50 Years On

396 Articles

1st January 1966: Clyde v Celtic – Part Two

The Night Before

Hogmanay has always been a big night in Scotland’s social scene. The streets were busy until the ‘wee sma’ ‘oors’ with folk ‘first-footin’ friends and neighbours; and the lights still on show in most houses showed that many people were still up celebrating the New Year until dawn arrived.

However, for footballers, especially ones who were playing the following day, a less frenetic evening and night was the norm, with nary a drop of the hard stuff crossing their lips.

That, at least, was what happened in my parents’ house on the night before the New Years Day match against Clyde in 1966. And, for a change, it was Dad who took control, giving me a wee quiet word about 11.30pm that he felt 12 midnight would be enough for me. So, just after the bells struck and we heard the ships on the Clyde blow their horns, I headed for my room. Read More →


1st January 1966: Clyde v Celtic – Part One

Festive Joy Not Felt By Everyone

There were no morning classes around Christmas and New Year for dental students so I got the chance to train with the full-timers for a few days.

You would have though that after an 8-1 win over Morton at the weekend, the atmosphere would have been full of joy and bonhomie. Frankly, though, that was not the case and the reason for it was the result of the friendly match between Ayr United and Celtic’s Second Team, which had been played at Somerset Park also on Christmas Day. Read More →


25th December 1965: Celtic v Morton – Part Two

commentButton2The Other Boss Makes Demands

Apart from Jock Stein, I had another Boss in those days in the shape of my Mother. She ruled the roost and my Dad, my brother Denis and myself merely bent to her will to keep the Craig ship on a even keel.

Mum had not the slightest interest in football. When I left the house to head for Parkhead for a match, for instance, her only comment was “make sure you keep out of the road of any of those big boys”. When I got the occasional injury, she only worried that I might not make it to my classes at the Dental Hospital; and when she asked me why I was limping one day and I showed her my badly-gashed shin, she merely said “well, I warned you about playing that stupid game anyway!”

However, on the morning of 25th December 1965, she surpassed herself. Just as I was leaving for the match against Morton, she said “now, remember we’re all meeting at your Gran’s house for Christmas dinner and she will be serving it at about half-past – five. Make sure you are there on time”.

“OK, Mum” was my automatic response but as I left the house, I was thinking – the match starts at 3pm, finishes around 4.45pm. Even if I had the quickest shower and the fastest putting-on of my clothes of all time, I then had to wait for Doc Fitzsimmons to give me a lift into town, then get a 4 bus to Drumoyne. There was nae chance of me getting to my Gran’s for half-past-five. I decided, though, to worry about that later and get the match out of the way first.


The Opposition

Halfway through the league campaign, Morton were struggling, down near the bottom of the table. Like most teams in that situation, they were not scoring enough goals and losing far too many. By contrast, Celtic were doing well, up at the top with a good record of P14 W12 D1 L1 F47 A14 Pts25, so all the players were looking forward to the encounter, keen to get a few goals to make those figures look even better.


The Lead Up To The Match

A crowd of 21,000 gathered at Celtic Park for the match. That might seem disappointing but realistically, as it was a case of top versus bottom plus the fact that it was being held on Christmas Day, when many a Dad and Grandad had more important family matters to attend to, it was a predictable attendance and they made up in noise what they lacked in numbers.

It had been raining overnight – it was Glasgow, after all – but the pitch was in good condition. I had never played on Christmas Day before, at any level, and I was surprised at how festive everything was.

On the way up to the front door, every fan wanted to shake hands with me and wish me all the best; Bill Peacock, the doorman, welcomed me like his long-lost brother; while once inside, everyone – and I mean everyone, the Boss, the Directors, the players, the backroom staff, the tea ladies – were all full of good cheer and bonhomie. It was great…but I did think that we might have to put on a good performance to keep them all happy. And we did!


The First Half

Right from the start of the match, everything felt right. Each and every player was on song, we all combined well, the passing was excellent and the chances soon came. Ironically, the first two fell to Morton, firstly when ex-Celt Jim Kennedy had a shot saved by Ronnie Simpson, then when a blast by striker Allan McGraw was deflected for a corner. However, having been sparked into life by those two efforts, we took control, the chances arrived and so did the goals;-

7 minutes       

A cross from the right by Jimmy Johnstone was headed past Morton keeper Sorensen by Joe McBride. 1-0 Celtic

11 minutes     

Sorensen kept out a John Hughes shot but then had no chance when Stevie Chalmers went racing after a John Clark and slammed the ball into the net.             2-0 Celtic.

