Apart from Jock Stein, I had another Boss in those days in the shape of my Mother. She ruled the roost and my Dad, my brother Denis and myself merely bent to her will to keep the Craig ship on a even keel.
Mum had not the slightest interest in football. When I left the house to head for Parkhead for a match, for instance, her only comment was “make sure you keep out of the road of any of those big boys”. When I got the occasional injury, she only worried that I might not make it to my classes at the Dental Hospital; and when she asked me why I was limping one day and I showed her my badly-gashed shin, she merely said “well, I warned you about playing that stupid game anyway!”
However, on the morning of 25th December 1965, she surpassed herself. Just as I was leaving for the match against Morton, she said “now, remember we’re all meeting at your Gran’s house for Christmas dinner and she will be serving it at about half-past – five. Make sure you are there on time”.
“OK, Mum” was my automatic response but as I left the house, I was thinking – the match starts at 3pm, finishes around 4.45pm. Even if I had the quickest shower and the fastest putting-on of my clothes of all time, I then had to wait for Doc Fitzsimmons to give me a lift into town, then get a 4 bus to Drumoyne. There was nae chance of me getting to my Gran’s for half-past-five. I decided, though, to worry about that later and get the match out of the way first.
Halfway through the league campaign, Morton were struggling, down near the bottom of the table. Like most teams in that situation, they were not scoring enough goals and losing far too many. By contrast, Celtic were doing well, up at the top with a good record of P14 W12 D1 L1 F47 A14 Pts25, so all the players were looking forward to the encounter, keen to get a few goals to make those figures look even better.
The Lead Up To The Match
A crowd of 21,000 gathered at Celtic Park for the match. That might seem disappointing but realistically, as it was a case of top versus bottom plus the fact that it was being held on Christmas Day, when many a Dad and Grandad had more important family matters to attend to, it was a predictable attendance and they made up in noise what they lacked in numbers.
It had been raining overnight – it was Glasgow, after all – but the pitch was in good condition. I had never played on Christmas Day before, at any level, and I was surprised at how festive everything was.
On the way up to the front door, every fan wanted to shake hands with me and wish me all the best; Bill Peacock, the doorman, welcomed me like his long-lost brother; while once inside, everyone – and I mean everyone, the Boss, the Directors, the players, the backroom staff, the tea ladies – were all full of good cheer and bonhomie. It was great…but I did think that we might have to put on a good performance to keep them all happy. And we did!
The First Half
Right from the start of the match, everything felt right. Each and every player was on song, we all combined well, the passing was excellent and the chances soon came. Ironically, the first two fell to Morton, firstly when ex-Celt Jim Kennedy had a shot saved by Ronnie Simpson, then when a blast by striker Allan McGraw was deflected for a corner. However, having been sparked into life by those two efforts, we took control, the chances arrived and so did the goals;-
A cross from the right by Jimmy Johnstone was headed past Morton keeper Sorensen by Joe McBride. 1-0 Celtic
Sorensen kept out a John Hughes shot but then had no chance when Stevie Chalmers went racing after a John Clark and slammed the ball into the net. 2-0 Celtic.
McBride again. A Charlie Gallagher cross into the middle and Joe nearly took the net off its moorings. 3-0 Celtic
Hughes beat 3 Morton players, then sent a long range shot into the net. 4-0 Celtic.
McBride gets his hat-trick, when he nets a Tommy Gemmell cross with his right foot. 5-0 Celtic
Bobby Murdoch steps forward and thunders one home from just outside the box. 6-0 Celtic
A fine pass by Murdoch into the path of Chalmers, who makes no mistake. 7-0 Celtic
I don’t usually mention the goings-on at an interval but I must give some prominence to that one. Apart from the half-time break in the Scottish Cup Final of 1969 – when we were three-up against Rangers – that Christmas Day interval in 1965 against Morton was the happiest-ever. Everyone was in joyous mood, the banter was noisy, the management team was beaming, the trainers and coaches were smiling away and I think there was even an attempt at a bit of singing. However, all too soon the referee appeared and told us to go out for the second half.
