Not Enough Hours In the Day!
This was a particularly difficult spell for me in my football life. I knew that I was playing well in the reserve team and showing that I could not only defend and organize a defence – as the big guy, I had always been put to the centre-half role in school and amateur sides – but also had the touch to come forward and set up the attacks from the back.
Unfortunately, though, at the start of season 1965-66, I was also a final year student in dentistry at Glasgow Dental Hospital, struggling to fit in lectures, treating patients, studying and training into what sometimes seemed to be astonishingly short day. And, as yet, I had not made enough money to buy a car, so I had to go everywhere by public transport.
As I was coming down from the South Stand at Parkhead into the foyer on the night when Celtic beat Raith Rovers 4-0 in the League Cup second leg tie, Jock Stein caught my eye and pointed to his office, so I walked across while thinking, as I would do many times in the future, just what I had been up to that would deserve a rollicking! However, he was all smiles and said that he had been wondering if I could join the squad to the trip to Holland for the Go-Ahead Deventer match. He went on to say that I would not be playing but he thought it would be a good experience for me to be on such a trip.
I was delighted to hear those words and was up on cloud nine….but then reality set in and brought me down to earth again with a bump! I would need permission from the Dental Hospital to go and there was no chance of those in charge granting such a request at such short notice. One of the rules in those days was that every student had to perform a certain amount of work on patients – divided into fillings, crowns, dentures etc, for all of which a varying number of points were awarded – and if you did not hit the overall target, then you could not sit the finals. Due to me nicking away early to train at Parkhead two nights a week – and occasionally, I must confess, in the mornings too – I was at the bottom end of the target zone for points and could not possibly get away for four days, even if I did fancy a trip to Holland!
Still, the offer from the Boss showed that I was making some sort of impression on the guys who ran the reserve side and it gave me a boost, as I thought it meant that I would get my chance one day!
Meanwhile, the sports pages of the press were highlighting the two European matches in which Scots teams were involved that week, Kilmarnock against Nandori Tirana of Albania in the European Cup and, of course, the Celtic match. For the first time since season 1958-59, Rangers were not involved in Europe.
On Monday morning 27th September 1965, the headlines in one paper summed it all up;-
What a tonic for Celtic! Seven magnificent goals against Aberdeen at the weekend – just what they needed before meeting Go-Ahead Deventer in Holland on Wednesday.
It seems certain that manager Jock Stein will announce the side to play the Dutch side nearer the game.
The only doubt is centre-forward Joe McBride, who strained a leg in the heavy going against Aberdeen. But last night McBride was sure that he would be fit.
Former Dutch international winger Cor van Es, who spied on Celtic’s form on behalf of Go-Ahead, was tremendously impressed, particularly by Bobby Lennox. He said afterwards that he could not understand why Lennox was not in the Scottish international team.
On Tuesday morning, 28th September, came further news from the Celtic camp;-
The Squad Sets Off
‘The Celtic party flew from Renfrew to Amsterdam last night for Wednesday’s European Cup-Winners’ Cup first round first –leg tie with Go-Ahead Deventer.
There were 18 players in the squad, defender Willie O’Neill being added at the last minute. Due to business commitments, chairman Bob Kelly missed the trip.
Jock Stein denied a report that Aberdeen had been in touch with Celtic askingt if they could approach and speak to versatile right-winger Steve Chalmers.
One piece of good news for Celtic was that Go-Ahead Deventer had been beaten 4-0 by Ajax at the week-end’.
And on the morning of the game -29th September 1965 – this story appeared;
HOLLAND – MCBRIDE DOUBT
‘ Celtic manager Jock Stein said last night that McBride was training with the other players and that there will another check on him before any announcement. Celtic delayed the training till 8 o’clock to coincide with tomorrow night’s kick-off. The Parkhead players and officials had a walk over the ground and Jock Stein commented “if we don’t win, we can’t blame the conditions of the pitch anyway”.
The Celtic party has been invited to a civic reception this morning and will be training in the afternoon. The Jock Stein will announce his team’.
In other parts of the world, football matters were not going quite so peacefully ;-
Angry Fans Chase Team Bus
Angry supporters of Italian First Division side Foggia stoned players and officials of the Rome club Lazio after the teams had fought out a 1-1 draw at Foggia. Every Lazio player received cuts and bruises.
The Lazio party fled in the team bus to Avellino, 62 miles away, still pursued by furious fans who had driven from Foggia.
While back in Scotland, a star in a different field had his supporters in the palm of his hand;
‘To the opening lines of ‘Give Me the Moonlight’ and the screams of a wildly enthusiastic audience, singing star Frankie Vaughan stepped on to the stage of the Theatre Royal, Dundee, last night.
His opening number, ‘Long Time No See’ was barely audible above the screams of delight that followed him as he high-kicked his way round the stage. Frankie had the packed hall at his feet’.
And also in Scotland, a well-known promoter had a problem ;
‘Who is the biggest crowd-puller – Cassius Clay [later Mohammed Ali] or Dundee wrestler George Kidd?
Well, for promoter – and former boxing champion – Peter Keenan, wrestler George wins hands down every time!
Keenan staged Clay’s recent exhibition at Paisley and had almost 4,000 empty seats. Yet every time he promotes Kerr on a wrestling bill at Paisley, the house is packed!’
You’ll Need to Run Quicker Than That, Son!
While the first team players were enjoying the benefits of three meals a day etc, the part-timers all reported for training on the Tuesday evening. Certainly, since the arrival of Jock Stein in March of that year of 1965, the training had improved. We still did the running round the track and so on but we got much more work with a ball and that pleased everyone.
The running was all done in boots rather than trainers and I heard a story at the time as to why that was the case. Apparently, before the dressing room was done up, there were spaces underneath the benches for things like trainers (or ‘gutties’ as they were sometimes called, particularly by the laddies from Lanarkshire; a Govan boy like myself had never heard them called that).
Unfortunately, as the trainers were in full public view, a fair bit of thieving went on and sometimes players had to make do with what they could find. One day, one of the full-timers checked under his usual place and found that his trainers had indeed gone missing. As the coach was shouting for all the lads to get out on to the track for some sprint work, he quickly pulled out two other trainers from differing parts of the dressing –room and pulled them on.
He raced down to the start of the 100 yard dash and at the whistle, ran as hard as he could, although he found the trainers very uncomfortable. The coach was not impressed – “You’ll need to run quicker than that, son!” he yelled.
Once the session had ended, the player took a look at the trainers and soon found what the problem had been. He normally took a size 9 but the pair he had pulled on comprised an 8 on the left foot and an 11 on the right! No wonder he had been struggling!