Celtic Beating Hearts in the Scottish Cup – March 1966

On 5 March 1966, Celtic were at Tynecastle in the Scottish Cup quarter final. It was a match of immense significance for Jock Stein’s young side, and it was one of those games where a result the other way might well have changed history. Except of course that this one didn’t go either way. It ended up a 3-3 draw.

It was a fine game with Hearts scoring first and last, and it may have been this game which alerted the attention of Jock Stein to the talented Willie Wallace who, rumour had it, was less than happy at Hearts, mainly because they were no longer winners. Celtic on the other hand, were. Hearts were 1-0 up, then 2-1, then Celtic went 3-2 up before Hearts equalised at the end The goals were scored by Wallace, Anderson and Hamilton for Hearts and Chalmers, McBride and Auld for Celtic.

But that 3-3 game, exciting though it was, was and remains dominated in so many people’s mind by the crushing at the Gorgie Road end, which really was dangerous and could have proved fatal. I, on my first visit to Tynecastle, saw what happened. Basically it was a plan to admit some ticketless fans.

Clearly there were not enough tickets to go round, and one guy was delegated to use his ticket, go in and release the pin on an exit gate to allow his friends waiting outside to get in before the police arrived. Astonishingly the exit gate was unguarded from the inside, and I saw this small man release the bolt at the bottom of the gate and disappear into the crowd. By the time that the police arrived hundreds and thousands had rushed in, the ticketless fans among them.

To say that the Gorgie Road end was terrifying and life-threatening that day was no exaggeration. What happened at Ibrox in 1971 could have been Tynecastle 1966. Mercifully, no-one was killed but I saw quite a few injuries as the crowd spilled on to the park soon after the game had started. For a while, it looked like the game would have to be abandoned altogether, but the police managed to decant spectators to other parts of the ground and the game went ahead.

The crowd, amazingly to modern eyes, was not segregated and I watched many maroon and white scarves helping green and white ones to their feet after they had been knocked down and vice versa. And there were even handshakes and “See you on Wednesday night” at the end. Getting out of the ground was, thankfully, a great deal easier than going in.

And so to Celtic Park on Wednesday night. 72,000 were there, a record for a midweek game at Celtic Park, and they saw Celtic at their best. Jim Craig was back, and Charlie Gallagher was in for Bertie Auld, and both these changes were beneficial.

Celtic controlled the game from the start with Jimmy Johnstone on song, scoring the first goal in ten minutes from a brilliant Charlie Gallagher pass, then Murdoch netted the second from a difficult angle after a Gemmell pass. Soon after half time, Chalmers ran away from the defence to score the third, and the game was long over by the time that Willie Wallace got one back for Hearts.

And then as the huge crowd was departing the scene – many of us very nervously after Saturday – a rumour spread that Rangers had lost to Falkirk in the League that night. And unlike many rumours, this one turned out to be true!

It was a very good night.

David Potter

Matthew Marr’s debut Celtic book – The Bould Bhoys! Glory to their name – is out on 24 March on Celtic Star Books

Pushing the launch of Matthew Marr’s debut Celtic book – ‘The BOULD BHOYS – Glory to their name’ back a week to Friday 24 March. Thanks to everyone who has ordered since we announced the book last night via an interview with the author. Please note that all pre-ordered books will be personally signed by Matthew Marr and you can order below if you’d like a signed copy posted out to you 24 March.

READ THIS...‘The Bould Bhoys – Glory to their name’ by Matthew Marr

About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.


  1. Michael Maher on

    My first visit to Tynecastle too. Went through with a schoolmate on an early football special from Queen St to Haymarket. We were in the ground early and were in the middle of the Gorgie Road terracing. Was not aware at the time what had happened behind us but we soon felt the surge of people piling up behind us. To be honest we didn’t think much of it – probably a bit naive which saved us worrying about possible repercussions. My brother who came through a bit later on the supporters bus was one of those who got in when the gates were unlocked from the inside. I found out when I got home what had happened. He still had his match ticket! Looking back to those years there were lots of games where there was a potential for crowd problems. On reflection it was amazing there were not more disasters.
    As you say no segregation in those days- apart from Celtic V Rangers games. Sometimes I wonder if segregation has made trouble between rival fans worse? The first time I went to a Hearts V Hibs game was the famous 7-0 win for Hibs at Tynecastle. We stood on the Gorgie terracing amongst predominantly Hearts fans but there was still plenty of Hibs fans around who had no problem celebrating the goals. That would just not happen nowadays.

  2. David Potter on

    Two other occasions spring to mind about “there for the grace of God…” Both were coming down the stair at the Celtic end at Hampden after the game, when such was the surge of the crowd that my feet did not touch the ground for about 30 second. Absolutely scary! One was Celtic v Racing Club in 1967 and the other was Scotland v Austria about a year later. Many are the criticisms of Hampden now (not least by myself) but Hampden then was a disgrace!
    You are possibly right about segregation. I appreciate it has to happen at Celtic v Rangers, but many times I have enjoyed the banter and chat with civilised people from Dunfermline, Dundee United and Aberdeen. Segregation, I think, always encouraged hate.

  3. I still have my ticket from that day. I remember getting to the Gorgie Rd turnstile about 14-30 and seeing the mounted police leaving they were the ones controlling the crowd getting into the crowds the small streets approaching the turnstiles. I was lucky getting in through the open gate but was caught in the crush in the tunnel approaching the terracing. I managed to get round the wall at the end of the tunnel and make my way towards the back but remember it to this day as it was so close to a a major incident. I was at the replay also and couldn’t get to my normal spot in the jungle and ended at the back of the Celtic end where it was jam packed so a 72000 crowd I would take with a large pinch of salt