1st March 1969: Celtic v St Johnstone – Scottish Cup Quarter-final

25th February 1969

The reports in the press informed us that Jinky had volunteered to play against Clyde in last night’s Scottish Cup replay at Parkhead although he was suffering from an ear infection.

Jock Stein said today – “In normal circumstances Jimmy would not have played but we had injuries and are delighted with the spirit of Jimmy. He will remain at home today and he should be OK for our cup-tie on Saturday against St Johnstone.

I also hope to have Jim Craig, John Clark and Jim Brogan fit again. Craig and Clark took leg knocks and Brogan injured an ankle in our match against A.C. Milan last week”.

A headline in one of the evening editions –

Cool Celts Make It A Dozen

  • reminded the fans that we had scored 12 goals in 5 matches against Clyde this season.

And in the midst of all this news, we all got with training as per usual on a Tuesday morning.

26th February 1969

A typical Wednesday. Myself, Luggy and Brogie all seemed to be moving OK and even Jimmy did some light stuff. The Boss was also obviously keeping the press involved –

Johnstone to Make It!

27th February 1969

Things were improving…..at least according to the press –

  Johnstone Gets All-Clear!

It also mentioned that Luggy and myself were OK with Brogie ‘just a little behind’.

28th February 1969

Last-Minute Celts

‘Manager Jock Stein apologised today to the Celtic fans who would make the trip to Celtic Park on Saturday for not announcing the team well before the start of the match. “I just can’t take any chances on their fitness” he was quoted as saying’. To be quite blunt, he did not tell us any more than he told the press. A squad was announced, we were told what time to report and that was it, off home for a Friday night in.

1st March 1969

The Day of the Game

We all reported at the appointed time, had the usual look at the pitch and the conditions, some played some table-tennis – that table by now having replaced the snooker table – and then went into the dressing room to hear the team announcement. Brogie did not make it but Luggy and I were back on board –

The Teams

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

St Johnstone
Miller, Coburn
Gordon, Rooney, McPhee
Aird, Hall, McCarry, Connelly, Aitken.   
Sub: Rennie

The Play

Two former Celts in the Saints starting eleven – Benny Rooney and Kenny Aird – and overall they were a side who could play some decent football so we would have to make sure that they did not get the space to do that.

The Boss had gone in for a bit of tactical tinkering – playing Yogi at centre-forward and Lemon at outside-left – and got an immediate reward –

2 minutes…….a fine pass by Wispy right into the path of Yogi and he fairly thundered the ball past keeper Robertson. 1-0 Celtic

We did keep the pressure on but gradually the visitors fought heir way back into the match and there were chances at both ends, none of which were taken, so at the break, we still had a 1-0 lead.

The Boss was not too happy at half-time, reminding us that we were a better side than Saints but were allowing them to dictate matters a little and his words came into reality shortly after the second half started –

59 minutes……a fine run by Henry Hall down the right and a nice cut-back for John Connelly to equalise.  1-1

We were a wee bit shocked but the goal woke us up a bit and we took control of the play once more, getting some rewards later in the half –

74 minutes……Yogi nodded a cross down towards the feet of Lemon and he took the ball forward for a few yards before scoring from close-in.    2-1 Celtic

And the fans only had to wait five minutes for another –

79 minutes……left-back Coburn failed to clear the ball, it feel to Yogi who made some yards down the wing before crossing for Stevie to head home. 3-1 Celtic

Fair play to the visitors. They refused to buckle and indeed continued to come at us, getting a second goal through Hall in 85 minutes. However, we also kept the pressure on them and made some chances later in the match which on another occasion, we might have taken. Still, we were a very happy bunch of players when we heard the referee – Mr Anderson of East Kilbride – blow the final whistle.

Final Score   Celtic  3  St Johnstone  2

Other Results

In the other quarter-finals, Rangers beat Airdrie 1-0, Morton won away 3-2 to Dundee United and Aberdeen and Kilmarnock played out a 0-0 draw at Pittodrie.