25 minutes     

McBride again. A Charlie Gallagher cross into the middle and Joe nearly took the net off its moorings.   3-0 Celtic

28 minutes     

Hughes beat 3 Morton players, then sent a long range shot into the net.  4-0 Celtic.

33 minutes     

McBride gets his hat-trick, when he nets a Tommy Gemmell cross with his right foot. 5-0 Celtic

35 minutes     

Bobby Murdoch steps forward and thunders one home from just outside the box.     6-0 Celtic

43 minutes     

A fine pass by Murdoch into the path of Chalmers, who makes no mistake.   7-0 Celtic


The Interval 

I don’t usually mention the goings-on at an interval but I must give some prominence to that one. Apart from the half-time break in the Scottish Cup Final of 1969 – when we were three-up against Rangers – that Christmas Day interval in 1965 against Morton was the happiest-ever. Everyone was in joyous mood, the banter was noisy, the management team was beaming, the trainers and coaches were smiling away and I think there was even an attempt at a bit of singing. However, all too soon the referee appeared and told us to go out for the second half.


The Second Half

It is a rare situation for a team to be 7-up at half-time but curiously, what usually happens afterwards is that the half-time break seems to affect either the attitude, the drive, the form, the ambition or some other imponderable attribute. The outcome almost certainly is that the standard of play in the second half falls in quality from that of the first.

There might be an element of sympathy involved, too – a case of one set of players not wanting to embarrass their colleagues in an admittedly poorer side. Whatever the reason, in spite of the crowd chanting for more, we seemed, perhaps subconsciously, to take our foot off the pedal in the second half, only getting one more goal, while Morton even pulled one back.

49 minutes     

After a quick breakaway, Morton outside-left Craig Watson scores.      7-1 Celtic

80 minutes     

Hughes beats two Morton players before shooting home from an acute angle.  8-1 Celtic.



Managers are seldom happy creatures after any match so I was expecting a poor reaction from Jock Stein about the second-half performance. However, he seemed pleased with the overall result and it was a very happy dressing room afterwards, made even more ecstatic when new came through from Ibrox that the Light Blues had been beaten 3-2 by Dunfermline. The two results led to conflicting headlines in the press the following day;

So Easy for 7th Heaven Celts           

Fans Boo Rangers At Ibrox


Back to My Gran’s House

Euphoria there might have been at Celtic Park but I still had the problem of getting to 222 Drumoyne Road for my Christmas dinner. Unfortunately, none of the boys lived in that direction, so, as usual, Doc Fitzsimmons was pressed into service for the run into town and then I queued up for a number 4 bus in Union Street which eventually came along and got me to my destination. By this time, it was nearing 6.15pm!

As I walked into the house, there were big cheers and shouts of ‘congratulations’ from everyone present, which included my Gran ( my grandfather had died in 1958), my Dad, my brother Denis plus several aunts and uncles with their children, my cousins. They had all already eaten their dinner but had very kindly kept me a plate with turkey and all the trimmings, which I took to the table and started to devour.

The festivities continued all around me but as I lifted my eyes from the plate, the first face I saw was that of my Mother, who did not seem too happy to see me. “Did I not tell you to be here for half-past-five?” she said.


Keen to be Married

Simon de Jong, who is 79, and Elisabeth Prins, of Wormerer in northern Holland, are hoping to raise money for a trip to Gretna Green.

Mrs Prins, who has had three marriages, became a widow on 2nd August and under Dutch law a woman who is divorced or widowed may not remarry until 9 months have elapsed.

That means the couple cannot marry until May 1966 and both say it is ridiculous that they have to wait so long. Hence the reason for the trip to Gretna Green.


A New Station

Asked when BBC2 would be available to Scottish viewers, the Postmaster General, Mr Anthony Wedgewood Benn replied : “The Corporation had hoped to open the main V.H.F. station at Black Hill this month. However, due to adverse weather, the opening has been put back to the spring of 1966”.


Does She Need One to Do the Job?

Mrs Barbara Castle, Britain’s first woman Transport minister, admitted last night that she does not hold a driving licence.





A Game from the Past….and a Moment to Remember

 Sponsored by the Jim Craig CSC


A Game from the Past

Left-half John Mitchell made his Celtic debut in a league match against Partick Thistle on 1st December 1906 when the Hoops won 4-1.

