‘Joe McBride, of Celtic goes into Killearn Hospital on Wednesday and he will have his cartilage operation on Friday morning’.
That was the news in one of the evening papers on the Monday before the Vojvodina tie, a bitterly disappointing moment but hopefully one which will lead to a return to fitness for Joe.
Naturally, he was disappointed but, at the same time, he was pleased that a resolution to his problem was nearly there and he continued to train as usual at Parkhead, being quoted as saying – “I want to get back into the game as quickly as I can so want to go to hospital as fit as I can be at the moment”.
Before leaving Novi Sad for Glasgow today Vojvodina Boss Vujadin Boskov gave travelling correspondents a hint about his line-up for Celtic Park but the surprise was that Stanic, the man who scored the only goal against Celtic in the first leg, wasn’t listed in Boskov’s short leet for the match.
For some reason, we did not stay at Seamill before this tie but did all our work at Barrowfield and went back afterwards to our homes. As you might imagine, at this time of the season, there was little in the way of heavy stuff, short sharp sprints being the order of the day, followed by some work on throw-ins, corners and free-kicks. The atmosphere was great. There was obviously a bit of excitement in the air about the forthcoming match but we could cope with that. What was bothering us more was that the Parkhead pitch – which we were allowed to look at but not go anywhere near (they even put barricades up!) looked wet and heavy, just in that state where it would cut up badly – hardly the ideal conditions for a crucial European Cup quarter-final.
The news about Joe was welcomed by the guys. We were all aware that he had been struggling fitness-wise and were glad that he was now being treated in Killearn Hospital. Hopefully, he would make a quick recovery.
Celtic today won an off-the-pitch victory over tomorrow’s European Cup opponents Vojvodina by banning the Slavs from training on the Celtic Park pitch tonight.
Vojvodina coach Vujadin Boskov, who is convinced that Celtic will be out of the cup by the end of tomorrow’s tie, decided it would be a first-class idea to have a training session on the pitch just 24 hours before tomorrow’s eight o’clock kick-off.
Jock Stein soon ended any possibility of that happening. He said – “the pitch is too soft to allow the visitors to use it for training tonight. There can be no question of any change of mind on our part. The Yugoslavs can train at our Barrowfield training ground under the lights but certainly not at Celtic Park”.
The Boss might have sounded really sincere in offering the Vojvodina manager the chance to give his players a chance to train at Barrowfield but as we had trained on it in the morning – and left it in quite a state – Mr Boskov might not have such a happy man that night just along London Road from Celtic Park.
The day before a match can sometimes drag a bit although, as I was single at that time, I had no idea of how busy you could be if you had a family. In future years, I would realise that with a few kids there never seems enough hours in the day but on that particular afternoon, I was at a loose end, so when my Dad asked if I would like to see a football match with him, I readily agreed.
We did not have far to go to see the match and as usual, we walked. My Dad worked in the furnishing department of the Glasgow South Co-Operative Society in Glasgow, the Co-op had a football team, which always played on a Tuesday afternoon, his day off, and on that afternoon the match was being held in Bellahouston Park, just along from my parents’ house.
To be honest, I had never thought twice about going along but almost as soon as I took my place on the sidelines, I realised that I may have messed up. Players in both teams quickly worked out my identity, spent a fair bit of the game chatting to each other and pointing to me and I even got a request from one manager to give his side a half-time team talk! I left early…..to a brief round of applause.
The night ended with some disappointing news for everyone connected with Celtic. Rangers beat Airdrie in a league match and the two points gained put them above Celtic in the league table on goal average, although we had a game in hand.
The papers gave the fans some up-to-date information about that night’s teams. One said – ‘Steve Chalmers is 100% fit – and is certain to play tonight in Celtic’s sell-out European Cup tie against Vojvodina at Parkhead.
Manager Jock Stein said today “you can take it from me that the bruised shoulder has healed completely. If there had been the slightest possibility of his not being able to jump and move freely for the full 90 minutes he would not have been considered for a game that is unquestionably one of the most important in Celtic’s history”.
Another publication mentioned the role that the Celtic manager had in mind for the fans –
‘Jock Stein called up reinforcements – an army of 75,000 – for tonight’s make-or- break European Cup struggle with Vojvodina.
This is the call that went out from the manager –
“We have had wonderful support all season but I am now calling for a special effort from our faithful following. Celtic had a far-from-warm reception from the Yugoslav crowd a week ago and I want our supporters to show Vojvodina how we can welcome a team from overseas but once the first whistle blows I want every Celtic supporter to join with the team in defeating the opposition.
The Celtic players have had it drummed into them that their professionalism and their commonsense will be severely tested tonight.
On this night more than most I shall not stand for anyone not giving of his best. I may excuse mistakes but I shall never pardon lack of enthusiasm or real Celtic effort”.
Could a Stone Come Back to Scotland?
A letter to the Queen asking that the Stone of Destiny be returned to Scotland, or alternatively that it should be lent for the 650th anniversary of Scotland’s Declaration of Independence in 1970, has been sent off by Provost James Braid, of St Monance, Fife
Britain is to send two teams of observers to New Zealand to study preparations for the country’s change-over to decimal currency in July.
Britain plans a decimal change in 1971.
Nelson Eddy, the world’s highest-paid singer in the 40s, died in Miami, Forida. He was 65. He was taken to hospital last night after suffering a stroke during a performance at a hotel night club in Miami Beach.