Next up for Celtic was Kilmarnock, in a league match down at Rugby Park. The teams had already met during the season in that same competition, on 27th November 1965, at Parkhead, when Celtic won 2-1. However, the Ayrshire club had made sure it won a fair percentage of its matches against other clubs and going into this game, the respective positions in the table were –
So, only six points between 1st and 4th, a pretty good situation, considering that all the teams were heading into the final quarter of the league campaign.
Celtic certainly could not afford to take the occasion lightly and, although I was not there, I am pretty sure that a warning along those lines would have been ringing in the ears of the full-timers in the days leading up to the match.
As the match was on a Tuesday evening, we had come in on the Sunday for a light session and then on Monday morning – or, in my case Monday night – trained as per usual.
All through my life since then, I have had reason to think that the human body is wonderful thing, capable of taking a lot of batterings yet equally capable of making quick recoveries. The first time I ever thought of this was at that time of my life.
When I woke up on Sunday morning, only some 16 hours or so after I had suffered my way through some runs at Celtic Park, the pain in my ankle was minimal. Indeed, it was so slight that it would be wrong to call it a ‘pain’. At worst, it was a form of discomfort and I felt quite capable of doing anything I was asked to do.
Everyone remarked on it and I could see that the coaches and management staff nodding their heads in approval as I completed the twists and turns. I could not say that it completely pain-free but compared to what it had been only 24 hours before, it was wonderful.
When a player is out of things, it is nice when you see or read something that gives you some sense of optimism about the future. In my case, I had been boosted by a little piece I noticed in one of the dailies where a very respected journalist, whose Celtic sympathies were well-known, commenting on the action at the Scottish Cup semi-final against Dunfermline, remarked that – ‘At times, I thought that the Celtic defence was suspect but the Pars ‘new look’ attack was never able to take advantage’. I had thought that too, although I could have been accused of some bias.
Anyway, it did me make me feel that there was a chance to come back into the side and the thought certainly lifted my spirits. Suddenly the world seemed a brighter place.
Possibly I had been a trifle optimistic but I had been hoping – no more than hoping – that my recovery might get me my place back in the side. My hopes were dashed after training on the Monday night, though, when the Boss came over for a chat. He explained that it was great to see me back in action but suggested that I go for a run out in the reserve match due to take place on the Wednesday night, 24 hours after the game against Kilmarnock.
Although disappointed at missing out on the match against Killie on the Tuesday night, I readily agreed to take part in the reserve game. His face then broke into a smile; “ I might have a surprise for you” he said, then laughed and walked away.
A surprise!…..I could only wonder.
Celtic and Liverpool were still deadlocked over the dates for their European Cup Winners’s Cup semi-final tie, which must be played by 21st April.
The date of the second leg, at Anfield, is almost certainly April 19th. But Liverpool still refuse to entertain April 13th or 14th at Parkhead, because of their heavy Easter programme a few days before.
Now, the Parkhead club has asked the SFA to refer the dispute to the European Union, who will step in and fix dates.
At Least One Isn’t
From the papers on the eve of the match –
‘Jim Craig and Charlie Gallagher are training again and could make a comeback against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park tomorrow night’. Well, I know at least one who ain’t!
Scotland’s ‘pool’ of players to face England at Hampden on Saturday is down to 15 following the release yesterday of Ian St John of Liverpool and Chelsea’s Eddie McCreadie.
The management announced that no new players would be brought in, so McCreadie’s withdrawal means that Tommy Gemmell of Celtic will be at left-back. Similarly, the absence of John Hughes through injury – announced earlier – will mean that Willie Johnston starts on the left-wing.
Last time round, I asked which of the four teams involved in the semi-final of the Fairs Cup – Leeds, Chelsea, Real Zaragoza and Barcelona – had won the trophy before. The answer was Real Zaragoza and Barcelona.
Now, to this week’s question, which involves Eddie McCreadie, mentioned under ‘Drop-outs’ above. From which Scottish side did Eddie join Chelsea in 1962?
London’s Giant Panda, Chi Chi, had her first glimpse – and a good sniff – at Europe’s only other Giant Panda, An An of Moscow Zoo.
The pandas touched noses after An An moved in next to the cage where Chi Chi has been living since arriving in Moscow several weeks ago.
American pop singer, Roy Orbison, a motor-cycle enthusiast, borrowed a bike for a trial spin at Hawkstone Park, near Shrewsbury yesterday….and fell off!
Reds on Top
For the second successive season, Wales won the International Rugby Championship when they beat France 9-8 in front of a capacity crowd of 58,000 at Cardiff Arms Park.
Wales won 3 and drew one of their 4 matches. Scotland, with 2 wins, one draw and one defeat, were 3rd ; with France second, Ireland 4th and England taking the Wooden Spoon.