On the day of the game, news came through that Dinamo Zagreb WOULD be coming to Celtic Park to face us BUT the date had been brought forward from Wednesday 8th February to Tuesday 7th February.
The first-team squad reported to Parkhead around 11.00am and almost immediately boarded the usual Cotter’s bus for the trip up to Perth. We usually had a light lunch at the Station Hotel, which was situated, funnily enough, just to the north of Perth Station. In those far-off days, there was not the information on nutrition that is readily available today, so what the players had for their pre-match meal covered a variety of foods.
During my years at Celtic, the favourites were chicken or steak, although there was the occasional request for cheese on toast, an omelette, scrambled eggs or my most memorable one, cornflakes and peaches. Who was it? Well, apart from his choice of pre-match meal, he was quite a sensible fellow for a goalkeeper!
Was I in or was I out? And was I worried? ‘Yes’ was the answer to the first question; ‘no’ to the second. After the way the team had performed against Dundee and then Clyde, I was pretty sure that the Boss would not make many changes, at least to the defence. So, I felt good all morning and was fully expecting my name to read out in the number two shirt.
I had played at Muirton before but not for the first team. Back then, it was right up there among the biggest playing surfaces in Scotland. On that day, which was to turn out to be a memorable one for a specific reason – more about that later – the pitch was in fairly good condition, considering that the whole country had been in the grip of some icy weather all week.
The rubber boots were with us but we did need them that day, as the leather studs could get a grip and that suited most of us. After we had been out for a look at the surface, the Boss called us into the dressing room and read out the team.
Donaldson, McCarry, Smith, Townsend, Rooney, McPhee,
Coburn, Whitelaw, Kilgannon, McDonald., Johnstone.
Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark,
Johnstone, Wallace,Chalmers, Lennox, Auld.
If you take another look at those names in the Celtic line-up, they may seem familiar. Yes, it was the first time that the team which would become known as the ‘Lisbon Lions’ had taken to the field of play.
The start was delayed for about 8 minutes, always a very unsettling situation for any player, as you have to do the same warm-up at least a couple of times before getting the nod from the referee.
This was an awkward day for physio Bob Rooney. The club he was employed by was the visiting team to the club where his son Benny was at the heart of the defence. Bob’s loyalties must have been stretched.
And right from the opening whistle, Benny played a great part in holding together the Saints defence as they got a going over from us. We had most of the play, made a number of chances which were either saved or missed and Ronnie was only called in to show his worth a couple of times.
It all made for a rather tense dressing-room at the interval. When the score is 0-0 and the your side is well on top in all other aspects of the game, then the atmosphere at the half-time break for those in that team can be contentious to say the least. The Boss was not exactly angry but he was frustrated by our inability to hit the target and his ‘encouragement’ was definitely on the grumpy side. Thankfully, he left the dressing room after having said his piece and the players got a chance for a chat among themselves.
And we put the talk into action straightaway, with good chances for Jinky, Cesar and Tam but ironically, the Saints almost got the first goal when in a rare breakaway, McDonald was tackled when about to shoot. St Johnstone, naturally, claimed for a penalty while we all tried to look innocent. In the end, referee Mr Anderson of East Kilbride, waved their claims away.
Just when the Celtic fans in the crowd were beginning to be on the edge of despair, we struck, Jinky getting the first in 63 minutes and the second in 69. Suddenly, everything seemed easier and the Saints players looked shocked but it took us a little more time before more goals came, Stevie getting number three four minutes from the end and Lemon scoring number four just on the final whistle.
Final Score St Johnstone 0 Celtic 4
A motorist who drove his car for half a mile along a snow-covered main railway line in Norway while an express train was on its way towards him was sentenced to 40 days’ jail for drunken driving.
The train was stopped in time.
Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Foreign Secretary George Brown will have an audience with the Pope during their visit to Rome for Common Market talks
Watch Your Language!
The Rolling Stones have bowed to an ultimatum from U.S star Ed Sullivan – change the lyrics of one of their songs or not appear on his TV show.
The song, ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’, has been banned by many U.S. radio stations. The group was to sing it on Sullivan’s show tomorrow.
Sullivan found the song objectionable. “Either the song goes or the Stones Go” he said.