9th September 1968
We got the day off and the Boss took us to East Kilbride baths, where we all cavorted about like wee kids. It was good fun and we all appreciated the day away from training, which can get a bit monotonous at times, no matter how varied and interesting the coaching staff tried to make it. The Boss said little to us about the match against Hamilton in two days time but obviously did give a comment or two to the press.
This was to the effect that Willie O’Neill and Wille Wallace would be fit but there some concern about the fitness of Bobby Murdoch, summed up in a headline –
Murdoch May Be Ready for Rangers
In one of the evening papers, the report about the match the previous Saturday against Clyde started in promising fashion –
‘Celtic, League Champions for the past three seasons, are back on top of the league table – and they will take some shifting’. Unfortunately, the journalist then went on to say how poor Celtic’s performance had been. They might have won 3-0, the report said but there was no fluency about the play and they did miss quite a number of chances. Thank goodness we did not lose! What would the journalist have said then?
Partick Thistle directors were due to meet that night to discuss the appointment of a new manager as successor to Willie Thornton, who would leave Firhill soon to take over as Rangers assistant manager.
The report went on to state that the Ibrox club did need some new blood, pointing out that not every one of their recent buys had been a total success. In the reserve side which had beaten Partick Thistle 4-1 on Saturday, for instance, were keeper Eric Sorensen (£15,000), right back Kai Johansen (25,000), right-half Alec Smith (£51,000) and centre-forward Alex Ferguson (£60,000).
10th September 1968
Back at training and the usual routine for the day before a match. We were all interested to hear the team but nothing was said. As there was no reserve side on the night, the whole squad was told to report to Parkhead for the match.
Normally, at a time like that, we might find out some more from the evening press but they did not seem to know any more than we did. The Boss was obviously in one of his ‘closed- mouth’ days.
Celtic did make a statement in the press, though, to the effect that the ‘safety’ game, which will be played immediately after Saturday’s Celtic/Rangers match at Celtic Park, will now be between Celtic Boys Club (U-14s) and St Benedict’s Boys Club, not St Benedict’s School, Easterhouse.
The other quarter-final ties due for tomorrow were Ayr United v Clyde, East Fife v Hibs and Stranraer v Dundee. And a journalist in one of the evening papers was adamant about the outcome of these ties –‘ Celtic v Clyde at Hampden Park…..Dundee v Hibs at Tynecastle…that is my confident prediction of the League Cup semi-final line-up on October 9th’. And he was equally confident about the possibility of Hamilton springing a surprise –
Hamilton Should Have No Chance
Day of the Match 11th September 1968
There was some news in one of the morning dailies. Under the headline –
Murdoch Trains – Macari’s Chance
-the Boss had apparently told the press that six forwards were listed – Johnstone, Lennox, McBride, Chalmers, Hughes and Macari – and that Murdoch would not play but was back in training.
As we had been told, everyone turned up at around 6pm for the match at Celtic Park. It was obviously not going to be a big attendance but the usual regulars were there – in those days only for autographs – and it was very humbling for all of us to see just how much the club and its achievements meant to them.
Brogan, McNeill, Clark
Macari, Lennox, McBride, Chalmers, Hughes.
Fraser, Small, Gaughan
Lawlor, Gilchrist, Thomson, Wardrop, Clifford.
Right from the first whistle, we were on song, almost bemusing Hamilton with the speed and precision of our attacks and seldom troubled by the visitors’ attacking force. Ronnie did not have anything to do for the whole of the 90 minutes.
We were four -up by the interval – Stevie Chalmers ( 26 and 43 mins), Bobby Lennox (27 and 37); got a fifth through Stevie again in 61 minutes; brought on Jinky for Yogi just after that; and were all then treated to a wonderful of artistry by the Wee Man as he tormented the Accies defence time after time and laid on opportunities for Stevie to get two more (75,87 mins) and Bobby three (80, 83 and 88 mins).
Final Score Celtic 10 Hamilton Accies 0
Well, the journalist was quite right in his predictions, at least in the first legs, with Ayr losing 0-1 to Clyde, Stranraer being beaten 4-0 by Dundee and East Fife going down 1-4 to Hibs.