Christmas Day and glory be, we all got the day off. After Midnight Mass and a long lie, I spent mine with my parents, brother, grandmother and grandfather at the latters’ house where several aunts and uncles – along with their children – had also gathered. It was a nice day although the question I was constantly asked was “are you going to win the League again?”
Well, to be perfectly honest, we were doing our best but Rangers were proving difficult to catch.
In Scotland, of course, at that time, there were papers printed on Christmas Day and in the morning editions, there was one eye-catching headline and one significant comment.
The headline was….
Hughes Stakes a Cap Claim
…which was firstly a reference to Yogi’s excellent performance in the match against Morton and secondly, a wee reminder to Bobby Brown, the Scotland manager, that there was another Home International match coming up in the spring, this one against England, and that Yogi on song might be just the player he is looking for.
The comment referred to another big occasion coming up sooner than that : ‘Celtic are 5/4 on favourites to beat Rangers at Parkhead on January 2nd – but only because they have ground advantage.
Just before I drifted off to sleep that night, it dawned on me that two years before, on this very day, we had been celebrating an 8-1 win over Morton at Parkhead.
Boxing Day…and a full morning’s training. However, the Festive spirit was still very much in evidence and while it was quite concentrated, it was all done in a great spirit with everyone in top form.
Three stories in the press caught my eye –
Tuesday’s Celtic v Rangers all-ticket affair is almost a sell-out a week before the contest.
among the adults that Santa should have delivered presents to were firstly, Scotland manager Bobby Brown for over-seeing the 3-2 win over England at Wembley and secondly, Jock Stein and his players, for the European Cup win in Lisbon.
Queen’s Park are considering an invitation for a summer visit next year to Rhodesia, the country that Celtic turned down an invitation to visit for a show game against West Ham because of the political situation.
All the players – apart from Jinky, who had a cold – reported again for training, which again was pretty tough. While we were all concentrating on our fitness, behind the scenes, there were other expectations, as one of the evening papers pointed out –
‘Celtic have not yet received their copy of the referee’s report on the ‘Mayhem in Montevideo’ World Championship match on November 4th and it is not likely to be in their hands until the weekend at least.
The report on the Celtic-Racing Cub game – the match in which four Celtic players were ordered-off – will be studied by Mr Willie Allan, secretary of the SFA, before a copy is made and sent to Celtic Park’.
The European Cup – won in a blaze of glory by Celtic in Lisbon in May – will be put on show for the first time at the Odeon Cinema, Renfield Street Glagow, on Sunday. The film ‘Celtic’ will be screened twice on Hogmanay – at 4.30pm and 7.30pm
Jinky was back today and looking OK. He said that he had just had a runny nose and was told to stay away in case he passed the symptoms on to others. How very sensible! And it was good to have him back again, as the little fellow was a hard man to fall out with and for that reason, he was a very popular presence in the dressing-room. And obviously somebody had passed news of his little problem on the press –
‘Jimmy Johnstone, who was sent home from Celtic Park on Tuesday after being examined by the club doctor, resumed training today after spending yesterday at his house in Viewpark, Lanarkshire’.
I’m sure that Jimmy and his family were delighted that his home address – while not named precisely but near enough – had been printed in a newspaper.
We did the usual fairly light work-out specifically designated for the day before a match and left without the Boss saying much, apart from listing the squad of players which had to report the following day.
The evening press tried to make a story out of some words from him –
Stein Delays Celtic Team
‘Manager Jock Stein said today “We have no reserve games over the New Year period and all our pool of first-team players will be on call for each of our three games. Good conditions could be a deciding factor in the choice of our team.
Celtic have not placed the straw mats on the pitch as the forecast is that it will be mild tonight and tomorrow’.
There was a warning from Glasgow’s Chief Constable, Mr James Robertson –
‘With the full support of the Celtic and Rangers football clubs, stringent measures will be taken by the police against persons waving or displaying flags or banners of any description and using obscene and/or provocative language’.
And while both halves of the Old Firm had tough matches on the morrow – Celtic v Dunfermline at Parkhead and Rangers away to Aberdeen – one journalist had no doubts about the outcomes of both matches. In big letters, the headline read –
The Old Firm Won’t Slip Up
Morning of the Match
With the exception of Willie O’Neill – who had a back problem – everyone else seemed to be fit for the match and certainly from the atmosphere in and around the dressing room, we were really up for the game. Whether it was a hang-over from the Christmas festivities or a prelude to the New Year celebrations, I don’t know but whatever the cause, it was having a most fascinating effect, as I had never heard the guys quite so noisy.
Naturally enough, success, I suppose, brings contentment – and noise! – so we all must have been boosted by the fact that of the 8 matches played since the loss to Racing Club on 4th November, we had won 7 and drawn one, scoring 23 goals in the process. And there was also the added incentive for this match against Dunfermline that it was against one of Jock Stein’s former clubs as manager, from 1960 to 1964. It goes without saying that any manager would want to beat one of his former teams and while the Boss did not go over the top in his pre-match advice, I always got the impression that he wanted us to make a point.
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Chalmers, McBride, Auld, Hughes.
W Callaghan, Lunn
Fraser, Barry, Thomson
Edwards, Paton, Gardner, T Callaghan, Robertson.
We were without the suspended Willie Wallace, of course, while in the Pars side was one former Celt, goalkeeper Bent Martin and one future Celt in Tommy Callaghan.
Dunfermline at that point were lying in 6th place in the table, with a record of P15, W7, D3, L5, F24, A17, Pts17. They could play some good football and this was the first meeting of the two clubs that season. They came out for the match in their usual strip of black and white stripes, while we had green jerseys, white socks, green socks.
From the start, both teams found the rain-sodden pitch a bit difficult and the long ball seemed a useful ploy. Stevie had a shot which went just over and then a header which did the same. Yogi, who always loved these conditions, powered his way through a couple of times but was blocked by the defence. Then, the breakthrough came –
Jinky was up-ended, Bertie took the free-kick and Cesar rose above the Pars rearguard to head home. 1-0 Celtic
And only a minute later, we added another –
good run by Jinky, pass to Stevie and his shot was palmed in to the roof of the net by Bent Martin. 2-0 Celtic
From that point on, it was all Celtic and we put the Pars defence under some real pressure without further reward. Then, right out of the blue, they pulled one back –
an Alex Edwards shot was blocked by Ronnie but it fell into the path of Pat Gardner, who did not miss from 10 yards. 2-1 Celtic
Curiously, only minutes later, Pat did miss an even easier chance, this one only eight yards out.
The Boss seemed quite calm at the break and merely told us to continue as we had been doing and we did just that, putting the Pars defence under some pressure. And within minutes, we made another breakthrough –
McBride cross from the left wing and Stevie was on the spot to head home. 3-1 Celtic
That should have made the game safe for us but in actual fact, Dunfermline rallied and made some chances, two shots by Lunn and Fraser which Ronnie dealt with superbly. The temper of the game also deteriorated from then on, culminating in an incident in the 83 rd minute when Roy Barry and Bertie Auld clashed, our man needing treatment from Bob Rooney and their man being sent off. Then, with only two minutes left, the Pars scored again –
.this time a penalty was awarded for what appeared to be an innocuous challenge in our box. There was a fair bit of complaining to referee Mr Small of Selkirk but he held his ground and Alex Edwards made no mistake from the spot.
Final Score Celtic 3 Dunfermline 2