8th March 1969: Raith Rovers v Celtic – League

6th March 1969

We were back in for training on the day following the victory over Arbroath, a result which received a special headline in the morning press –

Celtic Power Sinks Arbroath

It was very noticeable on that Thursday morning that the Boss was missing, so Sean Fallon and Neilly Mochan took the training. We asked the obvious question but the two of them were obviously under orders not to say too much and we had to wait until the evening papers came out before finding out the problem –

Jock Stein Fights ‘Flu

Sean also took the trouble to kill another rumour that was going round the Celtic fans. Many of them were worried when Bobby Murdoch came off to be replaced by Bertie Auld in the second half of the Arbroath match. But it was merely a precaution, firstly in preparation for next week’s European Cup tie and also to give as many players as possible a chance for a match before the A.C. Milan game.

7th March 1969

Still no Boss although we were assured that he would be there for the match at Kirkcaldy. In fact, there was some comment in the press that Jock Stein would be ‘saving’ Stevie Chalmers for Milan and would bring in Bobby Lennox in place of him.

As for us, we were merely told the squad that would be involved and told to report the following lunchtime for the trip to the east coast.

8th March 1969 The Day of the Match

This game was obviously one of those where we were expected to win reasonably comfortably. We could all work that out in advance as we had to provide our own lunch at home before reporting to Celtic Park for the trip to Kirkcaldy.

It was actually a tough time for all of us. The guys at Raith Rovers would be doing their best to make life difficult for us yet all the fans wanted to talk about was the match coming up against the Italian champions. Not one fan mentioned the matches against Scottish teams; everyone wanted to talk about A.C. Milan.

However, by that time we were a fairly experienced bunch and just knew that the guys in the strip of Raith Rovers had no intention of making life easy for us.

The Teams

Raith Rovers
McDonald, Gray
Miller, Polland, Bolton
Cunningham, Falconer, Wallace, Sneddon, Wilson. 
Sub: Judge

Craig, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan
Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Callaghan, Hughes.   
Sub: Auld

The Play

We were expecting a tough match and even before we got underway things got tougher, as the start was delayed for 8 minutes. When play did begin, any fancy moves were then cancelled out by the wind that was whistling round Stark’s Park. It would be true to say that we dominated play during the first half but chances were few and far between and as the half continued, Rovers came into it more and more. Half-time was reached, though, with the game still goalless.

It was a fairly subdued dressing-room at the break and the Boss, from the state of his voice not yet 100% was obviously not happy but also aware that we had been trying so his tone was more encouraging than critical. His mood, though, might have changed one minute after the re-start –

46 minutes…..Gordon Wallace gathered the ball in the penalty area and ran into the 6-yard box before firing the ball low and hard behind John Fallon.  1-0 Raith

I do not know if the Boss was shocked but we certainly were. However, it was a time to just roll up the sleeves and get on with it and we certainly did that, although it took most of the half to get the rewards we were looking for –

63 minutes…….cross by Lemon and Wispy rose above everyone else.  1-1

79 minutes……a fierce shot from 20 yards by Bertie – on for Tid Callaghan – gave keeper Reid no chance.  2-1 Celtic

89 minutes……a loose ball in the box and Wispy reacted quickest.

Final Score Raith Rovers 1 Celtic 3

Other Results

Hearts10Dundee United
Kilmarnock11Partick Thistle
Rangers60St. Mirren
St. Johnstone31Airdrie