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19th April 1969: Celtic v Airdrie – League

14th April 1969

Day off for those in the squad not involved with the Scotland group down at Largs prior to the match with West Germany. It gave us time to lick our wounds after the defeat in the Glasgow Cup by Rangers. At the time, supporters were saying that it was nothing to worry about as it was only the Glasgow Cup but the result would certainly have given the Light Blues a boost and we had a Scottish Cup final coming up in less than two weeks.

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9th April 1969: Celtic v Falkirk – League


7th April 1969

It was a wonderful day to report for training, as the sun blazed down from a cloudless sky. And once we all got there, the atmosphere was amazing – happy, loud, congratulatory and even bombastic – just what you might expect two days after the team has won the League Cup and made sure of winning the League.

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11th April 1969: Celtic v Rangers – Glasgow Cup Semi-Final


10th April 1969

The bad moments of the previous evening were swept under the carpet and frankly, all that we needed to – and wanted to – remember was that we had seen off Falkirk by 5 goals to two and kept our momentum going towards those two still possible big moments of a momentous season, the League and the Scottish Cup.

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1st April 1969: St Johnstone v Celtic – League

30th March 1969

I went to 9 o’clock Mass in my own parish on the Sunday morning but left straight after the communion as I had to report to Celtic Park for around 10am. In the event, I got there about 10.15 and was by no means the last one in, so there was no reason for me to worry. As usual, on a day like that, we just did some short stuff on the track, the whole idea of the exercise being that the men in charge like to have that role of power and tell you to come in so that you might behave yourself on a Saturday night.

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24th March 1969 Celtic v Hibs  League

23rd March 1969

We actually got the Sunday off, although there was another match coming up on Monday evening. Mass on a Sunday morning was always the time when I had most close contact with Celtic fans and that morning was no different. They crowded round afterwards to ask their questions and you could almost anticipate their response. They were pleased that we had manage to reach the Scottish Cup final but – like the more experienced players – there was still an air of disappointment at our exit from the European Cup at the hands of A.C. Milan.

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22nd March 1969: Celtic v Morton – Scottish Cup Semi-Final

17th March 1969

We had ground out a reasonable result against Partick Thistle on the previous Saturday – at least it was a win – but there was still a feeling of disappointment among the players over the result against A.C.Milan in the quarter-final of the European Cup.

We had been very happy with the result in the first leg. To play in poor conditions in the San Siro against a team of Milan’s quality in front of a crowd of 80,000 and come away with a goalless draw would have satisfied most teams. Certainly, most people behind the scenes at Celtic Park seemed to be pleased with the result and they had been looking forward to the second leg.

Cesar was the subject of some criticism for the mistake which led to the Italians’ goal but in truth, an analysis of the play over both matches would tend to suggest that the defence did well to only lose one goal in 180 minutes. From our record in the league at that point – where we had scored 69 goals in 26 matches – our fans might have expected us to score at least one over the two legs. As we all know now, we did not…..and the fact that we went out of the European Cup at that stage – or more precisely, the way we went out, by a single goal over 180 minutes -really rankled with us and there can be little doubt that we were slightly off the boil against the Jags.

One piece of good news for us all had occurred on the Sunday morning, when Clyde’s Harry Hood joined the club for a fee of around £30,000. Harry had always been a very talented player and he would be a very welcome addition to the squad. He was present that Monday morning, when we just went through a fairly light session, as we had a match on the Tuesday evening against Dundee at Dens Park.

And Harry was named in the squad which would travel to Dundee on the morrow. It consisted of Fallon, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan, Johnstone, Chalmers, Wallace, Auld, Hughes, Clark, Callaghan and Hood.

18th March 1969

We were all still at home when the news came though by phone that the match at Dens Park had been cancelled due to the pitch being both ‘icy and dangerous’. We were given the day off.

19th March 1969

We reported in again and worked pretty hard over at Barrowfield. Bobby Lennox was still receiving some treatment but also did some running and even the papers suggested that he might make the semi-final against Morton on the Saturday.

20th March 1969

Training again. Everyone seemingly in good form but Lemon was not right and it was announced in the evening press that he would not make it.

21st March 1969

We did the usual light session on the day before a match and then went home quite early, just after the Boss announced the squad of squad of 13 for the match.

The two semi-finals were Celtic v Morton and Rangers v Aberdeen and there was no doubt what the press thought would be the outcome of the two semi-finals –

All Set for an “Old Firm” Final

22nd March    The Day of the Match

This was obviously a special occasion as we were taken for a pre-match over in the south of the city, and as the other semi-final was at Parkhead, we were told to report quite early before any crowds started to gather. A police escort was on hand to take us firstly through the streets to the chosen hotel for the meal and then back to the National Stadium for the match.

When we arrived at Hampden, we went right out on to the pitch to check the conditions and the Morton guys were already out there. We had not played the team from Greenock since before the turn of the year but they were all known to us and we had a good chat out on the grass before coming in to get ready for the fray.

