3rd January 1966: Celtic v Rangers – Part One

Being a Glaswegian

I caught an early Mass on Sunday in my parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, Cardonald. There were not many there but I still got waylaid by fans, half of whom were happy to talk about the victory the previous day, the other half wanting me to know that they expected a similar performance against Rangers. Funnily enough, the women were more worked up than the men and it took me some to get away from them before heading over to Parkhead.

As a born-and–bred Glaswegian, and one who came up through the ranks of the school and youth football systems, I was well aware of what is commonly described as the ‘Great Divide’. However, even at a time of coming out of a religious occasion like Holy Mass, the dislike of the Celtic fans for the opposition was very obvious. In fact, the word ‘dislike’ is probably too polite a word to apply in these cases.



Whenever a team is brought in for some training the day before a match – especially when it is the day after New Year – there is very little done apart from some calisthenics and half-speed sprints.

The real reason we are all there is for the Boss to check up on everyone, to assess if any of us had gone over the top the previous night. Personally, I felt fine and from the look of the guys, they were the same, so he had not much to worry about.

The other reason we were in was because of the conditions. The freezing weather had come back and our training, all carried out on the grass behind the goals, was done with us wearing flat-soled training shoes. They were usually referred to as ‘Sambas’ and had round holes all over the sole. It was said that these would give us a better grip in the hard and slippery surfaces and that day, they seemed to work well.


The Sunday Walk

After training, we received another warning from the Boss about resting and not over-doing the celebrations and then went our separate ways.

By the time I got back, Mum, Dad and my brother Denis were setting out for a walk down to Gran’s house – about 2 miles away – to wish her a happy new year. Good idea!, I thought, that will keep me busy and out of any temptation. However, to try to avoid getting quizzed and nagged by any more fans, I wound a scarf round my face and put one of Dad’s bunnets over my hair. It did not look great but at least no one recognised me!


The Pre-Match Press

The papers were full of comment about this particular match, assessing it in detail. The general feeling seemed to be that Celtic were playing the better of the two at that period and might be hard to beat. At the same time, as often happens in Old Firm matches, nobody was keen to stick their head above the parapet and a draw was considered by many to be the most likely outcome.


Other Matches

There was a number of other important matches on that afternoon and much column inches was devoted to the outcome of these games. Aberdeen were hosting St Johnstone at Pittodrie; at Tynecastle, Hearts were facing Dunfermline; while the Dundee derby would be played out at Dens Park



In my previous question, I asked why the 8-0 defeat of Kilmarnock by Celtic on Christmas Day 1937 was so unsettling for one ex-Celt? The answer was that it was Jimmy McGrory’s first match as manager of Kilmarnock.

However, just a few months later, McGrory’s Killie side beat Celtic 2-1 at Parkhead in the 3rd Round of the Scottish Cup.


And this week’s question is again about Kilmarnock. The Scottish League started in season 1890-91. When did Celtic first play the Ayrshire side in a League match?



Sudden Death

Mr Lal Bahadur Shastri, India’s Prime Minister, collapsed and died of a heart attack in Tashkent, the Soviet Union – only a few hours after signing a new agreement for peace with Pakistan.


Young Deaths

7 small children died in Charlotte, North Carolina when a portable kerosene lamp overturned, starting a fire which destroyed their small farmhouse.


New Star


John Cairney as Ian Craig in ‘This Man Craig’ –
© Flickr

From ‘Last Night’s TV’…..Top viewing for future Friday nights must be ‘This Man Craig’ the series about a Scottish schoolmaster in a modern school. Actor John Cairney had to work hard to keep his face in the forefront – but he did! Dr Finlay had better watch out – a new Scottish heart-throb had emerged.