14th April 1969
Day off for those in the squad not involved with the Scotland group down at Largs prior to the match with West Germany. It gave us time to lick our wounds after the defeat in the Glasgow Cup by Rangers. At the time, supporters were saying that it was nothing to worry about as it was only the Glasgow Cup but the result would certainly have given the Light Blues a boost and we had a Scottish Cup final coming up in less than two weeks.
Confidence is a very important matter in sport and football was no different. Obviously, we had already won the League Cup and the League but it would be a big disappointment for our support if we did not add the Scottish Cup to that list. And they were not slow in reminding us of that fact every time we met them.
15th April 1969
Back in for training, a casual affair as befits that time of the season.
At Ibrox, later in the evening, Rangers and Partick Thistle played out a 2-2 draw in the final of the Glasgow Cup, a score-line which would necessitate a replay. Rather ironically, according to the reports, the star man on the pitch seemed to be ex-Celt John Divers, in the colours of the Jags.
16th April 1969
We trained again, this time in the afternoon before heading over to Hampden for the World Cup qualifier against West Germany. The team was Lawrence (Liverpool), Gemmell, McCreadie (Chelsea), Murdoch, Greig, McKinnon (both Rangers), Johnstone, Bremner (Leeds), Law (Manchester Utd), Gilzean (Tottenham Hotspur), Lennox.
A crowd of 95,000 turned up for the occasion and they saw Scotland held to a 1-1 draw, our goal coming from a brilliant strike by Bobby Murdoch.
17th April 1969
The press headline told the story of the match the previous evening –
Oh! For More Murdochs!
The report then went on to point out that Scotland must now beat Austria at the Prater Stadium, brush aside lowly Cyprus then beat West Germany in Hamburg to have the right to play in the World Cup Finals in Mexico next year.
18th April 1969
In for the pre-match loosener and we heard that there were going to be some call-offs from the squad. This was confirmed in the evening press, which reported that John Hughes, who had been pulled out of the Scotland squad for the West Germany match, was not even being considered for the game against Airdrie at Celtic Park. Jock Stein said “We hope to have Hughes fit for the vital match against Kilmarnock on Monday”. And it was also noticeable that Lennox was on the treatment table rather than on the track.
19th April The Day of the Match
The usual half-past-one reporting time and we found the pitch in excellent condition, a little short of grass in some areas but that was to be expected at that time of year and it certainly would not hamper the play of either team. In the light of the result of the match, there were reports that we had taken the contest too lightly but I can assure you that there was never any evidence of this in the preparation. As I have mentioned before, teams which play against the side at the top of the table – and who had won the European Cup only two years before – invariably raised their game for the occasion, determined to show that they were as good as we were and equally keen to take something out of the match.
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Hood, Wallace, Auld, Lennox.
Goodwin, Black, Whiteford
Bird, Fyfe, Marshall, McPheat, Wilson.
This was a very competitive match in which both sides – and I use this word advisably – probably ‘suffered’ from decisions by the referee. There can be little doubt that, as you might expect from a side playing at home, we had more of the play but Airdrie did have their chances and were ahead at one point –
42 minutes…..a controversial penalty as the Airdrie players insisted that Jinky had merely collided with Black. In any case, Tam made no mistake from the spot. Celtic 1-0
55 minutes……Corner from the right by Bird was headed in at the near post by McPheat. 1-1
67 minutes……I was short with a pass-back to John Fallon and Marshall beat him to it. Airdrie 2-1
79 minutes……Good header by Jinky, great save by McKenzie as he pushed the ball to the side but Lemon was on to it for the equaliser.
Final Score Celtic 2 Airdrie 2
It was not the sort of result that the support – and to be honest the management and players – expected and the dressing room was a fairly quiet place afterwards. It was time for a word of comfort and the Boss rose to the occasion, telling us to put the result behind us and giving us some encouragement for our next two fixtures, Kilmarnock in the league on Monday and then the Scottish Cup final on the Saturday.