23rd November 1968:  Partick Thistle v Celtic –  League

18th November 1968

The guys who had played against Raith Rovers on the Saturday were given the day off. The Reserve team full-timers were in because the Reserve side had a match on the Wednesday, a Reserve League cup tie against Falkirk at Brockville.

Tommy Gemmell was unsuccessful with his appeal against a caution in the match versus Hearts at Tynecastle and while the papers that Monday were not exactly fulsome in their praise of the players’ performance against Raith Rovers…..

Celts Lose Sparkle

…..they did provide some information for the fans about matters behind-the-scenes –

Celts All-Fit and Simpson ‘Improving’.

Sometimes, as a player, what you read in the press can make you laugh. Any ‘sparkle’ that we tried to put into the game with Raith Rovers the previous Saturday was rather negated by the fact that for long periods of the match, the Kirkcaldy side had ten men behind the ball and believe me, when a team does that and is also putting in a real shift, it can be very difficult to break down. But with our record, I suppose we were expected to ‘star’ in every match. That is a nice idea…but the opposing sides want to spoil it!

19th November

The big news was that firstly, Rangers had signed Alex McDonald from St Johnstone for a fee of £50,000. Secondly, that Tam Gemmell was going to appeal against the caution he was given by Swedish referee Kurt Leidberg in the international between Scotland and Austria at Hampden. And thirdly, Red Star seemed to have come back from their thrashing by Celtic with a good result of their own, beating local rivals Partizan 6-1, which led to the headline –

6 Goals!  –  Red Star Sparkle Again! 

20th November 1968

Celtic today received planning permission from Glasgow Corporation to build a new roof over the east terracing.

The Boss was quoted about the match at Falkirk –

“The Celtic team for tonight’s game at Falkirk will be the youngest-ever to represent the club in a competitive match” he said and named the side as Wraith, McGrain, Gorman, Dalglish, Connelly, Hay, Wilson, McMahon, Quinn, Davidson, Macari”.

And there was a very good result for Hibs in East Germany, where they beat Lokomotiv Leipzig 1-0, going through to the next round on a 4-1 aggregate.

21st November 1968

At Brockville the previous evening, the Reserves rather ran over Falkirk and won 6-0. That would appear to make the second leg something of a formality.

It was reported from Belgrade that the match between Red Star and Celtic will have a 13.15pm kick-off time.

There were also statements from both Jimmy Johnstone and Jock Stein about the little guy’s position in relation to the match in Belgrade. By this time, everyone knew the story about the Boss having told Jimmy that if the team did well, he would not have to travel to Yugoslavia. On that day, both had their say on the situation –

Jinky – “If Celtic need me against Red Star in Belgrade next week, then I will fly out with the team on Monday”.

The Boss – “Everything depends on what happens at Firhill on Saturday. If one or two of our key men are injured, Jimmy has told me that he will be in the party on Monday”.

Unanimity seems to be the name of the game…..but I’ll bet you the wee man was more worried about it than the Boss?

Oh! I had better mention at this point that while all this talk was going on, the first team squad was training every day – apart from being off on the Monday – and was putting in a good shift as well. Neither the Boss or Neilly Mochan believed in a ‘quiet’ day so each session was as tough as the one before.

22nd November 1968

In a surprise move – I say surprise because there had never been any mention of it, either within the playing pool or the press – Tommy Callaghan of Dunfermline signed for Celtic today and apparently will play against the Jags tomorrow. I knew Tid ( as he was always known) slightly and he was a real nice guy. A good player too and at least he was not a full-back, so he was not going to affect my position. Selfish or what?

The Day of the Match 23rd November 1968

As we were only travelling across the city, we did not have to report too early for this one and rolled up about 1.15pm. Within a few minutes were all on the bus and heading for Firhill, where we were met by a wet pitch and a bit of a wind, neither of which was going to affect the play too much.

The Teams

Partick Thistle

Campbell, McAlindon
McParland, Gray, Hansen
Cunningham, Flanagan, Divers, Bone, Duncan.
Sub: Cumming


Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Chalmers, Callaghan, Hughes.
Sub: Wallace

The Jags team had an interesting twosome in the forward line of former Celt John Divers and future Celt Jimmy Bone.

The Play

It seemed that everyone agreed after the match that the side had been much more impressive that afternoon than it had been at Parkhead against Raith Rovers. The play seemed sharper, the atmosphere better, the individual performances good and most importantly, our new signing – Tommy Callaghan – not only showed that he could play but he also fitted in very well with the other players. The big moments were as follows –

14 minutes
fierce shot by Jinky which Billy Ritchie could only push out. Unfortunately for the Jags, it landed right at the feet of Yogi, who hammered it home.  1-0 Celtic

22 minutes
pass by Yogi into the pass of Tid Callaghan and he fairly hammered it home from about 25 yards.  2-0 Celtic

The Boss appeared a happy man at the break and held his words until we were just about to go back out again –

“We’ll have some more of that, please!”

We did, although for the next score, the fans had to wait a while –

68 minutes
Charge through the middle by Yogi and a blast into the net.   3-0 Celtic

84 minutes
Lemon took advantage of hesitation in the Jags defence.

Final Score  Partick Thistle  0  Celtic  4


Other Results

Aberdeen 2 0 St. Mirren
Airdrie 2 2 Dunfermline
Arbroath 3 4 Hibs
Clyde 1 1 Rangers
Dundee United 2 0 Morton
Hearts 2 1 St. Johnstone
Kilmarnock 1 0 Dundee
Raith Rovers 3 1 Falkirk


Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Celtic 12 9 2 1 28 9 3.11 20
Dundee United 12 9 1 2 24 14 1.71 19
Kilmarnock 12 7 3 2 23 12 1.92 17
St. Mirren 12 6 5 1 17 10 1.70 17
Dunfermline 12 7 2 3 21 17 1.24 16
Rangers 12 6 3 3 29 16 1.81 15