Disgraceful – Atletico’s 1974 captain blames Jimmy Johnstone for shame game

Celtic v Atletico Madrid almost fifty years on…

Celtic faced off against tonight’s opponents Atletico Madrid in an infamous clash back on 10 April 1974. Goalless draws are usually well forgotten but this one certainly wasn’t.

It was of course the first leg of the semi-final of the European cup at Celtic Park with Celtic being seen as favourites and the Spaniards would stop at nothing to halt us in our tracks. For me I wasn’t even born so don’t recall any of the details of the game, only from what I’ve read or what I’ve seen on You Tube, and it doesn’t look pretty.

Eddie Murray helped provide more context to what happened a few days ago on The Celtic Star and his article is well worth reading, especially by our younger supporters who weren’t around in 1974.

Here it is…The spectre of Atletico Madrid, 1974 still reeks of disgrace

Atletico from the word go kicked at any Celtic player to stop them in their tracks. They were nothing but thugs. The Celtic support called them Animals. Football was rougher back then, but Atletico were more than rough, they just went out to assault our players. Wee Jinky more than most because they feared him so much.

The wee man being our star player was halted at every turn by the thuggish Atletico players, kicking him and stamping on him. By the end you’d have thought the wee man was in a car crash due to the bruises visible on his body.

The fact Atletico had three players sent off and the rest barring their keeper booked on the night suggests how bad it was, especially in those days when anything went. Three off and there should have been more with the match abandoned as a result and Altetico should have been booted out of the competition in disgrace.

Celtic of course lost the second leg 2-0 and Atletico advanced to the final were they were comprehensively beaten 4-0 by Bayern Munich after a replay. Justice of a sort served and it is worth noting with some glee that this lot have never won the European Cup or Champions League and long may that run continue.

Atletico played Celtic a decade or so ago and also in the mid 1980s (that game at Celtic Park was played behind closed doors) and on both occasions the 1974 game was regarded as historic and nothing to do with the team we were playing at the time.

It’s different this time because Atletico Madrid have made it so, wearing a strip to commemorate that team of thugs, bringing to Glasgow two of these players and insulting the memory of Jimmy Johnstone by incredibly blaming him for all the trouble in that shameful night at Celtic Park.

One of the former Atletico thugs in Glasgow is their captain from that 1974 side. Adelardo Rodríguez outrageously has blamed Celtic’s Greatest Ever Player Jimmy Johnstone for causing all the trouble that night nearly fifty years ago.

“Jimmy Johnstone was the one who caused it all up,” Rodríguez said as reported by Glasgow Times.

“He was a very skillful player, very quick, good. Of course he was fouled. That’s normal. What happened is that he multiplied it tenfold with his gestures, his pretending and that’s why he got on our nerves and got the crowd going.

“He was a great actor. The ref sent off three players and I had to mark him and I had a hard time with him. I called him everything, in Spanish and with some ugly words in English that I knew. I think he understood me, from the look on his face.

“When I finished I told him ‘I’ll wait for you in Madrid’. The police and his coaches surrounded him so that no one would mess with him. They didn’t let me go any further. In the second leg, didn’t even dare to move. He didn’t look like a winger, he looked like a linesman because he was so far away from us. He didn’t want to know anything.

“Celtic were very confident that they would qualify, that’s why they were so angry. They were unable to beat us with eight players for more than 25 minutes.

“You had to be there to see what we had to endure. The Scots created this climate for a battle – the press, the fans, before we even got there, they said that Ruben Ayala and Ruben Diaz were butchers. For us, it was like the European Cup Final itself and we gave everything. It was like a war. In the airport on the way home, they threw our passports to the ground. The police beat us after the game. It seemed like an attack by an army.

“Actually, we were not a violent team. We went to Belgrade and won 2-0 and were applauded off the pitch. The thing about violence was an invention of the Scottish press.”

Disgraceful lies, coming from this club, attempting to tarnish the victim of their own violence. Wearing a specially commissioned shirt this evening to recognise the ‘achievement’ of their 1974 thuggish team disgracing the game, simply adds to anger many older Celtic supporters will be feeling towards tonight’s opponents.

Just an Ordinary Bhoy

Out now! We have a limited number of copies signed by both John Hartson and the author Matt Corr – click on the image to order….

About Author

An ordinary everyday Celtic supporters hailing and still residing in Govan in the shadows of the enemy. I’m a season ticket holder. I Witnessed my first Celtic game in 1988 and have attended when I can ever since. Growing up in the 90s I witnessed Celtic at their lowest, and now appreciate the historic success we enjoy today. I enjoy writing about this wonderful football club and hopefully will continue to do so. I’ve always been a keen writer and initially started this a hobby. My ambition is to one day become as good an author as my fellow Celtic Star colleagues.


  1. I was at that game and it was probably on a par with the Racing Club game for thuggery and dirty play, a terrible display and I hope Celtic get revenge tonight and stick their commemorate shirts up their el ano

  2. Christy O'Kane on

    That match should never have finished, when the referee finally acted and sent three of them of well into the second half they continued with their booting, although every other outfield player was booked, at least two more should have gone which would have caused the match to be abandoned and they would have been chucked out. Also, the Celtic support on the night were brilliant, showing great restraint, I can think of a few other clubs at the time where their fans would not have tolerated it.