Morning of the Game
One of the reports in the press on the Monday following our good 3-0 win over Hearts must have been written by a Hearts supporter. No, let me phrase that better ; the sub-editor responsible for the headline in the match report for that match in one particular paper must have had leanings towards Tynecastle. The headline read – in huge print –
Ford Nets But He’s Offside
Now, if you read the reports in all the papers – including the one in question – they all seem to agree that Hearts, who had the wind behind them in the first half, competed well against us till half-time, by which time we were one-up. After the break, we dominated the play and got two more goals. Yet the main headline is about an offside goal for Hearts. No wonder Celtic fans sometimes wondered what was going on?
We had been in on the Sunday after the Hearts match for a loosener and a check on injuries. Chopper was not feeling too great, having taken one on the ankle early in the Hearts match. As I had recently come through the same problem, we could compare notes but I got the impression that while mine was a temporary setback, his was a recurrent one. Certainly, at least on the Sunday, he did not feel that he would be ready for the Jags match 36 hours later.
And that would have been a shame. I particularly liked playing with Chopper. He had a lovely touch on both feet and could run a game effortlessly, often putting me down the wing to give Jinky an alternative but also as bad as the Boss in shouting at me to get back.
I could see why. Billy was wonderful in the air but a centre-half can only cover a certain area so if you also had two fullbacks who were 6 feet 1 inch in height and good in the air, it fairly helped the defensive screen. In fact, if you check the records for these seasons, you will notice that while we were scoring a pile of goals at one end, the goals-against tally was usually less than a goal-per-game.
The Boss, naturally, got a mention in more than one of the dailies –
‘Jock Stein leaves nothing to chance. He made an early morning visit to Firhill today to make certain that the pitch was playable for tonight’s Partick Thistle/Celtic league game and to test the going.
Jock and his Thistle counterpart Willie Thornton were agreeably surprised with the state of the ground after the weekend rain but neither will make any team announcement until just before the 7.30pm kick-off.
Celtic have a double target – two points to give them a four point lead over Rangers and enough goals to hoist their present total of 99 league goals to over the 100 mark’.
And another big moment coming up also got a mention. Celtic and Dukla Prague have agreed to play their European Cup semi-final first leg at Celtic Park on 12th April – three days before the England-Scotland international at Wembley.
Meanwhile, over at Ibrox, only the youngsters were training. The rest were on holiday to celebrate the wedding of captain John Greig. John will break his honeymoon to play in Wednesday night’s game against St Johnstone.
We had been told to report to Parkhead in the late afternoon, where we found out that, as he certainly expected, Chopper would have to miss out on the match. However, after we found that out, there was silence from the Boss as regards the make-up of the side.
There had been no provision for any pre-match meal, so around 4pm, I had just to get busy in the kitchen myself, conjuring up a fine dish of scrambled eggs on toast, with a couple of mugs of tea to wash it down.
The journey from Celtic Park to Firhill is a very short one but it does take you through the main streets of Glasgow, the centre of the city crowded with shoppers and those leaving work to catch buses or trains, while as you approached the north of the city, we passed the guys – mainly guys in those days – heading to the match. We always felt like royalty as they stopped and cheered us on our way.
The Jags were in mid-table; or to be more precise, about 12th in the 18-team league. Unfortunately, while we were scoring roughly three goals per game, Partick Thistle were knocking in roughly one-and-a-half goals per game while losing two per match. A record like that puts you in the lower half of the table.
When we saw the pitch, we were pleasantly surprised. It was in excellent nick for that time of the season. Now, granted, the Boss had given us a very positive report on its condition earlier in the afternoon but many a manager would do that just to make you feel more positive about the games etc but in this case, a good report was the right one. If we did mess up that night, it would not be due to the state of the surface.
A bit of a surprise for us when the team was announced. In place of Chopper was…..Wispy! Charlie G was in for Bertie, who was also carrying an injury and Pumper was on the bench. That seemed to be precautionary, I supposed, in case the picking of Wispy in midfield did not work out.
Niven, Campbell, Muir, Cunningham, McKinnon, Gibb, Gallagher, McParland, Rae, Flanagan, Duncan.
Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Wallace, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Gallagher, Chalmers, Lennox, Hughes.
Right from the off, the Jags went back into defence which was great, handing our lot the freedom of the park. And we did make chances, all of them blocked by the defence or handled very competently by goalkeeper George Niven.
We should have taken the lead in the 28th minute when wee Jimmy latched on to fine through ball by Lemon but unfortunately drove it against the post with the keeper beaten. The breakthrough eventually came three minutes from the interval –
42 minutes…..a well-directed corner kick by Jinky was blasted home by Lemon.
It was our 100th league goal of the season.
As you might imagine, the dressing-room was a happy place at the break, the Boss quite content to remind us that the work was not all done yet. I seemed to have heard that before somewhere?
Anyway, we continued in the second half the same way as we had controlled the play on the first period and got the occasional reward but only after Thistle had pulled one back in 52 minutes in a breakaway –
59 minutes…..wee Jimmy was right on form and his beautifully-flighted cross, after he beaten a couple of Jags’ defenders, was blasted home by Stevie.
67 minutes….this time Stevie was the provider and Wispy the finisher.
86 minutes… Stevie again, this time from a cross by Tam.
Final Score Partick Thistle 1 Celtic 4
On a personal level, I was very satisfied with my performance. Jimmy had been outstanding but I had worked hard to keep him supplied with the ball and at the same time, I had dealt well with Arthur Duncan, a very quick winger I would often oppose when he was with Hibs in the forthcoming years.
And, to be honest, we must have done all right, as we got a ‘well done’ from the Boss. That was about as high as his praise went.
Eight Buccaneer jets from Lossiemouth this afternoon bombed stricken tanker Torrey Canyon.
Within minutes coastguards said the tanker was a ‘mass of flames’ with smoke rising 2000 feet into the air.
The decision to bomb came after an attempt to set fire to oil patches in the seas off the south-west coast had failed.
Glasgow may ban private cars in the city centre.
This is believed to be one of the main recommendations in the Greater Glasgow Transportation Study, to be published in May.
The survey estimated that in Glasgow just after 1980 there would be 300 cars to each 1000 persons, a quadruple increase on the 1964 figure.
The Rolling Stones fled from a concert in Orebro, Sweden last night as about 2000 fans threw bottles, stones, chairs and fireworks at the stage.
Police used batons and dogs to break up the riot. Organisers said damage estimated at £700 was caused.
Bulldozers scooped giant graves in the sand at Hobart, Tasmania, for 150 young sperm whales which threw themselves ashore at the weekend in a mass suicide.
The State Government accepted responsibility after a two-day wrangle with officials over who should dispose of the carcasses.
A Battle Outside the Ring
A Houston, Texas, draft conscription board spokesman said today that world heavy-weight champion Cassius Clay could become an army private in 16 days if his legal battle with the selective service system failed.
Clay said – “If I thought it would bring freedom, justice and equality to 22 million so-called negroes, you wouldn’t have to draft me – I’d join tomorrow”.
A 30-year-old Hamilton father threw his 18-month-old twin sons out of a 20 feet first-floor window to safety after they were trapped by a fire in their four-apartment home.
Then, suffering from burns and almost unconscious, the father, Mr John Lewis, managed to clamber on to the window sill and throw himself to the ground.