And a Moment to Remember

John went on to play around 100 matches for the club in the League, Scottish Cup, Charity Cup and Glasgow Cup. He came on for left-back Willie Orr after 20 minutes in the friendly against Arsenal on Christmas Day 1906; went on the 1907 tour to Denmark; picked up a Glasgow Cup medal in the 2-1 victory over Rangers on 26th October 1907; and was in the team from Ne-erday 1908 till 7th March 1909, the season Celtic won their 5th consecutive league title.

In September 1913, John moved to Cowdenbeath where he spent three seasons before his retirement in 1916.






25th December 1965: Celtic v Morton – Part One

commentButton2Glasgow at Christmas

In my very young days, in the late 40s and early 50s, Christmas in Glasgow was certainly celebrated but it was not as big an event as New Year. By 1965, things were improving and Christmas had become an important occasion, even if, especially in Scotland, the New Year festivities were undertaken with more gusto.

Still, as we entered the final few days of the run-up to Christmas, Glasgow was looking well. The big shops – Frasers in Buchanan Street for the well-off, Lewis’s for the rest – were ablaze with lights and Christmas trees; George Square was an oasis of coloured lights with a huge tree in the middle; and every shop was festooned with decorations of one sort or another.


Cinema Outings

Going to the ‘flicks’ or ‘pictures’ was still a great Glasgow custom and there were a number of cinemas throughout the city. There was always a shop in the foyer selling cigarettes and ice cream and at the interval ( between the ‘short’ film and the main event) a lady carrying a tray strapped to her shoulders made her way round the aisles selling soft drinks and ices. The cigarette smokers caused a problem, as if you were seated towards the rear of the auditorium, you would have to try to see the screen through a sizeable cloud of smoke. And you could hear people coughing all over the place!

It had been a good year for films, the names of the most popular ones even recalled today. Towards the end of 1965, for instance, an enthusiast could have had a choice of the following;-

Cat Ballou…..Doctor Zhivago….Help!…..The Ipcress File…..Repulsion…The Sound of Music



Music was becoming easier to listen to, thanks to the fairly new transistor radios on sale everywhere and the popular record players. In the latter months of 1965, these records had all held a spot in the Top Ten list of hits;

Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out…Beatles       To Whom It Concerns…Chris Andrews

1-2-3……..Len Barry                                                 Rescue Me…..Fontella Bass

The River…….Ken Dodd                                          Let’s Hang On….Four Seasons

Tell Me Why…..Elvis Presley                                  Maria……P J Proby

Get Off Of My Cloud….Rolling Stones                 The Carnival Is Over…..The Seekers



There was even a Christmas tree inside Celtic Park and as the main hall was quite a gloomy place in those days, it fairly made a difference. And it seemed to cheer up everyone, as the atmosphere among the players and staff on the Tuesday and Thursday evening was excellent. We all worked hard but there were plenty of laughs too. Just the way it should be in the festive season.


Team Selection

Ian Young was apparently fit again so I was wondering about my own position. I felt I had been doing well and more importantly, the defence as a whole had been solid. Billy McNeil’s knee injury was improving but John Cushley was looking very comfortable in the centre-half role and from Jock Stein’s comments in the papers, it seemed that he was reluctant to make any changes to the side at all.

I tried to get a word with Sean Fallon after training on the Thursday but I was told that he was away on a scouting mission. As no further info was forthcoming, it sounded top secret but I found out from the papers the following morning that he had travelled to Denmark to sound out Bent Martin about coming over to Glasgow. Martin had been in goal when Celtic beat Aarhus in the second round of the European Cup Winners’ Cup and had impressed many observers with this ability and calmness.

Anyway, after training on the Thursday, I got one piece of good news and one surprise. The good news was that I was to report to Celtic Park on the Saturday for the Christmas Day match against Morton; the surprise came when the team for the reserve match against Ayr United at Somerset Park on the same day was put up and I saw the names at right-back, centre-half, inside-left and outside-left. The eleven involved were John Fallon, Ian Young, Frank McCarron, Davie Cattenach, Billy McNeill, Willie O’Neill, George Connelly, Henry Quinn, John Divers, Bobby Lennox, Bertie Auld.



Last time round, I listed the twelve ties in the quarter-final stages of the three European competitions and asked which one was a local ‘derby’. The answer was Barcelona v Espanyol, both of whom play in the same city in Catalonia.

