25th August 1965: The First League Match – Match Report

In the days after Celtic’s loss to Dundee in the League Cup, two disasters pushed football off the front pages of the papers;-


23rd August

The East German cargo ship Kathe Niederkichner runs aground on Muckle Skerry in the Pentland Firth. All 50 on board survive.

 Tragically, not all passengers on a plane in the Far East were quite so lucky;-

 An American military C-130 Hercules aircraft carrying 71 passengers and crew crashed into Yau Tong Bay in Hong Kong shortly after take-off. The plane was carrying U.S. military personnel, mostly U.S. Marines flying back to South Vietnam after leave. 13 people survived the crash.


Back in Scotland, one very important topic for Celtic fans seemed to be nearing resolution.

 The Brazilians Again!

There might have been a very important match coming up for Celtic on the night of the 25th August 1965 – the first league match of the season against Dundee United – but one of the evening papers had this headline splashed across its back page


Yes, clearance had finally come through from the Scottish Football Association that Ayrton Inacio and Marco di Sousa could play for the club from the 1st September. Thank goodness for that, I thought, as the barrage of questions about the same topic was beginning to wear me down.

On an adjacent page, there was news about the first league match against Dundee United and another quote from manager Jock Stein that he would not announce the side until the squad got to Tannadice. Frankly, for any intelligent fan, though, it would have been easy to read between the lines and pick an appropriate eleven, barring late injuries.

There was a little bit of doubt about the goalkeeper; John Fallon was the man in charge at the moment but Ronnie Simpson was breathing right down his neck. The rest of the defence had no real challengers, so the line-up would be Young, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill and Clark.

As I mentioned in a previous article, Jimmy Johnstone had been in the reserve side the night before, so a place there was up for grabs, with Steve Chalmers the most likely candidate. At inside-right, John Divers seemed to be the favoured guy over Charlie Gallagher at that moment, while the three others were bound to be Joe McBride, Bobby Lennox and Bertie Auld. And when the team was read out by Jock Stein in the dressing-room about 40 minutes before the match, ten of the eleven I have suggested were the chosen ones. The odd man out was Bertie Auld, suffering from a slight injury, so Charlie Gallagher deputized.

In those days, the pitch at Tannadice was not a patch on the one at Dens Park. I always found this quite surprising, as the grounds were only separated by about a quarter-of-a-mile. The Dens Park version was always in great condition, flat and smooth ; Tannadice, by contrast, seemed to have less grass and was a little bumpier.

On that day, however, the state of the pitch did not seem to bother the Celtic players, who quickly moved into gear, quite impressing one reporter;





‘Celtic got off to a sensational start to their league programme at Tannadice last night, amply regaining revenge for that odd-goal defeat in the opening League Cup game.

Celtic were the better team from start to finish;-

15 minutes – a neat, inter-passing move between McBride, Lennox and Divers ended  with Divers rounding left-back Briggs before firing home. 1-0

52 minutes – a pass from Charlie Gallagher right into his path allowed Joe McBride to  fire home the second. 2-0

56 minutes – Bobby Lennox was downed after a fine run and Ian Young made no mistake from the spot. 3-0.

65 minutes – Not to be outdone, the other fullback, Tommy Gemmell, got on the scoresheet with a fierce shot. 4-0.

 Some of the tackling was by now becoming a little tough and 13 minutes from the end, Orjan Persson was ordered for what was deemed to be a kick at Tommy Gemmell.


Most unusually, in another of the dailies, a player who was not even playing made the headlines;



 ‘Can Celtic afford to change the team by bringing in John Hughes against Dundee United on Saturday?

Hughes’ suspension ends at midnight tomorrow but after the brilliant four-goal slamming of Dundee United at Tannadice last night, Jock Stein will have to think more than once before changing the team’.


Some hard thinking for the manager coming up then but it was a good position to be in. There is nothing quite like a successful run to aid the atmosphere in the dressing room of any club. The 100% record of the reserve side was certainly boosting the confidence of the second-team players at that time. We all felt very good about ourselves and were happy to take on anybody. But we were also aware how crucial it was for the first team to have the same feeling. Perhaps the good performance against Dundee would be the trigger towards some better performances?




 Real Madrid players Gento and Puskas were sent off the field in an exhibition match against Independiente in New York. Referee Aldo Cemene had claimed that both players had kicked him on the shins. Play was held up for 22 minutes but eventually play was resumed and the match ended in a 1-1 draw.


It was announced that Jock Stein will be in charge of the Scottish League side which will play the Irish League at Ibrox on 8th September.