50 Years On

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9th October 1968:  Celtic v Clyde – League Cup Semi-final

7th October 1969

There was a reduced number that Monday morning at training, as a friendly match had been organised at Cowdenbeath to celebrate the new floodlighting system at the ground and quite a number of the first team squad had been selected for that game. The rest of us, though, put a decent shift in at Barrowfield and then after training, discussed the items in the paper, where Wee Jimmy nearly got the back page all to himself – Read More →

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2nd October 1968:  Celtic v St Etienne – European Cup 1st Round Second Leg

30th September 1968

We all reported early that morning to Celtic Park and boarded the coach which would take us to Seamill, our haven before major matches. When I say ‘all’, I am exaggerating matters; there were three players left behind. Two – Ronnie Simpson and Bobby Lennox – for treatment and also Bobby Murdoch, one of whose children was not well. Read More →

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28th September 1968: Celtic v Aberdeen – League

26th September

There was a particularly good atmosphere at training that Thursday morning. Firstly, we had achieved a good result the previous evening, which sent us through to the semi-final of the League Cup; secondly, the young lads in the team against Hamilton had shown what they could do it given the chance and were very pleased about that; and thirdly, the guys who had been injured all seemed to be on the mend if not quite yet available for selection.

The Boss said little but was in good form at the training. He must, though, have spoken to the press after the session as there was a large headline in one of the evening papers concerning the forthcoming match against Aberdeen –

Celtic Set to Play the Cup X1

  • and this was obviously a little reminder to the young guys that, no matter how well they had played against Hamilton, they were still some way off the first team. It was a tough system…but we have all been there!

There was also news in the papers that Scot Symon had taken over as manager of Partick Thistle. He had been 13 years at Ibrox but before then, he had had a good career as a player at Dundee and Rangers and was also capped as a cricketer for Scotland.

27th September

A light session as was the norm on the eve of a match. The Dons would be the visitors to Parkhead on the Saturday. Most unusually for them, they were struggling a bit at the start of the league campaign and were in the bottom half of the table.

However, as the old saying goes ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’ and the Dons had enough players in the latter category for their initial poor form to improve. The Boss always had a great deal of respect for them and went out of his way to stress that we would have a tough match on our hands.

He obviously was a bit more loquacious to the press that morning, as these pieces were in the papers later that evening –

‘Old Firm’ Are After Europe Victory Boost

‘Celtic will be back to their start-of-the-season forward line when they meet Aberdeen at Parkhead tomorrow. The only change from the team that swept through the League Cup qualifying section without dropping a point is Jim Craig keeps his place at right-back and Willie O’Neill is replaced by Tommy Gemmell.

Jock Stein said after this morning’s training session – “This is going to be a hard game…and one we want to win in view of Wednesday’s European Cup tie with St Etienne”.

Day of the Match 28th September

We had been told to report around 1.30pm for the start at 3pm and by the time I got there it was chucking it down and even the diehards who always turned up early were looking for shelter. However, when we went out to have a look at the pitch, it seemed to be fine, obviously wet on the surface but no sign of mud or anything that. The heavier the ground, the more it effects the movement of the ball and can make the swinging play a bit more difficult to put into action. Naturally, visiting teams want the pitch at Celtic Park to be as heavy as possible to hinder the home side but on that day, while the top was wet, the ground itself was in good condition.

The Teams

Celtic

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

Aberdeen

Clark
Hermiston, Shewan
Peterson, McMillan, Craig
Rae, Robb, Forrest, Smith, Taylor.
Sub: Buchan

The Play

Supporters in general have a tendency to wait till the last minute before dashing to get into the ground for a match and Celtic fans are no different. The problem that day was that we opened the scoring extremely early! –

Opening minute…..Jim Brogan sent a good pass to George Connelly, who wheeled and fired a fierce shot, from all of 30 yards, right along the ground and into the net past Bobby

Clark in the Dons goal.  1-0 Celtic

As you can imagine, that early success gave us a great deal of confidence and we started to spread the ball about, Yogi and Willie Wallace both hitting a post with shots. The Dons, however, refused to buckle and made some good chances of their own. And in the 19th minute, they went one better –

19 minutes…….Outside-right Tommy Rae beat three of our defenders before sending a shot low and hard into the corner.  1-1

As soon as the ball went into the net, we noticed that the linesman had his flag up, so we surrounded the referee and ‘advised’ him to speak to the official on the line. Mr Padden of Airdrie did so but then pointed to the centre circle, indicating that a goal had been awarded. The defence was not happy and probably over-did the heavy tackling for the rest of the first half. At the other end, Yogi, Lemon and Jinky all missed reasonable opportunities.

