13th November 1965 St Johnstone v Celtic League – Preview

Second Team in Action

As I mentioned last week, the second team had a 2nd X1 Scottish Cup tie against Morton to play on the 8th November at Celtic Park. The side was John Kennedy, Jim Craig, Frank McCarron, Davie Cattenach, John Cushley, Willie O’Neill, Stevie Chalmers, George Connelly, John Divers, Gerry Sweeney and Tony Taylor.

I always had a deal of sympathy for our left-wing pairing of Gerry and Tony. They both worked very hard in training but because better known names like John Divers, Stevie Chalmers, Charlie Gallagher and Bertie Auld occasionally dropped down into the reserve team – and naturally did well – they seldom got the publicity they deserved.

commentButton2I kept nagging them on the way into town in Tony’s Reliant Robin, stressing that the one thing they were not doing well was getting on the score sheet. That is what forwards are expected to do and both needed, in my opinion, to be a wee bit greedy when required to make a name for themselves.

Anyway, on that Monday evening on a fine pitch at Parkhead, they must have taken my advice to heart. The second eleven won 4-0, the goals coming from Tony Taylor (3) and Gerry Sweeney. Excellent! I was glad that that they had listened to me but, to be honest, I did not expect such a quick return from my advice



Billy Bremner in Scotland squad © Daily Record

Billy Bremner in Scotland squad © Daily Record

Earlier that day, in the offices of the Scottish Football Association at Park Gardens, Glasgow, just to the east of Kelvingrove Park, Jock Stein walked in to the press room to announce the side he had chosen to face Italy at Hampden the following evening – the 9th November – to the assembled reporters and TV crews.

He had been hit with some bad news over the weekend. Two regulars were already out, right back Alec Hamilton was injured and left-back Eddie McCreadie was suspended, but as a result of an injury received in the match against Partick Thistle at Parkhead, centre-half Billy McNeill was also unavailable.

So the team chosen by Jock Stein was – Brown (Tottenham Hotspur), Greig, Provan (both Rangers), Murdoch, (Celtic), McKinnon, Baxter (captain), Henderson (all Rangers), Bremner (Leeds), Gilzean ( Tottenham Hotspur), Martin (Sunderland) and either Johnston (Rangers) or Hughes (Celtic). A decision on the outside-left position would apparently be made once the state of the pitch was ascertained.



In later years, some of the journalists who were present that day told me that the choice of team with treated with surprise in the press room, with the manager having to deal with a number of awkward questions about the composition of the side.

Possibly an article in one of the national dailies the following day put the press’s doubts into words ;-

John Greig goes to right-back, Davie Provan partners him. Well, this doesn’t really appeal to me, though Greig had been hotly tipped for the move.

Here we have a player who has never played at right-back. Suddenly he becomes the best Scotland can provide. As for Provan’s choice, I’d much rather have Tommy Gemmell there.

The half-back line is fair enough. Bobby Murdoch at right-half and Ron McKinnon at centre-half get their first caps and are joined by Jim Baxter, recalled to the fold.

In the forward line, Willie Henderson, Billy Bremner and Alan Gilzean keep the positions they held against Poland. But the talking point here is the left wing.

Neil Martin comes in for Denis Law, to partner either John Hughes or Willie Johnston. If the going is heavy, Hughes will get the preference.


How the Evening Went

On the night, a crowd of 100,393 ( about 7,000 fewer than the attendance for the Poland match the previous month, although not many remember that) was at the national stadium. There was air of optimism among both the crowd at the stadium and also the written press on the morning of the match;-

 Scotland Can Win on the Wings Tonight

The match turned out to be a very close encounter and it was all settled by a single goal, which came, thankfully, for Scotland two minutes from the end;-

Two Minutes to Go Then Greig Gets Wonder Goal

88 minutes The heavens erupt as Scotland score. A golden goal. It’s a beauty too. Fit to win any World Cup tie. Greig and Baxter combine from almost the halfway line and the final pass from Jim gives Greig the opening. From 15 yards out, he hits a low vicious shot to Negri’s left-hand corner.

