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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

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1st February 1969: Celtic v Hearts – League

30th January 1969

We were all in for training that morning but the session was a very limited one, really designed to take the stiffness out of our legs rather than anything else. Naturally, after an 8-1 victory the previous evening, everyone was in a good mood but when I bought a copy of one of the evening papers on the way home and noticed this comment –

‘All 9 goals last night were scored by Celtic, Tommy Gemmell having an O.G. for Thistle’s big moment of the evening’ –

I did wonder if Tam had seen it and if so, had it spoiled his evening. If he had not seen it, then I was going to take in the relevant cutting from the paper to training the next day just to remind him!

There were three other relevant comments in the paper. The first was a very brief, if clinical description of what happened the previous evening –

The Perfect Football Murder!

The second comment was a statistical note, under the heading –

 25-5 for Celtic

‘In 5 matches this season, that’s the Celtic score against the Jags, thanks to results of 4-0, 6-1, 4-0, 3-3 and 8-1’.

And the third comment referred to the forthcoming European Cup tie –

Goal Blitz Worries Milan

‘Nereo Rocco, manager of A.C.Milan, Celtic’s European Cup opponents, grimaced today when he heard of Celtic’s goal blitz last night. “Eight goals yesterday and three on Saturday makes eleven. That’s just one short of all the league goals scored by my team in October, November, December and January put together”.

31st January 1969

There was some worrying news for everyone in for training. Tommy Callaghan had been involved in a car crash while on his way through to Glasgow from Kelty, his home town in Fife. His car was apparently badly damaged but Tid – Tommy’s nickname – was OK and got permission from the Boss to do some training at East End Park.

As usual, the Boss kept his team news to himself although after a 8-1 win, you might expect that the boys on the pitch for that game might deserve another chance. You never know in football, though. Bobby Murdoch had been on the treatment table, I noticed, but when I asked, he gave me the thumbs-up sign so all seemed to be well with him.

1st February ….The Day of the Match

We reported at the usual time and could see that there was going to be a good crowd for the visit of Hearts. The weather was good, the pitch firm enough to take a stud but not too soft, just the conditions we liked. Hearts were not having a particularly good season, lying in a mid-table spot, with the classic dilemma for a team in that position, where not enough goals being scored and too many are being lost.

On the frontispiece of the match programme was a photo of the Celtic chairman, recently given a knighthood to become Sir Robert Kelly.

Just before we went out, the Boss casually mentioned that another display like the one against the Jags would be much appreciated. No pressure then?

The Teams

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

Hearts
Cruikshank
Holt, McAlpine
Anderson, E Thomson, A Thomson
Traynor, Hamilton, Ford, Fleming, Jensen.   
Sub: MacDonald

The Play

The first half was quite a competitive affair, although we did get an early goal –

13 minutes
From a cross by Stevie Chalmers, Bobby Lennox slammed the ball home. 
1-0 Celtic

From that point on, though, it was pretty much end-to-end stuff, with Ronnie having to make two outstanding saves, although both of them were based on instinct rather than design. By the break, Lemon’s shot remained the only goal but the Boss was quite phlegmatic, happy with our play but just reminding us to keep the pressure on.

In actual fact, though, Hearts started the better and made one or two chances. However, that seemed to trigger a response from us and we suddenly took control of the play, put pressure on the Hearts defence and seldom let their forwards over the halfway line. And the goals also started to go in –

55 minutes
Hearts keeper Jim Cruikshank pushed out a free- kick by me only as far as Wispy and from 25 yards, he sent a shot into the roof of the net.  2-0 Celtic

68 minutes
Nice build-up play between Wispy and Jinky, the ball reached Chopper and …
3-0 Celtic

77 minutes
Wispy hooked a shot on to the cross-bar and Jinky was on the spot to slam in the rebound from a very acute angle.  
4-0 Celtic

89 minutes
Lemon and Cruikshank got into a fankle at the edge of the box, the ball fell to Brogie, who was able to pick his spot.

Final Score   Celtic  5  Hearts  0

Reserves

Over at Tynecastle, Celtic won the reserve match against Hearts 1-0, with George Connelly getting the only goal.

