12th August 1967:  Celtic v Dundee United  League Cup


7th August

Quite surprisingly, for a match between a team from Scotland and one from England which ended in a 3-3 draw, the press over the weekend was fairly complimentary about Celtic’s performance at Hampden –

Celtic – You Were Great!

‘Altogether, the match was a great advertisement for the new season and the new 5 shillings ( 25p) admission charge certainly will not frighten the fans away from the gates of Parkhead’.


8th August

From one of the morning dailies –

‘By order of a Continental committee, Clyde have been knocked out of the Fairs Cities Cup.

The crime committed in 1966/67 – one of the best years in their history – was to be members of the Glasgow Association.

The Fairs Cities Cup committee flatly refused to allow two teams from the same city to compete in the tournament and that put Clyde out and Dundee in, even though the part-time men of Shawfield finished the season FIVE POINTS in front of the full-time players of Dens Park’.


9th August

At Ibrox, Rangers met Eintracht Frankfurt in a friendly and new signing Orjan Person makes an appearance, not in the match itself but in one of those pre-match presentations of a new player. While with Dundee United, he had been a tricky opponent and I, for one, thought that he would do well at Ibrox.

Fortunately, though, in a straight race, I was the quicker, so I never really had any worries about playing against him.


In the Celtic View, Celtic chairman Bob Kelly was quoted as saying;

“I appeal to all our very loyal and well-behaved real supporters to do everything in their power to make sure that nothing occurs at any of our matches that could re-bound with discredit on the club”.

There had been a friendly arranged against Cowdenbeath – from the composition of the side it would appear that it had been set-up for guys who either needed some match practice or who had been injured and were recovering. Anyway, the match finished 1-1 and the team was Fallon, Shevlane, O’Neill, Murdoch, Connelly, Cattenach, Gallagher, Chalmers, Wallace, McMahon and Hughes. In the course of the game, Joe McBride got a chance to show his fitness level, replacing Wispy; and Jimmy Quinn came on for Stevie.


10th August

 The evening papers went to town with their headline;

Gemmell Still Unsigned

‘After watching a training session today, Celtic manager Jock Stain said that there was no change in the position regarding the re-signing of left-back Tommy Gemmell.

The defender is the only Celtic first-team player still to sign for the new season.

Actually, after training, when we were getting changed, I did ask Tam how things were going but he was obviously wanting to play his cards very close to his chest. All I got was an elaborate wink!


11th August

The week had passed quite uneventfully at training. Everyone seemed to be fit – apart from Joe McBride, still struggling a bit after the operation – and it was a bit unusual for us to have a full week at training, especially when we had proved the previous Saturday that everyone was looking in good shape. However, the staff had tried to make the training as interesting as possible and we had all applied ourselves but there is nothing like regular matches to keep a footballer happy. So thank the Lord that tomorrow is a match day!

The supporters would have been looking forward to the first proper match of the new season but one of the evening papers on the eve of the game sounded a warning;

‘On paper, this looks like a pushover for the League Cup holders and European Cup winners – but there are at least two very good reasons  why it may not be all that easy.

One is that Dundee United are something of a jinx team for Celtic. Last season, the wee United had the effrontery to beat the men in green- and-white not once but twice.

The second reason is that Celtic will be up against three men who were Rangers players until a few weeks ago and men who have worn light blue dearly love to be on the winner’s end at Parkhead’.

People are always surprised when I say this but we were slightly apprehensive about this match. Not that we ever thought that United were better than us, there was never a worry about that. It was just the fact that the previous season, we had struggled to get a good result against the Terrors and often it was difficult to understand why.

We could never be accused of under- estimating the men from Dundee; we certainly put in a shift against them; we probably even dominated possession; it was just the fact that when it came down to goals, we did not score as many against them as our dominance would suggest; and in our desire to get on the score sheet, we probably left ourselves a bit open defensively.

They were also managed by an older, shrewd manager in Jerry Kerr, who knew all the tricks of the trade and he used these to full effect when setting out his team to face Celtic.

Morning of the Match

And yet, when we reported to Celtic Park about 1.30pm for the 3pm kick-off, everyone seemed to be in good spirits and the chat and gossip were as noisy as usual. There would a big crowd for this one and even an hour-and-a half before kick-off, they were flooding in. The new admission fee of 5 shillings (25p) was not seemingly making much of a difference.

The Boss had not said much about the match midweek but it was just assumed for such a big clash, the side which took to the field in Lisbon would do the same on that afternoon. And before the match, he was quite calm, going over how he thought United would, as he put it, ‘set out their stall’ and reminding Ronnie about the new rule whereby keepers had to get rid of the ball within four steps.

For my own part, I had spent a few moments towards the end of the week trying to figure out who the United manager would play at outside-left, as Orjan Persson had moved to Rangers. They did have some other Scandinavians who could play there but I was of the mind that I would end up playing against an old rival from Glasgow.


The Teams


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

Dundee United

T Millar, Briggs
J Millar, Smith, Wood
Berg, Gillespie,Hainey, Graham, Wilson.
Sub: Mitchell


The Play

And my prognostication turned out to be correct, as at outside-left for United was ex-Ranger Davie Wilson, an excellent player who by that time was in the twilight of his career. However, that did not make him any less dangerous. And, of course, he was joined in the United side by two other ex-Rangers stars, Jimmy Millar and Wilson Wood.


Right from the first whistle, we took the game to United, who shuffled back into a very defensive formation and this, of course, gave us plenty of possession. But for the whole of the first half – and most of the second – while we made chances, they were either not taken, saved by keeper Mackay or blocked by the tightly-knit Arabs defence. In contrast, United had only one chance before half-time, when a Hainey shot just slipped past the post.


Having all that possession without anything to show for it must have difficult for a manager to watch, so I was rather expecting a rocket at half-time but the Boss could be amazingly phlegmatic at times and he merely reminded us that we had been through all this the previous season against United and that we must just keep plugging away.


And we went out and did that, maintaining possession and creating further chances, everything we had been asked to do, except that the crucial goal just refused to come. Towards the end, we were getting worried, the crowd was going spare, the Boss was beginning to show some flashes of exasperation, the referee was checking his watch, the crowd was leaving in droves, sure that the match would end in a draw, when suddenly the breakthrough came;

Wee Jimmy – at last!!

90 minutes:  Bertie, who seemed to be out of sorts during the game, got the ball just a yard or two from the touchline halfway in the United half. He sent a lovely cross right on to the head of Jinky at the far post, his header was blocked by the United keeper but the ball came back to him and he prodded it home. 1-0 Celtic


United only had time to re-start the match before referee Mr Webster of Falkirk blew for time up. The crowd roared their delight, the guys went bananas, the manager did too before composing himself to commiserate with the Dundee Utd management and we all trooped back to one of the happiest dressing-rooms of the year. Now, we could say, bring on the others!

Celtic  1  Dundee United  0

The others (the other two sides in the four-team League Cup sectional group), in fact, were playing at Pittodrie, where the final score was Aberdeen 1 Rangers 1. So that put Celtic at the top of the group after the opening matches.

In the Reserve League Cup, on the same day at Tannadice, Celtic lost 2-4 to Dundee United, the goals coming from Lou Macari and Pat McMahon.

And in the FA Charity Shield clash at Wembley, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur shared the trophy after a 3-3 draw.