As I came to on the morning of the match, the noise of the rain battering on the roof of my parents’ house told me all I needed to know. It was going to be a wet pitch!
I had hoped for a long lie but Mum needed help with her bags at the grocers at the top of the road so I did my bit there, while trying to fit in breakfast and a pre-match meal around my duties.
Then, it was up to the top of the road for the bus into town, getting off at Argyle Street and getting on another to take me to Celtic Park. By the time I got there, my coat was not only drenched but my hair was plastered down over my forehead. Oh! the pleasures of living in the West of Scotland?
John Hughes was a late call-off, so the team for the afternoon was Ronnie Simpson, Jim Craig, Tommy Gemmell, Bobby Murdoch, Billy McNeill, John Clark, Jimmy Johnstone, Charlie Gallagher, Joe McBride, Bobby Lennox and Bertie Auld.
It was unfortunate but Hamilton’s lowly league position was reflected in the attendance, as only 12,000 were in the ground for the start of the match. Not surprisingly, the Accies chose to have the wind and rain behind them in the first half and actually got the first shot on target.
However, very quickly we got into our stride and spent most of the first half near the visitors goal, getting two on the board before long ;-
a Charlie Gallagher cross to the far past and there was Bertie Auld to nod it home. 1-0 Celtic
getting on to a through pass from John Clark, Jimmy Johnstone beat three men before sending in a powerful shot. 2-0 Celtic
With the wind and rain now at our backs, we took even more control of the play after the interval and frankly, should have done better in front of goal.
A Tommy Gemmell shot went in off a Hamilton defender. 3-0 Celtic
Bobby Murdoch strode through to send a powerful drive into the corner of the net. 4-0 Celtic
After missing a few good opportunities, Joe McBride eventually got on the score sheet.
Celtic 5 Hamilton Academical 0
The headlines in the papers that night and the following day told the story ;-
Easy! but Celtic Miss Chances Celtic Hit Hamilton for Five!
We had played the final 12 minutes without our captain. Up for a corner, Billy McNeill had collided with the Hamilton goalkeeper when going for a high ball and was carried off by Neil Mochan and Bob Rooney holding his left knee. It looked bad but once we all got back into the dressing room, by which time Billy had showered and got dressed, he said that he thought it was just bruising, although he did not fancy his chances of making the Scotland v Wales match the following Wednesday. ‘Time would tell’, was the advice from the medical staff and those were probably timely words.
Just before we all left the ground, we got news that the reserve team had beaten their Hamilton equivalents 3-0, so 8 goals between the two teams. Not much for the manager and coaches to complain about?…..or would it be a different matter at training on the Tuesday evening?
I was happy with my own performance. I had kept my immediate opponent at bay and felt that I had played a good part in the team’s movements, particularly down the right with Bobby Murdoch and Jimmy Johnstone.
It must have come as a surprise for them to work with me. Without denigrating guys like Ian Young and Willie O’Neill in any way, they played a traditional fullback’s role, passing from the back and seldom coming far across the halfway line. On the other hand, while I was at school, I was not only the tallest guy in the team – who in those days were automatically put into central defence – but also the most skillful player, so it was natural for me to come over the halfway line and become involved in the attacking moves.
It meant that Bobby, in particular, had to cover when I went up-field but he was quite happy about it and actually encouraged me to do so. As did Jimmy, who quickly realised that, if I came up outside him, it distracted the opposing left back and left half, who now had two players to watch.
Mind you, if he lost the ball, it would be me who was expected to do the running back!
As for the Boss’s attitude, he seemed happy although he did once remind me in those early days that I was a defender first and an attacker second! Those words stayed with all through my career.
Real Madrid, who drew 2-2 with Kilmarnock in their European Cup first round first leg match at Rugby Park last Wednesday were beaten 2-1 by lowly Seville in the Spanish First Division yesterday.
The Soviet Union came back from 2-down to force a 2-2 draw with World Cup holders Brazil in Rio de Janeiro yesterday.
Rio’s great Maracana Stadium was packed with a capacity crowd of 200,000 paying record receipts for the city of £45,000.
Scotland in the USA
‘Scotland Week’ opens in Houston, Texas today with the appearance of a Royal Marines tattoo featuring the pipes and drums of the Scots Guards and the Royal Scots Greys.
Houston is named after General Sam Houston, a 19th century Texan, who own name is said to be derived from Houston, near Glasgow.
A Game from the Past….and a Moment to Remember
Sponsored by the Jim Craig CSC, Belfast
A Game from the Past….forward Willie Naughton made his debut in Celtic’s very first League match, a 1-4 defeat to Renton on 16th August 1890. Renton were later charged with professionalism and expelled from the league, the result of the game being expunged from the records. However, Renton appealed and were re-instated.
And a Moment to Remember…..That match was Willie Naughton’s only game for Celtic’s first team. He moved to Wishaw Thistle in October 1890 and by the end of that year Willie was with Stoke. When Celtic ( billed in the press as the ‘Greatest Team in the World’) went down to the Potteries to play Stoke in a match to raise funds for the Hanley Church Restoration Fund, Wille Naughton was at outside-right in the side which beat Celtic 5-0!