Three days after the friendly against Manchester United, every Celtic player on the books – apart from those carrying an injury – reported to Celtic Park for the Public Trial.
Most clubs had stopped holding these matches by that time and it was somewhat ironic that the only two that did continue the practice were Celtic and Rangers.
It was only my third trial and I spent most of it on the bench. At the start, the team was;
Simpson, Gemmell, O’Neill, Murdoch, McNeil, Clark, Hughes, McBride, Chalmers, Lennox and Auld.
After about 20 minutes or so, the guys who were playing for the Glasgow Select the following night against Leeds were hauled off and the team changed to;
Kennedy, Young, O’Neill, Cattenach, McNeill, Brogan, Hughes, McBride, Quinn, Gallagher, Taylor.
After another 20 minutes, the team changed again, this time to;
Kennedy, Craig, O’Neill, Cattenach, McNeill, Brogan, Quinn, Gallagher, McBride, Macari, Hughes.
The score was irrelevant, a big worry was that Bobby Murdoch had to come off injured and in the press report the following evening the main headline read ;-
‘Old Firm’ Should Drop These Trials
Only 12,000 spectators turned up at Hampden for the Glasgow Charity Cup match between a Glasgow Select and Leeds United. It turned out to be a les than interesting affair where the quality of play was not regarded by the crowd as too high. With Bobby Murdoch injured, only Tam Gemmell, John Clark, Steve Chalmers, Bertie Auld and Bobby Lennox were in the select side. Bobby L got the select’s goal in the 1-1 draw.
As if on response to the suggestion in one of the previous evening’s papers about the usefulness of Public Trial matches, Celtic put out this statement 24 hours later :
‘Such games have outlived their purpose. There is no place for them any longer’.
Training went ahead as usual for most of the troops. The guys who had played in the Glasgow Select/ Leeds match got time off; while Bobby Murdoch, injured in the trial match, received twice-daily treatment.
The sessions were as tough as ever but always interesting and now that the season had actually started, it was obvious to us all that the tempo of everything had increased. Everyone was determined to play for their place.
In the papers that morning, there was news that Hearts were also having some problems with players not re-signing. Willie Wallace, Alan Anderson and Billy Higgins had all refused so far to accept the terns offered.
The League Cup sectional matches might not have started yet but the draw for the quarter-final stages was made that day. The two involving Celtic and Rangers were;-
Winner of Section 4 (Clyde, St Mirren, Hearts, Celtic ) v Winner of Section 2 (Dunfermline, Motherwell, Falkirk, Partick Thistle)
Winner of Section 5 (Berwick R, Ayr Utd, Raith Rovers, Cowdenbeath) v Winner of Section 3 (Kilmarnock, Stirling A, Hibs, Rangers)
It was also announced that the match at Tynecastle between Hearts and Celtic would no longer be all-ticket. Cash will be accepted at certain turnstiles.
As it was the day before a match, only some light training was put in. Then, after the bath or shower, came the important moment, when the team selections for the following day were put up on the board. Frankly, I was not expecting at this point to be included in the Boss’s plans for a first-team slot. I had to realistic.
After all, the team had performed with conspicuous success on the American tour, then won the friendly against Manchester United by 4 goals to one. Why would he change the team, particularly a defence that had not given many goals away. So I expected to be with the reserves and that was exactly how it worked out, the notice informing me that I should report to Celtic Park on Saturday afternoon for the Reserve League Cup match against Hearts.