5th April 1969: Celtic v Hibs – League Cup Final

2nd April 1969

The morning press was full of praise for our come-back the previous evening in Perth –

Champion Celtic : Great Muirton Fightback

There was also news of one of our colleagues in obvious difficulty –

Hughes : Three Treatment Sessions Today

And when we arrived at training on that Wednesday morning, Yogi was indeed already on the treatment table. You could almost tell that a big day for us was coming up. The atmosphere in the dressing -room was always noisy and usually an air of bonhomie pervaded the place.

But four days before a major final, you could feel a difference. People were much more concentrated on their training and fitness, there was less jocularity in the room and everyone went about their business with determination and drive.

Players were also worried about their places in the team for the final. By that time of the season, the six names in the defence had been the same for some weeks, so we were confident that same six would be in place for the final. But there were only five forward places up for grabs and seven names in the frame; and that did not include our latest signing Harry Hood, as he was cup-tied when he played for Clyde in an earlier round.

So, with everyone training as if we on some form of trial, the morning passed quickly and we were finished by 12. On my way home, I bought one of the evening papers and noticed that Hibs were getting ready for the final at North Berwick.

3rd April 1969

After training, the Celtic squad, with the exception of John Hughes and Jim Brogan (Yogi and Brogie), headed down the Ayrshire coast to our base for the final preparations. Just for a change – and I never did find out a reason for the switch – we were not at Seamill Hydro but journeyed further down the coast to Troon and Marine Hotel.

To be honest, it was a more classy-looking place than the Hydro although a higher standard of dress code was expected. At the Hydro, we could lounge around in T-shirt, shorts and bare feet. That was not expected of us at the Marine. However, the rooms were excellent and the food was good, so to dress up a bit was no great problem. And the change of venue did not seem to change one of Tam Gemmell’s habits one iota – he still snored all night!

4th April 1969

The day before the final and actually, quite a lazy day. We slept late, breakfasted late, went for a walk in the morning, then had lunch, a short rest then a light work-out on Troon Juniors pitch. Brogie had come down to join us but there was no sign of Yogi and a glimpse of the evening papers later told the story.

Hughes Is Out – Chalmers and Auld in Celtic 12 for Hampden Final

There was also a report in one of the evening papers which caught the attention of the Boss –

‘Hibs will parade through Edinburgh tomorrow night on an open-top bus – if the win the League Cup’.

He read the piece out then looked at us and shook his head – “Let’s make sure that we spoil their chances of making that trip!” The words were quietly spoken….but the inference was obvious.

5th April 1969 The Day of the Final

All of us were up quite early, had breakfast, then a walk along the beach front. Lunch was more of a pre-match meal, so, with the kick-off at 3pm, we took that around midday and an hour later, got ready to board the coach for the trip up to Glasgow. All of us liked that bit, especially when the police out-riders on their bikes met us on the outskirts of the city and led the bus all the way through the streets to the National Stadium.

Naturally, the chat at the meal and the bus had been about the match and I must be honest and say that we were pretty confident. We had played Hibs twice that season, both league matches, winning the first 5-2 at Easter Road and drawing the second 1-1 at Parkhead. But that latter match came only 12 days after we had lost to A.C.Milan and the team was at a pretty low ebb. Another factor in our favour was that this match was a final; it was there to be won and Hibs could not resist the opportunity to go for it. As they did so, though, they would leave themselves open at the back and this would play into our hands. We were ready!

The Teams

Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Auld Lennox.     
Sub: Clark

Shevlane, Davis
Stanton, Madsen, Blackley
Marinello, Quinn, Cormack, O’Rourke, Stevenson.  
Sub: Hunter

The Play

It sounds very much like I am being wise after the event but the match did turn out exactly as we thought. Hibs came out at us trying to play some nice football but most of the time their play broke down, which meant that we got the ball and made good use of it, our goals being spread through the match, three in the first half and three in the second –

23 minutes…..free-kick by Bertie headed out by the Hibs defence but only as far as Wispy, who shot home through a group of players.  1-0 Celtic

30 minutes….pass from Bertie to Stevie, who took the ball down the wing before cutting it back into the path of Bertie.    2-0 Celtic

45 minutes….corner by Jinky, glancing header by Lemon.   3-0 Celtic

As you might expect, a fairly happy dressing-room but the Boss was quite vociferous, warning us not to let our concentration slip and urging us to score more. And we did…

58 minutes…….Bertie sent a pass right through a square Hibs defence and Lemon did the rest. 4-0 Celtic

73 minutes…….good build-up play between Chopper and Stevie gave Lemon the chance to get his hat-trick from the easiest of chances. 5-0 Celtic

75 minutes…….I came up on Jinky’s right, got the pass I needed and sent a left-foot shot past the Hibs keeper.     6-0 Celtic

Unfortunately, in the remaining 15 minutes of the match, we were hit by a couple of sucker punches and Hibs pulled two back through O’Rourke and Stevenson but at the whistle, the 6-2 score-line did give a fair representation of the difference between the sides on the day and the Boss seemed fairly happy in the dressing room after the trophy and medals had been handed out, with the reserve players, the management and the directors also keen to be part of the celebrations.

It was the 4th consecutive League Cup success under Jock Stein and first winners’ medals in the competition for John Fallon and Jim Brogan.

And those celebrations reached heights of ecstasy when news came through that Rangers had lost 2-1 to Dundee United at Tannadice in a league match, a result which effectively guaranteed Celtic the League title. It is not often you win the League Cup and the League on the same day!