While the team was having a very successful tour across the Atlantic, I was stationed back in Glasgow, having come to a special arrangement with the Dean of the Dental Hospital. As a final year student, I should have sat the first part of my finals in March and the second part in June. Unfortunately, though, several aspects of my football life at that time – like a trip to Tbilisi, Scottish Cup replays and the occasional extra visit to Parkhead for either training or treatment – really cut into the time I had available for study.
Equally importantly, they prevented me from being a very regular attendee to deal with patients in the Dental Hospital, a fairly frequent request that was noticed!
Eventually, I was called up to see the Dean, who suggested that instead of following the normal schedule listed above, I should sit the first part in June and the second part in October.
This meant that I missed the tour to the New World but while the guys were putting on a good show over there, I did pretty well over here too, passing the first part of my finals and continuing my studies over the summer. As the patients came in mostly in the afternoons, it suited me perfectly, as I took the opportunity to go to Celtic Park most mornings, usually on my own.
However, as it came towards the latter half of July, just before the first official start of training, a few more turned up;-
20th July 1966. The papers were full of the almost unbelievable result in the World Cup when Italy were beaten 1-0 by North Korea but the evening ones in Scotland also pointed out that Joe McBride, Ian Young, Tommy Gemmell, John Cushley and Bent Martin had come into Parkhead a day early to resume training.
21st July 1966. The first official day of training for the new season. We are all weighed and divided into different groups according to those weights. Those who are thought to be a little on the heavy side also had to wear plastic ‘tops’ and ‘leggings’ to make them sweat more and help get the extra off. I once more thank the Lord that I am on the lean side.
According to the papers, John Hughes, who we hear is a little unhappy at the club, has had a chat with the Boss about his future but remains unsigned at this date.
22nd July 1966 Every day is pretty similar. We train every day at Barrowfield, just along London Road from Celtic Park. There is always a loosening up session, then the hard work starts, most of the time with a ball at our feet, although when the sprints get underway, they are discarded. There are also a number of moves done in pairs with a competitive element involved. It is tough but interesting.
23rd July 1966 There had been matches in the World Cup yesterday – quarter final ties – where the results had been ;
25th July 1966. After a break on Sunday, everyone was feeling less stiff on the Monday
morning when we all reported back again. As ever, the training was certainly tough going but there were enough amusing moments to lighten the atmosphere. Shooting practice usually provided one or two. The goal that we used for this backed on to Belvidere Hospital, a 12-foot wire wall behind the nets there to stop any stray balls going in there. Unfortunately, as a player ran forward with the ball, then played a one-two with the Boss or Neilly Mochan, the management duo would occasionally – out of devilment – lift the ball into the air so the player had to hit it first time on the volley and more often than not, that meant the ball heading high in to the stratosphere, way over the wire netting. And that also meant that, in order to get the ball back, the player would have to run nearly the full length of a football pitch to the east to get to the door of Barrowfield, then run nearly 300 yards back along London Road to the west to reach the entrance to the Hospital before finding the ball and then doing the same run in reverse. The language was usually very loud and colourful to listen to!
26th July 1966 As we went about our various tasks, the chat was mostly about the first of the World Cup semi-finals the night before, when West Germany had beaten the Soviet Union 2-1.
An incident involving Joe McBride was featured in one of the evening papers. He managed to break a photographer’s camera! The accident happened when a shot from the striker was off target and hit the camera, which had been placed on a small table to one side of the goal. The device was shattered!
I don’t think it was meant as a punishment for all of us but the Boss, Neilly Mochan and Bob Rooney then, in the poring rain, put us through a long and tough session.
After training, I watched as one of the heavier guys in the side took off one of the plastic training tops he had been given to wear for training and was surprised at how much sweat dripped out!
27th July 1966 There had been another game to discuss. The previous evening England had beaten Portugal 2-1 in the second semi-final, with Bobby Charlton getting two fine goals. He would certainly be an important man for England in the final…..but would he be in the Man U side which would play us in a pre-season friendly?
As regards transfer talk, Willie Wallace of Hearts had recently been mentioned as a target for Celtic. However, there was a report in the press that day to the effect that he had been told by Hearts manager Tommy Walker that his transfer request had been refused.
