After the Newcastle game, it was a busy time for Bob Rooney. A few had picked up knocks and were getting treatment for them. There were also some who had injuries from previous games, like Yogi and Bertie. Yogi was in the Scotland squad due to meet England on the forthcoming Saturday so it was important to get him right and the other guys in Bobby Brown’s group – Tam, Jinky, Billy and Lemon – seemed to be OK.
I was not doing great myself. I had taken a real over-the-top challenge from a young guy in an Aberdeen strip in the reserve match on the Saturday and had a horrible gash down the side of my leg just above the ankle. I suppose you could say it was my own fault. The ball had broken loose, I reached it before anyone else and just took a quick look around to see if anyone was in position for the pass. That proved fatal. While I looked left, he came in from the right – in fact he must have launched himself at me – and I went down heavily. He was booked, came over to apologise afterwards but the damage was done and I needed some stitches and bandages. Driving home that day wasn’t much fun, either!
We all headed for Seamill, except yours truly, who was told to do my training at Celtic Park and get a daily check from Bob. My leg was really tender…and when I got home my mother asked me if I would walk up to the shops at the top of the road to get some potatoes!
A report in the dailies mentioned that Celtic will start the construction of a £100,000 covered enclosure at the Springfield Road end of the ground in April.
The guys were all back from Seamill and of course, the ones in the Scottish party were with the others down at Largs. A bit of training for everyone…and that included me, who did all the runs rather slowly and painfully!
Scotland and England draw 1-1 at Hampden. The Scottish team was Simpson, Gemmell, McCreadie, Greig, McNeill, McKinnon, Cooke, Bremner, Hughes, Johnston, Lennox. It was a match in Group 8 of the European Championship and crucial to Scotland’s chances, so it was no surprise that a crowd of 134,000 turned up. Unfortunately, the result was not good enough for Scotland, who had suffered poor results against Wales (1-1) and Northern Ireland (0-1), so we were not going to the European Championship finals in Italy during the summer.
Everyone back in for training with some – (no names given) – running much more gingerly than others.
“Wednesday’s match against Aberdeen is likely to go ahead” was the good news given out to the press by the Boss after training. “We are most hopeful that game will go on; the pitch is improving by the minute”. We would, though, be short of a couple of players. John Clark was out with a bad back and it might be another two weeks before Bertie could regain some mobility after his knee and ankle problems.
As regards my own situation, the leg was still extremely painful, although I could still run but not with any fluency.
Rather surprisingly after the confident prediction of the Boss yesterday, the match against the Dons was called off. An inspection was made early in the morning – I was told later that it had been done just after dawn – and it was decided to call the match off after a heavy frost had come down during the night.
Other matches off were Airdrie v Hibs, Dundee Utd v Falkirk and St Johnstone v Morton.
A full day’s training for everyone and this one included John Clark. The Boss had been at Old Trafford the previous evening to see Manchester United beat Gornik Zabrze 2-0 in the first leg of a European Cup quarter-final tie.
Just the usual light session the day before a match and I really appreciated the lack of intensity in the work-out. The leg was improving but if anything touched it I nearly hit the ceiling so the dressing-room was rather a dangerous place at that precise moment.
After the session, the Boss announced that a squad of 13 players would be travelling down to Kilmarnock for the league match on the morrow and I nearly fell off the bench in the dressing-room when I heard my name read out. He was kidding, surely?
Morning of the Match
We reported to Celtic Park just after noon on Saturday and boarded the coach for the trip to Kilmarnock. There was also a reserve match at Parkhead against Kilmarnock Reserves that day and some of those guys were coming in just as we were leaving. The trip was uneventful and when we arrived at Rugby Park and went out to have a look at the pitch, we were all pleased to see that, in spite of the cold snap that we had all suffered, the surface was looking good for the time of year and more importantly, was not too muddy.
The team was then read out and for the first time in my life, I was absolutely delighted not to hear my name in the team. The leg was improving every day but I was still a long way from match fitness. So, as I headed out to find a cup of tea, the chosen ones went to their appropriate places and started to get ready.
Rodman, McGrory, Beattie
McLean, Queen, Morrison, Gilmour, Cameron.
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, W allace, Gallagher, Hughes.
We got off to a great start and should have been a goal up in the first minute. Wispy flicked the ball on to Chopper, he pushed it forward and hit a fine shot towards goal. Keeper McLaughlin was up to the task, though, and made a spectacular dive to his right to stop the ball going in. It was nearly the perfect start….but a goal came soon after –
4 minutes……corner from Charlie, header by Cesar across goal and Wispy was in position to stab the ball home. 1-0 Celtic
Perhaps that start made us careless as Killie got two chances in as many minutes, the first when Tam and Ronnie got in each other’s way and then when Ronnie got his hands to a good header from the un-marked Cameron which was heading for just under the bar. However, we kept a clean sheet and soon got a reward at the other end –
16 minutes….good work and a fine run by Yogi, who then slid the ball into the path of Wispy and his right foot did the rest. 2-0 Celtic
The Kilmarnock guys did not fold but were giving as good as they got but the longer the game went on, the more they were pushed back on the defensive and we got another one before the break –
42 minutes….great work by Jinky, who beat three men in a tight space before passing the ball to Wispy. His cross was met perfectly with his head by Lemon. 3-0 Celtic
It would have been a happy dressing-room at the interval and the guys certainly looked delighted to be back out on the pitch in the second half. Once more they took control, initially missed a few chances but made sure of another nearly halfway through the half when Wispy got the fourth goal in 72 minutes. Shortly afterwards, Chopper was injured in a clash of heads and went off, Jimmy Quinn coming on for his league debut. And it did not take Jimmy very long to get his name on the score-sheet for Celtic’s 5th with Wispy scoring Celtic’s 6th – and his 4th – just before the whistle.
Final Score Kilmarnock 0 Celtic 6
As you might imagine, there was a great atmosphere in the dressing-room afterwards and that continued all the way back to Celtic Park on the bus.
At Parkhead that afternoon, Celtic Reserves had beaten Aberdeen Reserves 4-2. The Celtic team was John Fallon, Ian Young, John Gorman, Davie Cattenach, George Connelly, Davie Hay, Hugh McKellar, Pat MacMahon, Stevie Chalmers, Joe McBride and Jim Clarke. The goals came from MacMahon, Hay, Chalmers and McKellar.