Result

Aberdeen11Partick Thistle
Arbroath01Raith Rovers
Dundee United21Kilmarnock
Dunfermline20Falkirk
Hibs21Clyde
Morton11Airdrie
Rangers30St. Johnstone
St. Mirren23Dundee

Table  

TeamPWDLFAGAvPts
Celtic23165258163.6337
Rangers22145351212.4333
Kilmarnock23118440251.6030
St. Mirren23118443271.5930
Dunfermline23134648331.4530
Dundee United23134641361.1430
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29th January 1969: Celtic v Partick Thistle – Scottish Cup 3rd Round Replay


27th January 1969

The draw for the next round of the Scottish Cup came out as –

Motherwell/Clyde v Celtic/Partick Thistle              Rangers v Hearts

Dundee United v Ayr United                                        Stranraer v Morton

East Stirling v St Johnstone                                          Airdrie v St Mirren

Aberdeen v Dunfermline                                              Montrose v Kilmarnock

At a meeting of the SFA Referee Committee, Colin Stein, who was ordered off against Kilmarnock on the first Saturday in January, was suspended for the next 5 matches.

John Deans, of Motherwell, who was ordered off against Hamilton, was suspended for 21 days.

The big story after the weekend, of course, was the fact that we only drew with Thistle and even worse, that the Jags came back from being 1-3 down to force a draw. One of the headlines summed everything up –

 Celtic Boss Holds Parkhead Probe Into That Shock Finish at Firhill

That is perfectly true. It was rather an unusual Monday morning as we reported to Celtic Park but did not, in fact, do any training. Instead, there was a gathering of all those involved – players, manager and coaching staff – and an inquest took place as to why we had only drawn on the previous Saturday at Firhill.

It was ‘suggested’ – if there was such a thing as a ‘suggestion’ in professional football at that time when managers liked to have master/servant relationships– that we did not work hard enough and were slack in our play. Unfortunately, while elements of that might have been true, the real reason we only drew was that the attitude in the days leading up to the match had been too relaxed, the atmosphere in the camp coming down from above undoubtedly giving the players the impression that the Jags were there for the taking.

However, if any player had pointed that out, then his chances of playing in the next match might have been considerably reduced. So, we just took the reprimand and went on our way, leaving behind those who were suffering from some bumps and bruises to receive some treatment.

28th January 1969

The press was full of expectation about the Celtic v Partick Thistle replay. This headline and report were typical of the coverage –

 Now for Parkhead Thriller

‘Firhill is still the place for football thrills! Any one of the 32,867 fans who paid £8,300 to watch Thistle’s 3-3 draw with Celtic will readily testify to that undoubted fact. The goal which young Jim Bone scored for Thistle in the dying seconds will almost certainly turn out to be worth £10,000 to the clubs’.

And elsewhere in the press;

Scotland manager Bobby Brown announced a squad which will report on Sunday for World Cup training. Nine Celtic players are involved – Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Johnstone, Wallace, Lennox and Hughes.

In the absence of Colin Stein, suspended for the next five matches, Alex Ferguson, the centre-forward bought by Rangers from Dunfermline for a fee of £61,000, has 28 days to win a regular spot in the first-team at Ibrox.

And, after a light session on the track at Celtic Park, we were sent away with no team news. Apparently, all will be revealed when we report for the match tomorrow.

29th January 1969  The Evening of the Match

It might have been a 3rd Round tie in the Scottish Cup and a replay at that but we just had the pre-match meal at home, then reported to Parkhead around the back of 6pm. It was ‘quietish’ – a word from my early schooldays? – but even so, there were always fans who liked to get there early and there was a number waiting to have books or programmes signed. They would always ask what the team was and frankly, I do not think anyone believed me when I said I did not know. But I didn’t!

The Teams

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

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

The Play

A headline plus two brief paragraphs in one of the dailies on the day after the match summed up the evening fairly succinctly –

 Celts Power Shatters Thistle

‘Celtic were at their devastating best in this Scottish Cup replay at Celtic Park and completely swamped Thistle.

