As a part-timer, I was in the slightly awkward position of only seeing my first-team colleagues on a match day, so I was unable to say with any certainty how they were feeling about Celtic’s drive for the league title.
From my own point of view, though, I was very definitely aware of the situation; in fact, it would be quite safe to say that I was pretty nervous about the whole thing.
This was surprising, as I have always been one of those – probably annoying – people who cope well with stress. As I have explained before, my most nervous time before a match was at the run-through of the tactics, when the Boss explained how he wanted us to play and I sat there think to myself ‘that won’t work!’ or ‘he can’t do that!’ depending on the details.
However, with two matches left in the league race and me back in the side, I was feeling it and I suspect became a bit short with everyone, for which, after all these years, I humbly apologise.
On the Tuesday night, at Celtic Park, on the eve of the match against the Pars, I was on my own, just me doing a light session on the track, with Bob Rooney and the groundsman the only other folk on the premises. Bob just let me get on with it, watching from the sidelines as I did some longer runs then some sprints.
I had received a phone call from Neil Mochan the day before, asking me if I could get to the park as early as possible for the session. In actual fact, I was there for around 4pm, so in the end, I was finished well before 6pm, Bob got away early, my Mum got a shock when I walked into the house before 7 o’clock and presumably, the groundsman, Hughie Docherty, managed to get home in time for tea, although he would have to come back later.
And the reason Hughie would have had to come back later was that the reserve side had a match that night against St Johnstone at Muirton Park in Perth. The ground is now the site of an Asda store.
The Celtic side on the night was Kennedy, McCarron, O’Neill, Cattenach, Cushley, Hay, McGowan, Connelly, J Quinn, Sweeney and H Quinn; Celtic 2-1, both goals coming from Jimmy Quinn.
The team had travelled up and back to Perth from Parkhead by bus and on their return, poor old Hughie would have had to be there to open up the ground to let the guys put the hampers in the appropriate place, to be unpacked first thing the following morning.
Hughes and McBride Miss Vital Games
‘If Celtic are to clinch the league championship in their closing games, then they’ll have to do it without John Hughes and Joe McBride.
Both have pulled muscles and will miss the matches against Dunfermline tomorrow and Motherwell on Saturday.
Tomorrow, of course, is the V for Vital Day. Two points against the Fifers and the title goes to Parkhead.
And Rangers, who play Clyde at Ibrox at the same time, can do nothing about it.
Hughes and McBride both missed the Greenock game at the weekend. Celts won, but not convincingly. Changes are likely in the forward line tomorrow night.
It promises to be a tough – and nerve-racking – occasion for Jock Stein’s team. Dunfermline have a lot to fight for too. A Fairs Cup place could depend on the result.
I have often been asked if players read the papers or pay any heed to the comments like those above. Well, let me tell you a secret. If you hear a player say that he does not pay the slightest attention to the newspapers, then it is very likely that he reads them more than anyone else!
Of course, players read the dailies and the Sundays. In the first place, the fans read them and tell the players about what they say anyway, so there is little point in getting the comments second-hand; and secondly, it does one’s ego quite a lot of good to see your team’s efforts receive some praise.
Now, we must also be realistic here. I am talking about that period in the spring of 1966 when Celtic were going well in the league and had already won the League Cup. Those successes received a lot of commendation. However, when we went out of the European Cup Winners’ Cup to Liverpool and lost in the Scottish Cup final to Rangers, then the press, quite rightly, went in the opposite direction and handed out some stick. There are two old expressions just designed for such a situation – one is ‘you win some, you lose some!’ and the other is ‘you must take the rough with the smooth!’ If players try to keep their thoughts on an even keel, then life is less complicated.
Last time, I asked which star had taken part in an athletics meeting at Cappielow Park, the ground of Morton FC, in the summer of 1924. The answer was Eric Liddell, fresh from his victory in the 400 metres at the Paris Olympics.
This week, the question is about one of the two Celtic players mentioned in that match report above as injured. One of them was manager of the Scotland Junior International side from 1978 to 1982. Which one?
The Soviet Union’s two top chess players sat down to battle for the World Championship in Moscow but fans anxious for the result may have to wait for 2 months.
The series, between the holder, 35-year-old Armenian Tigran Petrosyan and the 28-year-old challenger from Leningrad Boris Spassky, is set at 24 matches, played at the rate of 3 per week.
Choice of Names
Football fanatic Mr James O’Sullivan has displayed his support of Liverpool FC by giving his daughter 15 names. He named her after the Liverpool team because of their victory in the FA Cup last season.
His daughter’s birth certificate bears the names – Paula St John Lawrence Lawler Byrne Strong Yeats Stevenson Callaghan Hunt Milne Smith Thompson Shankley Bennett and the surname of O’Sullivan.
Sir Stanley Matthews said yesterday that a design approved by the Queen for a World Cup stamp showing him in action had been changed because it was considered ‘old-fashioned’.
Sir Stanley, now manager of Stoke City, said he believed the designer of the stamp, Mr Victor Whiteley, had used a photo of him taken years ago. “Shorts are much shorter today. I only finished playing last year and there had been a big change in football strips by then”.