We all reported back in for training on the Monday after the Hibs match and I was called in for a chat by the Boss. He was quite solicitous, asking me how I was feeling and whether I felt up to training and playing.
I explained that my nausea would come in waves, the problem being that I would feel OK for a long period, then it would strike suddenly and I had no control over when that was. He told me to just continue to train with the team, say nothing about it to the other players – and he would say nothing to the press – and we would see how the week would work out.
I thought that a sensible way to deal with the situation. When the nausea did strike – and I was in the middle of a run or shooting practice etc – I would just stop and hold my knee as though that was a slight problem. Players do that all the time if they are feeling a little tightness, so nobody gave my problems a thought.
The others in the first-team squad seemed all right, apart from Jinky, who had come off at half-time the previous Saturday with some sort of leg injury
Obviously, there had been some problems with the state of the pitches at some other grounds as this piece appeared in one of the evening papers ; –
‘The Scottish League Management Committee today upheld the decisions of the referees who declared Broomfield Park, Tannadice Park and Hampden Park playable for the Airdrie/Kilmarnock, Dundee United/Rangers and Queen’s Park/Brechin City matches. A complaint from Rangers FC about games being played on unsuitable pitches was noted’.
Back in for training again and I went right through a session without feeling the slightest twinge of anything. Things were definitely improving. I had been told to keep the Boss up-dated on how I was feeling, so to avoid anyone being suspicious, I merely gave him a thumbs-up sign when I thought no-one was watching.
I was, though, getting a little bit worried about how the general public, particularly the Celtic contingent, were assessing the Scottish Cup match against Dunfermline. The Pars had been playing well recently and yet in one of the dailies, it said ;
‘If recent results and recent history count for anything in football, the name CELTIC will go straight into the ballot drum on Monday when the draw for the 2nd round of the Scottish Cup takes place at Park Gardens’.
Was that confidence….or stupidity? Wasn’t it only a year ago that they were saying the same about Rangers and Berwick Rangers?
A day off. All the first-team squad reported to Bonnyton Moor Golf Club for a few holes. The one man missing was Jinky, not because of injury but because he did not play golf!
The usual not too heavy work-out two days before a match. I felt only the slightest problem doing the sprints but when it did hit me, it was like a knife in the guts. I spoke to the Boss afterwards and he motioned me into his room. I wondered what the problem was but it was merely to say that he had decided he could not take the chance of playing me against Dunfermline. If I had an episode of nausea on the pitch, it could strike just at a crucial moment and he did not want to take a chance. It was a sensible decision and I could only nod my head in agreement. Never one to miss a trick, though, he then went on to say that he thought that it would be good for me to get a competitive match under my belt so suggested that I play in the reserve game against Stirling at Annfield on the Friday night. “Thanks a bunch!” I thought but just kept my mouth shut.
The Boss later told a little white lie when he was quoted as saying to the press –
“all our players are fit at the moment. I will see how they are at training tomorrow before making any definite decision”.
And George Farm, the manager of Dunfermline, was almost arrogantly confident when interviewed about the clash at the Pars’ luxury hotel at Dunblane, where they would stay until leaving for Parkhead on the Saturday –
“Let Celtic Worry!”, he declared.
It was reported in the press that John Clark was OUT of Celtic’s cup team against Dunfermline at Celtic Park on the morrow – the result of a training ground injury. Midway through the session, he injured an ankle.
The Boss said that Jim Brogan will replace John Clark and Davie Cattenach would take over my right-back slot.
That night proved to be a successful one for the Reserves at Annfield. In spite of a heavy pitch and some driving rain, we ran out 4-0 winners over Stirling Albion. The team was John Fallon, Jim Craig, Willie O’Neill, Sammy Henderson, George Connelly, Davie Hay, Vic Davidson, Charlie Gallagher, Jimmy Quinn, Pat MacMahon and Lou Macari, with the goals coming from Vic Davidson (2), Jimmy Quinn and Pat MacMahon.
Curiously enough, although I never really liked playing at Annfield, which had slopes that I do not approve of on a football pitch, I always admired the setting and the quaint building – containing offices and dressing-rooms – a little behind one of the stands.