It was not a happy dressing-room at the interval. The Boss had been unable to find out why the flag had gone up in the first place while the defence was annoyed at losing a goal. And when the second half started, it continued to be a pretty close encounter, play flowing from end-to-end; according to the press later, Celtic always looked the team in control but the Dons were never out of it. The winner came 14 minutes from time-

76 minutes……this was an amazing goal. Bobby Clark had caught the ball from a shot and was standing in the penalty area holding it….Bobby Lennox stood beside him to put a bit of pressure on and suddenly Clark dropped the ball….he dived to get it back but Bobby was quicker, dragged the ball to one side before flicking it into the empty goal…the Aberdeen players converged on the referee, claiming that Clark had been impeded but after consulting a linesman, the referee allowed the goal.

Final Score  Celtic  2  Aberdeen  1

 

Reserves

On the same afternoon at Pittodrie, Celtic Reserves beat their Aberdeen equivalents 4-1. The team was Fallon, McGrain, O’Neill, Cattenach, Hay, Clark, Gallagher, McBride, Quinn, McMahon, Macari; and the goals came from Joe McBride (2), Lou Macari and Davie Cattenach

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25th  September 1968:  Celtic v Hamilton – League Cup Quarter-Final

22nd September 1968

You could always get an indication of how the team was being regarded by the fans at Mass and on that particular Sunday, it was like running a gauntlet. I was asked frequently – both before and after the service – “what’s going on?”.  In fact, I was almost getting to the point where I thought I might give a volley back to the next one who asked me.

There are few problems for a group of players who win a European Cup; one of the side-effects, though, is that fans expect you to win every game. And even worse, they do not expect you just to scrape through, they want a comfortable win each time!  Certainly, the showings against St Etienne and Dunfermline were not up to our usual standard. But these teams were not going to lie back and let us roll over them. They were out to show their own fans that they could match these European Champions in every way and that is what made them so difficult opponents for us.

True, it was a bad night in France on the Wednesday but East End Park is always a difficult venue for both halves of the Old Firm and the Pars on the previous Saturday were well up for the clash. Having gone one-down in the first half, I thought we did pretty well to fight back and get the draw, especially when they packed their defence with so many players. It was like playing in Italy!

23rd September

Training on the Monday was fine. The Boss made no comment about the match against the Pars and put us through a good session at Barrowfield. There were some points of interest in one of the evening papers, though, firstly what amounted to a piece of advice for all of us at Parkhead –

Celtic Need a Cool Head

‘The fact to be faced today is that the players have not yet recaptured the form which swept them through to the League Cup quarter-finals with maximum points and both in France on Wednesday and in Fife on Saturday they gave me the impression that they are trying just too hard.

What is needed badly at the moment is cool heads in the ranks to bring down the temperature. Jimmy Johnstone has been booked twice on successive Saturdays – although he can have the excuse that provocation was great. Some of the other players have been angry men on the field and angry men seldom produce the brilliant football that won the European Cup in 1967’.

And the second point of interest concerned our old rivals –

‘Davie White will take his Ibrox men to Old Trafford on 16th October for the Manchester United v Estudiantes World Club Championship Second-Leg’.

24th September

In for a fairly light session and although the Boss made no mention to us of the definitive team for the match against Hamilton, he did drop a couple of broad hints that a few youngsters would be given a chance. And he obviously said more to the press, one of which had this piece that night –

Bertie Auld Plays at Hamilton

‘Auld has missed the last 25 competitive matches since having a knee cartilage operation after the game against Motherwell at Fir Park on 10th February of this year.

Now, he hopes, and expects to come through tomorrow’s League Cup Quarter-final unscathed and practically ensure an appearance against St Etienne at Parkhead in next week’s European Cup tie.

Jock Stein said that he would not announce the rest of the side until nearer the kick-off, although definitely out of the team are Jimmy Johnstone and Bobby Murdoch, who both received leg and ankle injuries at East End Park’.

25th September  The Day of the Match

There was some news about the team in the morning dailies –

Stein Defends His Choice

‘Only Jim Craig of the men who drew 1-1 with Dunfermline on Saturday will line up at Douglas Park in the League Cup Quarter-final. There will be no Ronnie Simpson, Tommy Gemmell, or Billy McNeill – and there will be a completely new forward line’.

