You might think that, after winning the league title on 7th May, the players would have done their stint for the season and training would be wound down. Nothing could be further from the truth! There was a tour of North America coming up and everyone needed to be ready. Apart from me, that is.
I was still in my final year at the Dental Hospital and, as my next exams were coming up in June, I had to, with some reluctance, forego the trip.
The Celtic travelling party of 17 players departed from the newly opened Abbotsinch Airport on the 11th May heading for Bermuda via London. There were 17 players in the party – Simpson, Young, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Gallagher, Chalmers, Lennox, Auld, Hughes, McBride, Fallon, Cushley, McCarron and O’Neill – plus the Boss, Sean Fallon, Bob Rooney and Neil Mochan.
It looked a tough schedule as the first match was the following day against Bermuda, the first time the national team had played at their Devonshire ground against First Division opposition from Great Britain. Their team was Jim Lyons, Gilbert Darrell, Jim Bauchop, Granville Nusum, Richard Smith, Kenny Cann, Edward Ming, Reggie Tucker, Jim Copeland, Donald Zuill and Doug Currie.
The Celtic eleven was Ronnie Simpson, Ian Young, Tam Gemmell, Bobby Murdoch, Billy McNeill, John Clark, Jimmy Johnstone, Charlie Gallagher, Stevie Chalmers, Bobby Lennox and Bertie Auld.
The match turned out to be something of a romp. Bertie opened the scoring in the 14th minute and went on to get 2 more; Bobby Lennox scored 4; Tam – doing a little stint at centre-forward – got 2; Cesar knocked one in ; and the final sore was 10-1! When the tally was 8-0, Bermuda got their only goal, scored by Jimmy Copeland, a Scot who used to be on Kilmarnock’s books.
It was a good start and everyone in the party would have been really happy. Even better was the fact that the next match was also in Bermuda, three days hence, so the guys could spend some time doing a bit of light training, soaking up the sun and swimming. Ah! the life of a footballer can be a tough one sometimes?
And that day, there was also some good news for the Boss. He had just been chosen as Scotland’s manager of the year, picking up a cheque for £500.