I had been in on the Sunday for a work-out and some treatment and was able to give the Boss some good news; at least I hope it was good news. The info was to the effect that my leg felt much better, the cut was now healing over and I could run – and twist – with only the minimum of pain and even that would not stop me from performing at my usual level.
When I told him all that, he replied merely with a “good” but I also got a pat on the back for all my hard work on the training ground. He then raced away, saying that he had to meet the Kiev team when they arrived at the airport. After my work-out, I travelled home and just rested for the remainder of the day.
Meanwhile, at the airport, the Boss met the Ukrainians and escorted them to their hotel in the centre of Glasgow and then had a chat with the officials. He was informed that the manager, Viktor Maslov, would like to have his players at a pre-breakfast training session on the Monday morning. The Boss apparently agreed to this and the respective parties then went their separate ways, to enjoy Sunday evening in their own fashion.
When I arrived for training on the Monday morning, the atmosphere at Celtic Park could have been described as chaotic. From the details gathered later, the sequence of events early that morning was as follows –
8.45am…..Mr Maslov and his players, all dressed in royal blue track suits, leave the hotel and disappear into the damp morning air of Glasgow. Meanwhile, at Celtic Park, Jock Stein has been in the building for the best part of an hour, waiting for the Ukrainians to arrive. When they still had not turned up by 9am, he jumped into his car and drove along London Road to Barrowfield, assuming that the Kiev party had gone straight to the training ground. However, when Mr Stein got there, the place was empty.
9.30am…….This was the chaos into which I arrived on the Monday morning. Everyone was asking where the ‘Russians’ were, with a few unusual replies being put forward, the daftest being that they had all applied for asylum and wanted to play for British clubs. I’ll leave you to guess who came up with that beauty.
Anyway, just as the scenario was becoming ridiculous, ex-manager and by now PRO Jimmy McGrory solved the problem, thanks to a few phone calls. Apparently, the Kiev party had stopped at Glasgow Green and put in a 20-minute loosening-up session before returning to their hotel for breakfast.
10am…..after a shower, the Kiev players come down for breakfast in their hotel. They apparently started with rashers of thinly-cut salami sausages and slices of Edam-like cheese; this was then followed by a large omelette, with tea the drink of choice.
It was all a bit of a shambles and when the Boss was asked about the mix-up, he merely said “they are not talking so I am not talking”. However, when the papers heard about the shambles, some clever editor could not resist putting up this headline –
Kiev Team on the ‘Green’
While this was all happening, Rangers were leaving the city by plane for their Fairs Cup tie against Dinamo Dresden, which would involve a change of plane at Copenhagen.
The Kiev players return to Glasgow Green while we put in a normal training session at Barrowfield. At the end of the session, Jock Stein holds a press conference back at Celtic Park, at which he announces that the ‘Lisbon side’ would represent Celtic on the morrow.
Over in East Germany, manager Scott Symon announces that his side will be the eleven who beat Celtic at the weekend.
Thanks to some hard work – not only on my own behalf but also utilizing the experience, wisdom and expertise of Doc Fitzsimmons, Bob Rooney and Neil Mochan – I was by then feeling pretty good after my injury and well capable of putting in a good shift for 90 minutes. And I can recall with some clarity the really good atmosphere in the dressing-room at that time. Since the start of the season, the team had not fired on all cylinders all of the time but we were proving hard to beat and could have spells in matches when we were quite exceptional in our team-play, passing etc. The problems were, as far as I was concerned and I’m sure that the Boss would have noticed them as well, that we did not play to the height of our powers all of the time and could be caught out sometimes by our attitude to attacking play, which, just occasionally, left the defence a bit isolated.
Still, a record like ours in that season to date (League, League Cup, Glasgow Cup and Friendlies) – P12 W9 D2 L1 F33 A10 – would have delighted more than a few managers.
The main headlines in the evening papers were mainly concerned with Rangers efforts in the Fairs Cup that afternoon, when they drew 1-1 with Dinamo Dresden in East Germany. A draw away from home in European competition is always a respectable performance, although the report of the match made it quite clear that the reason for the draw was a quite exceptional showing by goalkeeper Eric Sorensen.
A comment by Jock Stein also caught the eye. He apparently told the reporters at the press conference the previous day that he was hoping for – or did he say he was ‘expecting’? – a 3-goal lead to take over to the Ukraine. He certainly never said that to us and when discussing the match was his usual cautious self.
