Bully Wee Make it Tough
The press was not exactly going overboard when it came to Celtic’s chances of reaching the Scottish Cup Final, as these comments may suggest –
‘Some folk have written off the Celtic-Clyde semi-final at Hampden on Saturday as a foregone conclusion. Take it from Hibs, and me, Clyde are no weaklings and Celtic will have to look to their laurels if they are to reach the Cup final.
At Easter Road last night Clyde proved to the 9000 spectators that their reputation as a slick, swift combine is well earned. How they clipped the ball about at top speed with the minimum of effort. They seldom failed to find a colleague with a crisp pass, they tackled hard, covered shrewdly and fought coolly and determinedly when Hibs staged a late rally.
In fact, at the end of a scintillating match Hibs were ready to call quits. A 1-1 draw was a fair enough conclusion to a refreshing occasion’.
We reported in the morning after our match against Partick Thistle and while the younger guys went ahead with a normal training session, those who had played at Firhill got an easier time.
However, as the session was at Barrowfield, that still meant that we were faced with a good walk in addition to the training, as the two grounds were about half-a-mile apart. The curious thing was that, although we had already won two trophies that season and were going for three more, there were few numbers of fans either outside the ground or approaching us on the walk up to Barrowfield. Would that happen today?
‘Chopper’ made the headlines;
‘Celtic and Scotland right-half Bobby Murdoch, who injured an ankle against Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday, reported at Celtic Park today to start the treatment which could help him play against Clyde in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden on Saturday.
Bobby’s prospects of a Hampden Park appearance seemed bleak when he was taken off the pitch in the Tynecastle encounter.
The first glimmer of hope came when an x-ray examination in the Victoria Infirmary showed that no bones were broken.
Bobby rested the ankle at home in High Burnside before returning to the Victoria Infirmary yesterday for a second x-ray. After examining the plates the specialist said that no damage had been done in the ankle ligaments.
Before Murdoch checked in at Celtic Park today for treatment Jock Stein said – “We are all delighted with the specialist’s report on the ankle. Now we are doing our outmost to have Bobby fit for the semi-final”.
You could tell from the use of the words ‘right’half’ that the journalist was one of the old school of reporters ( by 1967 Bobby was a ‘midfielder’) but apart from that his report was quite accurate.
Everyone in that team of 67 had a role to play but Chopper was the man who made the whole effort drive forward from the back. His passes sent Tam and myself down the flanks, he sent quick balls up to the strikers and he and I combined well with Jinky on the right side. So his being fit would be a big boost for all of us.
In that day’s papers, there was also some bad news for Clyde mentioned. Three of their players – right half Stan Anderson, centre-forward Joe Gilroy and outside-left Sam Hastings – are all doubtful for the match. Hastings has missed the last seven matches with an ankle injury, while Gilroy and Anderson both damaged leg muscles at Easter Road last night. Now the push is to have all three fit for the big match.
But there was good news for both Old Firm managers –
‘Jock Stein of Celtic and Scot Symon of Rangers are among the Scots in a list of 11 managers from which a panel of sports writers will name the Manager of the Year for the £1000 Westclox Award. Jock Stein was last year’s winner.
The other 9 names are Alan Brown (Sheffield Wednesday), Matt Busby (Manchester United), Johnny Carey (Notts Forest), Harry Catterick (Everton), Tommy Docherty (Chelsea), Jimmy Hill (Coventry), Bill Shankly (Liverpool), Alex Stock ( QPR).
There was better news about Chopper. Manager Jock Stein said “Murdoch did a good day’s training today and I am happy about his progress. He is coming on fast but I will not make any decision about the team until tomorrow at the earliest.
If Murdoch does not satisfy me that he completely fit he will not be playing. We need him for the other important matches coming up”.
I wasn’t so sure about Chopper being ready. I saw him out on the track and I though he was favouring the bad side. I didn’t think that Neilly would have risked putting him through one of his special tests but if he had, there was no chance of Chopper passing it on that day! We all left him to his task and for some reason, which I could not work out at the time and have since failed to do so, we were taken for a walk in the country?
