15th October 1965 Falkirk v Celtic League – Preview

The Man in the Middle

The Scottish League Management Committee announced that Hugh Phillips of Wishaw would referee the League Cup final on Saturday week between Celtic and Rangers.


Celtic’s next game was not till the 16th October 1965, when the team would be heading for Falkirk, traditionally a place where the home side always rose to the occasion. In the days leading up to that match, however, quite a number of events caught the eye, both on the pitch and off it;-


9 Hundred-weight of O’Briens

More than 9 hundred-weight of O’Briens clashed with 27 policemen yesterday in Chicago to keep officers from arresting the youngest O’Brien who weighs 22 stone 12 lbs.

It started when 17 stone 11 lbs Mrs Dedelia O’Brien blocked a policeman at the back door who was trying to arrest her 16-year-old son for failing to appear in court on Friday.

When the policeman insisted, Mrs O’Brien called in her other son James (30), his wife Starr (22) and Mrs O’Brien’s sister Florence (27). All of them, except for Mrs O’Brien’s daughter-in-law, weigh over 14 stone.

Only minor injuries were sustained by both sides and all the O’Brien’s were arrested.



Scotland needed the points

On the evening of 13th October 1965, a crowd of 108,453 turned up at Hampden for the home tie against Poland in a World Cup qualifying match.

When the teams had met at Chorzow on 23rd May, the game had finished in a 1-1 draw. Now, with home and away encounters with Italy looming, it was crucial for Scotland to pick up both points in the return. The team on the night was Brown (Tottenham Hotspur), Hamilton (Dundee), McCreadie (Chelsea), Crerand ( Manchester United), McNeill (Celtic), Greig (Rangers), Henderson (Rangers), Bremner (Leeds), Gilzean (Tottenham Hotspur), Law (Manchester United) and Johnston (Rangers).


A Good Start

Scotland got off to the best possible start in the 11th minute, when, as the ball bobbled around the Polish penalty area, Billy McNeill latched on to it and lashed it home. And that was the only goal for the next 73 minutes, with both teams showing good moments of play and making some chances. However, with only 6 minutes left, disaster struck, leading to a very precise headline in one of the papers the following day –


Two Fatal Minutes for Scots at Hampden

84 minutes:

a cross from the left was mis-controlled by Alec Hamilton, the ball ran to centre-forward Libuda and he equalized.    Scotland 1 Poland 1

85 minutes:

outside-right Sadek beat John Greig, cut in on goal and hammered in a shot which squirmed out of Bill Brown’s hands into the net. Scotland 1 Poland 2.

It had been a disappointing evening and manager Jock Stein looked crestfallen at the finish. Still, matters were still in Scotland’s hands; it just made the two ties against Italy all the more crucial.

In the press, the following day, one particular comment had all the punters talking;-

Jock Stein is under some pressure. Jock Stein is a good manager. His record proves that.

But even the best manager in the world can do nothing without good players.

So, this brings us back to the crux of Scotland’s problem. Do we have the good players?


The Venue

In those days, Brockville – the ground of Falkirk FC – was a pretty small and un-prepossessing place. Officially, it had a capacity of 24,000 (with 2,750 seats) but the average attendance was well below that and for visiting sides, another disturbing feature was that the edge of the pitch was only a short distance from the wooden barriers at the foot of the terraces.

Celtic would also have to cope with a smaller pitch – 110 x 70 yards as opposed to the 115 x 75 yards at Parkhead.

Now, the length of a pitch does not make much difference to the play. The width of the pitch, though, is a different matter. The ‘Principles of Play’ which you will find in any coaching manual, have very specific objectives for attack and defence;-

An attacking side must create, maintain and exploit space; whereas a defending team must deny, delay and restrict space.

Now, if you are defending, it sure helps your case if the attacking side has a much narrower area to work in. So, while 70 yards might not seem a very large difference from 75 yards, it does mean that attackers have less space in which to stretch the defence and makes it easier for the defending side to close down any forward moves.

In terms of form at that date, the odds would appear to have favoured the visitors. While Celtic lay in second place in the league table, just behind Rangers, the Bairns were in mid-table, leaking too many goals in defence for the liking of their manager, Sammy Kean.



At his press conference before the match, Jock Stein was fairly quiet and guarded. Naturally, he would have been hurting from Scotland’s defeat in midweek and although ostensibly, the conference was supposed to be about the match against Falkirk – and the League Cup semi-final replay versus Hibs two days later – he also, although reluctantly, had to deal with questions about the international side’s performance.

However, for the two forthcoming matches, as far as he was concerned, everyone in the camp was fit and raring to go.


It’s a Long, Long Time from June to September!

The wife of Vince Edwards, television’s Dr Ben Casey, is suing him for divorce for the second time since they wed in June.


Racism Rears its Head

Boos and cheers punctuated a debate on immigration at the annual conference of the Conservative Party in Brighton yesterday.

And they were preceded by an intervention from Mrs Colin Jordan, wife of the leader of the National Socialist Party. She stood up in the body of the hall and shouted “send the blacks home!” before being escorted away by stewards.



European Draw

In the draw for the second round of the European Cup Winners’ Cup, Celtic were paired with A.G. F. Aarhus of Denmark, with the first leg away.

In the European Cup, Kilmarnock would meet Real Madrid, while in the Fairs Cup, Dunfermline drew KB Copenhagen. Hearts and Hibs were still involved in the Fairs Cup but their ties were yet to be completed.