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

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

Partick Thistle
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