Our major rivals had won their league match the previous evening but one report suggested that the result was not what Rangers wanted;
‘Rangers could be looking back in anger at last night’s 4-3 win over St Johnstone at Ibrox if goal average becomes the deciding factor in the race with Celtic for the 1966-67 League Championship….
……Rangers 4-3 win, their 12th league success in-a-row, was marred by St Johnstone’s three goals, which gave Rangers’ goal average a decided dunt.
Today Rangers are two points behind Celtic with each of them having five games to play.
But Celtic, in addition to their two points advantage, now have the better goal average – 3.67 as against Rangers’ average of 3.34.
After a light session on the track, the Boss plays safe and announces a squad of players for the semi-final. It was the team that beat Thistle on the Monday night – Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Wallace, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Gallagher, Chalmers, Lennox and Hughes plus Murdoch, Young and Auld.
And after all the talk of how good Clyde could be and what difficult opponents they were, one of the evening papers went right out on a limb with a bold prediction[
Celts, Dons For Final
No pressure on us then?
The Morning of the Match
The pressure was put on us again by the papers –
‘Celtic a racing certainty to reach the final of the Scottish Cup…..and Aberdeen a safe bet to join them at Hampden on April 29’.
No doubt Clyde, the team that performs miracles on a shoe-string playing staff and a shoe-string budget will argue bitterly against my forecast and it is equally certain that one of Scotland’s top managers Gerry Kerr of Dundee United, will insist that what his players could do at Pittodrie last Saturday they will do again at Dens Park tomorrow – and that is beat Aberdeen for the second time in a week.
Yesterday, as warm sunshine beat down on Glasgow, Mr Davie White, one of the youngest and most successful managers in the game, said “The weather is made for Clyde. We like to play our football when the going is good. We may not be as tough and as strong as Celtic but give us a pitch where the going is firm and we can surprise the best”.
Brave words indeed. But then the Bully Wee were having a good season and he was entitled to give his players – and his fans – a boost before such a big match. At that point of the campaign, Clyde were lying in 3rd place in the table…..
……..so they could not be taken lightly. Even so, the odds in the morning papers were 5-1 against Clyde winning!
We reported to the park that morning around 11.30am and were soon on the bus to our usual hotel near the Cathkin Braes. The atmosphere was infectious. All of the guys had played in these occasions before but that only made them much more special and you could sense the excitement and anticipation around the camp.
There was the usual buzz at lunch and all too soon we were back on the bus and heading over for Hampden, a police motor –cycle escort waiting for us at the Glasgow boundary to make our trip to the National Stadium just that bit easier. On the way, as usual, the fans cheered the bus and by the time we drove down Hampden way, the numbers were excellent, even an hour-and-a-half before kick-off.
Into the ground by the main entrance, we immediately made our way out to have a look at the pitch. It was in good nick but there was a decided wind blowing which might make life a bit difficult. Then it was back up the tunnel and into the dressing room for the first big moment of the day. – the team announcement.
As I expected from what I had seen the previous day, Chopper missed out, with Wispy again taking over the midfield role.
Wallace, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Auld, Chalmers, Lennox, Hughes
Anderson, Staite, McHugh
McFarlane, Hood, Gilroy, Stewart, Knox
People always ask what it was like to be in a dressing-room at a time like that. The honest answer is that you would be a very strange person if you did not feel a certain tension or excitement.
However, as an observer of human nature, I always found it fascinating to witness how the occasion also got to the Boss, Sean, Neilly, Bob and Jim Steele. There was definitely an air of - well, let’s call it ‘anticipation’ rather than ‘nervousness’ - but something like that was very definitely in the atmosphere.
