4th February 1967: Airdrie v Celtic League – Part One

Berwick Rangers Hero Sammy Reid

30th January
The headlines in the press over the weekend reflected the difference in the results of the country’s big two;

Celtic Open Up in ‘Lucky 13’

This was a reference to Chopper opening the scoring in the 13th minute.

Reid Brings Joy to Berwick

And there could be little doubt what this headline was referring to…..what a weekend Sammy Reid must have had!

In one of the evening dailies, under the headline…….

Angry Rangers Fans Lash Out

A succession of fans poured their hearts out, the vast majority complaining that only the introduction of new forwards would improve the side. Among the names mentioned was Andy Penman of Dundee.

The draw for the next round of the Scottish Cup was made. The ties were;

Aberdeen v St Johnstone
Celtic v Elgin City or Ayr United
Partick Thistle v Kilmarnock or Dunfermline
Queen’s Park v Airdrie
Dundee Utd v Falkirk
Clyde v East Fife
St Mirren or Cowdenbeath v Hamilton
Hibs v Berwick Rangers

31st January
There was good news for Celtic fans in the press;

‘Celtic came through their game with Arbroath without any injury problems.
Jimmy Johnstone, absent from the team with ear trouble, has now recovered. Bobby Lennox, who has missed the last two games with an injured ankle, is expected to be 100% fit long before Celtic go to Airdrie for Saturday’s all-ticket game’.

1st February
The scoring charts were put out for the month of January –
33 McBride (Celtic)
20 Mitchell (Dundee Utd), Chalmers (Celtic)
18 A Smith (Rangers), Fyfe (Airdrie)
15 Wallace (Celtic), Lennox (Celtic), Marshall (Airdrie), Wilson (Aberdeen)
14 Forrest (Rangers), McLean (Rangers), Winchester (Aberdeen), Smith (Aberdeen), Cormack (Hibs), Ferguson (Dunfermline)

Quite amazing that Joe – even though he had been out of action for some time – was still 13 goals ahead of the second placed man!

2nd February
In the evning, Charlie Gallagher was in the Reserve side which beat Airdrie 2-0 at Celtic Park. The goals came from Lou Macari and a Davie Cattenach penalty. The team was:

Fallon, Cattenach, O’Neill, Brogan, Cushley, Hay, Taggart, Macari, Quinn, Gallagher, Taylor.

In the morning, the rest of us had taken part in a fairly strenuous work-out at Barrowfield, where Ronnie came out with a real cracker of a comment during a shooting session.

I was, to begin with, slightly in awe of Ronnie. I was always reading about football and the characters in it and Ronnie was certainly one of the more unusual ones. He was under 15 years of age when he made his debut for Queen’s Park in 1945; three years later he was goalkeeper for the GB side which had lost to Yugoslavia in the semi-final and then was beaten by Denmark in the third-place match at the London Olympics of 1948.

Ronnie then turned professional with Third Lanark before heading down south to Newcastle in 1951. This was a very successful time for the Magpies and Ronnie won FA Cup winners medals in 1952 and 1955 ; in 1960 he came back up to Hibs.

When Jock Stein took over at Easter Road, it was no secret that he and Ronnie did not always see eye-to-eye and the manager was quick to transfer him to Celtic, a move which, to be blunt, surprised more than a few Hoops fans.

You can imagine how Ronnie felt then when watching the evening news on TV one night, he heard that Jock Stein was going back to Parkhead as manager. “Right, Rosemary “ he told me he said to his wife “pack the bags…we’ll be moving again”.
But that did not happen.

According to Ronnie, at the first meeting of the two men at Celtic Park, Jock Stein told him “what was in Edinburgh stays in Edinburgh; let’s just get on with things” a reaction which Ronnie was only too keen to adopt.

Ronnie was always good to talk to and had a fund of stories from throughout his career. Like when he took his GB track suit home with him after the Games in 1948 and shortly afterwards received a letter from the British Olympic Association telling him that if he wanted to keep the track suit, he would have to pay for it?

Or when he met up with Frank Brennan at St James’ Park, a fellow Scot who was a real star of the Magpies side and went shopping with him. As they walked along the row of shops, Frank introduced Ronnie to each of the shopkeepers and they came out of each shop with some goods, none of which they had to pay for!

And then there was the day when he was hit in the face going for a ball, and one of his dentures lodged in his throat, causing him to choke badly. Only quick thinking by the Newcastle physio who managed to get his fingers in to pull the offending item out prevented a real disaster. After that incident, it should come as no surprise that Ronnie from then on played with the dentures OUT. That was safer for him but a nightmare for us as we could not understand a word when he was shouting at us or to us. Even a dentist like myself, used to speaking to people in that state, had enormous difficulty in understanding him.

Ronnie came from a football background, his father Jimmy a strong stopper-type centre-half for Rangers in the late 1920s and early 1930s. One morning shortly after meeting Ronnie for the first time, I was walking into Celtic Park and passed the memorial to John Thomson, at that time on display in the foyer. I suddenly wondered if Ronnie’s father was on the field that afternoon of 5th September 1931 and when I got home looked up the record books to check. And indeed he was on the field, in the number 5 jersey for the Light Blues. It must have been a terrible afternoon for every player at Ibrox and Ronnie was quite non-committal when I asked if his Dad ever mentioned it.

Anyway, let’s go back to the shooting session at Barrowfield. In the years following, I was to see Ronnie use this ploy on a number of occasions but this was a first for me. One of the younger guys took the ball forward, played a one-two with Neilly at the edge of the box and then sent a rasper of a shot right for the left top corner of the goal. Ronnie moved quickly in that direction, took off in an acrobatic leap and clawed the ball down, not only getting to it but holding on to it. He then picked himself up, casually threw the ball in the direction of the young man and shouted (and don’t forget the dentures were IN for a training session) “you’ll need to do better than that, son, if you want to get your place in THIS team”.
We all erupted in laughter as a very chastened young star tried to keep out of the way for a few minutes.

In the evening papers, it was announced that Celtic would choose from six forwards for the match against Airdrie;

Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Chalmers, Auld, Hughes.

New Towns
Scottish secretary William Ross has given the go-ahead for new towns at Erskine and Houston in Renfrewshire.
Erskine will have about 10,000 houses, both private and local authority type, to accommodate about 30,000 people. Houston is to have quality houses of the private and executive type, which will add about 9,000 people to the community.

Romance South of the Border
The Mexico City newspaper ‘Novedades’ reported rumours of a romance between Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida and Mexican film director Jose Belanos.
Miss Lollobrigida was reported recently to have separated from her husband Dr Milko Skofic.

A massive hunt was taking place in London for a sadistic murderer after two arms and a large number of pieces of flesh were found within a short distance of each other in Kilburn. Tracker dogs and their police handlers made an inch-by-inch search of the area. Roads affected were closed to all traffic and a park where the pieces of flesh were discovered was sealed off. Even the park-keepers and workers were not allowed inside.