22nd January 1966: Celtic v Motherwell – Part Two

Not Certain Yet

On the morning of the Motherwell match, the forthcoming game against Dynamo Kiev was still making most of the headlines in the press; –

‘Celtic’s victory over the Russians in the wrangle over travel arrangements was not so overwhelming as we thought.

The flight to Tbilisi will not be direct. The Celtic party will now leave from Prestwick tomorrow at 11am and stay the night in Moscow.

The airline authorities advised this to allow a daylight landing.

Celtic did win the right to go in their own aircraft, so honour is satisfied all round.

But this means a long, drawn-out journey just the same. Leaving Moscow on Monday at 11am, the Parkhead party will arrive in Tbilisi at 2.50pm.

Celtic play Kiev on Wednesday next then are due back at Prestwick at 6.35pm the following day – by the same route.



In the previous season of 1964-65, the Steelmen had finished 13th in the 18 team league, with a record of P34, W12, D4, L18, F52, A69, Pts28. It was not an impressive performance, by any standard, and unfortunately for their fans, the new season had not gone much better, with Motherwell sitting in roughly a similar position in the table.

On that afternoon at Parkhead, the Celtic players should have been feeling very confident of a win but there were two factors that were impinging on that confidence. The first was the loss the previous week against Aberdeen, the first in 24 matches, and no matter how good a team might be feeling during a run like that, the response to a defeat can be variable to say the least.

The other factor which had to be taken into account was the conditions. It had been frosty all week, the straw had been put on and while it did its job and protected the surface to a certain extent, the surface of the pitch at Parkhead was hard and not always even. It looked to be a day for the Sambas again, although our experiences at Pittodrie the previous week had lessened our confidence in these particular boots. Still, as long as it didn’t snow, then we would be all right!


A Draw

On the previous evening, at a hard and frosty Fir Park, the reserve teams of the two sides had met and fought out a 1-1 draw. The Celtic team was Martin, Halpin, McCarron, Henderson, McNeill, Brogan, Connelly, Sweeney, J Quinn, Auld and Taylor, with Bertie Auld getting Celtic’s goal.


The Pre-Match

This must have been a difficult time for Billy McNeill. A regular since coming into the first team in 1958, he had lost his place in the last few weeks to John Cushley and, like many another first-team regular in those days when out of favour, he had to take a stint in the reserve side.

However, even though he was out of the side, he was still technically the captain of the team and probably because of that, he was singled out for a special job just before the match against Motherwell, one that I should imagine he was not particularly looking forward to.

In the week leading up to the Kiev match, the airline Aer Lingus, which would take the Celtic party to Tbilisi, had presented the club with an Irish Wolfhound as a mascot and before the game against Motherwell, Billy had to walk down the tunnel to parade this dog on a lead before the assembled crowd. They gave him a big cheer but to be honest, I would have imagined that if Billy could have been somewhere else at that moment, he would have been on the first bus!


The Play

Motherwell started quite brightly but then we took over and went into the lead ;-

15 minutes……Jimmy Johnstone took a corner over on the right, the cross was met by Bobby Lennox (in for Charlie Gallagher), his shot was palmed out by Motherwell keeper Peter McCloy but only as far as Joe McBride, who took the chance to score against his old team. 1-0 Celtic

From that point on, we dominated the play for the rest of the first half, getting chances through John Hughes and Joe McBride. But as a result of all our pressure, we occasionally left ourselves a bit open at the back and Ronnie Simpson had to make a couple of good saves from McLaughlin and Hunter.


The Interval

The Boss was quite reasoned at the break, pleased that we were on top but just gave us some advice about movements near the Motherwell goal. I had a look at the sole of the Sambas and was pleased to see that the holes were still holes and, on that afternoon, giving us the grip we required.


The Second Half

Pretty much the same as the first half. We controlled the play, made quite a number of chances without taking any; whereas Motherwell sat back in defence and made the occasional breakaway. Peter McCloy, in the Motherwell goal, got plenty of opportunity to show what a good keeper he was, making fine saves from Stevie Chalmers, John Hughes and Bobby Murdoch.

It was hard work going forward and yet, at the same time, I never felt that we were in any danger of losing and in the end that was the way it worked out. We got the two points, the visitors had put in a good performance considering their league position and the crowd of 27,000 had seen a close encounter on a cold afternoon.

And before you ask…no, I have not the foggiest idea what happened to the Irish Wolfhound!



A Game from the Past….and a Moment to Remember


Sponsored by the Jim Craig CSC


A Game from the Past…..inside-left James McGinn made his first-team debut in an exciting match at Tynecastle on 9th September 1893 when Celtic beat Hearts 4-2.

And a Moment to Remember…..James only played one more match for Celtic, again in Edinburgh, and it was to be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Only a week after the club had captured their 2nd league title, Celtic were thrashed 5-0 by Leith Athletic on St Patrick’s Day 1894. In August of that year, James McGinn moved to Airdrie                    



Towards the end of January 1966, an Air India flight, en route from Bombay to London, had already made stops at Delhi and Beirut. The next scheduled stop was Geneva and as the plane approached the Swiss city, the captain was told by the traffic controllers to start his descent after he had passed Mont Blanc. Tragically, the captain though that he had already passed Mont Blanc and started to descend, the crash into the mountain resulting in the deaths of all 117 passengers on board.


New Premier

In India, Indira Ghandi, the daughter of the first Indian premier, Jawaharlal Nehru, was sworn in as the new Prime Minister.


On Top

Top of the British pop charts at the end of January 1966 was the Spencer Davis Group with ‘Keep on Running’. This had replaced the Beatles track ‘Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out’.