We are now less than 48 hours away from Christmas Day, and as we start to look forward to our next fixture – the away trip to Hamilton – the festive football fun continues on The Celtic Star with our Back to the Fixture series.
Having only covered the 2010’s in the series so far, we’re going a long way back into the vault today to the Lisbon Lions’ era – as we paid a visit to Greenock Morton at Cappielow Park in 1967.
This was the season after the world famous quintuple – which remains the only time a European team has managed such a feat – and so Morton would have been heavily fearing the dominating Celts in this Christmas special.
Jock Stein’s men had started the season as well as they had finished the last one – by the time the trip to Inverclyde was nigh, Celtic had only dropped 4 points from a possible 28, as the current European champions at the time continued to lead the pack in their best era of all time. The Bhoys’ had just come off the back of a 5-4 away win at Dundee, which was the highest scoring encounter in a Celtic league game since their 7-3 win against Stirling Albion the season before. Having only just come out on top against the Dee, the Hoops’ travelled to Greenock wanting to put in a stronger defensive performance; which they duly delivered.
There was no slip up this time around from the Bhoys’, as they disposed of ‘The Ton’ 4-0 – especially Joe McBride, who gave his side an early Christmas present by scoring a hat-trick in front of the 14,847 spectators. It hadn’t been routine until the last twenty minutes – despite taking an early lead, it took until the 76th minute for Celtic to double their lead, again via the boot of McBride.
The other goal was an effort by John Hughes, who raggedly burst his way through the Morton defence before finishing from 20 yards, and with just five minutes left McBride completed his hat-trick to put the game beyond doubt.
This was to be McBride’s third and final season at the club; who despite being the Scottish Football Leagues’ joint-top scorer in his first campaign alongside Alex Ferguson, suffered a serious injury the Quintuple season and thus only made four starts in the 1967/68 season, scoring four goals. This brought his Celtic league tally up to 54 goals in just 55 games – agonizingly close to a one goal per game record.
A total of nine players who started the famous 1967 Cup Final started on the winter’s afternoon at Morton; incidentally, it was the two who got themselves on the scoresheet who hadn’t featured on that memorable day in Portugal.
The Celtic team that day was: Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Lennox, McBridge, Auld, Hughes.