12th April 1967 Celtic v Dukla Prague European Cup Semi-Final

10th April
Apart from the injured ones – which at this time included Chopper (ankle), Jinky ( a touch of flu) and Charlie (instep problem), all of whom stayed behind for treatment – the squad left by bus for Seamill on the Monday morning. Once the rooms had been allocated, we headed for the golf course and put in a few holes. That was followed by some lunch in the dining room then we were told to rest for a few hours before a training session in the late afternoon.


As usual, I was paired up with Tam and we hit the pillow as soon as we could, as it is not often that you are told to go and take a rest, something which many working folk would love to do in the afternoon. A siesta in Seamill!


At that late afternoon training session, which was held on the lawn between the hotel and the beach, we merely did some light running, as I recall, sprints being the main order of the session. And just to make sure that the session became interesting, we finished with a two-touch match, the sides being worked out according to the personnel available, as the injured ones lowered the numbers.




In the press that day, you would have thought that Celtic did not have a European Cup Semi-Final tie coming up on the Wednesday. The headline in the evening paper read;

Simpson in for Scotland

At 36, he gets his first cap


…and the accompanying report expanded on the situation;


‘Ronnie Simpson – the 36-year-old goalkeeper Celtic signed as a part-time reserve team player three years ago – was today picked for Scotland’s Wembley team.

Simpson, who makes history as the oldest player ever to win a first full ‘cap’ for Scotland, is one of four Celtic players in the team to meet Sir Alf Ramsay’s World Cup champions on Saturday.

Team manager Bobby Brown has picked an Old Firm Anglo side as in addition to the four Celts, there are two Rangers and five Anglos. The team is;

Simpson          (Celtic)
Gemmell         (Celtic)

McCreadie      (Chelsea)

Greig               (Rangers)

McKinnon      (Rangers)

Baxter             (Sunderland)

Johnstone      (Celtic)

Bremner         (Leeds Utd)

McCalliog       (Sheffield Wed)

Law                 (Manchester Utd)

Lennox           (Celtic)


Down at Seamill, after the training session, we headed for the baths and pool area for a spot of relaxation before getting changed and ready for dinner. I cannot quite recall if we paid a visit to the cinema afterwards on that particular trip but very often we did so, with the choice of film causing many a problem.

(Now, I do not claim any accuracy as to the names of the films I mention here, they are merely being used to illustrate a point).

The Boss would say “let’s go to the cinema. What’s on, Neilly?” and Neilly, obedient as ever, would get hold of the local paper and tell us all.

“Right, in Largs, it’s the Magnificent Seven….and in Saltcoats, Rio Bravo”.

“OK”, the Boss would say “ hands up for Largs…hands up for Saltcoats….right, the Magnificent Seven it is”.

 Invariably, though, some complainant would pipe up “Boss, I’ve seen that one before”

A valid point but the crafty Boss was ready for him. “You know, son, sometimes when they make a picture and it turns out to be a classic, you have to see it a few times to really appreciate just how good it is! So, we’ll just go along and see it….even if you have seen it before”.

And so, we would end up at the cinema, 16 or so of us sitting where possible in the same row, passing the ice-creams along to each other. What a great life!


11th April

We did get a mention in the press that day –

Celtic Can Do It

Speed Essential in the Hunt for Goals


I do not know if they got that comment from the Boss but it was his mantra at that time. He had been to see Dukla in action and while telling us that he had great respect for their prowess, he was sure that we were much quicker than they were and that would be a crucial factor in the match.

That day at Seamill seemed to drag. Golf was out, training was limited, the session in the baths was cut back too. All-in-all, it was a long day, the highlight of which occurred first thing in the morning, when we took part in our pre-breakfast perambulation – along the main road towards Largs, a turn down the lane at the far end of the golf course and then back along the beach to the hotel. On a calm day, it was beautiful and invigorating – plus I got the chance to indulge one of my favourite hobbies, throwing stones to specially selected targets just a little off shore. Magic!


