31st December 1966.
The atmosphere on the bus coming back from Tannadice on Hogmanay was, to put it bluntly, awful. The 3-2 defeat to Dundee United had been the first loss of the season and naturally, that was a major blow to everyone. Normally, every player was a noisy beggar, especially on that particular day, but on the early evening of that Saturday, the only real noise was coming from the bus radio. Everyone else was sitting in silence.
However, I for one, might have been as quiet as the rest but the mind was working overtime as I analysed the game in my mind. If I was being blunt, our fullbacks got a bit of a going over from United’s two wingers and the defence as a whole had not looked too secure. So, if I was ever going to get a chance back in the first team, this might be it. Now, my only problem was whether or not I should raise the topic with the Boss or go for a more reactive role, where he raised the idea first. It was going to be a long weekend.
And, of course, being Hogmanay and living in Scotland, there should have been places and houses to visit and parties to join in but to be honest, I thought that the more sensible thing to do was avoid all these events and concentrate on my own health and fitness. So, I was in bed just after the bells and dropped off with the sound of first-footers visiting the neighbours drifting up to my bedroom.
1st January 1967
No papers of course on New Year’s day in Scotland and very little on the radio either. The whole squad had been told when leaving Tannadice that we would all be in for a light session on the Sunday and we all duly reported at the appropriate time, wishing each other a guid new year and going out to do a few looseners plus some sprints on the track.
Judging by the amount of straw covering the pitch and the fact that no effort had been made to remove it, the chances of the Clyde game going ahead on the 2nd were not good. When we lifted the straw a little bit to do a check on the surface of the pitch, we all noted that it was brick hard and the general consensus was that there was nae chance of the game going ahead. And when the referee designated to the match arrived to have a look himself, he soon agree with us and the game was off, although immediately re-arranged for Wednesday 4th January.
Back in again for training, with the news that the Rangers match on the morrow was also in doubt and that there would be an inspection early on the morning of the 3rd. There was nothing all the guys could do about it so we just got on with our training.
From one of the dailies – ‘At 10 o’clock this morning referee Willie Syme of Glasgow, stepped over the touchline on to the Ibrox turf.
Ten seconds later, he stepped back on to the track and declared play today ‘completely impossible’.
Immediately after Mr Syme had given his ‘no play’ decision, manager Scot Symon said – “I completely agree with the referee. The pitch is frozen hard…it is dangerous…it would have been impossibly to play skillful football today”.
The home match against Clyde, which been cancelled on Monday, had been re-arranged for this date but once the referee had seen the state of the pitch, he again asserted that it was just not suitable for football to be played on it. So, another cancellation and more training.
Training again. It was mainly track-work as the Parkhead pitch was covered in straw and the one at Barrowfeld was bone-hard. And it was also fairly light stuff, as the coaches were worried about muscle strains and pulls in such cold weather. But there were also signs that the weather was getting a little warmer and a thaw might be on the way.
Hope springs eternal and this was reflected in the newspaper headlines –
Thaw May Save Games
It did seem a little better and we did the usual Friday morning before the Saturday match training session….in other words, a very light work-out.
Then, I had a problem to solve, one which had been bugging me all week and one which I mentioned before. Was the Boss thinking about a change at fullback or should I push him into thinking about it by raising the subject? It was one of those difficult situations where you could be damned if you did but could also be damned if you didn’t. I kept to my original decision not to say anything……but it was getting harder to keep schtum!
Still, when the squad for the match against went up on the board after training, I was included in the list, so at least my name was under some sort of consideration. Now, we could only hope that the match would go ahead instead of another cancellation.
Signora Letteria Zuccaro Pezzinga celebrated her 100th birthday in Rome yesterday and gave part of the credit to an apple a day. She also said that plenty of spicy foods washed won with a glass or two of good wine also helped!
Donald Campbell was killed when his speedboat Bluebird became airborne at 300 miles per hour, somersaulted, blew up and sank as he attempted to break his own world water speed record at Coniston Water in the Lake District.
All 8 paintings stolen in the art theft from Dulwich College, London last Saturday have been recovered, police announced today.
The paintings, officially valued at £1.5 million, include 3 by Rembrandt and 3 by Reubens. They were found in London and identified by the curator of the college art gallery, who described damage to the paintings as ‘comparatively slight’.