1st May 1968
The atmosphere on the bus back to Parkhead the previous evening – after the match against Dunfermline at East End Park – was amazing. All the way from the Pars’ ground, along the main roads (no motorways in those days), right up to the door of Celtic Park, the fans were out in force to give us a wonderful reception. It was fantastic and we even got a non-financial bonus when the Boss announced that we would be off for the next couple of days.
However, he then turned to me and asked if I could go into his room as he wanted ‘a word or two with me’. Like a school-kid, I immediately assumed that I had done something wrong and wondered just what I was going to be blamed for?
When I got there, though, he was both kind and complimentary, stating that he realised that I had not been 100% in fitness terms with firstly the virus from the South American trip and then the knock to the leg I received just after the New Year period. In spite of that, though, he thought that I had given ‘everything’ to the team and he was very pleased with my contribution to the team’s showing.
When I asked him how he knew I had not been feeling great, he laughed –
“you are usually the first to get dressed and leave the dressing-room but for the last few months, you have been nearly the last”. He could surprise you sometimes with his perception.
Anyway, he then went on to tell me that my season was finished! He did not think I should play any more games or even take part in the tour to North America. That came as a surprise but when I reflected on it later, it was probably the right thing to do. And as I had just opened a dental practice in Shettleston, it would give me some time during the summer break to organise things.
Later that day, the evening papers announced that Celtic had given free transfers to both Ian Young and Chris Shevlane. The Boss was quoted as saying –
“we are very strong for defence men and we felt it was only right that Chris and Ian be given the chance to find themselves other clubs’.
Rumours that Joe McBride might be allowed to go as well were killed by Mr Stein –
“as a matter of fact, Joe was re-signed weeks ago. We have complete faith in McBride’s ability to make the top team again. You will see a new Joe once the close season is over and he starts full training again”.
Two semi-final matches in European trophies had been played the previous evening. At Dens Park, Dundee and Leeds United drew 1-1 in the first leg of their Fairs Cup tie; while over in West Germany, Cardiff lost 2-3 to Hamburg in the second leg of their European Cup-Winners’ Cup semi-final, putting them out 3-4 on aggregate.
Tommy Walker, the Raith Rovers manager who guided the Kirkcaldy club to league safety this season, is included in the list of nominations for the ‘Manager of the Year’ award which has been won by Jock Stein in the past two seasons.
The list includes Jock Stein, Matt Busby (Manchester United), Joe Mercer (Manchester City), Alec Stock (Queen’s Park Rangers) and Stan Cullis (Birmingham).
Quote from Jock Stein in the press – “we will train twice a week until we leave for North America on the 16th”.
It’s strange how you can’t get something you find totally natural out of your system. I might not have been training at Celtic Park but, being paranoid about losing my fitness levels, I was still going over to Bellahouston Park to do some light work. With a bit of luck, no one will phone the Boss!
Scotland’s Player of the Year – Gordon Wallace of Raith Rovers – is set to join Queen of the South but only for this week’s Jimmy McKinnell benefit game against League Champions Celtic at Palmerston Park.
Wallace is one of a trio of forward-line stars the Dumfries club are happy to have in their side to face Celtic. The others are outside-right Ernie Hannigan and former centre-forward Neil Martin, both of whom are with Coventry City.