In most of the press, there was the odd comment about the fact that Celtic would be fielding a weakened team, a situation against the rules of the Scottish Football League, in charge of the League Cup. However, that prompted a comment by Fred Donovan, secretary of the SFL –“I think there is little likelihood of my committee invoking Rule 50, which says that all clubs must play full-strength teams in all games unless some satisfactory explanation is offered.

Nowadays, when it is the fashion to have a large pool of players, all of them considered first-team men, it is difficult to say just when such a team is under-strength’.

We reported late afternoon for a light session before the match and were immediately hit by a problem when Bertie Auld twisted his knee while turning and was forced to pull out of the match. It was a wet afternoon and perhaps the track was not in the best of condition but it was completely unexpected and a big blow to’ Ten-Therty’s’ hopes of a comeback. After that set-back, it was a fairly subdued set of players who boarded the coach for the fairly short trip to Hamilton.

 

The Teams

Hamilton

Lamont
Halpin, Hunter
Fraser, Small, Gaughan
Goodwin, Wardrope, Thomson, Lawlor, Clifford.
Sub: Gilchrist

Celtic

Wraith
Craig, Gorman
Connelly, Hay, Clark
McMahon, McBride, Quinn, Gallagher, Macari.
Sub: Dalglish

The Play

It was debut night for Bobby Wraith and John Gorman on a wet night at Douglas Park and although the local side put a shift in, they found it difficult to cope with our drives forward and for most of the game were pushed back in their own half, making only the occasional break. Joe McBride opened the scoring from a Pat McMahon pass in the 5th minute but Hamilton pulled one back through Lawlor in 23 minutes. And just before the interval, a Charlie Gallagher free-kick was knocked in by Pat McMahon.

That 2-1 lead was soon added to, with goals by Pat again in 43 minutes; a 30-yard screamer by John Clark in 50 minutes and Joe also getting a double in the 56th minute. Hamilton pulled another back on the 70-minute mark but we also had goals chalked off, for one reason or another, Joe and George Connelly being the victims of the referee’s whistle.

In retrospect, one important moment in that evening was the introduction of our substitute in the 46th minute to replace Charlie Gallagher. It was the first of 320 appearances that Kenny Dalglish would make for Celtic, with a goal tally of 166.

Final Score  Hamilton 2  Celtic  4    Aggregate 2-14

 

Other Results in league Cup

Dundee 6  Stranraer  0   Aggregate 10-0

Hibs 2  East Fife  1       Aggregate 6-2

 

World Club Championship

While it was a good night for Celtic fans at Douglas Park, it was not such a good evening for fans of Manchester United, as the Red Devils went down 0-1 to Estudiantes in Buenos Aires with Nobby Stiles sent off. The English press the following day was highly critical of the Argentinian side for their conduct and lack of sportsmanship and were fulsome in their praise of the way that the United players coped with the treatment they received. Unfortunately, the year before, that same group of pressmen were even more highly critical of Celtic when they were met by similar treatment, the attitude being that the Scots side should have been able to cope with what was being thrown at them and giving us little sympathy. Now, one year later……?

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21st September 1968: Dunfermline v Celtic – League

19th September 1968

It would be fair to say that the atmosphere in the camp after the defeat to St Etienne was poor. In fact, it was very reminiscent of the mood after the disasters in South America the previous year. The management side was saying little, either to us or the press; the reporters with our party, naturally keen to get some quotes to pad out their columns, found it difficult to find a willing subject; and the players themselves just wanted to get back to home comforts.

However, there was another match coming up only two days later and it was against the Pars, who, while we were losing 0-2 to the French champions, had beaten APOEL Nicosia 10-0! That would almost certainly put their players in a really good mood to meet Celtic on the Saturday.

After a quiet few hours on the plane, we arrived back in Glasgow, got bussed back to Celtic Park and just as it arrived outside the ground, the Boss stood up and reminded us that we had another difficult match coming up two days later so “let’s keep out minds focussed”. And with those words ringing in our ears, we made our way to our respective homes.

In one of the evening papers that night, a reporter had managed to get a story. Under the heading –

Johnstone Blow to Celtic

‘Celtic lost more than 2 goals and their European Cup pride here last night – they have almost certainly lost the services of Jimmy Johnstone for Saturday’s important League Championship match against Dunfermline at East End Park.

