The Morning of the Match
Considering the importance of the match, it was a pretty relaxed atmosphere in the hotel on the morning of the match. After breakfast, we were told to go back to our rooms for a while, as a few pressmen and also some fans had arrived in the building. It was not as though we did not to meet all these guys; it was more that the Boss had still not announced the team and he did want people asking us about it. So, back to the rooms we went, like Primary 7!
Later on, just before lunch, we came down again to the foyer, appropriately dressed in our training gear and were taken by bus to a small grassy area – somewhere in Southport – for a loosening up session. Then it was a return to the hotel, a light lunch and back to the bedrooms for an afternoon siesta – with still no mention of the team for that night.
Pre- Match Meal
Round about 4.30pm or 4.45pm, we all came back down to the dining room for the pre-match meal. Our players all had various dishes for this repast; fish was popular, as was chicken or steak (dishes now frowned upon today), others had beans on toast or scrambled eggs. Then came a big moment, when the Boss asked for the serving staff to withdraw from the room. We all knew what was coming and the excitement rose.
The Boss played it very calmly, stressing the importance of the occasion and what a boost it would be to the Scottish game if we could get through to the final. Then came the big announcement…..and what a shock it was! Wee Jimmy was dropped! Bobby Lennox was brought in to replace him, making a front five of Lennox, McBride, Chalmers, Auld and Hughes.
It was quite an embarrassing moment. Everyone wanted to look at the Wee Man and give him a smile of encouragement but he was sitting with this head down, obviously shocked. And he stayed in that position as the Boss discussed how he wanted the side to play, only looking up occasionally. He obviously had not expected to be dropped but it was the way Jock Stein did things and most of us would be in a similar position in the years to come.
At the Ground
We travelled over to Liverpool by bus, with a police escort as we neared the ground. The crowds were beginning to gather, even about an hour and a half before the kick-off and the tension was palpable. As we went outside to check the condition of the ground, we were all astonished to see how wet and muddy the pitch was; it was obviously going to play a considerable part in the proceedings and you could see from their faces how it affected the guys in different ways. Some would not be bothered by the conditions at all but others would be a little apprehensive about playing on such a surface. It was an interesting moment.
Once the guys in the team on the night started to get ready for the fray, those of us not playing but in the party – John Fallon, Charlie Gallagher, John Cushley, Jimmy Johnstone and myself – left them to it and went out into the foyer, enjoying the build-up and excitement among the guests, if a little disappointed that we were not involved.
Then, about 15 minutes before kick-off, Sean Fallon came out of the dressing-room, gave all of us tickets for the stand and we headed towards that area. Unfortunately, when we asked a steward where we should go, he pointed out that the tickets were for the stand on the opposite side of the ground, so we had to push our way through the crowds coming in the opposite direction and, in fact, missed the opening minutes of the game.
Right from the start, Liverpool were in control. It was entirely different from the first match at Parkhead.
Ronnie was called up to make several good saves and Tommy Smith cracked a 30-yarder off the cross-bar. At half-time, though, it was still goalless.
After the interval, Liverpool picked up where they had left off and just on the hour mark, they made the breakthrough. Big Yogi was rather harshly adjudged to have fouled Geoff Strong outside the area and when Tommy Smith cracked in the free kick, it was unfortunately deflected past Ronnie for the opener.
Only five minutes later, they got another when Strong, who was obviously carrying an injury which was hampering his movements, managed to jump high enough to meet a Ian Callaghan cross and send it into the corner of the net.
The guys now threw caution to the winds and took the game to Liverpool. Stevie hit the bar and Bobby L missed from close-in. Then came the critical moment of the match.
With only minutes left, a long ball forward from Bobby M allowed Joe McBride to pass it on to Bobby L through the middle and he knocked the ball past Tommy Lawrence in the Liverpool goal. The strike was greeted with elation by the Celtic support but to their horror, the lineman’s flag was up and the goal was disallowed. It was a controversial decision. TV replays later made the viewer think that Bobby was onside and the controversy raged on for some days afterwards.
Joe McBride had no doubts on the matter ;
“Bobby Lennox’s goal at Anfield should have stood. Even the referee admitted, after seeing the replay on TV, said that he had made a mistake. The ball came through the middle and I was furthest forward with Ron Yeats at my back and I flicked the ball beyond him.
Bobby had started his run five yards behind me and ran past both of us to score but the referee gave offside. How he did I’ll never know. Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners to go through. I guarantee that we would have won the Cup-Winners’ Cup with the final at Hampden, which was virtually a home game for us. Borussia Dortmund beat Liverpool but we would have beaten them on the night”.
Unfortunately, after the goal was disallowed, some fans reacted badly and a hail of cans and bottles rained down on to the pitch. Over 100 people were injured and Bob Rooney and Neil Mochan went out to try to calm the fans down, with some success.
Overall, it was a bitterly disappointing night for everyone connected with Celtic, the team, the manager, the coaching staff, the directors and the fans. It was one thing to be beaten but to have a perfectly good goal chalked off due to inefficient refereeing was particularly sickening.
However, it was important for the Boss and players in particular to put the disappointment behind them. There was a Scottish Cup final coming up only four days later and Rangers would be waiting to punish any drop in standards.
It was reported in several papers that Bill Shankly made a joking comment to Jock Stein after the match that Celtic should take the empty bottles back to Glasgow in lieu of their match receipts payment.
Now, it was common knowledge that the two managers were pals but there is time to make a crack and a time to keep quiet and at that point, I’m sure that the Boss would have failed to see the humour!
Like the rest of the guys, I was bitterly disappointed by the result on the night but as I sat in the bus taking us to the station for the trip home, wondering why the plan had gone wrong, it suddenly dawned on me that both our fullbacks, Ian and Tam, had struggled to cope with the Liverpool wingers, Callaghan and Thompson. In four days time, there was another big match for Celtic coming up; could there be a place for me in the side?
A Game from the Past….and a Moment to Remember
Sponsored by the Jim Craig CSC
A Game from the Past……inside –forward John Neil Henderson joined Celtic from Dumfries FC in late December 1895, just in time to be in the team which played Bury at Giggs Lane in a friendly on Christmas Day.
And a Game to Remember….John then had to wait almost a year before making his first-team league debut against Clyde in the 4-1 win on 12th December 1896. His second match was against Rangers the following week. The Ibrox pitch was like an ice-rink; Rangers wore rubber soles; Celtic came out in leathers and the Light Blues won 2-0.
John’s only Scottish Cup appearance was an unfortunate one, as he was involved in the Arthurlie disaster of 9th January 1897 – a match which damaged many a reputation – and in the summer of 1897, John moved to Victoria United.
Lance-Corporal Rambahadur Limbu, a native of Nepal, was with the 10th Gurkha Rifles of the British Army when he was awarded the Victoria Cross for heroism at Sarawak on 21st November 1965. It was the first time in more than 12 years since the VC, emblem of outstanding bravery and selfless conduct, had been awarded.
A mini-census was conducted across the UK and Northern Ireland, using a 10% sample. The detailed results, however, were ordered sealed for a century and are not scheduled to be released until January 1st 2067.
A £10,000 Whistler painting was slashed by vandals in Glasgow Art Galleries at the weekend.
As a result, all paintings in the gallery are likely to be covered with glass.