One of the porters in our hotel, who spoke excellent English, told me that our club and its players should feel quite at home in the city. Novi Sad was the capital of the autonomous Serbian province of Vojvodina, an area once inhabited by Illyrians and most appropriately, Celts? Isn’t it amazing what you can find out sometimes!
When the bus arrived at the stadium, we were all again impressed by the wonderful floodlights but also surprised by the size of the crowd. We had undertaken two public training sessions where crowds of around 5,000 on each occasion had turned up to watch, so we were all expecting a good crowd for the actual game.
The stadium had a capacity of only 25,000 but there was nowhere near that when we were doing a loosener on the pitch pre-match. However, by the time we came out for the contest itself, they had suddenly arrived and the official attendance was later given as 24,000.
Vojvodina had recently transferred their striker Takac to Rennes FC for £7000 and would be without their usual left-wing pairing of Trivic and Pusivic, both of whom had been ordered off in their previous tie against Atletico Madrid and were now banned for this tie. And news had already come to us that if they got any penalties, they would be taken by goalkeeper Pantelic.
Pantelic, Aleksic, Radovic, Brzic, Nesticki, Dakic, Sekeres, Radoslav, Dordic, Stanic.
Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Lennox, Chalmers, Auld, Hughes.
For the first 45 minutes, we took a battering from the Slavic opposition, who attacked with power and speed and never gave us a minute’s peace. On reflection, I would have to say that our defence did superbly well to hold them off. That might seem a strange thing to say, especially as the words are coming from the right-back in the defensive set-up, but the statement is undeniably true.
Every time we moved the ball up the park, it seemed to come back to us but we were able to crowd their attacks and shut down space so that their players had to shoot from quite far out. Happily, while they were good at setting up attacks, shooting from long range was not one of their strengths.
At the interval, the Boss was quite calm, telling us to just keep playing the way we had been doing and stressing the value of concentration. After a hectic first half, it helped us a lot to see him so calm, although no doubt his own nerves would been a-fluttering.
From the start of the second half, for whatever reason, we came more into it as an attacking force and that put them a bit on the back foot. Lemon had a great shot saved by Pantelic and then Cesar made a good break forward and shot narrowly wide. Then, in the 69th minute, just as it was looking good for us, disaster struck .
Tam was short with a pass-back to Luggy, Stanic pounced on to it and beat Ronnie from close in. Vojvodina 1 Celtic 0.
For the final 20 minutes, we were once more under the cosh, the Slavs wanting a second and us trying to keep it to one. Frankly, by this time we had pulled the midfielders back to help out in defence, so there were few attacks from the side in green.
When the whistle blew for the end of the match, we were a bit disappointed at having been beaten but felt confident that we could overcome the deficit in a week’s time.
Final Score Vojvodina 1 Celtic 0
A footballers’ world can sometimes be a strange one. When one is part of a good set of players who get on with each other, one can occasionally say things that might – in other circumstances and with differing characters – cause offence.
At the post-match banquet that night after the match (my recollection is that the place resembled a castle), Tam and I were sitting together both with a drink in our hands when I broached a delicate subject as diplomatically as possible;
“you made a bit of a balls-up tonight, did you not?”.
He just sipped his drink and smiled. “Don’t worry, Cairney; I’ll make it up to you!”
And he did!
Two 14-year-old boys were found dead today on an Army Gunnery range – the victims of an explosion.
A massive hunt by 200 soldiers, 40 policemen with dogs and a helicopter started at daybreak on the ranges at Lulworth, Dorset for the boys. The alarm was raised when they failed to return home to Stoborough near Wareham after going to the ranges.
Police reported to the Army authorities at 11.30am that the boys were missing and an order was immediately given for no firing today.
The bodies were found about one and a half miles inside the range.
Home At Last
Three orphan brothers whose parents were killed in a car crash in Australia three months ago arrived in Scotland to stay with their grandmother. The children, Gary Law (9), Tommy (8) and Shaun (6) were exhausted after their 12,000 miles journey.
Relatives met them at Glasgow Airport and they were taken by car to Finnieston Street Greenock where they will stay with their grandmother, Mrs Margaret Christie.
Mrs Mercia Emmerson, of Wimbledon, who described herself as secretary of the National Federation of Clubs for Divorced and Separated people, was granted a decree nisi in the Divorce Court in London because of adultery by her husband Alan.