“Oh Harry, Harry…Oh Harry Hood”: Part 12: “Harry, Harry, Lou Macari…Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor?”
Celtic’s wonderful form from the closing weeks of 1971 carried into the new year, the ‘first-footers’ at Shawfield ripping Clyde apart with a 7-0 victory. Harry Hood began the slaughter of his old side by hammering home the opening goal in 15 minutes, the first of his double. Dixie Deans also grabbed a brace to continue his perfect scoring record, whilst Vic Davidson, Kenny Dalglish and an Eddie Mulheron own goal made it a magnificent seven. The mood on the car journey home was even better as word came through that Aberdeen had only drawn at Dens Park, Stein’s Celts now two points clear at the top. It was a perfect start to the year.
Two days later, Monday, 3 January 1972, Willie Waddell’s Rangers crossed the city looking to avenge those three defeats on their own turf back in August. Not since New Year’s Day 1913 had Celtic managed to win both League fixtures against their traditional rivals in the same season, a quite incredible statistic for those of us brought up in the decades of success.
A goal from the legendary Jimmy Quinn early in the second half had been enough to win the points for Willie Maley’s Bould Bhoys that afternoon at Ibrox, the mighty Bhoy from Croy having scored the winner in a five-goal Celtic Park thriller the previous October. These were the days of Alec ‘The Icicle’ McNair, ‘Sunny Jim’ Young, Andy McAtee, Jimmy ‘Napoleon’ McMenemy and, of course, the incomparable ‘Mighty Atom’ Patsy Gallacher, early heroes whose names still roll off Celtic tongues with such love and respect over a century later.
Quinn’s grandson and namesake had recovered from an injury sustained in a friendly against Raith Rovers in Kirkcaldy the previous week, however, fatefully as it transpired, Jim Brogan would be wearing the number three shorts as Jock Stein named the following Celtic side.
Denis Connaghan; Davie Hay & Jim Brogan, Kenny Dalglish, Billy McNeill & George Connelly;
Jimmy Johnstone, Bobby Lennox, Dixie Deans, Tommy Callaghan & Harry Hood.
Substitute; Danny McGrain.
The game commenced on a sombre note, all 22 players wearing black armbands and the flags above the Jungle flying at half-mast as we remembered those who had lost their lives in the terrible crush which followed the corresponding fixture 12 months earlier. Rest in peace.
Having scored twice in his previous appearance, Harry Hood would turn provider in this latest derby clash, played before almost 78,000 spectators. Ten minutes before the interval, Hood slung over a cross from his left wing beat beside the Jungle, which picked out the lurking Jimmy Johnstone on the far side of the box. Jinky had been a major doubt for the match beforehand, however, there was no doubt in his mind as he powered yet another header past Peter McCloy to give the Hoops the lead.
With 10 minutes remaining, Colin Stein forced his way through to score a late equaliser, negating Johnstone’s goal, just as he had done last January, however, on this occasion the last word would go to the most unlikely of heroes.
Jim Brogan was a tremendous Celtic player, powerful, consistent and capable of playing in a number of roles equally well. A fantastic man to have in your team. Like another great Celt to whom those attributes were often labelled, Danny McGrain, if there ever was a criticism it could only be around the number of goals he scored for the club, six in over 200 League games. But on this day, Jim would score his most famous goal for Celtic.
Two days earlier, Rangers had snatched victory over Partick Thistle with a Derek Johnstone strike in stoppage time at Ibrox. Today, they would be on the receiving end of a late winner, Harry Hood’s cute chipped pass finding Jim running clear at the far post to power a header past McCloy and win the match. To this day, the image of Jim Brogan against the backdrop of the illuminated main stand roof as he scores a late, winning goal against Rangers is up there with the best of them.
Football being the unpredictable game it is, Celts would then drop a point against Morton at Cappielow five days later, the Hoops unable to build on Harry Hood’s first-half equaliser after Stevie Chalmers had set up an opening goal for Don Gillies. The two-point gap would then be restored on Saturday, 15 January 1972, Aberdeen held to a draw by Rangers at Pittodrie whilst goals from Kenny Dalglish and Bobby Lennox saw off bottom-dogs Airdrieonians at Parkhead.
That lead would become four points, seven days later, the Dons losing for the second successive season at East End Park, Dunfermline, whilst Celts took revenge for their only League defeat of the campaign to date by beating St Johnstone 3-0 at Muirton, Dixie Deans ending his mini goal-drought with a late double after Kenny Dalglish had opened the scoring on 5 minutes.
The month ended on a highly satisfactory note as Deans began his one-man war against Hibernian with a late winner at Celtic Park, Harry Hood having equalised early in the second half from a Davie Hay cross after Pat Stanton had given the visitors an interval lead. There was a slightly unusual transfer thrown in also, as Jock Stein agreed to allow Gordon Marshall to join title challengers Aberdeen. The former Hearts and Hibernian keeper had played just twice for Celtic since joining the previous summer, a 4-2 Drybrough Cup win over St Johnstone at Firhill in August then the 2-1 defeat by BK1903 in Copenhagen the following month.