The question this week is about the match against Morton, which, as mentioned above, would be played on Christmas Day. Since they first appeared on the Scottish football scene in season 1888-89, on how many previous occasions had Celtic played on that day in one of the major domestic trophies?



New Home Secretary

The recent re-shuffle has brought into the Cabinet probably the ablest minister out of it. Mr Roy Jenkins, in spite of the controversy over the aviation industry, has earned the respect of the House.

He is a good administrator and has been tipped as a future Prime Minister. Now he has been dealt the role of Home Secretary.


New Spies

American TV viewers are flooding the United Nations with inquiries about U.N.C.L.E. They think it the espionage arm of the UN and want to join.

The United Nations’ general services division had been deluged with letters and telephone calls from fans of the popular NBC programme ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’

Confusion reigns.


Police in Action

Early next year, Glasgow police are to start towing away cars which cause obstructions.

To get his or her car back, the motorist, in addition to any fine, will have to pay £2 for the cost of towing his or her car to a compound.


18th December 1965: Dunfermline Athletic v Celtic – Part Two

commentButton2Another Right-Back?

Scottish Cup Final 1965 Celtic versus Dunfermline Billy McNeill leads out the Celtic team sdrscottishcupfinal

Big Billy – right back?
© Daily Record

On the day of the match, there was a comment in one of the papers that, due to Ian Young’s injury, Billy McNeil might be brought in at right-back. The story was seen by my Dad, who worked on a Saturday, and he phoned the house to tell me. I muttered something suitable and thanked him for telling me; at the same time, I was quite sure there was nothing in the story.

Billy had been out for nearly three weeks, was not used to the right-back position and would be keen to not over-stress his knee, so why would he come back in a position where the player has to cover much more ground than a centre-half would. There was no way any manager would take a chance like that and I went over to Parkhead in a good frame of mind.

Read More →


18th December 1965: Dunfermline Athletic v Celtic – Part One

Good News!…at Least for Me

Ian Young - out again

Ian Young – out again
© Daily Record

The week started well…for me at any rate. I noticed in the football reports in the Sunday papers that Ian Young had injured his ankle in the match against Hibs and would possibly be out for a few weeks.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I got on fine with Ian, whom I first met when we both played for the Scottish Schools side against England in 1961, with him at right-back and me at centre-half. And we continued to be pals when both of us were at Celtic Park. But when two people are chasing the same position in the side, you have to take every opportunity that comes your way and this looked as though it would be an ideal chance to me to get back in the first team again.

Read More →


11th December 1965: Celtic v Hibs – Part Two

commentButton2‘Who represents Scotland in next season’s European Cup competition – Celtic or Rangers?

Right now, the league race seems to be developing into a straight contest between the ‘’Old Firm’ teams.

Between now and their meeting on 3rd January, both teams have four games.

Celtic meet Hibs and Morton (H), Dunfermline and Clyde (A).

Rangers face Morton, Dunfermline and Partick Thistle (H) and Clyde (A)’.


That was the lead story in the press on the morning of the Celtic/Hibs clash and no one could argue with the accuracy of the wording. Celtic’s fans were very confident about the outcome but this meeting came only 9 months after Celtic’s manager had left Easter Road to come to Parkhead and Jock Stein was well aware that his former side had talent, if an infuriating penchant for inconsistency. So, presumably, that was praying on his mind as he was making his decision about the side, when he dropped me to bring back Ian Young; left John Cushley at centre-half to allow Billy McNeill’s knee to recover; brought back Joe McBride in place of Stevie Chalmers; and restored Charlie Gallagher to the side.


It was a close match all the way through, with Celtic’s goals – very easily described -coming one in each half ;-

Joe McBride of Celtic football Club 1966

Joe McBride – scored second goal – 
© Daily Record

John Hughes

John Hughes – on target 
© Daily Record

34 minutes….John Hughes smashed home a drive from a Jimmy Johnstone corner.

85 minutes….Joe McBride scored from a Johnstone cross after a dazzling run by the winger.

The ensuing report expanded on the play and how it developed ;-


Directness Pays Off

‘Celtic scored both the goals which gave them victory on Saturday at a time when the tide of play had been running against them quite strongly. That was indicative of their strength and the weakness of Hibernian in a game which had its moments of dullness but which at least made attack the stronger virtue.

