While Ronnie, Lemon, Jinky and myself were down at Largs with the Scotland party, our Celtic guys had been taken to Seamill for a few days. I wonder how they managed without me!
The press had been quite complimentary about the performance against Falkirk …..
All-Star Celts in Top Form
……..so our guys would have enjoyed the relative peace and quiet of the Hydro – only residents would have been there at this time of year – with few pressmen turning up to shatter the tranquility. They would have been covering the Scotland- Wales match.
After a few days out of the limelight, I suspect that Boss thought it was time to hit the headlines again and he certainly did in that days evening editions –
Celtic’s Big Push
Jock Stein Steps Up Training Schedule
Now We will Get Down To Work In Earnest
‘Manager Jock Stein said “there will be no more days of relaxation at Seamill. We had four boys with the Scotland team at Largs so we thought it would be a good idea to give the others a break too. But that is it. From now on we will be working harder than ever at Barrowfield”.
On the Friday morning, we were all back at work, although it was a fairly relaxed session, the norm on the day before a match. Lemon and myself were pulled aside by the Boss after training and told that, just as a precaution, he would not be playing either of us against Raith Rovers. His reasoning was that, although we had both played in midweek against Wales, he thought that the two of us were not quite firing on all cylinders after that attack from the virus and he felt that he had the squad to cope with the Rovers. Bobby and I looked at each other, each one waiting for the other to say something but we did not do it in time and the Boss merely clapped us on the shoulders and left.
Then, Bobby and I said to each other almost in unison – “why didn’t you say something?”
Raith Rovers had only been promoted to the First Division the previous season and were where no team wants to be at that time of the year, just above the bottom two. And it was expected by everyone that they, like a lot of other clubs we had met recently, would pack their defence and try to keep us out.
Bobby Lennox and John Clark, who, like myself, were also recovering from injury, played in a reserve match at Celtic Park against Stranraer Reserves, a match which Celtic won 9-0. The team was Fallon, Young, Cattenach, Hay, Connelly, Clark, Macari, McKellar, Quinn, Gallagher, Lennox.
I rather fancied being there as well but was told to travel to Kirkcaldy with the first team. I have always liked the Fife Coast but have never been a great fan of wind, so that day I had several layers on to make sure that my watching brief in the stand would be a warm one. And I hoped a pleasant one.
Stein, Davidson, Porterfield
Murphy, Sneddon, Wallace, Richardson, Falconer.
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Auld, Hughes.
I think that a quote from Jock Stein summed up the essence of the contest that afternoon. He said after the match ;
“we went to Stark’s Park expecting the usual dour defensive set –up that we have encountered already this season. The Raith Rovers side, newly promoted and finding their feet in the First Division, surprised us all by throwing a spanner in the works and, instead of sticking strictly to defence, they came at us from the kick-off and knocked us completely out of our stride”.
That is a wonderfully precise description of what happened that afternoon. Goodness, the man should have taken up journalism!
The crowd of 16,000, not all Celtic fans by any means, witnessed a real contest and at the end of the match, the Raith players got an ovation from both sets of supporters. There could be little doubt that we made more and better chances but every single man in Raith’s un-numbered blue jerseys put a shift in and stuck to the task.
Before the season started, Jock Stein advised us that teams from all divisions would try to show that they were as good as the team which won the European Cup. Well, that afternoon in the Kingdom, those words were very relevant. The boys from Kirkcaldy did try their best to knock the European Champions off their perch.
Both goals came in the second half –
Yogi was pulled down by goalkeeper Reid, Tam stepped forward and hammered his shot off the bar and the into the net. 1-0 Celtic
Wispy got a fine shot in which beat the keeper. 2-0 Celtic
Other incidents in an eventful game were –
Jim Brogan injured in a challenge. It was treated at the interval but he could not continue and Joe McBride came on to replace him.
another penalty for Celtic. Yogi was pulled down by keeper Reid and Tam went into action. Unfortunately, though, when this one hit the cross- bar, it ricochetted back into the field of play and was cleared.
Final Score Raith Rovers 0 Celtic 2