It might have been a narrow win at Fir Park the previous Saturday but all the guys were well aware that the Steelmen were one of those sides who usually gave us a hard game so the atmosphere two days later was one of satisfaction. That always made the banter that bit noisier and we all enjoyed it, apart from those who were either receiving treatment or were waiting to go on the table.
Yogi had injured his back in the first half of the Motherwell match but after being seen on the Sunday was definitely improving. Bertie had picked up injuries to both knee and ankle in the second half but as we had by then used our only substitute, he had been forced to play on. That did not help his case and the view was that he might be out for a couple of weeks.
For the rest of us, we had a tough old session at Barrowfield in pretty wet conditions, running, shooting etc. And as the two players mentioned earlier were the only two getting treatment, there were two teams of about 14-a-side available for the two-touch match which always ended the session.
The Boss was fairly pessimistic about Bertie’s chances over the following week – “Auld’s trouble is damaged ligaments. That takes time to heal and we can’t put any date on when he will be fit again”.
The rest of us went back up the road to the training ground and as it was coming down in sheets, we got the chance to take our cars. That then caused some more problems, as not everyone wanted to take his car, as it could get really dirty when soaking wet players piled into it after training for the trip back to Celtic Park. Honestly, sometimes we were never happy!
Two sides which would meet in the Scottish Cup at the weekend – Dundee United and Hearts – decided that some time away from their usual training grounds might help. Hearts went golfing at Longniddry, just east along the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh; while the Terrors were all treated to a 4-day break at Carnoustie.
The break must have helped both teams to tone up their goal-scoring, as the tie finished Dundee United 5 Hearts 6!
The pool of players chosen by Bobby Brown for the international against England on the 24th February was announced today. Six Celts were included – Simpson, Gemmell, Hughes, Johnstone, Lennox, McNeill.
For us, the day before a match usually meant some track-work and that is exactly what happened. However, after all the rain that had come down over the past few days, the track round the pitch at Celtic Park in those days was very heavy, so no chances were taken and we did not spend long outside
And, just for a change, the Boss announced the side that would meet Stirling Albion on the morrow, stressing that the game was one of those that we had in hand over Rangers, so picking up the two points would be not only necessary but crucial. The Big Fellow could get his point across pretty well sometimes!
The Boss might have mentioned how crucial this match was for us but it obviously did not rank high enough for us to be fed beforehand so I had to reply on the my own efforts. In the event, the scrambled eggs on toast with some tea was highly satisfactory and I left my parents’ house late in the afternoon for the trip up to Parkhead. As I expected, everyone was in fine fettle and we were all looking forward to the match, although well aware that our opponents would also be up for it.
Unfortunately, Stirling Albion – who had spent the previous two seasons in the First Division after winning promotion in season 1964-65 – were struggling badly by that time, anchored at the foot of the table and already slightly adrift of the rest.
For every goal that they scored, they were losing an average of three and that is a sure recipe for disaster. And to make things worse – for us – they were all nice guys, particularly their right-half Sammy Henderson, who had only moved there from Celtic. Still, as the Boss would say – “no mercy!” – and that was the attitude we tried to adopt.
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Wallace, Hughes, Gallagher, Lennox.
Henderson, Rogerson, McKinnon, McPhee, Smith, Lynn, Peebles, Hall.
From the kick-off, we had all the possession, made a number of chances but these were all messed up due to carelessness near the box. Everyone also seemed to be smitten by a sudden urge to score from far out and I must confess to trying one or two myself. We had been given an early chance to take the lead …..
McKinnon pulled down Jinky in the box, the referee –Mr Pringle from Edinburgh was in no doubt as to the decision and Tam stepped forward to blast the ball home. Celtic 1 Stirling Albion 0
… but from then on, we wasted a number of good opportunities.
At the break, the Boss was at his positive best, his only criticism our lack of concentration near the goal. We were all aware of that and went out keen to change things.
Unfortunately, we did not improve much. Stirling defended well and even made or two forward breaks. The crowd – pretty small at 17,000 – was beginning to get a little restless and while not exactly giving us some stick, you could feel their disapproval. Then we got another
Reid mis-timed a clearance and Wispy, challenging Rogerson for the ball, hooked it backwards on to the hands of keeper Murray, who could not stop it going over his head and in to the net.
Final Score Celtic 2 Stirling Albion 0