Throughout the match, on the bench, in the dressing-room at the break and back on the bench for the second half, the Boss had said little, a sure sign that everything was going well. He even made a decided effort to go across and commiserate with the Dundee Boss John Prentice after the match. So, all in all, it was a very happy day for all of us and we left the park in exuberant mood, ready to get up to activities over the weekend which frankly were not suitable for discussion in a column like this!

Results

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

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Celtic 9 6 2 1 17 9 1.89 14
St. Mirren 9 4 5 0 13 6 2.17 13
Dundee United 9 6 1 2 16 11 1.45 13
Dunfermline 9 6 1 2 17 13 1.31 13

 

Reserves

At Dens Park, the Celtic Reserve side beat Dundee Reserves 4-1, the goals coming from Lou Macari, Bertie Auld, Davie Cattenach and Jimmy Quinn.

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19th October 1968:  Celtic v St Johnstone – League

14th October 1968

Most of the Celtic players got the day off. There were a few with the Scotland squad preparing for the international with Denmark and others – Murdoch and Wallace – still recovering from ankle injuries. I came in that morning to work on my sharpness and was just in time to hear that John Hughes had reported that morning with an ‘upset tummy’ (as it was described in the press later) and he pulled out of the Scotland squad.

The press was very complimentary that morning about our win over Hearts –

Celts For Team Spirit

‘The principal reason for Celtic’s success was their musketeering spirit – the one-for-all understanding that lifts a team out of the common ruck and out of trouble’.

15th October 1968

Apart from the guys with the Scotland camp, the rest of us came in, although John Hughes, Willie Wallace and Bobby Murdoch did not take part in the session. In the evening papers, the Boss was quoted as saying

“It will be later in the week before we have a clearer picture on whether they will be available for Saturday’s fixture against St Johnstone.

He also made a comment about the Tommy Callaghan situation. Celtic had apparently made a bid for the Dunfermline wing-half or inside-forward and that day Jock Stein said –

“we have made our bid. The next move is up to Dunfermline”.

16th October 1968

The Scottish team for the match against Denmark in Copenhagen was announced. It was;

Herriot (Birmingham), Gemmell ( Celtic), McCreadie ( Chelsea), Bremner (Leeds), Greig and McKinnon ( both Rangers), McLean (Kilmarnock), McCalliog (Sheffield Wed.), Stein (Hibs), Hope (West Bromwich Albion) and Lennox (Celtic).

It was also a day of some nostalgia for our team, as down at Old Trafford, Manchester United were getting ready to face Estudiantes in the home leg of the World Club Championship, with United one-down from the first leg.

17th October 1968

Yogi was back in training and both Wispy and Chopper were doing some light running. And Jinky was about due to come back after his suspension. The international guys would not return till the morrow. I would have imagined that they would have been quite disappointed with the 0-1 loss and they would not have been too pleased either with the headline in one paper –

World Cup?  Not on This Form!

And there was not much joy down in England either after Manchester United only manged to draw 1-1 with the South American champions, giving Estudiantes the victory 2-1 on aggregate.

18th October 1968

Everybody, including the injured and the suspended, were back in for a light session and a chance for all of us to catch up on the gossip. When I say that everyone took part, I must also point out that there was not much energy exerted by a few of the still doubtful ones. Afterwards, the Boss merely announced a squad to report for the match against St Johnstone, although one of the papers that night tried to make a point with a headline and a comment –

Johnstone May Be Left Out

‘After his suspension, Jimmy Johnstone may not be in the right frame of mind to make a comeback’.

We would soon know!

The Day of the Match 19th October 1968

We reported as usual for around 1.30pm, by which time the Reserve squad had already left for Muirton Park in Perth for their match. There was a good crowd gathering at Celtic Park for this match against the Saints, not only because they always tried to play some good football but also because the League Championship flag, which we won for season 1967-68, was going to be unfurled before the match.

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Craig, Gemmell
Clark, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Connelly, Chalmers, Lennox, Hughes.
Sub: McBride

St Johnstone

Robertson
Miller, Coburn
Gordon, Rooney, Rennie
Aird, Ryden, MacDonald, Whitelaw, Aitken.
Sub: Argue

The Play

It was a difficult day for our physio Bob Rooney, whose son Benny was at centre-half for the visitors; and on the right wing for them was Kenny Aird, who had been released by Celtic only a few months before I joined them in 1965. Players that have gone through that disappointment tend to try very hard against the club that released them and Kenny would be no different that afternoon.

Before the match started, Mrs Kelly, the wife of Celtic Chairman Bob Kelly, unfurled the League flag and the crowd gave pelters to a rendition of Cliff Richard’s ‘Congratulations’.

From the start, it was a case of Celtic with most of the pressure but the Saints putting in some useful breakaways. We made some chances which we did not take and the crowd had to wait till nearly halfway through the first period before a goal arrived –

22 minutes
I received a pass from Jinky, moved forward and then hammered the ball low and hard right across goal, where Bobby Lennox prodded it home. 1-0 Celtic

Shortly before the interval, we did get the ball in the net again through Yogi but this one was dis-allowed.

The Boss was happy enough at half-time and he would also have been pleased with the way we raised our game again after the break, getting a second fairly quickly –

50 minutes
I came forward and swung a cross into the middle, where Cesar rose above everyone else to nod the ball home.  2-0 Celtic

From then on, the play was much as the first half, Celtic in control, Saints making the occasional break, in one of which they scored through left-back Coburn. But at the whistle, we still had the

Final Score  Celtic  2  St Johnstone  1

Other Results

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

Table

Celtic 7 5 1 1 13 7 1.86 11
St. Mirren 7 3 4 0 9 5 1.80 10
Rangers 7 4 2 1 15 9 1.67 10
Dundee United 7 5 0 2 14 10 1.40 10

Reserves

At Muirton Park, the Celtic Reserves won 1-0, the team being Fallon, McGrain, Gorman, Gallagher, O’Neill, Auld, Davidson, McKellar, Macari, McMahon and Clarke.

That evening, in one of the Glasgow papers, I got the headlines all to myself –

Craig  Sets Them Up For The Celts

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