The Teams

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

Morton
Nielson
Ferguson, Rankin
Jensen, Gray, Strachan
Coakley, Allan, Harper, Sweeney, Bartram.    
Sub: Mason

The Play

The Celtic fans in the crowd of 48,396 were shocked – as were we, to be honest – when Morton scored in their first attack…

2 minutes….ex-Celt Gerry Sweeney swept the ball out to Bartram on the left wing. As I approached him for the challenge he swung a cross into the middle and there was Allan to beat John Fallon with a header.   Celtic 0  Morton 1

It was a real blow to us but to give us credit, we buckled down, grabbed control of the play and started to push the ball around. However, while we might have had the vast majority of the play and made some chances, the Hoops fans in the ground had to wait some time to see their side score a goal-

34 minutes…..High ball into the box from Cesar and Wispy got there first with a header.  1-1

Th next goal came just before the break and this one was also for the Hoops –

43 minutes……corner for Celtic, Bertie Auld got a chance to get a shot in, the ball re-bounded out off a defender right to Cesar, who slammed it home.  2-1

As we came up the tunnel for the half-time break, I, for one, was expecting the Boss to be in a grumpy mood but in actual fact he was calmness personified, merely pointing out one or two things that he would like to change and encouraging us to keep the pressure on. And we did, pushing Morton back in defence and we soon got another goal –

56 minutes……a low shot by Stevie completely deceived keeper Nielson.  Celtic 3 Morton 1

We were completely in control by this time, the vast majority of the play well back in the Morton half, with the guys from Greenock only making the occasional attack. We were not always precise with our finishing but we did take advantage of a chance before the end –

65 minutes…..solo run by Jinky ended with a fine shot. 

Final Score  Celtic  4  Morton  1

Other Semi-Final

Aberdeen  1   Rangers  6

League Results

Arbroath  3  Falkirk  0                     
Dundee Utd  2  St Mirren  2        
Kilmarnock  0  Clyde  0
Partick Thistle  0  Dundee  4        
Raith Rovers  1  St Johnstone  3 

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15th March 1969: Celtic v Partick Thistle – League


13th March 1969

There was an almost deathly atmosphere at Celtic Park when we arrived for training the morning after the loss to A.C. Milan. In fact, a funeral parlour might have had a more pleasant air about it.

Nobody really wanted to talk about the previous night’s match yet we all were aware that you could not avoid mentioning it. I think we all felt some sympathy for Billy – who had been a major star for us on many occasions – but the general feeling was also that we should have made more chances and taken at least some of them.

The Boss just let us get on with some loosening – with Neilly in charge – but I noticed later that he had opened up to the papers a bit more –

We Paid For Our Mistakes – Stein
‘A.C.Milan are a team of the highest calibre. When you play against opponents like that you just cannot afford to make mistakes and miss chances. We did both in this game – and paid the price!’

The report in the press that night summed up the situation pretty neatly –

Twelve Minutes – and Celts Were Out

14th March 1969

The atmosphere was better, the training was sharper, we were putting the A.C. match behind us and training ended with a brief address from the Boss. It was nothing dramatic, merely a resume of where he thought we had made matters hard for ourselves on the Wednesday and a warning that our opponents on the morrow – Partick Thistle – would be fired up for the trip to Celtic Park and would be determined to take advantage of any drop in our morale after the defeat.

He then named a squad for the Jags match. When I saw the evening paper later and caught the headline –

Stein Leaves Out Clark

-I assumed that he had a private word with John Clark before giving that info to the press and found out the following day that he had indeed done so.

The article then went to say that Chopper would be at right-half; Brogie at left-half; and six forwards were listed – Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Auld, Hughes, Callaghan.

The Day of the Game 15th March 1969

A lazy morning, the pre-match meal in my parents’ house, an easy car journey and a rather smaller crowd than I had been expecting gathered outside Celtic Park. The atmosphere inside the camp was OK; nobody was exactly bouncing around but we were getting over the shock of going out of the European Cup at the quarter-final stage and hopefully, ready to get the league campaign back on track.

The Teams

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

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

 The Play

A report in one of the following day’s papers summed the match up quite neatly –

‘Still in the undistinguished form which characterised their play against A.C. Milan in midweek, Celtic at Parkhead had a struggle to beat Partick Thistle.

Indeed, had the visitors put as much energy into their earlier performance as they expended in the closing stages of the match, they might well have snatched a draw, for this was a Celtic team which has yet to recapture its former breezy confidence’.

It would also be fair to say, though, that right from the start, we did dominate the play and while the Jags players had their moments, they were few and far between compared to our own. The problem was that the inability to put the chances away, which had been a feature of a few of our matches in those weeks, was still very evident against Thistle and the only goal of the game came at the right time, just before the break –

42 minutes……a shot by Brogie hit the bar and re-bounded into the penalty box, the Jags defence dithered and Yogi pounced, sending his shot high into the net.

It was not a great afternoon for the crowd of 29,000 – mostly in the colours of Celtic – to watch. However, after that set-back against the Italian Champions, it was full points in the chase for the title and the dressing-room – whether management, directors or players – seemed to recognise this and be pleased with the result.

                                                Final Score   Celtic 1  Partick Thistle  0

Reserve Match

Celtic Reserves travelled  to Firhill to face Partick Thistle and were rather shocked to be beaten 3-1. Celtic’s only goal came from Tommy Callaghan and the team was Wraith, McGrain, O’Neill, Dalglish, Connelly, John Clark, Wilson, Gallagher, Callaghan, Macari and Jim Clarke

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12th March 1969: Celtic v A.C. Milan – European Cup QF 2nd Leg

10th March 1969

While we were arriving at Parkhead and then enjoying the coach trip to Seamill, the Celtic fans buying the morning and evening papers would have noticed that the victory over Raith Rovers at the weekend was almost over-looked. Most of the coverage was about the forthcoming European Cup tie with the Italian champions –

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