The Second Half
It is a rare situation for a team to be 7-up at half-time but curiously, what usually happens afterwards is that the half-time break seems to affect either the attitude, the drive, the form, the ambition or some other imponderable attribute. The outcome almost certainly is that the standard of play in the second half falls in quality from that of the first.
There might be an element of sympathy involved, too – a case of one set of players not wanting to embarrass their colleagues in an admittedly poorer side. Whatever the reason, in spite of the crowd chanting for more, we seemed, perhaps subconsciously, to take our foot off the pedal in the second half, only getting one more goal, while Morton even pulled one back.
After a quick breakaway, Morton outside-left Craig Watson scores. 7-1 Celtic
Hughes beats two Morton players before shooting home from an acute angle. 8-1 Celtic.
Managers are seldom happy creatures after any match so I was expecting a poor reaction from Jock Stein about the second-half performance. However, he seemed pleased with the overall result and it was a very happy dressing room afterwards, made even more ecstatic when new came through from Ibrox that the Light Blues had been beaten 3-2 by Dunfermline. The two results led to conflicting headlines in the press the following day;
So Easy for 7th Heaven Celts
Fans Boo Rangers At Ibrox
Back to My Gran’s House
Euphoria there might have been at Celtic Park but I still had the problem of getting to 222 Drumoyne Road for my Christmas dinner. Unfortunately, none of the boys lived in that direction, so, as usual, Doc Fitzsimmons was pressed into service for the run into town and then I queued up for a number 4 bus in Union Street which eventually came along and got me to my destination. By this time, it was nearing 6.15pm!
As I walked into the house, there were big cheers and shouts of ‘congratulations’ from everyone present, which included my Gran ( my grandfather had died in 1958), my Dad, my brother Denis plus several aunts and uncles with their children, my cousins. They had all already eaten their dinner but had very kindly kept me a plate with turkey and all the trimmings, which I took to the table and started to devour.
The festivities continued all around me but as I lifted my eyes from the plate, the first face I saw was that of my Mother, who did not seem too happy to see me. “Did I not tell you to be here for half-past-five?” she said.
Keen to be Married
Simon de Jong, who is 79, and Elisabeth Prins, of Wormerer in northern Holland, are hoping to raise money for a trip to Gretna Green.
Mrs Prins, who has had three marriages, became a widow on 2nd August and under Dutch law a woman who is divorced or widowed may not remarry until 9 months have elapsed.
That means the couple cannot marry until May 1966 and both say it is ridiculous that they have to wait so long. Hence the reason for the trip to Gretna Green.
A New Station
Asked when BBC2 would be available to Scottish viewers, the Postmaster General, Mr Anthony Wedgewood Benn replied : “The Corporation had hoped to open the main V.H.F. station at Black Hill this month. However, due to adverse weather, the opening has been put back to the spring of 1966”.
Does She Need One to Do the Job?
Mrs Barbara Castle, Britain’s first woman Transport minister, admitted last night that she does not hold a driving licence.
A Game from the Past….and a Moment to Remember
Sponsored by the Jim Craig CSC
A Game from the Past
Left-half John Mitchell made his Celtic debut in a league match against Partick Thistle on 1st December 1906 when the Hoops won 4-1.
And a Moment to Remember
John went on to play around 100 matches for the club in the League, Scottish Cup, Charity Cup and Glasgow Cup. He came on for left-back Willie Orr after 20 minutes in the friendly against Arsenal on Christmas Day 1906; went on the 1907 tour to Denmark; picked up a Glasgow Cup medal in the 2-1 victory over Rangers on 26th October 1907; and was in the team from Ne-erday 1908 till 7th March 1909, the season Celtic won their 5th consecutive league title.
In September 1913, John moved to Cowdenbeath where he spent three seasons before his retirement in 1916.