When the press had been writing about the fact that players would be going down to Seamill before the European Cup final, the articles almost it seem that a holiday camp atmosphere would be the norm. Nothing could have been further from the truth, as the Boss pointed out to the assembled journalists just before we boarded a bus to take us from the Hydro to the Inverclyde Recreational Centre at Largs;
“This is it. The days of relaxation are over. We are going to work as we have never worked before. We are going to train hard today, tomorrow and Friday. The players are already fit but we are stepping up the training so that by next Thursday they will be faster than they have ever been before”.
We, the players, did not hear those words at the time, as we were already on the bus but only half-an-hour later, we were put through a really tough routine which brought the sweat out. As usual, though, the Boss and his staff were very good at mixing the hard stuff with some lighter moments.
However, after lunch, we were given the chance to get in a few holes on the golf course before making use of the baths and showers and we were told to make ourselves available to the waiting press, some of whom were from various countries in Europe. We did as ordered. It brought home to us just what a big occasion in our lives was just round the corner. Were we nervous? No! Excited? Definitely!
I had a disappointing moment during the golf. One of the visiting TV companies had set up cameras round one of the greens and from a distance of about 50 yards or so, I played a fine shot over a bunker on to a green, the ball rolling gently towards the flag before dropping into the hole. It was perfect for the cameras and the reporter with the crew, who interviewed me afterwards. However, in spite of my frequent requests – and his repeated answers of “yes, of course”- I never received any footage of one of my best-ever moments on a golf course!
From what I read in the papers later, the Boss had burst out laughing when he heard that Helenio Herrera had returned to Milan from Lisbon with two Portuguese footballs packed into his luggage. He had discovered what type of ball would be used in the final – and his Inter Milan players will use one in practice this week.
The Boss said
“We are not asleep. We’ve had three of those balls at Parkhead for the past week – and we will use them constantly at Largs during the build-up to the final”.
It had been an interesting first day down at Seamill, what with training, golf, hot water baths and interviews with visiting journalists. And it did not stop there. After dinner in the evening, we watched a film of the 1960 European Cup final at Hampden in 1960 when Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3. That brought back a few memories for me; I had been in the crowd of 135,000 that memorable night – watching the match from the schoolboys’ enclosure!