Before we all arrived at the training ground, the guys on the ground staff, along with Bob Rooney and Neil Mochan, had been there for some time laying out the cones etc for the various exercises. Among them were two newer trainees, John Gorman and Lou Macari.
28th July 1999 It was announced in the press that Celtic and Rangers have just over two weeks to complete the lists of players for the European Cup and European Cup-Winners’ Cup first round ties against Zurich and Glentoran. Monday August 15th is the closing date for registering the lists with UEFA.
With John Hughes still un-signed, there is now some urgency on behalf of both club and player to sort out a deal….or put him on the transfer list!
29th July 1966 The decision had been made, according to the morning dailies;-
Hughes For Transfer ; Quick Move to South
Manager Jock Stein gave out this statement after Celtic had trained today : ‘Owing to the fact that we cannot come to terms with Hughes, we are prepared to consider offers for his transfer’.
Hughes was the only retained player to refuse re-signing terms when the club returned from the American tour. It was thought that Newcastle manager Joe Harvey would be among the first on the scene.
In the 3rd place play-off match held the previous evening, Portugal beat the Soviet Union 2-1.
30th July 1966 A relatively easy session this morning, World Cup final day. In the chat between the sprints, it was obvious that most of us could not make our minds up as regards the prospective winners. As for who we would like to win?….well, that might have been the tougher question?
At dinner in my parent’s house, again on the topic of the World Cup final, my mother said that we should support another British team; my Dad replied that he was glad he would be working!
1st August 1966 Sunday had been a rest day, so it was back to work on Monday, when, according to the press, radio and TV, a whole nation was rejoicing?
In case you missed it, I can provide a brief resume of the final. England won by 4 goals to 2, in the third of which there was definitely some doubt as to whether or not the ball had crossed the line. Just as well Hurst got another or there would have been even more questions to ask. And as to those who raised questions of jiggery-pokery about the third goal, does it make the situation any better when I remind you that the linesman who nodded his head in assent to the referee’s query as to whether the ball had crossed the line or had not was from that bastion of truthfulness, the USSR?
Unfortunately, as England rejoiced, one former star had his own problems. Sir Stanley Matthews, by then manager of Stoke, was reported to be ‘satisfactory’ after an operation at North Staffordshire Infirmary for perforation of his small intestine caused by a car crash.
2nd August 1966 Jock Stein and Sean Fallon had been on a ‘spying’ mission last night at Tynecastle the night before, where Hearts beat Maccabi, the Israeli champions, 4-2 in a pre-season friendly.
Now the Celtic managerial team had first-hand info on Hearts’ form before the opening-day League Cup match at the Edinburgh ground on the 13th.
It seemed to be a well-known fact that Jock Stein was interested in acquiring striker Willie Wallace and he certainly was in good form in this match.
3rd August 1966 Training continued but most annoying from my point of view was that the Boss was giving little away about the possible side for the Man U friendly on the 6th. In my quieter and more logical moments I was very realistic. Commonsense dictated that the guys that played during the American tour would undoubtedly get the nod to start on the Saturday. They had played 11 matches on that tour of which they had won 8 and drawn 3. It was a fine record and one they should have been proud of.
A more clinical assessment might suggest that not every opposing side had been out of the top drawer and Celtic should have done well in these games but perhaps that was me being a little bitchy in my views. Certainly, I was keen to get back in the side but I might have to bide my time. Not for too long, I hoped!
There was good news for the fans today when the Glasgow Football Association announced that Celtic would meet Rangers at Ibrox on Tuesday 23rd August in a first-round Glasgow Cup tie. In the other first-round tie, Third Lanark would meet Clyde at Cathkin on Monday August 22nd.
There was a report in one of the evening papers that the Newcastle United directors would be meeting that night and top of the agenda would be a discussion on the price they are prepared to offer for the unsigned John Hughes. It was expected that there would be a definite bid from Newcastle after the meeting.
The Glasgow Charity Cup committee also announced the team which would face Leeds at Hampden on 10 August. It was Ritchie, Greig ( Rangers), Gemmell (Celtic), McHugh (Clyde), McKinnon (Rangers), Clark ( Celtic), Henderson ( Rangers), Murdoch, Chalmers, Lennox ( Celtic), McParland ( Partick Thistle).
4th August 1966 With only two days to go to the clash with Manchester United, the long stuff in the training regime was tailing off and there were a lot of sharp routines. Much of this was done without the ball but there were also exercises which involved quick running with the ball. Not surprisingly, everyone found these to be more tiring on the leg muscles.
