Close Season 1965 – A New Dawn?

The Close Season and the Run-up to the First Match of the 1965-66 Campaign

As you might imagine, it had been a very happy squad of players which had set off for their summer holidays, most of them heading for the sun, sea and sand of Spain. Not everyone connected with the club was away, though. This period is also a busy one for those working in the environs of a football club, so back at Celtic Park, the pitch was being touched up, cut and repaired, the stands and terracings were also given a once over and the approaches to the stadium checked.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of cash, I spent the summer in Glasgow. At the Dental Hospital, we only got a month’s break, most of which I spent having long lies and sun-bathing in the garden of my parents’ house. I also kept in shape with some running in the local park. It was a nice, calm, lazy few weeks.

In the first days of July, some important news was announced.

3rd July

 The European draws are made for the three major trophies. The Scottish clubs are assigned as follows;

European Cup;  Nendori Tirana (Albania) v Kilmarnock 

European Cup-Winners Cup;   Go-Ahead Deventer (Holland) v Celtic

Fairs Cup; Hearts – Bye;   Hibs v Valencia (Spain)

 That kept the fans talking and it did not seem long before the summer was over, or at least, the holidays were;-

20th July

The Celtic players report back for pre-season training. The papers had  quotes from the Boss;




Meanwhile it was also announced that the appointments of Neil Mochan as first-team coach and Bob Rooney as physiotherapist had been confirmed. However, only days later, some important news was put out by the Government;

Drunk Driving Tests Would Soon be Introduced

And on the same day, even more sensational news was announced ;

Three of the Rolling Stones were fined £5 apiece for urinating against a garage wall.

When my Mother heard that last piece of news, she turned to me and said “I hope that you have never done that?”.

I answered quite forcefully ( and truthfully) that never in my life had I urinated against a garage door. Thankfully, Mum seemed satisfied with that and did not pursue the matter any further, when more interesting and embarrassing revelations might have surfaced!

 For that season of 1965-66, the following squad of players had reported for training –

Name Last Club Joined Height (ft In) Weight (St Lbs)
Bertie Auld Birmingham City 1965 5′ 8″ 10st 5lb
Jim Brogan St Roch’s 1963 5′ 8″ 11st 3lb
Davie Cattenach Stirling Albion 1963 5′ 9″ 11st 0lb
Steve Chalmers Ashfield 1959 5′ 10″ 10st 2lb
George Connelly Tulliallan 1965 6′ 1″ 11st 0lb
Jim Craig Glasgow University 1965 6′ 1″ 10st 13lb
Hugh Cunningham Maryhill Harp 1965 5′ 9″ 9st 2lb
John Cushley Blantyre Celtic 1960 5′ 11″ 12st 8lb
John Divers Renfrew Juniors 1957 5′ 11″ 12st 8lb
John Fallon Fauldhouse Utd 1958 6′ 0″ 11st 6lb
Charlie Gallagher Yoker Athletic 1959 5′ 9″ 10st 13lb
Tommy Gemmell Coltness Utd 1962 6′ 2″ 12st 9lb
John Halpin Our Lady’s High Sch. 1963 5′ 11″ 11st 4lb
Sam Henderson Ashfield 1962 5′ 9″ 10st 7lb
John Hughes Shotts Bon Accord 1959 6′ 2″ 14st 2lb
Jimmy Johnstone Blantyre Celtic 1962 5′ 4″ 9st 0lb
Jim Kennedy Duntocher Hibs 1955 5′ 11″ 11st 9lb
John Kennedy Distillery 1965 6′ 2″ 11st 2lb
Bobby Lennox Ardeer Recreation 1961 5′ 8″ 10st 8lb
Joe McBride Motherwell 1965 5′ 9″ 11st 2lb
Frank McCarron Parkhead Juniors 1962 6′ 1″ 11st 2lb
Michael McGowan St Roch’s 1965 5′ 7″ 10st 7lb
Billy McNeill Blantyre Victoria 1958 6′ 1″ 12st 9lb
Bobby Murdoch Cambuslang Rangers 1961 5′ 10″ 12st 1lb
Willie O’Neill St Anthony’s 1960 5′ 10″ 11st 7lb
Jimmy Quinn St Roch’s 1965 5′ 9″ 9st 11lb
Ronnie Simpson Hibs 1964 5′ 9″ 11st 9lb
Gerry Sweeney Johnstone Burgh 1965 5′ 8″ 10st 7lb
Tony Taylor Kilmarnock 1964 5′ 9″ 11st 3lb
Ian Young Neilston Juniors 1961 5′ 11″ 10st 11lb


24th July

It was announced that two Brazilian inside-forwards will fly to Scotland next week to join Scottish Cup holders Celtic. Marco di Sousa and Ayrton Inacio are from first division club Sao Paolo.