The highlight of a weather-ravaged February was Celtic’s progression into the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup, following heavy home wins over Albion Rovers and Dundee, with the month-end seeing another of the Lisbon Lions and indeed another goalkeeper join the exodus, long-serving John Fallon leaving for Motherwell on a free transfer. March opened with a visit from an Ayr United side featuring future Jock Stein signings Johnny Doyle and Joe Filippi, the Celtic manager’s previous entry into the transfer market, Dixie Deans, scoring both goals that day in a 2-0 victory.
This was to prove another pivotal afternoon in the flag race, as Aberdeen lost 1-0 at Firhill, having beaten the Jags 7-2 in the home fixture back in November. The Dons had also dropped a point in a 2-2 draw with Hibernian at Easter Road on Saturday, 12 February 1972, on a day when Celtic’s scheduled visit to Dens Park had been postponed. They were now five points behind the defending champions having played one game more. The finishing line was now in sight if Jock Stein’s Bhoys could hold their nerve over the coming weeks.
Four days after the defeat of Ayr United, there was another level of challenge completely for Celtic. Having beaten the champions of Denmark then Malta, next up for the Hoops was the dangerous Ujpest Dosza of Hungary, in the quarter-final of the European Cup. The last eight of the continent’s elite competition was a mouth-watering prospect, featuring five previous winners. Ajax and Feyenoord were in there, the champions from the last two seasons, plus two clubs who had won it twice in the early 1960’s, Inter Milan and Benfica.
And, of course, Stein’s Celtic, now shorn of many of its immortal Lions from that night in Lisbon in May 1967 but with his mixture of prudent signings and Quality Street kids placing them once again in the list of favourites. Arsenal, having become only the second English club that century to win their League and Cup double, joined the group, with Ujpest and Belgian champions Standard Liege completing the line-up. This was the European Champions Cup just as it should be, for me.
Celts would face a first leg in Budapest on Wednesday, 8 March 1972, the Hungarians deciding to play the first leg at their compact Megyeri uti Stadion, rather than the larger Nepstadion. Perhaps this would prove a good omen, Celtic’s previous visit to the national arena having ended in a 4-0 semi-final defeat by MTK which shattered dreams of a first European trophy back in April 1964. On the seventh anniversary of his arrival in the Parkhead manager’s office, Jock Stein chose the following men to lay the foundations of another last-four appearance.
Evan Williams; Danny McGrain & Jim Brogan, Bobby Murdoch, Billy McNeill & George Connelly;
Harry Hood, Davie Hay, Kenny Dalglish, Lou Macari & Bobby Lennox.
Substitutes; Denis Connaghan, Jimmy Quinn, Tommy Callaghan, Vic Davidson & Paul Wilson.
Minus his injured attacking duo Jimmy Johnstone and Dixie Deans, the Celtic boss had opted to partner Lou Macari and Bobby Lennox up front. This would prove to be another master stroke, Macari enjoying one of the highlights of his Hoops career over the two legs. Unusually for the time, the match was shown live on television, the 4.30pm kick-off meaning a mad dash from school in Sighthill for yours truly. It would prove to be well worth the effort.
With 20 minutes played in the midst of a thunderstorm, giant Ujpest defender Jozsef ‘Joe’ Horvath scored the first of his bizarre goal double of the afternoon…this one for Celtic. As own goals go, this was an award-winning effort, a spectacular diving header by the big man with the flowing long locks which flew high into the net, leaving his own goalkeeper helpless.
He would atone for that, sort of, by unleashing an incredible 35-yard shot just after the hour which left Evan Williams stranded in the mud to tie things up at 1-1. With the match drifting towards an excellent away scoring draw, suddenly Macari got the goal his non-stop effort had deserved, the little striker turning sharply to lob goalkeeper Szentmihályi and win the game.
As an aside, ‘Joe’ Horvath would have some career in football. Having won the Hungarian title in each of his seven seasons at Ujpest, adding the national cup for a double on three of those occasions, and being voted Hungarian Player of the Year as his club went all the way to the semi-final of the European Cup in 1974, the big defender would try his luck elsewhere, playing in Switzerland, Spain and West Germany. He then finished his playing days in the NASL in the United States, where his teammates included Johann Cruyff and future Celtic manager Wim Jansen at Washington Diplomats and George Best at San Jose Earthquakes.
Anyway, I digress. (You don’t say! – Ed).
Whilst the players would be making their way home to Glasgow immediately after the game, there would then be one of those stories which only happen to Celtic fans. Richard Burton was in Budapest at the same time, working on his latest movie ‘Bluebeard’ on location at the Wenckheim Palace in the centre of the city. He had been joined by his wife Elizabeth Taylor, the Hollywood ‘A’ list couple perhaps the most famous in the world at that time.
It had to be, of course, that they were staying in the same hotel as a flightload of Celtic supporters, one thing leading to another as an impromptu party was held with Burton and Taylor taking centre stage, the actress’ recent 40th birthday all the excuse anyone needed to do so. Burton would put a four-figure sum behind the bar as this unusual mix of folk from California to the Calton drank and danced the night away in celebration of a famous Celtic away win.
If Carlsberg did European trips…
Thanks, as always, to the wonderful Celtic Wiki.
Follow Matt on Twitter @Boola_vogue