29th August 1968
We were all back in for some training the day after the victories over Morton and Dundee United . It was a fairly normal morning’s work amidst the euphoria that is very prevalent after good results for both the first team and the reserves.
Afterwards, a confident Jock Stein made a strong declaration quoted almost in full in one of the evening papers –
“If Ronnie Simpson and Tommy Gemmell are fit we will play our usual team against Partick Thistle on Saturday.
It would be grossly unfair to the supporters of Celtic and the Jags if we sent out anything but what we consider the best line-up v Thistle.
After all, a lot of people have paid 12s 6d ( 62 and a half pence in modern money ) for a seat in the stand. Thousands more will be paying for admission to the enclosure and terracing. They are paying their money and they are entitled to see the best display of football we can put on show”.
I was not too happy when I read that. He was apparently saying that the team v Morton had been the best he could put out. Well, I for one disagreed with his comments. I thought it was a much more balanced side with me in the right-back slot. I worked well with Jinky; Tam and Jinky were like two divas, both loving the limelight. Willie O’Neill was an excellent full-back but did not come forward too often, so all the attacks came down the right. When Tam and I were at full-back, the attacks came down both flanks. So, you can see my discomfiture when I read what the Boss had said. However, I did not take any further action at that time but I did notice just before I left the ground that Tommy Gemmell was on the treatment table, in obvious discomfort. Well, well, I thought!
Things had changed overnight. The injury that Tam had picked up had obviously been more serious than originally thought and he spent the morning on the treatment table, in obvious discomfort. The Boss pulled me in after training and told me that I would be at right-back, that I deserved the chance and that he expected me to grab it with both hands. Externally, I was suitably humble but inside I was in raptures. Thank the Lord for Tommy Gemmell, I thought! He might occasionally have got me into trouble but on this occasion, he was the saviour!
The papers were more effusive –
Celtic Bring Back Craig
That was the headline in more than one of the dailies. You would think that I had been away on a trip to Africa or somewhere. The story underneath the headline was equally informative –
‘Ronnie Simpson and Tommy Gemmell have been pulled out of the Celtic team to meet Partick Thistle in the League Cup tomorrow, although both players are very close to fitness.
In the team for the second match in succession will be John Fallon and Jim Craig gets his big comeback chance at right-back.
Craig has not played for Celtic since the last day of last season. He did not travel with Celtic to America for the close-season tour because he had taken up a new dental position.
On the tour, Willie O’Neill played so well that Craig could not regain his place when Celtic came home – but he has been playing extremely well in the reserves’.
UEFA announced that all the East European clubs would be withdrawn from the original draw for the first round of the European Cup and placed in a further selection against each other. It was rather a complicated process but what it meant for Celtic was that they would now play French champions St Etienne in the first round and not Ferencvaros
The Day of the Match
As we were only travelling across the city, there was no question of being fed before the match, so I got busy in the kitchen in my parents’ house and rustled up the usual scrambled eggs on toast, which I was becoming very adept at preparing. Then, it was into the car and a trip to Celtic Park, where I joined the rest of the guys for the usual banter on the day of a match before boarding our coach for the trip to Firhill.
When we got there, we found that a substantial crowd was gathering for the clash ( it was eventually estimated at some 25,000) and from the comments, the Hoops fans were hoping for a few more goals.
Hanson, McKinnon, O’Neill
Gallagher, McParland, Bone, Flanagan, Duncan.
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Connelly, Hughes.
This was a resounding win, with Celtic getting off to the perfect start with two goals in the first 8 minutes –
right from the whistle, we went into the attack. Bobby Lennox went right through the Jags defence before passing to John Hughes. Yogi’s shot hit keeper Ritchie’s leg before re-bounding to Lemon, who slammed it home. 1-0 Celtic
we went on the attack and this time right-back Cumming hit his attempted clearance Into the corner of his own net. 2-0 Celtic
For the remainder of the half, we controlled the game, made a few chances which we did not take, had a possible penalty claim waved away when it looked as though Jinky had been hauled down by McLindon and had a goal from a Wispy shot dis-allowed. It was, of course, a very happy dressing-room at the interval. Even the Boss looked pleased.
From the start of the second period, we put on the pressure and the goals started to rain in –
fine pass from Jinky and Lemon was there to blast the ball home. 3-0 Celtic
cross by George Connelly, a bullet-header by Lemon. 4-0 Celtic
The Jags did get one back through George O’Neill in the 75th minute when his 25-yarder seem to catch John Fallon by surprise but we soon had the Jags defence under pressure again and knocked in two more –
Lemon went right through and slipped the ball under Billy Ritchie. 5-1 Celtic
Lemon again, with a low shot.
Final Score Partick Thistle 1 Celtic 6
Down at Cappielow, it turned out to be something of a romp for Rangers, who won 5-0 and the two results on that day made the final sectional table looking like this –
The Reserves had also been in action that night, taking on the Jags reserves at Celtic Park.
The team was Simpson, McGrain, Gorman, Dalglish, Hay, Clark, Wilson, McMahon, McBride, Macari and Auld; the result was a 12-0 victory for Celtic; and the goals came from Joe McBride (4), Lou Macari (4), Bertie Auld (2) and Paul Wilson (2).