Much to our delight, the three injured guys came down to join us. Chopper had been the talk of the squad over the last two days and I think that – privately – all of us were keen to have him playing against the Czechs. It looked a possibility. Certainly, in the light training session on the front lawn he looked good


In the evening, came the big moment, when the Boss set out the team and the way he wanted it to play. He was quite adamant that Dukla were a top-class side, pointing out that they had beaten a heavily-favoured Ajax side in the previous round, so we would have to rise to the challenge and give no quarter. It was a slightly subdued group of players who went up to bed that night…..but we still thought that the answer to success was in our hands and that we would come through. That Glaswegian ‘gallusness’ always arose at the right time.


Back at Celtic Park, Joe McBride had started light training after his operation. Good news for all of us.


Pre- Match

We were up reasonably early and repeated the walk I mentioned before. The final stretch – along the beach towards the hotel – was a special one, even better when the tide was out, as that made the sand easier to walk on.


Breakfast followed, then we were left to our own devices for a few hours, reading the papers or playing cards, before the call to lunch.


After that, it was back to bed for a while, which usually meant me lying there, working out what the team would have to do a few hours later and all this to the accompaniment of snores coming from Tam in the adjacent bed.


En Route

There was one special moment for Bobby Lennox and I on the way up to Glasgow. On a previous occasion, when we making the same journey, I had pointed out to him that in the middle of a field, right out in the country, there was a gate! It looked like a normal gate, with bars and supports on either side. The part which made it interesting, though, was that it was a gate, in the middle of a field, with bags of space on either side of it. Why would you need a gate at a place like that?


Anyway, on the night we first noticed it, we went to win the match at Parkhead comfortably, in fact by a load of goals to nil. So, after that, whenever we were en route to Parkhead, whichever of us saw the gate first would point to it and shout out that it was still there. It became a sort of talisman for our performance on the night. And sure enough, on that night of the 12th April 1967, Mr Lennox, he of the sharp eyes, yelled out “Cairney” and when I looked in the direction he was pointing to, there was the gate. Great stuff! We knew we would be all right that night.


When we reached the outskirts of the city, we were met by a police motor-cycle escort which made sure that we would reach Celtic Park in the shortest possible time.

Whenever the boys of that era are together and we are reminiscing about the old days, that trip through the city behind the police bikes ranks high in our memories. As we approached the stadium, the fans were lining the streets; when we finally stopped outside the entrance, there was a horde of fans pressed into that area, cheering and whistling as we entered the pavilion. It was great for your morale but it also made you think of the pressure we would be under. These fans expected us to win and nothing else would be acceptable.


Our Opponents

What did we know of our opponents? As regards their play, very little, merely the resume the Boss had provided earlier that week. Naturally, when we were drawn against them, I went to the Mitchell Library and looked up their details (no mobile phones for Googling in those days).

They had been formed in 1948 and had adopted the name Dukla in 1956 after a Carpathian mountain where Czechoslovak forces won an important battle in 1944.

However, no matter how well Dukla did – and in the early years of the 1960s they did very well indeed – as an army club they could never be as popular as the other Prague clubs, Sparta or Slavia, the latter one having been managed in the early years of the 20th century by a famous ex-Celt, Johnny Madden.


The Teams

Chopper was in and so was Yogi, at the expense of Lennox, that decision apparently being taken, we found out afterwards, because the Boss thought that the conditions would suit Yogi better. So, the selections on the night were;

Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Auld, Hughes.


Cmarada, Caek
Taborsky, Zlocha, Geleta
Strunc, Dvorak, Masopust, Nederost, Vacenovsky.

Referee:         Joaquim Fernandes Campos (Portugal)


The Play

Everyone in football at that time knew the name of Josef Masopust, so we were well aware of what he could do but the Boss had also singled out Strunc as another highly rated performer. And it was Strunc who got an early chance to put the visitors ahead but just when we needed him, Ronnie was equal to the task. Shortly afterwards, Nederost also had a good opportunity; fortunately for us, he missed the target.


There could have been little doubt that Dukla had started the better, showing that they were capable of moving the ball round with pace and accuracy.