There was too a simplicity in Celtic’s play which contrasted noticeably with the more complicated patterns of Hibs’ advances.

The goals were equally straight-forward if unexpected leaving one to reflect that the same directness grafted on to Hibs’ movements would surely have produced a healthier outcome.



While all this was taking place in front of a crowd of 23,000 at Celtic Park, only several hundred were at Easter Road to see the home side win 1-0. It was an unexpected result, as the Celtic reserve side usually contained a number of players who had first-team experience, even a few with many outings in the top side. On that day, though, Hibs were just the better team, took just about the only chance they got while we missed quite a few chances.

I took the opportunity of having a chat with Sean Fallon on the bus on the way to Edinburgh about my situation. He explained that, as far as he was concerned, I was playing well and he was pleased with my form but the major decisions were taken by the Boss and that I should have a word with him.

I made up my mind to do so but when the bus eventually got back to Celtic Park from Easter Road, he was gone!


Black and White No More!

Britain, West Germany and Holland plan to introduce colour television in the autumn of 1967, according to sources at a meeting of European broadcasting authorities in Rome yesterday.

Tossing and Turning

The Top of the Pops came to St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalger Square, London, last night.

The Ivy League pop group, whose record of ‘Tossing and Turning’ reached number one in the charts, gave a carol concert in the church which is famous for its mid-day concerts of serious music.

Bad Decision

Walter McGowan, the British and Empire Fly-Weight Champion, will fight Salvatore Burruni, the holder, for the World title at Wembley on 18th March.

Last week, McGowan fought a draw in Rome with Tommasso Galli for the European Bantam-Weight Championship – a verdict which confused many. Most spectators thought that McGowan had won convincingly.



A Game from the Past….and a moment to Remember


Sponsored by the Jim Craig CSC


A game from the Past…..on 26th August 1922, centre-forward ‘Wee Willie’ Crilly made his Celtic debut in the 2-1 victory over Hamilton in a league match at Celtic Park. Willie might have only been 5 feet 3 inches and 9 stone but he had performed heroically for Alloa the season before, his prolific goal-scoring helping the Wasps to the Second Division title.

And a Moment to Remember…..Willie signed for Celtic in the spring of 1922, just in time to go with the club party which journeyed to Prague and Berlin in the summer tour of 1922. Unfortunately, when the new season started in Scotland, Willie’s lack of height and build made him a target for the bigger centre-halves in the First Division and he only made three appearances for Celtic, that debut match plus the following two league matches against Raith Rovers and Hibs before heading back to Alloa.

Later, Willie emigrated to the USA, where he played for a number of teams, like New York Hispanos, Brooklyn Wanderers, New York Americans, Brooklyn Hispanos, St Mary’s Celtic. By the time he retired from the game in 1935, Willie Crilly was reputed to have scored more than 1000 goals in his career.











11th December 1965: Celtic v Hibs – Part One

commentButton2There might have been some important league matches coming up but Scotland’s defeat in Naples was still tending to dominate the back pages;-


Scotland Out of the World Cup

Scots Floored by the Left

This Was Too Much – Even for Jock Stein


Big Ron Yeats Liverpool Centre half in at No.9 after a catalogue of Scots injuries © LFC

Willie Henderson – Missed
© Daily Record

On the day following the match, the sporting press was disappointed but also blunt in its assessment of the action. The comment above about the ‘left’ refers to the fact that the build-up for two of the Italian goals came from that side. After giving a resume of the goals, one paper said;-

(1)…….‘The bare facts don’t tell how we missed Baxter, Law and Henderson.

(2)…….’They don’t tell how we lacked a personality player to marshall our forces’

(3)…….’They don’t tell of the superiority of the Italians in all the arts and crafts of the game – plus the spot-on accuracy of the Italian distribution’.


It must also be said that Jock Stein’s team selection still left many confused. In a letter to one paper, a correspondent, under the by-line ‘Get Stuck In’, commented;-

‘What a pity the Scottish team wasn’t announced until the last minute in Naples. Had it been published earlier, we would have been high and dry in the finals now – the Italians would have died laughing before kick-off time!

If ever there was case of all-out attack from the word ‘go’, here it was. And there were a million or two ‘astute tacticians’ who could have told Mr Stein that.

But what happened? Scotland come out with a centre-half at centre-forward!’


Certainly questions were still being asked, like –

‘If you had been team manager, would you have chosen the same formation?’