28th July

Friendly Match      Celtic 1     Motherwell 1

Celtic played Motherwell on a Douglas ( Isle of Man) municipal football ground for the Isle of Man Cup, the proceeds of the gate going to charity. It was a first outing for new boy Joe McBride but his debut only lasted 10 minutes before he had to come off because of a cut near his eye. The game finished Celtic 1 Motherwell 1.


3rd August

Friendly Match     Shamrock Rovers 0     Celtic 7


4th August

The Evening Times was quite blunt in its report of the match;


So hopelessly outclassed were the local part-timers that the Scots rarely worked up a sweat


7th August

Friendly Match  Sunderland 0   Celtic 5       Att: 35,000           Hughes (2), Murdoch, Lennox and McBride

All the players reported fit after the match versus Shamrock Rovers, as the squad gathered for a trip south of the border to face Sunderland. Bertie Auld had missed the match in Ireland but was now fit again.

In the Wearsider’s eleven would be an old foe in Jim Baxter (making his Sunderland debut) and a future Celt in Harry Hood. Unfortunately for both of them, Celtic were in no mood for mercy;


9th August

John Hughes was given a 14-day suspension by the Scottish Football Association for three cautions in the closing matches of the previous season. He will miss the first two weeks of the new campaign.

 18,000 turn up to watch the Celtic Park Public Trial.

Unfortunately, due to registration problems, the two Brazilians could not play.

 This was a very important match for me. The Public Trial was held every year, was a nice earner for the club note that attendance) and usually consisted of a contest between the first team and the reserves, although, to salve some egos ( there were those who thought they should have been in the top team and were annoyed not to be) – in every club, in similar matches – the names of the teams were often changed to Hoops v Stripes or Coloureds v Whites etc.

I wasn’t too bothered about the names. I knew I would be in the ‘reserve’ team and would be up against a first-team star, so I went out of my way to prepare for the challenge as the Boss would be watching and this was my chance to show him what I could do. I was at centre-half for the reserves and opposing me was Steve Chalmers. Now, I don’t think Stevie was trying too hard and has always been a real pal but to be very blunt, I don’t think I gave him a kick of the ball that night and even took the opportunity to come forward a few times myself to join in some of the attacks. When you are fighting for a first team place, you have to go for every opportunity!



11th August

Three Celts – Murdoch, McNeill and Hughes – are in the Glasgow  select to face Chelsea at Hampden. Up till season 1960/61, the Glasgow Charity Cup had been an popular competition among the football fans of the city, with Celtic picking up the trophy on 28 occasions. From 1961 onwards, the Cup was still put up for charitable purposes but the match consisted of a Glasgow select playing a team from England.

Manchester United had been the opponents in 1962 and 1963; Tottenham Hotspur in 1964. This time round, Chelsea were the chosen side and they comfortably beat the Glasgow side 3-0, a defeat which did not go down too well in one of the evening papers the following day;


36,000 fans gave fair warning last night that they are no longer prepared to accept shoddy football.

They came to Hampden all ready to cheer Glasgow’s Select X1 to victory in the Charity Cup tie and stayed to jeer the team off the field when the curtain came down on Chelsea’s 3-0 victory

Celtic’s first match was only three days away now and the tension was building. Dundee United would not be easy opposition, especially at Tannadice and an old Celtic favourite had recently joined the Terrors and indeed, would be making his debut in the match against Celtic. But while Bobby Carroll was non-committal about his impending first appearance, Celtic’s Joe McBride was much more assertive.


12th August

Joe McBride;

I really believe I am starting a new football life with Celtic – Celtic is a magic word for me and I shall do my utmost to justify the confidence in me.

13th August

The eve of the first match. The press are both realistic and pessimistic;


For far more years that they care to remember, the inhabitants of the East End of Glasgow have been asking this plaintive question – “Will this be Celtic’s year?”

Always echo has answered with a resounding ‘NO!’.

Any Celtic fan reading that would not have been too impressed but within the club, there was a decided air of optimism. So far, the players were looking good – at all levels – everyone connected with the club had received a real boost by the Scottish Cup win and there was a feeling that things were looking up. So, as the first team prepared to head for Dundee to face the Terrors and the reserves got ready to meet United’s second side at Parkhead – both in League Cup ties. We were all ready……and confident?