However, we all felt that as the match moved on, we began to wear the Czechs down and took the lead just when we needed it:


27 Minutes:    Stevie sent a lovely pass into the path of Jinky and the Wee Man lofted the ball over the keeper. 1-0 Celtic.


That gave us a real boost and we continued to threaten the Dukla goal for nearly the rest of the first half. Unfortunately, though, just before the break, we let them back into the match;


44 Minutes:   a couple of mis-timed tackles in the heart of our backline gave Strunc a chance and my goodness, did he take it! 1-1


Half-time   Celtic  1  Dukla Prague  1


It was a very annoyed Boss who addressed us at the interval. We had done everything that he had suggested beforehand but those two errors had changed everything. He was also realistic, though, pointing out that as the match was still even, we just had to start again! The logic of a top manager.


Right from the start of the second half, we moved up a gear and bombarded the Dukla goal, which had several close shaves. Still, we kept plugging away and suddenly got two goals in six minutes;


59 minutes:    a long ball from Tam gave Wispy the chance to shoot and his effort fairly flew into the net.  2-1 Celtic


65 minutes:    this time the goal came from a rather neatfree-kick worked out by Bertie and Wispy. It looked as though Bertie was going to take the strike but then he slipped the ball sideways to Wispy, who slammed it home low and hard. 3-1 Celtic


Just before the 80 minute mark, Wispy nearly got his hat-trick. He stuck out a foot to deflect a cross from Stevie and the ball shot up and blasted against the bar. That would have been the perfect ending to a great evening but the players, like most of the crowd to judge by the reception we received, were happy to settle for the 3-1 win, a good lead to take to Prague for the second leg.


Full-time   Celtic  3  Dukla Prague  1



After the match, Willie Wallace was brought into the Scotland squad for the match against England at Wembley.

A Name from the Past

Ex-Rangers player Sam English, who had been involved in that fatal collision with John Thomson at Ibrox on 5th September 1931, passed away in the Vale of Leven Hospital at the age of 57.




Good Idea

America’s ‘borrowing’ of doctors, scientists and engineers will save the country  thousands of millions of dollars, Professor Richard M. Titmus told the British National Conference on Social Welfare at Church House, Westminster.

He said “Since 1949 the United States has absorbed – and to some extent deliberately recruited – the import of 100,000 doctors, scientists and engineers from developed and developing countries.

In about 10 years the U.S. will have saved some $4000 million by not having to educate and train, or train fully, this vast quantity of human capital”.


And the winner is?

Paul Schofield or Richard Burton? Elizabeth Taylor or the Redgrave sisters?

It is still anybody’s guess who will walk off with the trophies at the 39th annual academy awards presentation in Hollywood tonight.

A few hours before the Oscars were due to be presented, the odds were in favour of Schofield for “A Man for All Seasons” and Elizabeth Taylor for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”.


A Philanthropist

Francis H. Fitzgerald, who died in Duluth, Minnesota, has left part of his fortune in trust to provide grants to help students in his home town of Kirkcaldy, Fife.

It has been estimated that about £4600 will be available each year to help high school pupils to go to university or to take technical and professional training.



The U.S. Air Force has disciplined three pilots involved in the bombing, by mistake, of a pro-Government village in Vietnam.

The bombing killed 105 and wounded 250 on March 2 in the worst such mistake made public in the Vietnam War.

A fourth pilot was found not guilty by an air force board of inquiry.


Lack of Numbers?

Because of a lack of advance bookings some of British Rail’s Wembley specials may be cancelled.

Twelve football specials for Saturday’s game had been lined up from the principal cities and major towns in Scotland.

But a B.R. spokesman said today “advance bookings have been slow…we usually have a much greater demand but whether there is a shortage of tickets or a shortage of money the response has not been the same so far”.


Stranger in the House

M.P.s looked up in surprise when Jayne Mansfield entered the Speaker’s Gallery in the Commons today, wearing a low-cut top and a mini-skirt. She listened closely to questions.