‘Why was the doctor not called into consultation after Willie Henderson reported to Jock Stein on Monday night that he was unfit?’

‘Why, after he had announced he would attempt to play an ‘attack is the best form of defence’ type of game, did Jock Stein elect to go solidly for a negative defensive strategy?’


Perhaps, though, a comment from another writer should be recalled. After pointing out in his first thought that the referee was excellent, he went on to say – ‘The second thing sticking out a mile is that you can’t beat Italy on guts and determination alone. Scotland had plenty of both but it just wasn’t enough!’


Anyway, that was us out of the World Cup and now it was back to domestic competition, with a league match against Hibs coming up on Saturday. At least, that’s what I thought the future held but boy!, was I to get a disappointing blow in the guts at the end of training on the Thursday night.

After the icy conditions of the previous week, the rain had come back, so the grounds were soft and trying to run on the track round the pitch at Parkhead was like dragging your legs through treacle. It was hard, tiring work on a cold night and frankly, we were all glad when it was finished and we could get back to the dressing room.

When we came back in to clean up, someone noticed that the sheet on which was listed the team chosen for the reserve match the following night against Hibs had already been tacked up on the notice board. As it did not involve me, I did not pay much attention to it at first but I did notice that several of the guys had looked across at me and then looked away – that classic human response of not wanting to upset someone – so I went across to see it for myself. To my surprise, and disappointment, I saw my name in the centre-half role in a team of John Kennedy, John Halpin, Frank McCarron, Davie Cattenach, Jim Craig, Jim Brogan, Henry Quinn, Jimmy Quinn, Stevie Chalmers, Bertie Auld and Tony Taylor.

Alec Boden was the coach on duty that night and I immediately went to see him and asked what I had done to deserve being dropped from the first team. He could only say that it was nothing to do with him; he had been given the list and told to put it up. To my comeback that I thought I had been playing well, he said that friends and colleagues he had spoken to had agreed with that but he was only passing on the news and that my next port of call was the manager. Unfortunately, as I would be involved in that reserve match at Easter Road while the Boss would be with the first team at Parkhead, the logistics of arranging a meeting were not my favour. So, I had just had to grit my teeth and get on with it!


Ronnie Simpson

Question…..last time round the question was about the GB team in the 1948 Olympics, more particularly who was the manager of the side? Well, we had one Scot – Ronnie Simpson – as goalkeeper and we had another in the managerial role. It was Matt Busby, at that time also manager of Manchester United.

This week’s question concerns the reserve side listed above. Which of those eleven players was in charge of the Canadian national team when it tried to qualify for the 1990 World Cup?


Down!….in the Right Place

Astronauts Walter Schirra and Thomas Stafford splashed down in the Atlantic in Gemini 6 after their historic nose-to-nose meeting in space with Gemini 7.

Schirra and Stafford hit the ocean right on time at 15.29GMT about 80 miles S.E. of Cape Kennedy. It was the best landing of any so far.

They left Gemini 7, with Frank Borman and James Lovell aboard, still whirling round the earth and ready to land in the same area of the Atlantic tomorrow.


No Oil!

Britain has imposed an oil ban on Rhodesia.

It started at 6.30pm last night when an Order in Council was signed by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Rhodesia consumes 280,000 tons of oil a year.

From now on, anyone who assists in giving her oil will be liable to imprisonment for up to 6 months or to a fine not exceeding £500 or both.


New Boss

The Scottish Football Association is to advertise for a manager for the Scotland national team. This was announced yesterday at a meeting of the selection committee in Glasgow.

The move was taken because the agreement with Celtic manager Jock Stein automatically came to an end when Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup finals.



7th December 1965 Italy v Scotland Preview #5 and Report

Jock Stein Sums It Up

“I hope tomorrow’s Naples crowd is the noisiest, rowdiest, bottle-throwing crowd we’ve ever come across. If they are rioting, it’ll mean that we’re doing well. But if they are sitting up there enjoying themselves, it will be Italy who are doing well”.

The words of Jock Stein in his last meeting with the press corps before the big match. Asked how he rated Scotland’s chances, he said “I think the Italians have the harder job. The onus is on them. They’ve got to avoid defeat”.

