The press was still going on about the Old Firm match of the previous evening, most of it in rapturous tones. This paragraph is representative of the overall message;
‘The skills on display, the enthusiasm shown by the two sets of players and maybe most of all the splendid behaviour of the crowd made this a night to remember – something that restored faith in Scottish football and the men who follow it through good times and bad. They can all take a bow today’.
There were also occasional comments and headlines about the part Andy Penman played in the match, initially a villain in missing the penalty then getting the equaliser from a free-kick. One headline summed it all up;
Andy’s Great Escape Act!
Under the heading – Gold Firm – came this comment ;
‘Golden days for the Old Firm. Through the Ibrox turnstiles last night streamed 94,148 fans and the total take from the gate was approximately £30,000 – a record for a club match played between two Scottish teams’.
The article went on to state that in their first three matches of the season, Celtic had pulled in 239,876 fans. There was an attendance of 91,708 for the match against Spurs at Hampden, then 54,000 turned up at Celtic Park for the clash with Dundee United and on the previous evening, that amazing crowd of 91,168 at Ibrox was the icing on the cake.
While all the comments in the press seemed to be very positive about the whole match, the Boss brought us together before training to say that he thought that we had been a bit sloppy in attack (
he never mentioned the defence, which meant that he thought it had done all right) and that we must take more care with our final pass. So, just to put his message across in a way we would easily understand, we had one of those training sessions where the attack came in droves against the defence, which meant that both parts of the team got a work-out and we all put in a good stint. It was not what we usually did two days before a match but he was obviously keen to see us improve in that area. Time would tell if we had over-done the hard stuff.
The big news was that after the enormous crowd at Ibrox in midweek, the two Glasgow clubs had decided that the second league cup match at Parkhead should be all-ticket, with the figure set at 75,000.
The training on the Friday was quite relaxed and most people took part. There were a few injuries; Yogi with the ankle problem, Bertie also suffering from an ankle knock and Jinky complaining of a facial blow, so the Boss said little about the make-up of the side and merely told everyone in the first team squad to turn up at the appropriate time. A team sheet was put up on the board in the dressing room for the reserve side, which had a meeting with Aberdeen in the Reserve League Cup on the Saturday afternoon at Pittodrie. It listed the team as John Fallon, Ian Young, Willie O‘Neill, Davie Cattenach, George Connelly, Jim Brogan, Sammy Henderson, Hugh McKellar, Jimmy Quinn, Pat McMahon and Lou Macari.
One name was missing from both squads and it was that of Joe McBride. Joe was still taking part in all the training sessions but, to be honest, still looked off the pace and not quite ready to play a full part in either side.
I always found that the Boss was at his most, perhaps ‘determined’ might be the word, in his attitude towards Aberdeen, more than any other club including Rangers. I don’t know what it was about the Dons and I never asked. He could have had a bad experience against them when he was a player or he could have had a run-in with one of their managers or board members but I always thought that he wanted us to do well against the Dons more than any other Scottish club. And from the few comments he made about the match that morning, I got the impression that he wanted us to put one over them again.
There was little doubt in the minds of the journalists previewing the match in both the morning and evening dailies that Friday that Celtic would prove to be strong for Aberdeen. This comment was typical of the coverage;
Celts to Race On!
‘My reading of the game is that the Celtic defence will be more than good enough to stop and hold the Aberdeen forwards, who have not yet hit things off. And the Celtic forwards should be able to make and take the vital goals – especially if Johnstone and Auld live up to their recent reputation’.
It was nice to have the confidence of the press but we all knew that the Aberdeen players would have still been smarting from their defeat in the Scottish Cup final in late April and would be keen to make amends, so we could take nothing for granted.
19th August: Pre-match
No pre-match meal for this one just a command to report at the appropriate time. And we did so, making our way slowly from the car park to the front door, signing all kinds of things on the way. Unlike today, when nearly everyone has a mobile phone and hence a camera, there were few with that particular apparatus and it was almost a novelty to have a photograph taken.
When we went out to check the pitch, we could see that it was in superb condition. Even better, the sun was in the sky and as we got ready for the match, the atmosphere in the dressing room was all fired up.
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Lennox, Auld.
Munro, Mcmillan, Petersen
P Wilson, Storrie,Robb, Buchan, Johnston.
My usual opponent when we played the Dons was Jimmy Wilson but he had been dropped and I had to face a new boy in Johnston, who was normally an inside-forward.
Like the rest of the guys, I had assumed that Aberdeen – who had lost 5-0 to Dundee United in their previous match and would not have wanted another loss like that – would sit back in defence to start the game, at least, but nothing could have been further from the truth.
They came at us and we had a bit of defending to do. It was end-to-end stuff but gradually I felt that we were beginning to have the upper hand although the efforts were not quite on target. When the half-time whistle went, however, it was still goalless.
The Boss had one of his calm half-times, saying that he was quite happy with the effort we were putting in and just to continue the way we had been going.
When the second half started, we went at them hell-for-leather and soon got a reward –
49 minutes: Lemon was pulled to the ground via a combined effort between Whyte and Shewan, a penalty was awarded by Mr Kelly of Motherwell and TG blasted the kick into the roof of the net. 1-0 Celtic
Being a goal behind meant that the Dons had to chase the game and that left them a little bit open. But it still took some time before we got a second;
71 minutes: great run by Jinky, his fine pass found Bertie, who put an even better one into the path of Lemon, who neatly tucked it past the keeper.
At this point, the crowd – and to be honest, we might have been guilty of thinking it ourselves – thought that the game was won. Unfortunately, though, some uncertainty in defence let the Dons back into it again –
77 minutes: Peterson hit the cross-bar from a good free-kick and Storrie reacted quickest to prod the ball home. 2-1 Celtic.
And that made for a fairly hectic last ten minutes, with pressure at both ends, before a touch of class made all the difference;
89 minutes: a lovely cross by Jinky was met with an equally good header by Bertie.
Final Score Celtic 3 Aberdeen 1
There was no doubt the crowd enjoyed the match and the since the vast majority of those present were supporting Celtic, they would have been quite happy too. And the dressing-room was both noisy and delirious. The Dons were never easy and that 3-1 score line was just what we all wanted.
The press coverage later showed that they had also enjoyed the occasion but a comment on one of the evening papers gave us all food for though –
‘Maybe one expects too much from Celtic after their sterling performances at home and abroad last season but even on the basis of only three games in the Scottish League Cup competition, it is obvious that for them, as mortals in other spheres have found, it is tough at the top’.
Over at Ibrox, Rangers beat Dundee United 1-0
Reserve League Cup
At Pittodrie on the same afternoon, Celtic defeated Aberdeen 2-1 in a Reserve League Cup tie. The goals came from Hugh McKellar and Pat McMahon.
No doubt that would have given rise to a very happy journey back down from Aberdeen to Glasgow for the players, with the meal being devoured voraciously and the ‘soft’ drinks going down well. Sean Fallon would have had his hands full trying to keep them quiet.
Of all the teams in the Scottish leagues at that time, Aberdeen was the only one to which we travelled by train for a match.