It might have been only a 1-0 victory for Celtic against Aarhus in Denmark but the whole party seemed happy enough on their return to Parkhead. That everyone had come through the match unscathed was possibly one reason for the management to be pleased and Jock Stein (as I would discover later), not usually one to give an air of over-confidence – at least to the press – before a match, was actually quite sure that Celtic would go through to the next round. At his press conference on the day before the next match, a league encounter against Partick Thistle, he came out with these rather surprisingly confident words;-
We can do much better and I’m sure we will do better when Aarhus come to Celtic Park for the 2nd leg. All that matters is that we have won away from home. I think we can now look forward to the next round because I think we will win comfortably in Glasgow. And that means we will be in the quarter-finals with 7 of the best teams in Europe!
Jock Stein finished – or thought he had finished – by saying that he would play the same team against Partick Thistle on the morrow. Unfortunately for him, that was not the end of the questions. He had another role to think of. As there was a World Cup clash between Italy and Scotland at Hampden coming up only four days later, he was asked a number of questions about that, queries which put him in rather a difficult position and he fobbed them off, as the side chosen would not be announced until after the weekend.
Two games, three days
For the guys in the second team, especially the part-timers, this was a busy time, with a league match against Partick Thistle coming up on the Saturday at Firhill, then a 2nd X1 Cup tie against Morton on Monday 8th. I was in the good position of knowing that I would have been in the party for Aarhus if I had managed to get time off from the Dental Hospital, so that made me feel like one of the chosen ones.
Ask the Boss
Come to think of it, though, I had not yet tried to speak to the other Boss – the Dean of the Dental Hospital – about the possibility of getting time off early the following year, when the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup would be played. The confidence Jock Stein showed about beating Aarhus when he spoke to me – and repeated to the press corps (see above) – was almost tangible. If he felt like that, then who were we to doubt. So, I made an appointment to see the Dean as soon as possible.
At this point of the season, Partick Thistle were lying just below the halfway point on the table, like most teams at that level losing more goals than they were scoring. So, they would not have been looking forward to coming to Parkhead, where they would have to cope with a larger pitch than the one at Firhill and also face a Celtic side which had been knocking in the goals.
All the players in the club were desperate to get into the first team and they could be placed into certain categories. First of all, there were the ones out of favour from the first-team squad at that time, like Stevie Chalmers, Bertie Auld, John Divers etc. They had just to bite the bullet and show – in the second team matches ( not always easy to raise one’s game for them, if one was used to the first team ) – that they were a wee bit special.
Secondly, there were the guys who had been given the occasional chance at the higher level – John Kennedy, John Fallon, Willie O’Neill, John Cushley, Jim Brogan and myself – and were very keen to get another opportunity, so they were trying their best, too. And thirdly, there were the younger guys still to get a first-team chance – George Connelly, Frank McCarron, Henry Quinn, Jimmy Quinn, Gerry Sweeney, Tony Taylor – and at training and in matches, they would be working harder than anyone else, desperate to catch someone’s eye.
So, the point of my story is that if anyone was thinking that being out of the first team made for an easier life of it, then you can think again. We all wanted to be in the side and frankly, for the younger ones – and I include myself in that category – it would give us a bigger income. Being on £8 a week did not allow for many luxuries!
In each preview, we will ask a question for you to ponder. It will usually be about Celtic Football Club but that might not always be the case. Let’s start with one from the early days which does involve Celtic;-
When Celtic played Abercorn from Paisley in a league match on 7th November 1896, the team was McArthur, Meechan, Dunbar, Russell, Kelly, Battles, Madden, Blessington, King, McMahon, Divers. Celtic won 5-0, the goals coming from King (2), McMahon (2) and Divers.
One of the team had already won a FA Cup winner’s medal and a Scottish Cup winner’s medal…..but which player?…..and with which clubs?
There may even be a small prize for the first correct answer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org with your answers.
Queen in Action
Queen Salote of Tonga has arrived in Auckland, New Zealand for her annual medical check-up. The 280lbs, 6 feet 3 inch Queen was lowered from the plane by a fork-lift truck fitted with an aircraft seat.
We’re in Charge
Glasgow magistrates decided yesterday to ask the Government for statutory powers to have football grounds in the city licensed.
The decision was made at a 3-hour meeting, attended by the Chief Constable, Mr James Robertson and the Town Clerk, Mr James F Falconer, to discuss rowdyism at Rangers – Celtic matches.
The magistrates would be able to keep the same type of control over football grounds as they do over licensed premises such as public houses.
The immediate issue before the meeting was the Celtic-Rangers League Cup final on October 23rd, when a number of fans invaded the field as the winners, Celtic, were running the lap of honour with the cup.
Ron Yeats, the Liverpool and former Dundee United centre-half, appealed yesterday for thieves who broke into his car on Saturday night to return travelling bags and razors belonging to him and his colleague, Ian St John.
The property was stolen when Yeats and St John were at a 21st birthday party in Liverpool.
Ron said: “I think we’ve got a chance of getting the things back if they were pinched by Liverpool fans who didn’t realize they belonged to us”.
“But” he added with a smile, “I don’t think there’s much chance if the thieves support Everton”.