During the meeting, there was no mention of the team. With hindsight, one can realize why. Due to injury of one sort or another, the numbers in the pool were reducing. Brown and McNeill were out, as now was Jim Baxter; and they were joined by Willie Henderson late on. Law, of course, was already out, so it was easy to see why Jock Stein held his team news till just hours before the match. And when it did come out, it caused a sensation, an eleven of Blacklaw (Burnley), Provan (Rangers), McCreadie (Chelsea), Murdoch (Celtic), McKinnon, Greig, Forrest (all Rangers), Bremner (Leeds), Yeats (Liverpool), Cooke (Dundee) and Hughes (Celtic).

Parodying Winston Churchill’s famous remark after the Battle of Britain, an evening paper had the line;

”Never in the field of international football was so much distress caused to so many by one decision”.

Ron Yeats Liverpool Centre half in at No.9 after a catalogue of Scots injury

Big Ron Yeats Liverpool Centre half in at No.9 after a catalogue of Scots injuries

It was the 9th name in that list of eleven that caused all the furore. Ron Yeats was a tried and tested centre-half, a ‘stopper’ type who had started his career at Dundee United before transferring to Liverpool, where he was the anchor in a solid defence. He was not a centre-forward yet here he was, listed in that position. Would he actually play there, with long balls pumped up to him from behind? Or did Jock Stein have another plan? Whatever the case, there was no doubt that the manager had created a talking point for the country’s football fans!

There was apprehension among the Scots fans present in the Sao Paolo Stadium. Only one player – John Greig – had more than 7 caps, while the Italians seemed to have experience all over the pitch. And the choice of Ron Yeats in the number 9 shirt was still causing doubts in their minds. Would Scotland go all out for a win and throw caution to the winds? Or would they sit back and try to frustrate the home side?

Almost as soon as the whistle blew, the Scottish tactics became clear. After lining up in the centre-forward role for the kick-off, Ron Yeats ran backwards to take up a position alongside Ronnie McKinnon in central defence. Scotland were going to try and keep the Italians at bay!

And indeed they did, for most of the first half, methodically shuttling back, attempting to slow the pace of the game. Then a mistake gave Italy the lead.

Goal One……In the 38th minute, Eddie McCreadie shaped to clear Rivera’s cross, only to completely mis-cue the ball, which fell for Pascutti to score from close range. Cushions rained down from the terracings as the Italians celebrated. As well they might, since the Scotland side was hardly set up to chase a match. But the players did their best and the home supporters had to wait till near the end before they had further reason to cheer.


The late, great Giacinto Facchetti – scored the crucial 2nd. More of him later!
© Wikipedia

Goal Two……In the 74th minute, Adam Blacklaw collided with one of his defenders in punching out a cross, the ball fell into the path of left-back Facchetti and he lobbed it into goal just under the cross-bar.

Goal Three…..Just before the final whistle, a sideways flick by Rivera landed right into the path of Mora, who scored from an acute angle. And that was the trigger for bonfires to start up all over the terraces.


Result: Italy 3 Scotland 0


It had been a disappointing night for Scotland and the final table showed just how close we had come to qualification;-

P W D L F A Pts
Italy 6 4 1 1 17 2 9
Scotland 6 3 1 2 8 8 7
Poland 6 2 2 2 11 10 6
Finland 6 1 0 5 5 20 2


After the match, there was real despair among the Scots fans, both in Naples and at home, that we had missed out, especially when the finals were being held in England, our nearest neighbours.

The Italian fans, by contrast, were euphoric, their joy evident in the coverage in the press and on TV. The players were feted to the skies, each and every one of them praised for their efforts in the qualifying campaign.

Unfortunately, just over six months later, those same players were to receive a slightly more critical response, thanks to the efforts of a team called North Korea …


6th December 1965 Italy v Scotland Preview #4

Off (1)

There did not seem to be any great enthusiasm among the Glasgow football-supporting public anyway, so it was probably no great disappointment for many when the Old Firm Select v Moscow Dynamo match was called off for the second time in 24 hours.

Those in charge at Celtic FC had seemed quite confident the previous evening – when the Hampden match was cancelled – that the Parkhead pitch and its surrounds would be up to staging the game. However, another frosty night over Friday/Saturday –when the temperature dropped even further than had been the case in the run up to the weekend – mean that not only was the pitch even more hard and icy but the terracings and walkways were dangerous too. So, Hugh Phillips had no choice but to cancel the encounter, which would have given the Soviet players the night off. I wonder what they did? Cossack dancing at the Barrowland, perhaps?

Read More →