The Parkhead boys showed all their power and artistry in a great first-half which finished with them leading 4-1 and although Thistle never gave up, it was the same story in the second half’.

To be honest, it was a bit of a romp, one of those matches where you just knew, from the very beginning, that there no way the other side could win. That gives all the players a very confident feeling, does wonders for teamwork and usually provides a number of chances. We certainly had them in this match and the goals were shared around, only one player getting two.

After a good start by Billy McNeill (8 mins), three others arrived in the first half through Jimmy Johnstone (12), Willie Wallace (23) and Tommy Callaghan (44); in between the latter two, an O.G. by Tam Gemmell put one on the board for the Jags.

After the break, the onslaught continued and we got further goals through Callaghan again (62), Bobby Lennox (51), John Hughes (55) and TG (76), this time at the right end.
That made the final score 8-1 and put us into the next round, where we would meet the winner of the tie between Motherwell and Clyde.

An excellent crowd of 48,000 was there on the night for the match and it would be fair to assume that the Celtic fans in the crowd really enjoyed their evening.

And from the welcome we received from the management staff back in the dressing-room, it would also be fair to think that they enjoyed the match as well. Now, there was only one question left ponder, if not answer; how on earth did we manage to draw 3-3 with them on the Saturday?

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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

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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

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11th January 1969: Aberdeen v Celtic – League

6th January 1969

This was a nice day for all the troops, neatly summed up in one of the evening papers –

Seaside Celts

‘Celtic got away from the Arctic wastes of Glasgow today – away from Parkhead, which was unplayable and Barrowfield, where training would have been difficult if not dangerous’.

As soon as he heard the weather forecast last week, manager Jock Stein immediately arranged to take his players to Seamill for a two-day break. Just before leaving today for the Clyde coast, Mr Stein said

“we are lucky. I have checked up and there is not going to be a flake of snow at Seamill or on the West Kilbride Golf Course.

That means that we can get on with business as usual. We will train in the hotel grounds this morning, play golf in the afternoon and have a session in the salt-water baths tonight. And it will be the same routine tomorrow’.

The draw for the Round One ties in the Scottish Cup was made this afternoon, with Celtic paired with Partick Thistle, the match due at Firhill; and Rangers getting a home tie with Hibs.

7th January 1969

Old Firm Games May Be Switched

That was the headline in the morning dailies and it referred to the league matches for both teams on 12th March, when Celtic were due to meet Kilmarnock at Rugby Park and Rangers were facing a trip east to face Dundee at Dens Park.

The problem was the Scotland v West Germany World Cup tie due to be played on 16th March and the concerns of manager Bobby Brown about the fitness of his players. He was due to meet the SFA selectors this afternoon.

Jock Wallace, the Berwick Rangers manager and goalkeeper, today joined Hearts as coach/assistant manager.

Everything was going well at Seamill and the boys were thoroughly enjoying the break.

The top scorers for the First Division were listed in the press –
20 -Cameron (Dundee Utd);
18 -Stein (Rangers), Lennox (Celtic);
16 -McBride (Celtic), Harper (Morton);
15 – Hall (St Johnstone), Wallace (Celtic);
14 – Chalmers (Celtic).

Interestingly, top of the Second Division was future Celt John Deans (Motherwell) on 21

8th January 1969

We did our last stint at Seamill in the morning, had lunch in the Hydro and then came back up to Celtic Park by coach before getting into our cars and heading for home. We did notice, though, this piece in one of the evening papers, a quote from A.C. Milan manager Nereo Rocco –

“We know all we need to know about Celtic after Cesare Maldini saw  them twice and I watched them against Dunfermline. What we don’t know are the dates we will play them. I am hoping that UEFA will fix them both in March. The later we meet Celtic the better it will suit us’.

9th January 1969

Training today at Barrowfield, which was in good state although it lacked the sea breezes of the Ayrshire coast. Anyway, we put in a good stint where I was paired with Tam Gemmell and in between the runs, he was telling me about his problems with the SFA. The normally happy-go-lucky Tam was not a happy bunny that morning! And it is not easy to give out some sympathy when you are struggling for breath.

