20th October 1968
All the players and management headed for Seamill and on the way down to Ayrshire, we discussed what was in the papers that morning.
Our own activities got an airing –
Celtic Find It Harder
- and that could certainly be said to be an accurate description of our display against St Johnstone the previous Saturday. However, a win is a win and we were all very pleased to have picked up both points. And my own part in both goals also got some mention – Two Crosses by Craig etc – so it was a very happy bus going down the A77.
In the evening editions, there was some not-so-good news for some of our rivals –
Colin Stein Banned – Out of Cup Final
‘Colin Stein, Hibs centre-forward, is OUT of the Hibs team against Celtic in the League Cup final at Hampden on Saturday. Today Stein was suspended for 10 days by the SFA Referee Committee for an ordering-off offence. Stein was sent off in the league match against Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park on 14th September’.
And at the same meeting, Ronnie McKinnon of Rangers, who had been ordered off at Tynecastle against Hearts on 28th September, was fined $50 and will miss Saturday’s match against Aberdeen.
We also noticed that while we were preparing at Seamill, Hibs were doing the same at North Berwick.
22nd October 1968
All sweetness and light down in Seamill ; chaos back in Glasgow –
‘Saturday’s League Cup final between Celtic and Hibs has been postponed because of a fire at Hampden today. No new dates have been arranged so far. Scotland’s World Cup qualifying match versus Austria, due on 6th November, is likely to be switched to Ibrox.
Damaged in the Hampden blaze were the dressing rooms, the trophy room and much of the centre section of the South stand. An electrical fault is believed to have been the cause’.
You do not have to be a genius to work out what the main topic of conservation was down at Seamill and we were all dead keen to hear more details. They were a bit sketchy but eventually, we were told the important news that Celtic and Hibs would now revert to the league fixtures originally scheduled for Saturday. So, we would meet Morton in an all-ticket game at Cappielow and Hibs would be at home to Dundee United.
23rd October 1968
As we were going through our usual Seamill routines – the early morning walk, the training on the lawn, the occasional holes of golf – all the talk was still of the Hampden fire and we devoured the papers looking for news, which was sketchy at best. Then, we were told of an even more unusual occurrence, which the evening press described in this fashion –
Riddle for Police
‘Puzzled detectives are investigating the fire which wrecked the Centre Stand at Ibrox Stadium today – 24 hours after the Hampden Park blaze.
After a preliminary exam today lasting nearly two hours, detectives said that nothing had been found to support the theory that the fire may have been deliberately started’.
24th October 1968
We have a training session in the morning, then after lunch, head back up to Celtic Park, pick up the cars and head home.
25th October 1968
Back to Parkhead for a light session the day before the game and it all goes smoothly. The Boss was in very good humour and I found out why from one of the pressmen attending the usual pre-match conference. He had told them all that for the first time in a while, he had a full and fit squad to choose from.
He announced to us that the defence for the Cappielow match would be Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill and Brogan; while the five forwards would be chosen from six players – Johnstone, Chalmers, McBride, Lennox, Wallace and Hughes.
Unfortunately, there was some not so good news for Jimmy Johnstone, who had already stated publicly that he did not want to play for Scotland in the match against Austria. This headline dominated the back page –
Brown Picks Johnstone!
- but the Scotland manager refused to take questions on the situation….and both the Boss and wee Jimmy were keeping their thoughts to themselves.
That night, the Reserves were in action against Partick Thistle Reserves in the second round of the Second Eleven Cup. The team had been Fallon, McGrain, O’Neill, Connelly, Hay, Clark, Macari,
McMahon, Quinn, Gallagher, Auld; and the side had won 3-0, the goals coming from Lou Macari, Pat McMahon and a Bertie Auld penalty.
Day of the Match 26th October 1968
It was an easy bus trip down the Clyde to Greenock and Cappielow Park, where the crowds were milling around to get entry to the tight ground. When the teams were announced, we all noticed that two former Celts – Tony Taylor and Gerry Sweeney – were in the Morton side. In fact, only that week, there had been news in the papers that Tony was about to move to Crystal Palace for a fee of around £15,000, which, as he had been bought from Celtic for around £3,000, was a good bit of business by Morton.
Artentoft, Gray, Rankin
Harper, Stevenson, Mason, Allan, Taylor.
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, McBride, Wallace, Lennox, Hughes.
The start was delayed to let the late arrivals into the ground but when it did, it became apparent that it would be one of those matches where we dominated the play, put constant pressure on the home defence and only had to deal with the occasional breakaway for the opposition. And that summed up the first half fairly neatly.
We did have a couple of good chances that we did not take, both falling to Bobby Lennox, the first when he shot over the bar from close in and the other when he missed a gaping goal from a pass by Wispy. However, just before the break, we did put one on the board –
Bobby made amends. He broke through the Morton defence and shot, the ball hit the post and came straight back out again to Joe McBride, who stroked it into the net.
The Boss was quite relaxed about the proceedings at half-time and merely told us to be a little more clinical and calm near goal. We certainly took his instructions in but unfortunately, did not always put them into operation and Morton took one of their few chances –
in one report, it said that the goal came from a mix-up between Ronnie and myself but I have no recollection of it. I prefer the other report which said;
‘ironically, it came from a mistake by Craig, the most accomplished Parkhead defender, that Harper stepped in to equalise’. 1-1
Try as we might, we could not get another, although would have won the match on pressure. Unfortunately, though, it is goals that count and in this particular match, we did not score enough of them.
Final Score Morton 1 Celtic 1
Fortunately, a few of the other results went in our favour, so it looked as though we were not the only side to be a little off-form that afternoon –
And those results left the league table looking like this;