Johnstone was in such pain last night from an injury to his thigh that he had to be put to bed after the match and missed the banquet given by the French champions’.

The report went on to say

 ‘questions were asked of Mr Stein as to why he had not put on any substitutes? He replied –“It is easy for a sub to integrate in a team which is doing well but it is most difficult when things are going against you”.

The Boss was also apparently in bullish mood on his return to Glasgow, dismissing the gloom-mongers with a “we’re still in Europe”.

And one of the evening papers seemed to agree with him –

Celts Can Still Pull It Off

 

20th September 1968

Back in for a light session and news about the team. Out went Willie O’Neill, George Connelly and John Clark. Recovered from injury were Bobby Murdoch and Tam Gemmell; with Stevie Chalmers making a comeback at centre-forward.

The press was still going on about how poor we had been against St Etienne, although I noticed that no player had given any quotes, leaving all that to the Boss. And as an ex-Pars manager, he was probably under even more pressure than normal to say something newsworthy. However, he seemed to have been very sensible about the whole situation and merely talked about the players who would be coming back from injury. That left the press to build up the match as best they could –

Celtic In A Hot Spot

Vital Flag Game Against 10-Man Fifers

 

Day of the Match  21st September 1968

It was a fine afternoon when we arrived at East End Park, one of the grounds that the boys always liked to play at. No matter that the crowd would be around the mid-20,000 or so, they were tight up against the pitch and it always made for a great atmosphere. However, while we would be bringing back some injured players, the Pars had been hit by an injury problem of their own. Wing-half John McGarty had been injured in a car crash on the Friday and would have to miss the match.

 

The Teams

Dunfermline

Martin
W Callaghan, Lunn
Fraser, Barry, Renton
Robertson, Paton, Edwards, Gardner, Lister.
Sub: Mitchell

Celtic

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

 

The Play

The crowd was later given as around 23,000 and they made some noise as the match got underway. As you might imagine, a club that has won 10-1 in Europe only three days previously is on a high and the Pars started well. We, by contrast, were a bit sluggish, although there were some chances at both ends of the pitch.

What I recall with some clarity, though, is that the longer the match went on, the tougher it became. Tackles became more doubtful and eventually referee Mr Webster took action and booked a couple of players. On the half-hour mark, some bottles came flying out of the enclosure in front of the main stand and the police were in there quickly, eventually marching out one of the offenders. Did that distract us? Because the opening goal came shortly afterwards –

33 minutes
the Pars won a corner. It was taken by Edwards and he swung the ball over to the penalty spot. Paton got his head to it and nodded it on.. and Fraser then nodded it home.
1-0 Dunfermline.

And that was still the score at the interval. The Boss was fairly calm. Rightly so. He could have no complaints about the amount of effort we were putting in but that special – I suppose you could call it ‘flair’ that we could sometimes generate – it was definitely missing. Still, when that happens, you have to bring something else to the contest and I think we did, everyone putting in a real shift but the Pars sometimes had eight men in the penalty area and that blocked our efforts. Halfway through the half, though, we got the equaliser –

67 minutes
Jinky latched on to a through ball from Wispy, pulled out to his left and chipped it past Ex-Celt Bent Martin into an empty net.  1-1

From there to the end, we tended to dominate but their defence held out and they did make the occasional breakaway. However, at the final whistle, it was still

Dunfermline  1  Celtic  1

The Reserves

On the same afternoon, Celtic Reserves were at home to Dunfermline Reserves and won 3-0, the goals coming from Jimmy Quinn, Bertie Auld and Joe McBride.

Other Results

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

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
1 Dundee United 3 3 0 0 8 2 4.00 6
2 Rangers 3 2 1 0 9 5 1.80 5
3 Celtic 3 1 1 1 6 5 1.20 3

 

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18th September 1968:  St Etienne v Celtic – European Cup

15th September 1968

It would have quite amusing in other circumstances but the day after a defeat in an Old Firm match was not the time. The place was my local church on Sunday morning, where I received what could only be described as a ‘going-over’. The questions were relentless. Read More →

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7th September 1968: Clyde v Celtic –  League

2nd September 1968

While most of us got the day off, others were involved in training for the Inter-League match on the Wednesday. And when I bought one of the evening papers, I found out a lot more about this match under quite eye-catching headlines – Read More →

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