27th January 1968 Celtic v Dunfermline Athletic – Scottish Cup -Report
The Morning of the Match
It is easy after all these years, especially when one knows the outcome of the match, to appear wise after the event and state that things did not feel good before the game. I can still recall, though, that the atmosphere before that particular contest was, let’s say, ‘unusual’. Oh! there was the usual banter but it seemed forced rather then natural. Could it be that the comments in most of the press that Celtic were certainties to go through was putting the guys under pressure? Or did the throwaway line from the Pars manager – “let Celtic worry” – have an effect on the players? Whatever the cause, that dressing-room was not the chatty and noisy place it usually was.
The Boss and Sean were doing their bit, masseur Jim Steel kept up the banter but few were responding to it and I soon left them to it, although never for one minute expecting the result that was coming up. I just thought everyone was having a quieter day than usual.
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Wallace, McBride, Auld, Hughes.
W Callaghan, Lunn
Fraser, Barry, Thomson
Edwards, Paton, Gardner, T Callaghan, Robertson.
The team was wearing green shirts and shorts with white stockings, an outfit which was met with approval from the stands. Wee Jinky got the first shot on goal, then the Pars also made a push, through Edwards and Paton. In the 24th minute, Billy McNeill mis-hit a good chance from 10 yards; a minute later, Joe McBride hoisted his shot over the bar, also from close-in.
Dunfermline were not out of it, though, relying on quick breaks and by the half-hour mark, the match had turned into a dour, tough encounter, lots of hard, fast tackling on both sides but a decided lack of rhythmic football from Celtic.
In the stands and the terracings, the Hoops fans were not enjoying it. The ones around me in the South Stand were complaining most of the time, asking loudly either “what was wrong with the team?” or “why are they not taking control?”.
Sometimes, when you are a injured player watching your team at a time like that, you feel like saying to these guys – “because the opposition is playing pretty well”.
In 39 minutes, Jim Brogan had a great shot from the edge of the box which went through a packed group of players in the penalty area and found the corner. However, just as Brogie started celebrating and his team- mates rushed to join him, somebody noticed that the referee, Mr Davidson of Airdrie, had blown for an offence, presumably offside, so the score still remained goalless and was the same at half-time.
Celtic took control from the re-start and a shot from Wispy went just over the bar. From a free-kick at the other end, future Celt Tommy Callaghan brought out a great save from Ronnie. Joe McBride went off; Stevie Chalmers came on. Then a goal arrived.
Pars substitute Hunter made a good run down the right wing. He crossed into the box where Robertson had two attempts at goal; the first one was blocked but the second fairly whistled past Ronnie.
I thought that we would be annoyed by going behind and really take the game to the Pars but it did not work out like that. The Dunfermline guys kept our forwards in check and when they did come forward, our defence looked very square and vulnerable. Then, with 16 minutes to go, as often happens, a mistake by an individual player lets the opposition in –
Davie Cattenach was well short with a pass back and Pat Gardner latched on to the ball, rounded Ronnie and calmly slid the ball home.
The Celtic fans making up the vast majority of the 47,000 crowd were shell-shocked. We looked a bit perplexed on the pitch too but hard as we tried to get back into the match, the Pars players just took control of the game and from that point on, it was more a question of them possibly scoring a third goal as opposed to us getting our first.
When the whistle went, it was no surprise that our guys got a bit of a going-over and I’m sure that they would have been pleased to get back into the dressing-room
Final Score Celtic 0 Dunfermline 2
I decided not to go into the dressing-room at the end of the match, so I did not hear the Boss’s reaction to the defeat. However, from what the guys told me afterwards, he was fairly reserved in his comments although very magnanimous when talking to the manager and players of the winners, his old club. Deep down, though, he must have been hurting.
Aberdeen 1 Raith Rovers 1
Ayr United 0 Arbroath 2
Clyde 1 Berwick 0
Cowdenbeath 0 Dundee 1
Dundee Utd 3 St Mirren 1
East Fife 3 Alloa 0
East Stirling 3 Hibs 5
Elgin City 3 Forfar 1
Hearts 4 Brechin City 1
Morton 4 Falkirk 0
Motherwell 1 Airdrie 1
Partick Th. 0 Kilmarnock 0
QOS 1 Stirling Albion 1
Rangers 3 Hamilton 1
St Johnstone 3 Hawick RA 0
Singer Elvis Presley has been signed by the National Broadcasting Company (N.B.C.) to star in his first television programme. The hour-long show will be made in Hollywood and shown later this year or early in 1969.