On the Thursday morning, two days before the Cup Final, a Celtic squad – including myself – headed for Seamill and preparation for the big day. The atmosphere was good, there was a lot of banter and the boys especially enjoyed the fine weather, absolutely perfect for the first paddle in the sea of the summer season, even if we only went in up to our ankles!
There was also a head tennis competition on the grass at the back of the hotel, facing the sea. Curiously enough, I can recall that the final was between a pairing of wee Jimmy and Ronnie up against Cesar and Joe but I can never remember who won the blasted thing. If ever I asked one of the players involved, they always said that they won!…but can you trust a competitive football player at a time like that?
Everyone seemed fit for the game although Bertie was suspended for former misdemeanours. I was very concerned about my own position. I had made a complete recovery from the ankle injury and I had proved my fitness by putting in a good shift in the reserve match against Kilmarnock on the Wednesday. And it was common knowledge that both of our fullbacks in the match down in Liverpool got a real going-over from the Reds wingers. But would that give me the nod to play on Saturday? I could understand the dilemma for the Boss; I was a relatively inexperienced guy at this level and this was a crucial match. So, although I was really keen to make the team, I was also pragmatic enough to understand the decision the Boss had to make.
One comment summed up what all the papers were saying – ‘Rangers were training as usual yesterday with a nothing-out-of-the-ordinary routine.
But Rangers, like Celtic, will make a last-minute selection.
Given very little chance of victory when they reached the final, the odds against a Light Blues win are now shortening.
They seem to be coming on to a game at a time when Celtic seem to be faltering.
But in a Cup Final form doesn’t really count.
This is a wide-open game – as open as any Old Firm final has ever been.
Another headline caught the eye, especially if you supported the Light Blues;
Gers Revival in Time?
The journey up to the ground was uneventful….and wonderful! Met on the outskirts of the city by two police motor-cyclists, we fairly whizzed through the streets of Glasgow towards the National Stadium. As both guys had their headlight on and their sirens sounding, everyone on the pavements looked to see what all the fuss was about and it was easy to see what a divided city Glasgow could be at a time like that, one half cheering us on, the other booing at the top of their voices. C’est La Vie!
Once we got to the stadium, there was quick trip to the dressing-room just to say hello to the coaching staff, then a walk down the tunnel, quite a quiet experience at that time – about an hour before kick-off – for a look at the pitch and sometimes a bit of a chat with the opposition, who were also out doing the same. The players of both clubs knew each other well, so although there was some communication, the importance of the occasion was on everyone’s mind and soon everyone was back in the dressing-room to prepare for it.
Bertie Auld was out suspended, Bobby Lennox was injured, so Wee Jimmy came back in on the right-wing and Charlie Gallagher returned at inside-left. That made the teams;
Celtic: Simpson, Young, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, McBride, Chalmers, Gallagher, Hughes.
Rangers: Ritchie, Johansen, Provan, Greig, McKinnon, Miller, Henderson, Watson, Forrest, Johnston, Wilson.
Being out was disappointing but I was gracious in my response to the Boss’s call, went round the team to wish everyone all the best in the dressing-room, then took the ticket handed to me by Sean and made my way up to the stand in the company of Bertie, Bobby L, John Fallon and ‘Wilbur’ Cushley. It was quite an atmosphere by that time, with one end of Hampden in green and the opposite end in blue!
A crowd of 126,599 had turned up for the occasion and they saw a fairly typical, competitive Old Firm Scottish Cup clash. Classy football was at a premium; some tough tackling was in, with all the players well aware that a single slip could be crucial.
Rangers won the toss and took advantage of the wind in the first half; not surprisingly, they looked the more likely team over the first 45 minutes, with Davie Wilson on the left-wing showing looking the best of the four wingers on show..
After the break, Celtic raised their game and only the performances of Billy Ritchie in goal and John Greig as organizer at the back kept Rangers in the game. Celtic came closest to scoring when a header by Billy McNeill slammed against the cross-bar but when referee Tiny Wharton blew the whistle for time-up, the game was still goalless.
Most papers were unanimous that it had been a tough encounter where the quality of the football came second to the excitement generated. And most reporters stated that the best players on either side were central defenders, McNeill and Clark for Celtic, Greig and McKinnon for Rangers.
One comment in Monday’s press summed up the match precisely ;-
‘And so it has all got to be gone through again. Celtic will still be expected to retain the trophy on the grounds, no doubt, that the reserves of match-winning potential are stronger than Rangers’. But Rangers may have now proved, at least to themselves, that Celtic are by no means invincible’.
A Game from the Past….and a Moment to Remember
Sponsored by the Jim Craig CSC
A Game from the Past……….born in Lucca in June 1924, Rolando Ugolini was brought over to Scotland at the age of 3. 21 years later, after a spell with Armadale Thistle and a trial with Hearts, Rolando was signed by Celtic on 23rd March 1945, making his first-team debut in a Charity Cup tie against Partick Thistle at Firhill on 5th May 1945, when Celtic won 9-2 on penalties.
And a Moment to Remember…..Unfortunately for Rolando, Celtic already had an excellent goalkeeper between the sticks in Willie Miller and his chances were few. Between 1945 and 1948, Rolando made only 5 appearances for the Hoops ( 4 League; 1 Scottish Cup) without losing a goal. He moved south to Middlesbrough (1948-57), Wrexham (1957-60) then came back up to Scotland again, where he had two seasons at Dundee United (1960-62).
An artificial plastic heart, about as big as an orange, was successfully inserted into the chest of a 60-year-old man by surgeons at the Texas Medical Centre. Doctors said the artificial organ was working normally and the man’s blood pressure and other vital functions were performing well.
Although the sun was shining in London when she arrived from the USA, Nancy Sinatra, the 25-year-old daughter of Frank Sinatra was seen wearing the boots which made her internationally famous.
Her recording of ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’ topped both the British and American charts.
A missile dropped by an R.A.F. jet fighter had the St Andrews golfing fraternity puzzled. A mysterious new hazard appeared on the fairway of the short 7th on the Jubilee Old Course. When players came to that hole, they were amazed to see, almost in the dead centre of the fairway, a cylindrical object, about a foot of which was above the turf with fins clearly visible at the base.