The crowd went into ecstasy and the noise continued well after the final whistle went shortly afterwards. Jock Stein was happier than most ;

“The Scotland team spoke for us. It should be very interesting in Naples. I am very happy”.

Was I There?

Unfortunately, I was not at the match. Unlike many university courses, where there are perhaps two or three lectures in the course of a day, at the Dental Hospital we had lectures/labs all morning, then patients all afternoon. It meant that all studying had to be done in the evenings or weekends, periods when I was trying to do other things, like train or play.

So, although the prospect of seeing a Scotland/ Italy encounter was very appealing, I resisted the temptation, got my head down and did not even listen to the match on the radio. Dad eventually came up to my room to tell me the score.


Personal Thoughts

This was an important match for Scotland’s chances of progressing to the World Cup finals of 1966, which would be held in England. However, all I could think about in these days was Ian Young’s injury and how it would affect me. From the odd bit I read in the papers, it seemed that he would not be fit for the match on Saturday….but…..would that then mean that I would get the nod.

What a Beautiful Evening!

I turned up for training on the Thursday night still in the dark. On the forthcoming Saturday, there were matches for the first team and the reserves, both against St Johnstone, so I imagined I would get a game of some sort. Still, it would be a blow if I missed out on the first team.

I worked hard that night. I can’t remember who I was paired with in the various runs but he would have had a hard time keeping up with me, as I was on a roll. The session seemed to pass quite quickly and then it seemed no time at all before I was cleaned up and dressed, sitting in the dressing-room with the rest of the guys ready to hear the news from Sean Fallon about the matches on the Saturday.

He came into the room while all the chatter was still going on, caught my eye and with a flick of his head, motioned for me to come outside. I followed him across the foyer into the manager’s office, where he closed the door before turning towards me and spoke the words I had been hoping to hear:

“Right, son, you’re in the first team on Saturday up at Perth”.


The Boss’s Press Conference

From what I read in the papers, Jock Stein did not much like the atmosphere at the press conference on the day before the match. In spite of his mentioning several times that he had said all he had to say about the Scotland/Italy clash only days before, there were several rogue queries about away match against Italy?

However, when he pulled the focus of the meeting back to Celtic, Jock Stein said that Billy McNeill would likely be fit for the game, as his strained knee was responding to treatment; but Ian Young would have no chance of playing at Perth, as the plaster round his damaged ankle was still in place.

If, however, he also mentioned that I was taking his place, then it certainly was not mentioned in the press!



Last time, I asked which Celtic player from the side which played against Abercorn on 7th November 1896 – McArthur, Meechan, Dunbar, Russell, Kelly, Battles, Madden, Blessington, King, McMahon, Divers – had already won both an FA Cup winner’s medal and a Scottish Cup winners’ medal.

Well, the answer was centre-half Davie Russell, who was firstly in the Hearts side which beat Dumbarton in the Scottish Cup final of 1891 – when he scored the only goal of the game – and then turned out for Aston Villa at the Crystal Palace in 1895 when they beat West Bromwich Albion by a single goal. Future Celtic left back Jim Welford was also in the Villa side that afternoon.

This week’s question is about a match played in 1982. When Celtic beat St Mirren 5-0 on the 13th November 1982, two of the Celtic players that day went on to play for St Mirren and two of the Buddies’ side were future Celts. Names, please?

PS        In future weeks, I will be offering prizes for the answers, so warm up with ones like this.



Here Come The Russians

The Soviet Union will enter a team in the European Cup competition next season for the first time, the Tass News Agency reported today. The Russian representatives will be either Moscow Torpedo or Kiev Dynamo, rivals for the USSR league championship.


Sanctions Against Rhodesia

Rhodesia, now in open rebellion against the Crown, faces massive economic sanctions by the British government. President Kenyatta of Kenya and President Kaunda of Zambia both condemned the move, as did the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).

New Man at the Top

Mr John Johnston, the quiet man of Glasgow municipal politics, was yesterday elected to the office of Lord Provost of the city in succession to the late Sir Peter Meldrum.