One of the evening papers summed the story up neatly

‘Celtic left-back Tommy Gemmell will appeal against the caution he received in the Scotland/Austria World Cup match on 6th November at Monday’s meeting of the SFA Referee Committee – and if the appeal is thrown out then Gemmell will face a three-caution charge on the same day’.

No wonder he was looking gloomy.

10th January 1969

We did not appear to have any injuries after the final session of the week – nor, it appeared from the press, did Aberdeen – but there was one rather surprising headline in one of the evening papers –

  Simpson Set to Return

Now, it may seem strange that we had to find these matters out from the press but managers are notably reticent the day before a match and even if a player knows he is about to make a return, very often he is under orders not to say anything. Hence, the reading of newspapers by players, which nobody ever admits to but everybody does.

‘Manager Jock Stein said after training –“I will check on the pitch before naming our team but Simpson is practically certain to play”.

You will notice that there was not a word of commiseration – or even thanks – for John Fallon, who had been in good form in the first-team jersey. That’s the way of managers!

It was also reported that Jimmy Quinn was to go on loan to Clyde for three months.

And it appeared that the date for the first leg of the Quarter-Final tie in the Cup-Winners’ Cup would be on 19th February in the San Siro.

11th January Morning of the Match

Pittodrie was the only senior ground in Scotland at that time which we travelled to by train so we all reported early at Celtic Park and were then bussed in to Queen Street Station for the journey north. We always had a light breakfast on the train, then on arrival in Aberdeen, walked just a few yards to the hotel chosen for the pre-match meal. The team was also announced at that point and as expected, Ronnie was back in goal and wee Jimmy also made a return, Stevie Chalmers dropping to the bench.

After lunch, and a short rest at our tables, we then usually, unless the weather was very bad, walked the rest of the way to Pittodrie, with a police escort alongside, the Boss very keen to get the legs moving after the train trip and the lunch.

The Teams

Aberdeen
McGarr
Whyte, Shewan
Petersen, Boel, Murray
Johnston, Smith, Forrest, Robb, Craig.   
Sub: Buchan

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

The Play

It was an unusual situation for me, in direct opposition to a guy with the same surname. That seldom happens, in any team, and it certainly got me fired up to assert my authority. In fact, the whole team, on that particular day, was in fine form and although the Dons tried hard, having the majority of fans in the crowd of 31,000 urging them on, we were always in control, getting two goals in the first half and the other after the break.

The first came really early –

3 minutes
Bobby Lennox cut the ball back from the bye-line and Yogi came thundering in to blast home a 20-yarder.    1-0 Celtic

Our fans did not have long to wait for the second –

27 minutes
Wispy picked up a loose ball on the left wing, took it forward a few yards before lashing the ball home from 25 yards.      2-0 Celtic

We could always tell when the Boss was happy with our first-half performance as he was missing from the dressing-room for the first few minutes at the interval, spending time talking to everyone in the foyer and the corridors. Everyone wanted to speak to Jock Stein and he was, particularly at a time like that – with his team 2-up and coasting, particularly in Aberdeen – very approachable. When he eventually did come in to see us, he merely told us to ‘keep it going’.

And we did, although, to be fair, the Dons players fought well but our rear-guard was very composed in keeping them in check and soon got another crucial goal –

52 minutes
corner by Yogi and his cross was flicked into the net by Wispy. The ball did touch Boel on the way in but Wispy made it quite clear that he was claiming it. Typical striker!  3-0 Celtic

That effectively sealed the game for us and although Aberdeen kept trying and in fact pulled one back through Jim Forrest in 79 minutes, we always looked the more likely to score.

Final Score   Aberdeen  1  Celtic  3

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28th December 1968: Airdrie v Celtic – League

23rd December

In for training after the draw with Kilmarnock the previous Saturday and in spite of Christmas approaching, Parkhead was not the happiest of places at that time. Of the 10 matches played since the beginning of November, we had won 7 and drawn 3, a record that might have regarded as excellent for a number of teams; Celtic were supposed to be different. Dropping a point against Red Star Belgrade might be accepted but to lose points against Falkirk and Kilmarnock – the latter at home – was not what the manager or the fans expected.

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