The Boss and Sean were a little more voluble than normal ; Neilly couldn’t do enough for his charges, as if a poor result might depend on his efforts; Bob looked after us all like a mother hen, every problem dealt with instantly and efficiently; and Steeley massaged us with extreme vigour, poring sweat while singing from his favourite light opera repertoire. It turned the dressing-room into a noisy, frantic spot…but it was just what most of us needed before such an important match.
Eventually, the referee – John Gordon of Newport – came in to do the usual check and then it was time to be off down the tunnel and into a wall of noise from the crowd given later as 56,704.
So far, everything had gone to plan but some rocky moments were ahead.
We had prepared well, we had paid no attention to the comments from the press saying that we were almost already through and we certainly ignored the odds-on quote from the bookies. All of that we rejected yet once the match started, we were right off the boil.
Certainly the notorious Hampden swirl did not help – wind is the worst factor to deal with in any football match – but it was noticeable, even to us, that our normal smooth play was disjointed and sometimes worse than that.
The match was described in one paper as ‘a dour battle’ and it certainly was. For the first half-hour, the Clyde guys gave as good as they got but from then on, we assumed control, the defence in particular giving nothing away but the guys further forward were having a real off –day, with chances that they would normally snap up being spurned or missed. And, as usual, the opposing goalkeeper chooses a day like that to show what he can do.
All the Celtic guys on the pitch – and the big Hoops support in the crowd – thought that we should have been awarded a penalty four minutes from the end when left-back Soutar seemed to divert a fine shot by Jinky away from goal but the referee did not agree with us and actually awarded a free kick to Clyde for offside.
It had not been a game to remember and one paper, in the final paragraph of its report, summed up the action succinctly and precisely – ‘Once or twice in the first half the game flared into open warfare, causing the referee to take the name of Staite and to issue a warning to one or two others. It was a pity that such fire was not more constantly devoted to the game’.
Final Score Celtic 0 Clyde 0
The Other Semi-Final: Aberdeen 1 Dundee United 0
So a replay required in the cup, but a good weekend in terms of Rangers losing ground in the league.
Celtic Reserves played Kilmarnock Reserves on the same day, drawing 1-1. The Celtic team was;
Fallon, Brogan, O’Neill, Cattenach, Cushley, Hay, Taggart, Henderson, Quinn, Connelly, Taylor.
In other news in the press .......
‘Gentle Johnny’ Ramensky, aged 62 next week had fought like a man of 21 when arrested, a police constable told a bank-raid trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
Ramensky denied breaking into the National Commercial Bank of Scotland , 82 Main Street, Rutherglen, breaking open a safe and stealing £252 19s 6d.
He also denied assaulting Constable Neil Williams (23) and lodged a special defence of self-defence.
Scot in Demand
Jackie Stewart, of Dumbarton, who was leading the 1966 Indianapolis 500-mile car race by almost three miles when his car broke down with 25 miles to go, has been nominated for this year’s 500 on May 30. Jackie will drive a new British Lola.
Negro leader Dr Martin Luther King said after a meeting with heavy-weight boxing champion Cassius Clay – “The sooner this country does away with its draft, the better off we will be”.
Dr King said he was disturbed by the United States’ “militaristic pursuits” and called for a “radical re-considering of priorities”.
The £2 million sister ship to the Caledonian Princess on the short sea route between Stranraer and Larne will be launched on April 24. She will be named Antrim Princess and will go into service on the 33-mile crossing in October.
Former Australian Test cricket captain Richie Benaud was divorced by his wife Marcia today on the grounds of his desertion.
He agreed in the Sydney Supreme Court to pay £29 a week for the support of his wife and two sons aged 12 and 9.
Mr Benaud also undertook to allow her to live in the matrimonial home and expressed his willingness – subsequently – to settle the home on the children.
Change of Use
Part of St Enoch’s railway station, Glasgow, may be used as a car parking area for city motorists.
Since the closure of the station, talks have been taking place between the corporation and British Railways for the temporary provision of a car parking area on the station concourse and approaches until the whole area is developed.
If the talks are successful, accommodation will be provided in May, initially for 300 cars and later for 1000.