What a long, stressful day the 7th October 1965 was turning out to be. I was not in a position to miss out on the morning lectures at the Dental Hospital – I had done that the day before – so I rose at my usual time of 7am, shaved and bathed, had breakfast, then got the bus from the top of the road into town and walked the rest of the way to the Hospital, which was in Renfrew Street, one road up to the north from Sauchiehall Street.
50 years on, I cannot remember precisely what the lectures were about but to be really honest, I barely took in a single word of what the lecturer was saying, as my mind was on the activities which lay ahead in the evening. I had lunch in the canteen, dealt with a couple of patients, then returned to the canteen, where I took out of my bag a substantial helping of corn flakes, pinched a bowl and some milk and sat in the corner to have my pre-match meal.
At around 4.30pm, I left the Hospital – I had told no one that I was playing that evening – walked down Renfrew Street to the east, then south down Hope Street to Argyle Street, where I waited under the Heilanman’s Umbrella for the bus which would take me to Celtic Park. I did the walk again last week just to see how long it took and my time was 22 minutes. Maybe I was a little quicker all those years ago?
When I got to Celtic Park, I found that I was the first to turn up – even the doorman had not taken up his post. The management staff was there, though, and I was welcomed by Jock Stein, Sean Fallon, Neil Mochan and Bob Rooney; and eventually, when the players turned up, there was the usual banter endemic to any dressing-room in any team. All through this, though, the nerves were getting to me and I was glad when we could get changed and go out on to the pitch for a warm-up.
The team chosen by the manager for the evening was;
Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Gallagher, Chalmers, Lennox, Hughes.
So, for any collector of trivia, you would note that it was the first time that what could be called the ‘Lisbon defence’ played together.
As you might imagine, with the team six-up from the first leg, there was a good bit of joking and so on, with yours truly getting a fair bit of ribbing too. And one problem was soon solved for me. I had noticed that on the ledge above the basins in the bathing area, there was a small brown bottle, which some of the older players would pick up and have a sip from. I went over and tried it myself; it was brandy, which some guys thought steadied the nerves.
Eventually, after the referee had come in to check our boots etc., we ran out on to the field to a good reception from the small crowd of around 20,000 or so. Well, we were six-up from the first leg! The teams then lined up, the whistle blew and the game began……and what an awful evening it turned out to be!
GO-SLOW CELTS GET SLOW HANDCLAP
Celtic 1 Go-Ahead Deventer 0
Not much excitement in this 2nd leg European Cup Winners’ first round tie at Parkhead last night.
With a more than comfortable 6-goal lead from the first leg, Celtic never really exerted themselves.
They constantly hung back and gave their Dutch opponents ample room to weave pretty patterns in midfield. Even the whistles and slow hand-claps from the crowd failed to induce Celtic to adopt a more aggressive attitude.
It must have been difficult to watch; it was definitely hard to play in. I tried as hard as I could but everybody seemed to be off-song and lethargic, passes went astray and we only managed the one goal from Joe McBride in 12 minutes. At the end, what was left of the crowd gave us a booing and once we got in, I experienced – not personally but as a group -my first rollicking from the manager. It was what has become known as hair-drying stuff and he did not miss. It was a very chastened group of players who left the ground that night….and the fans waiting outside were not slow in expressing their disapproval too. It couldn’t always be like this in the first team, could it?
Back to the Reserves
24 hours later, I was in action again, this time for the reserves in their league match against Hearts at Tynecastle. Steve Chalmers was also drafted in and the team was Fallon, Craig, McCarron, Brogan, Cushley, ‘Newman’, Connelly, H Quinn, Chalmers, Sweeney and Taylor. For those of you who are not familiar with the set-up, that pseudonym of ‘Newman’ would refer to a junior player on trial, as the club could play him for that purpose while not naming him.
And he did OK, too, as we won 2-1, the goals coming from Henry Quinn and an O.G. It was nice not to hear any booing from the small crowd and when we got back to the dressing-room, Sean Fallon also seemed pleased.
It was singles day at the Ryder Cup and once again the USA proved too strong taking them 10-and-a-half to 5-and-a-half. That made the final score in the contest GB and Ireland 12-and-a-half, USA 19-and-a-half.
One Clever Lady
More stringent tests for motorists were suggested last night by Mr P H W Haile, head of the Road Safety division of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
He told the ophthalmic group of the Royal Society of Health in London that one woman about to take a driving test and unable to see the figures on a number plate at the required distance, had arranged with her husband to park 6 of his firm’s cars opposite the driving test centre.
She had previously memorized the numbers from their make and colour, so that when the examiner asked her to read off the number of the grey car, she did so without any difficulty.
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