21st May 1966: North American Tour – Celtic v Tottenham Hotspur

After beating the New Jersey All-Stars 6-0 on Wednesday 18th May 1966, the Celtic party moved north, to Toronto, where they would meet Spurs on Saturday 21st May at the Varsity Stadium.


Spurs and Dundee legend Alan Gilzean
© Daily Record

Spurs had finished 8th in the English First Division, scoring an impressive 75 goals but also letting in a disappointing 66 at the other end.

Apart from John Cushley, everyone was fit and the Boss decided to start with an eleven of;

Ronnie, Tam, Pumper, Chopper, Cesar, Luggy, Stevie, Bobby, Joe, Bertie and Yogi

and there was a full house of a crowd, which would put it up near the 20,000 mark.

The boys seemed to play very well in the first half although after the interval, Spurs raised their game and had an excellent 20 minutes of fierce attacks, during which Ronnie made several fine saves.

Then in 74 minutes, a quick break by Celtic resulted in Bobby scoring. With only 10 minutes to go, Alan Gilzean almost equalized with a powerful drive which beat Ronnie but just slipped wide. At the final whistle, though, the single goal by Bobby was enough to give Celtic victory.


Celtic  1  Tottenham Hotspur  0


The Spurs camp was not a happy one afterwards and the reason why was told in the papers the following day ;-

Spurs Hit Out at Jock Stein

‘Mr Eddie Bailey, who is the Spurs Boss on their travels through Canada, cried ‘unfair’ at the end of the game. He claimed that Jock Stein had broken a pre-match agreement by sending on Jimmy Johnstone in place of John Hughes with 20 minutes to go.

The arrangement was that substitutes would only be used in case of injury and Spurs claimed that there was nothing wrong with Hughes.

Mr Stein claimed that his outside-left had taken a knock – and was not fully fit. In any event, the arrival of Johnstone gave Celtic the spur they needed in the last quarter of an hour and Lennox scored the only goal of the game. This raised his total of goals collected to 11’.


Ronnie Simpson was also a happy man :

“We did it! We won the ‘Big One’ on Saturday night when we beat Spurs 1-0 here before 20,000 fans – most of them, it seemed, exiles from Scotland”.