26th April 1967 (Days to Hampden: 3)
We came back to Glasgow to find that other football matters than our success had also made the headlines.
The first was that Third Lanark was in danger of folding. On the day that we played Dukla in Prague, they had met Queen of the South at Cathkin, a match which would eventually turn out to be the last one at that ground (their last-ever game last would be the forthcoming Saturday against Dumbarton at Boghead).
There had also been a fine victory by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in the second leg of a Fairs Cup quarter-final against Lokomotiv Leipzig which put them into the semi-final of that competition on a 2-1 aggregate. Leeds would be next up for the Ayrshire men. But possibly the most surprising news was that we still did not who our opponents would be in the European Cup Final.
On 19th April, Inter had drawn 1-1 with CSKA Red Flag of Bulgaria at the San Siro. The second leg of that contest was due to be played on this day of the 26th, so as the players headed for Parkhead and some light training – and I stayed in my bed at home – we still did not know who we would be meeting in the final.
I was not feeling my best but a visit from club doctor Fitzy gave me hope. He explained that it was not flu’ – which he knew I was worried about – but possibly just a reaction to a change of climate etc over the last few days. I was to stay at home till Thursday in case I passed it on to someone else but he would have no objection to me going for a walk as along as I kept myself warm.
As I was improving by the minute, on that afternoon, while the boys had been taken down to Seamill for the day, I walked along Paisley Road West to Bellahouston Park and climbed the hill which gave a great view over Glasgow. With a bit of luck, everything would be OK for Saturday and the cup final against Aberdeen – but I was still wondering, like everyone else at Parkhead, just who we would be playing in the final at Lisbon?
27th April 1967 (Days to Hampden: 2)
On the Thursday before the final, I was feeling better but was still under orders to keep away until the Friday. So, I did my usual walk round Bellahouston Park – which I completed without any great effort – then spent the rest of the day reading the papers or sleeping.
The headlines told the story of what was happening at the park;
Stein may name side tomorrow
It went on to say that all the players were fit – so that was me obviously OK – and that they were doing only some light training.
The really big news came from Sofia, where Inter Milan had drawn 1-1 with CSKA Red Flag in the second leg of the semi-final, making the aggregate score 2-2. Another match would be required to separate them and this would be played on 3rd May in Bologna. So, we still did know who we would be playing in the European Cup final.
One other headline caught the eye;
The SFA had been given an allocation of tickets for the final, which would be played at the National Stadium on the 25th May with a 5.30pm kick-off.
All the tickets available were for seats and the prices are – Centre Stand £2 7s 6d; from centre stand to 18-yard line £1 15s; 18-yard line to corner flag £1 7s 6d; opposite corner flag £1; behind each goal 10s.
And there was news of another match;
Parkhead game on Monday
Celtic will play their postponed league game with Dundee United on Monday night – if there is no replay in the Scottish Cup final.
While I relaxed in my parents’ house, the guys were once again taken down to Seamill to use their facilities and do some light stuff. I cannot imagine Bobby Lennox was too happy. The Boss would probably have not told him in advance where the training would be held, so as he lived in Saltcoats, his day would have been a drive to Parkhead, a bus trip from Celtic Park to Seamill, the corresponding bus journey back again, then a trip home from Glasgow to Saltcoats! Ah! the pleasures of being a pro footballer.
As we prepared for the final – obviously in different ways – it was announced from Ibrox that Jimmy Miller had been given a free transfer. Jimmy had always been a tough but fair opponent and would be a real asset to most teams.
And that was it on that Thursday, two days before we met Aberdeen in the final. I was really looking forward to getting back to Celtic Park on the Friday but in the meantime, I was a good boy, did as I had been told, rested and slept. It was a tough life!
27th April 1967 (Days to Hampden: 1)
I was back into training and got a bit of a going-over from the guys when I came into the dressing-room. “Did you just fancy a few days off, Cairney?” or “nice of you to come back for the final” were just two of the more polite comments. I took it all in my stride as I knew that it was just the usual banter in any football dressing-room.
The Boss was more direct; “are you 100%?” he asked and I could honestly say that I was feeling good. I even volunteered to take one of Neilly’s fitness tests behind the goals but he just smiled and said that he trusted me. That gave me a real boost and I went out to take part in the light session that the coaching staff had organised. It was good to be back and the great atmosphere around the place made me feel that we would be up for the final on the following day.
The big meeting occurred at the end of the session, after we had showered and dressed. The Boss met us all in the table-tennis room, announced the names in the side and casually discussed our tactics for the match. As I looked round the room, I was impressed by the attitude of all the guys and was convinced that we were going to win on the morrow. He then obviously put out the team to the press as the names did appear in the evening papers later that day;
It’s No-Change Celtic
‘Celtic’s European Cup heroes of Prague play unchanged in the Scottish Cup final against Aberdeen at Hampden tomorrow.
Jock Stein ended speculation about the line-up today when he said “we play unchanged; John Hughes will be twelfth man”.
While we all headed to our homes to spend the night there, Aberdeen travelled down and stayed in a secret hideout, probably in Perthshire. They would be up for the occasion, with manager Eddie Turnbull in particular very keen to put one over our Boss
But there was little doubt in the thoughts of one reporter at least as to the outcome of the final;
Put Your Cash on Celtic!
‘Celtic will win the Scottish Cup on Hampden’s famous turf tomorrow.
Dozens of times in the past outsiders in cup finals have provided a ‘real turn up for the book’. Remember the famous occasion in 1929 when a goalkeeper named Climie defied the might of Glasgow Rangers and helped Kilmarnock to a 2-0 victory? Remember, too, the occasion when Clyde beat Celtic 1-0 in a 1955 replay?
That is positive proof that the underdogs sometimes win – but if you want my advice do not put any real money on Aberdeen beating Celtic tomorrow’.
As I was having dinner in my parents house that night, I marveled at the change in my Mother. She had not been too keen on my signing for Celtic originally (not Celtic per se but just the fact that I had signed for a football club) and now here at the table she was asking about all the goings-on at training and referring to Jock, Sean, Neilly and Bob. She had met Sean but the others were complete strangers to her and now here she was, referring to all of them by their Christian names as though she had known them for years. What a transformation!