There is nothing quite like a meeting of the Old Firm to focus and stimulate the minds of Scottish football fans and the first one of that season of 1965-66 was coming up on the 18th September 1965.
The sporting press on the previous day had some comment about the match, with one story from each side of the divide receiving some attention;-
‘The most disappointed Rangers player is inside-right Alec Willoughby – who learned that he had been dropped yesterday – his 21st birthday! Jorn Sorensen had been chosen in his place’.
‘Celtic are hoping to keep their team a secret. They have no injury worries but are not naming a side at present’.
Not much big news there, then. However, on an inside page, there was a comment that Spurs assistant manager Eddie Bailey, who had been at Stark’s Park for the League Cup quarter-final first-leg tie against Raith Rovers, had been really impressed by Jimmy Johnstone and had advised Celtic of his club’s interest in the player. That seemed to push the management and directors into action and they made a swift decision at a Board meeting;
JOHNSTONE STAYS, SAY CELTIC
‘Celtic made two important decisions at a Board meeting last night. First they decided that outside-right Jimmy Johnstone was NOT for sale….then they agreed to enter negotiations for 2 of the 4 Brazilians who have been training at Parkhead.
Celtic will meet the agent for the Brazilians, Senor Ramos, in the hope of signing two of the four.
Ayrton Inacio and Marco di Sousa have played three times for the reserves this season. Jorge Fara and Fernando Consul have not been cleared by the Brazilian FA because they are still under contract to America FC.
Last night, Jock Stein would not commit himself on which of the four he would like to keep but whether any of them will stay will depend on the meeting with Senor Ramos’.
As I have mentioned previously, as a part-timer, I had little opportunity to come across all of the Brazilians. In fact, there were two – Fara and Consul – I had never met. I had played in those three reserve matches with Inacio and di Sousa, thought that they were players with considerable skill but wondered if the fairly combative Scottish game of those days – when referees let you away with a lot more than they do today in terms of tough tackling, particularly from behind– was a suitable stage for them to show their talents.
I took the opportunity at these matches to speak to the full-time players in our team – guys like Simpson, Kennedy, Cushley, Brogan, Gallagher, Johnstone, O’Neill – about how the Brazilians were showing up at full-time training. The feeling that came across quite strongly was that Jorge Fara, a midfield player, was the one that caught the eye most often and that he would be the one that the club would like to keep. However, that would all depend on those crucial meetings with Senor Ramos.
While all this was going on, in various parts of the world, other events were catching the eye;-
Two 15-year-old naval cadets, missing since Tuesday night on the 2,500 feet Garb-Choiredabb mountain on Arran were found exhausted but safe yesterday after an exhaustive search.
French singer Juliette Greco, treated in a Paris hospital for an over-dose of sleeping pills, denied yesterday that she had tried to commit suicide.
Speeding – of the wrong type
World mile champion Michel Jazy of France, holder of the world mile record of 3 minutes 53.6 seconds, has been charged with speeding – doing 50mph over cross-roads in Niort, Western France
The build-up to the Old Firm match, as mentioned above, had gripped the attention of the fans, but for those of us in the reserves, by far the bigger game would take place the night before the big one, when the ‘wee’ teams clashed at Parkhead.
This was my first experience of such an occasion and in some ways, it was quite funny. At the final training session before the match, the coaching staff were in full drive, going on and on about the importance of the occasion, about how it was crucial to rise to the challenge and that we must get a win. I got the impression that some of the younger guys were getting a bit apprehensive rather looking forward to it but we would see on the night.
I could be put in the ‘youngish’ category myself (I was 22 ) but was not the type to get too upset before a match; indeed, I used to marvel at how some of the more experienced players we brought in occasionally never managed to lose that nervousness before a match.
As I would find out later in the first team, some were even sick.
Celtic ‘A’ v Rangers ‘A’
Weather…….Constant rain over the 90 minutes
Celtic: Simpson, Craig, McCarron, Brogan, Cushley, O’Neill, Connelly, Inacio, J Quinn, H Quinn, Taylor
Rangers: McFarlane, McGillivray, Caldow, Hynd, Jackson, Wood, McLardy, Setterington, Wilson, Beck, Traill.
The crowd got their money’s worth in terms of goalmouth action right throughout this match. Celtic got the first chance. Jimmy Quinn shrugged off a challenge by Colin Jackson and shot past the keeper. Roger Hynd, though, had got back and cleared off the line.
Then a flashing header by Davie Wilson brought out a wonder save from Ronnie Simpson.
And the match continued in that way, the play raging from end to end, in spite of the driving rain. The only goal came in the 70th minute. A rocket of a drive by Henry Quinn rebounded off Eric Caldow to George Connelly and he drove it home.
Result: Celtic ‘A’ 1 Rangers ‘A’ 0
It was a great atmosphere in the dressing-room afterwards. Even Ayrton Inacio, with his limited English, realised how big a win that had been for the club and he did a little South American dance for us round the treatment table. When we got outside, a fair number of our fans had stayed behind to congratulate us and it took us some time to sign autographs and so on. Unfortunately, we also got the news that two fans had been arrested and removed from the terracings during the match.
However, from the football point of view, it was the 10th consecutive win for the reserves and none of us let the club down; did Ayrton Inacio, though, show enough of his skill to be one of the Brazilian players the club might keep?