50 Years On

393 Articles

8th March 1969: Raith Rovers v Celtic – League

6th March 1969

We were back in for training on the day following the victory over Arbroath, a result which received a special headline in the morning press –

Celtic Power Sinks Arbroath

It was very noticeable on that Thursday morning that the Boss was missing, so Sean Fallon and Neilly Mochan took the training. We asked the obvious question but the two of them were obviously under orders not to say too much and we had to wait until the evening papers came out before finding out the problem –

Jock Stein Fights ‘Flu

Sean also took the trouble to kill another rumour that was going round the Celtic fans. Many of them were worried when Bobby Murdoch came off to be replaced by Bertie Auld in the second half of the Arbroath match. But it was merely a precaution, firstly in preparation for next week’s European Cup tie and also to give as many players as possible a chance for a match before the A.C. Milan game.

7th March 1969

Still no Boss although we were assured that he would be there for the match at Kirkcaldy. In fact, there was some comment in the press that Jock Stein would be ‘saving’ Stevie Chalmers for Milan and would bring in Bobby Lennox in place of him.

As for us, we were merely told the squad that would be involved and told to report the following lunchtime for the trip to the east coast.

8th March 1969 The Day of the Match

This game was obviously one of those where we were expected to win reasonably comfortably. We could all work that out in advance as we had to provide our own lunch at home before reporting to Celtic Park for the trip to Kirkcaldy.

It was actually a tough time for all of us. The guys at Raith Rovers would be doing their best to make life difficult for us yet all the fans wanted to talk about was the match coming up against the Italian champions. Not one fan mentioned the matches against Scottish teams; everyone wanted to talk about A.C. Milan.

However, by that time we were a fairly experienced bunch and just knew that the guys in the strip of Raith Rovers had no intention of making life easy for us.

The Teams

Raith Rovers
McDonald, Gray
Miller, Polland, Bolton
Cunningham, Falconer, Wallace, Sneddon, Wilson. 
Sub: Judge

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

The Play

We were expecting a tough match and even before we got underway things got tougher, as the start was delayed for 8 minutes. When play did begin, any fancy moves were then cancelled out by the wind that was whistling round Stark’s Park. It would be true to say that we dominated play during the first half but chances were few and far between and as the half continued, Rovers came into it more and more. Half-time was reached, though, with the game still goalless.

It was a fairly subdued dressing-room at the break and the Boss, from the state of his voice not yet 100% was obviously not happy but also aware that we had been trying so his tone was more encouraging than critical. His mood, though, might have changed one minute after the re-start –

46 minutes…..Gordon Wallace gathered the ball in the penalty area and ran into the 6-yard box before firing the ball low and hard behind John Fallon.  1-0 Raith

I do not know if the Boss was shocked but we certainly were. However, it was a time to just roll up the sleeves and get on with it and we certainly did that, although it took most of the half to get the rewards we were looking for –

63 minutes…….cross by Lemon and Wispy rose above everyone else.  1-1

79 minutes……a fierce shot from 20 yards by Bertie – on for Tid Callaghan – gave keeper Reid no chance.  2-1 Celtic

89 minutes……a loose ball in the box and Wispy reacted quickest.

Final Score Raith Rovers 1 Celtic 3

Other Results

Hearts10Dundee United
Kilmarnock11Partick Thistle
Rangers60St. Mirren
St. Johnstone31Airdrie



24th February 1969: Celtic v Clyde – Scottish Cup Replay

20th February 1969

It was a pretty satisfied Celtic party that made the trip back to Glasgow the day after the match against A.C. Milan – apart from me! I had taken a heavy blow to my right knee in the second half and although I was able to finish the match, it stiffened up overnight and then sitting in the cramped seats of a plane for a few hours hardly helped the situation.

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19th February 1969: A.C. Milan v Celtic – European Cup QF

13th February 1969

After a 0-0 draw against Clyde in the Scottish Cup, all of us might have thought that we would receive a bit of criticism in the press but, in actual fact, the opposite was the case. We were actually praised for our play on what was admittedly a very frosty and rutted pitch at Shawfield against a side which had set out its stall to defend with as many players as possible. The one thing we did not do was put the ball in the net and that would mean a replay back at Parkhead in ten days time.

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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.

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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 –

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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

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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.

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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’.

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