The dressing room had been a happy place in the last couple of days. There had been a few days of gloom and doom after the defeat at the hands of Dundee United (except possibly in the position occupied by one of the full-backs? although perhaps we shouldn’t go into that) but the victory over Dundee had dispelled the darkness and the mood was light and airy again.
And dressing rooms can be strange places. Perhaps up to 18 or 20 players all changing in the one room – and not all that big a room either – with very few toilet facilities to cater for such a number. In those days at Celtic Park, there were benches down the walls (no space underneath for shoes) with just a couple of hooks above at each place for hanging clothes. There was a padded table in the middle of the room for massage purposes; the big windows, if frosted glass had not been in place, would have looked out on to the area in front of the South Stand, just a few yards to the left of the front door.
Halfway down the dressing room on the right, a door led to the washroom. In one corner was a large bath; against one wall was a normal-sized bath and against another wall were two basins. Another door in the corner led into the toilets, which comprised one W.C. and two urinals – not a lot for up to 20 folk?
The management and coaches did not change in the main dressing room; that was for the players. They used a smaller room at the far end of the corridor which went past first the main dressing-room (the ‘Home’ one on match days) and then the ‘Away’ dressing room next door, which used during the week by players not in the first-team squad.
This room at the bottom end was always known as ‘Grib’s Room’ as during the week it was the residence of former trainer Jimmy Gribben, who at one time had worked with Jimmy McGrory and was reputed to be the man responsible for bringing Jock Stein back to Scotland from Llanelly as a player in 1951.
All the players went past this area in the morning to get to the boot room and the embryonic gym (two medicine balls and a set of wall bars) so we passed ‘Grib’ all the time. He was a very pleasant man, easy to talk to and he obviously enjoyed the company of the lads, as his face was usually wreathed in smiles as he sipped his customary cup of tea, something which his protégé, the Boss, was also partial too.
A headline in one of the dailies caught us all by surprise –
Celtic May Play Joe McBride
Where they got this story from I, for one, could not figure out but as Joe was walking round with a decided limp, there was no chance of him playing. In fact, in the light of events that would come to fruition in the next few weeks, it was rather an unfortunate, if not cruel, suggestion.
For some evening matches, we went for a pre-match meal; for others we didn’t. There did not seem to be any set pattern in the decision-making. For that match against Clyde, we merely reported to Celtic Park around one-and-a-half hours before kick-off, by which time the crowd was gathering and the walk from the car park to the front door could take quite a few minutes.
As the Boss had said nothing about the team so far, I was having my customary butterflies-in-the-tummy feeling as I joined the rest of the guys in the normal chat and laughter. However, before too long – and thankfully – we got the nod to head for the dressing-room and the team announcement. And when he did read out the eleven names, I was quite delighted to be the second one read out! And, as if to make it a special occasion, we wore the all-green strip, something we only did occasionally.
Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark,
Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Gallagher, Lennox. Sub: Auld.
McCulloch, Glasgow, Mulhearn, McHugh, Staite, Anderson,
McFarlane, Hood, Gilroy, Stewart, Hastings. Sub: Clark
The way the game unfolded was summed up neatly in one of the following day’s dailies –
‘Clyde, winners of their last four away games and defeated, in fact, only once in their last 8 matches, came to Celtic Park last night with hopes of becoming the first team to beat Celtic on their home ground in the league since the spring of 1965. But although they played well enough, perhaps well enough to beat most other Scottish clubs, it was not nearly sufficient to prevent Celtic from scoring a handsome victory and consolidating their position at the top of the league’.
The press in general agreed that we pulverized Clyde, particularly in the second half, yet in a fairly dominant first half too, we only got the one goal;-
12 minutes….pass from Wispy to Stevie, who held off the attentions of a couple of Clyde defenders before shooting into the roof of the net. 1-0 Celtic
Frankly, we then had most of the play, so it was somewhat ironic that Clyde equalised, completely against the run of play.
32 minutes….Joe Gilroy got the goal although most of us – and from the noise of the Celtic fans, most of them too – though that he had handled the pass from Stewart before scoring. 1-1
The Celtic fans in the crowd of 37,000 then had to wait until early in the second half before they were rewarded with a second goal;-
54 minutes….Stevie cut-back from the bye-line, Charlie slammed it home. 2-1 Celtic
And from that point on, it was all Celtic and we put enormous pressure on the Clyde defence. However, a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping kept the tally at 2-0. Then the roof fell in for Clyde, when they lost three goals in three minutes.
72 minutes….Jinky shot, it squirmed out of the keeper’s arms and Stevie made nomistake from close range. 3-1 Celtic
74 minutes…long range effort by Tam. 4-1 Celtic
75 minutes…cross by Stevie, header by Lemon.
Final Score Celtic 5 Clyde 1
The Clyde players, though disappointed, were gracious in defeat and were quick to congratulate us. It was the first time I had played against Harry Hood and I could see that he had the talent to do well in a more successful side. Only a year or so later, he would be a team-mate!
True to His Beliefs
A Roman Cathloic priest chose to go to prison – rather then pay a £7 fine – in protest over the Government sanctions against Rhodesia and called on all traffic offenders to do the same.
He was Robert Louis Stewart (63), of 73 Commerce Street, Fraserburgh , Aberdeenshire, who pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention.
Mr Harry McKeller posed for a photographer, smiled and said “Now I know how Kenneth must feel”.
For he is the older brother of Scots singer Kenneth McKellar and the next time Ken is appearing at the Alhambra in Glasgow his brother will be across the road appearing at the city’s meteorological centre, where Harry has just been appointed..
The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, will launch the Cunard liner Q4 at John Brown’s shipyard on Wednesday September 20. The name is still top secret.