1st January 1969: Celtic v Clyde – League

30th December 1968

The reports from all the matches on Saturday were clumped together under the headline                                     

Urgh!  Those Frozen Pitches

We had not been too happy with the surface at Broomfield and it appeared that we were not the only group of players to be unhappy with the surfaces. All over the country, players had been  finding it difficult to keep their feet and were even more displeased when their passes hit raised divots. However, the Scottish League said that they stood by the decisions of the referees as to whether pitches were up to a match standard and no further action would be taken.

As regards the match against Clyde at Parkhead on New Year’s Day, Sean Fallon was quoted as saying;

“the pitch is still hard but the important thing is that there are no bumps on it. If the weather continues as it is today, then we are confident that the match against Clyde will go on”.

There was less confidence over at Ibrox about the clash on the 2nd January;

‘That vital – and all-ticket – Rangers-Celtic league championship match at Ibrox is in grave danger. Unless the weather improves, there will be an inspection of the pitch on Wednesday’.

As regards our own team, Bobby Murdoch had picked up a leg knock against Airdrie but on that Monday morning seemed to able to run very effectively.

31st December

A little warning from one of the evening papers                                                                 

Watch It, Celtic

This was just a little reminder that our form recently had been inconsistent and that we could not afford to take any of our three opponents this week lightly. Certainly, Clyde were some distance down the table but both Rangers and Dunfermline were in the top five and going well. They would regard a match against Celtic as a special occasion and would raise their game accordingly. Our current problem seemed to be that we were finding it difficult to do that. In other words, we were not playing like the Celtic of the previous seasons.

Hogmanay was always a special night in Scotland and it was difficult to avoid hearing the noise from the streets as revellers made their way to different houses to take part in the celebrations. My Mum in particular was always pushing for me to go to bed early -sometimes from about 9 o’clock? – but I pointed out that there was no way I could get off to sleep at that time. In the end – and I did this all through my career – I stayed up till the bells, celebrated with a cup of tea rather than an alcoholic drink and then settled down just after midnight.

Unfortunately, it became such a habit that nowadays, I find it difficult to stay up much longer than I did back then!

1st January  1969  The Day of the Match

There was some special news for Celtic fans on the eve of the match. Chairman Robert Kelly had been knighted in the New Year Honour’s List. Jock Stein was quoted in the Glasgow Herald as saying;

“this is an honour for the man as an individual and an honour for the club. We are all delighted that the man and the club have been recognised in such a way. I think it is long overdue’.

Naturally, that was the main topic of conversation when we all reported to Parkhead at about 1.30pm although there was a universal feeling that the Boss should have possibly been given that honour too. However, as the old saying goes – ‘ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die’ so we kept our thoughts to ourselves and got ready to go out and do battle.

The Teams

Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Callaghan, Hughes.   
Sub: Auld

Glasgow, Mulheron
Anderson, Fraser, McHugh
McFarlane, Hood, Staite, Burns, Hastings. 
Sub: Soutar

The Play

There had been a little bit of a thaw the previous night so the pitch was less hard that it had been. Unfortunately, that also made it slippy. However, we were in no position to have a poor game and I think everyone went out determined to put on a show.

In the event, Clyde were never out of it but this quote from one of the following day’s dailies summed up the occasion

‘Clyde were not five goals inferior to Celtic for their play in the outfield was every bit as polished as that of their opponents. They were, however, far too deliberate as they advanced on goal and opportunities were let slip by over-elaborate passing when a quick shot seemed called for’.

The goals came as follows –

19 minutes
a rocket by Tid Callaghan cannoned in off one of the uprights.   1-0 Celtic

36 minutes
centre-half Fraser handled the ball and Tam Gemmell slammed home the penalty. 2-0 Celtic

40 minutes
pass by Jinky and Tid got his second.   3-0 Celtic

78 minutes
Wispy took a corner and when the Clyde defence took an age to clear the ball, he was able to charge into the box and score. 4-0 Celtic

81 minutes
after a few near misses, Bobby Lennox finally got one on target.

Final Score  Celtic  5  Clyde  0

To be honest, after the poorish form recently, it was great to be cheered off the pitch at the end by the 31,000 crowd and even better to see a happy and relaxed manager in the dressing room afterwards.

However, he was also quick to remind us that we had a very big match coming up the following day, so he wanted us to go straight home and leave any celebrations till the end of the week.