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

At a meeting of the SFA Referee Committee, Colin Stein, who was ordered off against Kilmarnock on the first Saturday in January, was suspended for the next 5 matches.

John Deans, of Motherwell, who was ordered off against Hamilton, was suspended for 21 days.

The big story after the weekend, of course, was the fact that we only drew with Thistle and even worse, that the Jags came back from being 1-3 down to force a draw. One of the headlines summed everything up –

 Celtic Boss Holds Parkhead Probe Into That Shock Finish at Firhill

That is perfectly true. It was rather an unusual Monday morning as we reported to Celtic Park but did not, in fact, do any training. Instead, there was a gathering of all those involved – players, manager and coaching staff – and an inquest took place as to why we had only drawn on the previous Saturday at Firhill.

It was ‘suggested’ – if there was such a thing as a ‘suggestion’ in professional football at that time when managers liked to have master/servant relationships– that we did not work hard enough and were slack in our play. Unfortunately, while elements of that might have been true, the real reason we only drew was that the attitude in the days leading up to the match had been too relaxed, the atmosphere in the camp coming down from above undoubtedly giving the players the impression that the Jags were there for the taking.

However, if any player had pointed that out, then his chances of playing in the next match might have been considerably reduced. So, we just took the reprimand and went on our way, leaving behind those who were suffering from some bumps and bruises to receive some treatment.

28th January 1969

The press was full of expectation about the Celtic v Partick Thistle replay. This headline and report were typical of the coverage –

 Now for Parkhead Thriller

‘Firhill is still the place for football thrills! Any one of the 32,867 fans who paid £8,300 to watch Thistle’s 3-3 draw with Celtic will readily testify to that undoubted fact. The goal which young Jim Bone scored for Thistle in the dying seconds will almost certainly turn out to be worth £10,000 to the clubs’.

And elsewhere in the press;

Scotland manager Bobby Brown announced a squad which will report on Sunday for World Cup training. Nine Celtic players are involved – Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Johnstone, Wallace, Lennox and Hughes.

In the absence of Colin Stein, suspended for the next five matches, Alex Ferguson, the centre-forward bought by Rangers from Dunfermline for a fee of £61,000, has 28 days to win a regular spot in the first-team at Ibrox.

And, after a light session on the track at Celtic Park, we were sent away with no team news. Apparently, all will be revealed when we report for the match tomorrow.

29th January 1969  The Evening of the Match

It might have been a 3rd Round tie in the Scottish Cup and a replay at that but we just had the pre-match meal at home, then reported to Parkhead around the back of 6pm. It was ‘quietish’ – a word from my early schooldays? – but even so, there were always fans who liked to get there early and there was a number waiting to have books or programmes signed. They would always ask what the team was and frankly, I do not think anyone believed me when I said I did not know. But I didn’t!

The Teams

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

Partick Thistle
Campbell, Gray
Hansen, McKinnon, O’Neill
McLindon, McParland, Bone, Flanagan, Duncan.   
Sub: Cumming

The Play

A headline plus two brief paragraphs in one of the dailies on the day after the match summed up the evening fairly succinctly –

 Celts Power Shatters Thistle

‘Celtic were at their devastating best in this Scottish Cup replay at Celtic Park and completely swamped Thistle.

The Parkhead boys showed all their power and artistry in a great first-half which finished with them leading 4-1 and although Thistle never gave up, it was the same story in the second half’.

To be honest, it was a bit of a romp, one of those matches where you just knew, from the very beginning, that there no way the other side could win. That gives all the players a very confident feeling, does wonders for teamwork and usually provides a number of chances. We certainly had them in this match and the goals were shared around, only one player getting two.

After a good start by Billy McNeill (8 mins), three others arrived in the first half through Jimmy Johnstone (12), Willie Wallace (23) and Tommy Callaghan (44); in between the latter two, an O.G. by Tam Gemmell put one on the board for the Jags.

After the break, the onslaught continued and we got further goals through Callaghan again (62), Bobby Lennox (51), John Hughes (55) and TG (76), this time at the right end.
That made the final score 8-1 and put us into the next round, where we would meet the winner of the tie between Motherwell and Clyde.

An excellent crowd of 48,000 was there on the night for the match and it would be fair to assume that the Celtic fans in the crowd really enjoyed their evening.

And from the welcome we received from the management staff back in the dressing-room, it would also be fair to think that they enjoyed the match as well. Now, there was only one question left ponder, if not answer; how on earth did we manage to draw 3-3 with them on the Saturday?