The evening papers also dealt with Celtic but they merely re-printed a piece from that Wednesday’s Celtic View on the subject of referees ;
‘In recent games, some of the opposing sides have gone out to stop Celtic playing attractive football by any means. They have been getting away with it due to weak refereeing. Celtic have tried to instill into their players that they must play fair at all times but in the game against Rangers on Saturday they were eventually provoked into indiscretions that are foreign to their play.
Everyone agrees that football is a tough game with the physical challenge being a important part of it but surely a line must be drawn somewhere. Rangers in the first half had 14 fouls while Celtic had only 5. Several Rangers players kept fouling repeatedly and did not get even a word of warning from the referee.
The first essential in a referee’s make-up is control. It is a problem that must be solved if ‘BRAWN’ is not finally to overwhelm and reduce Scottish football to a state when instead of looking for footballers, scouts will be asked to keep an eye open for experts in un-armed combat.
Quite a piece……I wonder of anyone from the Dinamo Kiev party read it?
However, a big story of the front pages tended to get more coverage than the European ties of the Old Firm. That afternoon, at John Brown’s shipyard in Clydebank, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth launched the QE2.
At Easter Road that evening, Hibs beat Porto 3-0 in a Fairs Cup, First Round, First Leg tie.
I could never quite work out why we went down to Seamill (or other sites like the Marine Hotel) before some big games and did not do so for others. This particular occasion – the first match we would take part in with the title of European Champions – was, I would have thought, certainly a big one. Yet, we merely reported to the park in the late afternoon and were driven to a hotel for the pre-match meal.
By the time we came back to Celtic Park, the crowds were gathering and we suddenly realised that the expectations of the support were high. That certainly helped to concentrate our minds and the atmosphere in the dressing-room – usually quite jocular – suddenly became very quiet and tense
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Auld, Lennox..
Levchenko, Sabo, Krulikovsky
Turvanchik, Bychevetz, Medved, Serebrianikov, Pusach.
We ran out in the all-green strip that had proved lucky for us in the past but I was not at all impressed by another feature of the match that night. The referee was Kurt Tschenscher; yes, the guy who had awarded a penalty in Lisbon, when Renato Cappellini dropped like a sack of potatoes as I ran across his path. I had been mentally abusing him all summer but suddenly had a terrible sense of déjà vu!
It can be difficult sometimes to give an assessment of a match when the writer was one of the participants but I can make an exception in this case. To put it bluntly, right from the start, we were poor; in fact, for a lot of the game, we were worse than that! And matters were not helped by the loss of a quick first goal –
Jinky mis-placed a pass in midfield and the visitors showed a piece of great skill, the ball going from Levchenko to Byshevetz to Sabo and finally to Pusach, who fairly lashed it home. 1-0 Kiev
That put us on the back foot and it took us some time to get going. The problem, as I mentioned earlier in the preview, was that the passing was off and we kept giving the ball away in both midfield and up-front. That keeps the defence under pressure and we never got the chance to come forward to help out in attack. And just as we were improving very slightly, we lost another –
this time Cesar lost the ball, it landed at the feet of Byshevetz, who sent a screamer past Ronnie.
By now, the fans were stunned and then started – quite rightly – to give us a going over. And that was continued by the Boss in the dressing-room, who was furious and more or less told us to ‘get the finger’ out in the second half. I did not think that the comment was very constructive but decided it was not the time to mention that so just held my peace, had a wash and got ready for the second half.
We were better after the interval. Suddenly, the passes were being strung together, possession was being maintained and chances were made. From one of these, we got the goal which brought us back into the game –
a pass from Bertie which Lemon hammered low into the corner of the net. 2-1 Kie
That certainly gave us – and the support – a boost and we started to make more chances. Unfortunately, the Kiev players showed that they could defend as well as attack and they covered their goal well. The other thing you need on a night like that is some luck and we just did not get it near goal. Bertie clipped the bar with a rising shot; Jinky, with the whole goal to aim for, sent a header straight into the keeper’s arms; Schegolkov cleared a Cesar header from just underneath the cross bar; and Rudakov made the save of the game from another Cesar header.
At the final whistle, the Kiev players celebrated frantically, we slumped in disappointment and the fans left quietly. We would have a lot to do in Kiev in the return.
The night was summed up fairly accurately in one of the following morning’s dailies;
Hesitant Celtic Let European Cup Almost Slip Away
‘A depression settled over Parkhead last night which could almost be touched. What was probably Celtic’s worst display for many a long day led to their being unexpectedly beaten by Kiev Dinamo in their European Cup first- round tie and they now face possible elimination from the competition when the teams meet again in the return in Russia on October 4’.