5th August 1966 It was announced that John Hughes had re-signed and would be considered for the Manchester United match.
As regards United, David Herd would be out with a leg strain and Jock Stein also issued a warning to latecomers – Man U must return immediately after the match as they were heading for a game in Germany, so on no consideration would the match start later than 3 o’clock.
We had finished a brief session on the morning of the day before the match, a workout consisting mainly of sprints and calisthenics, followed by the usual showers and bath. Someone then drew my attention to a notice on the board just inside the dressing room door, which must have been put up for the benefit of the part-timers who would been in training the night before.
On it was listed a team for a challenge match against Stranraer down at Stair Park which would take place at the same time as the Man U game. The team was Bent Martin, Ian Young, Sammy Henderson, Jim Brogan, John Halpin, David Hay, John Taggart, Charlie Gallagher, Jim Clark, Lou Macari and Tony Taylor.
I noticed the absence of my name with interest and wondered if I was being included in the squad for the Man U match. Right on cue, the Boss appeared at my shoulder and told me to report to Parkhead the following day.
6th August 1966 I must admit to being in a bit of a tizz when I parked my car in the school parking area the next day. Would I get a start in the match? Would I be brought on at some point? Or would I miss out altogether, my role being merely one of the squad?
Even at 1.30pm, when I arrived, there were large crowds milling outside the ground – perhaps having taken on Jock Stein’s words of the previous day about the match starting on time – and I signed a good number of autographs on the way from the car park to the ground.
I was also asked for the occasional photograph but in those days, only the better-off supporter had a camera. Nowadays, everyone has a mobile phone and thus a camera, so the number taken has vastly increased
Eventually, when the team was announced, I was not surprised to hear that it was made up of the guys who had done well on the American tour. It was;
Ronnie Simpson, Tam Gemmell. Willie O’Neill, Bobby Murdoch, Billy McNeill, John Clark, Jimmy Johnstone, Joe McBride, Stevie Chalmers, Bertie Auld and Bobby Lennox.
I was told to strip, as was John Hughes, the two of us taking our places on the bench in case of injury.
Around 2.55pm, the teams came out on to the park, Man U represented by;
Gregg, Brennan, Dunne, Crerand, Foulkes, Stiles, Best, Sadler, Charlton, Law and Connelly
with ex-Celt Pat Crerand given the captaincy.
Around 60,000 were in the ground when the referee blew for the start and right from the whistle, the game was all-action, the crowd not having to wait long for some goals ;
a cross from Joe McBride, a nod on from Stevie Chalmers and Bobby Lennox blasted home. 1-0 Celtic
this time a Jimmy Johnstone cross was dummied by Joe McBride and Bobby Murdoch sent a shot into the roof of the net. 2-0 Celtic
when a cross from Bobby Charlton came into the box, David Sadler was quickest to the ball and flicked it home. 2-1 Celtic
Bobby Lennox passed to Joe McBride, who took a couple of steps forward sending a low drive past Harry Gregg. 3-1 Celtic
Celtic might have been 3-1 up but the visitors were giving it all they had and a few goalmouth incidents led to chances. However, at half-time, it was still 3-1 to Celtic.
Manchester United made a change for the second half, Noel Cantwell coming on at inside-right for David Sadler, who we later found out had damaged an ankle.
From the whistle for the re-start, the action started up again, play swinging from end-to-end. Just after the hour mark, though, Celtic increased their lead….thanks to one of the opposition!
Nobby Stiles tried to clear the ball away from the United goal-line but his attempt struck centre-half Bill Foulkes and ricocheted into the net. 4-1 Celtic.
And that was the end of the scoring, although there still plenty of exciting play and no! Jock Stein did not make any changes to the team. It had undoubtedly been a fine performance by the Celtic players and the crowd gave them a standing ovation at the end of the match.
There was also a great atmosphere in the dressing room afterwards, the players all on a high. Except for two….and no marks for working out who they were! I got myself changed quite quickly and not feeling part of the euphoric atmosphere, headed for my car and home. Not surprisingly, I noticed that John Hughes was right beside me. And just as we left, we were told that the challenge match down at Stair Park had finished in a 3-2 win for Stranraer.