It had been a dedicated weekend of partying to celebrate our win in Lisbon and more than one face was looking a bit worn on the Monday morning when we came in to Celtic Park.
Never one to miss an opportunity, the Boss spent a few minutes telling us what we did not do so well on the park the previous Thursday afternoon, then confirmed what we already knew, that we would be travelling to Spain to take on Real Madrid in a testimonial for Alfredo Di Stefano on the 7th June.
I was really pleased at the thought of playing in the Bernabeu against such a well-known side but was surprised to find that not everyone felt the same. The reluctant fliers, of whom there were more than one, did not want another flight; and there some who felt that to put our recently-won title of European Champions up for a test against a team of Real Madrid’s standing – they had recently won the Spanish league title – was not a bright move.
However, while those might have been the private thoughts of the individuals concerned, they were only divulged to other players and not publicly. So, after being given the news, we went out to do a light work-out and finished the session with an 8-a-side match behind one of the goals.
At one point, the ball ricocheted off someone’s foot and rolled on to the pitch itself and Wispy ran on to the surface to collect it. Suddenly, a voice roared across the deserted stadium;
“Get off that park!”
The voice belonged to Hughie Docherty, the groundsman, who like every other tender of the grass on a football pitch I have ever met, was obsessed with the quality of the surface and did not like any incursions on to it. Wispy, though, was not to be put off ;
“Ah! gie us peace. The season is finished and we’ve just won the European Cup”.
Unfortunately, Hughie was not to be deflected from his mission and opened his throat again;
“I don’t care what time of year it or what you’ve won…..get off my pitch!”