Jim Craig – The Battle of Montevideo

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We had the chance to become Champions of the Football World. We knew it would be tough. The odds were against us but we had come through some equally big challenges in the past. Unfortunately, though, on this particular occasion, we blew it!

There were around 65,000 fans crammed into the Stadio Centenario in Montevideo on this day in 1967, with the teams tied on two points a-piece in the league system which would eventually produce the World Club Champion. The Celtic team was Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Wallace, Hughes, Lennox and Auld; the Racing side comprised Cejas, Perfumo, Chabay, Martin, Basile, Rulli, Maschio, Raffo, Cardoso, Cardenas and Rodriguez; while the referee, who would become probably the most important man on the pitch as the match progressed, was Senor Osario from Paraguay.

In a book called ‘The Complete Encyclopedia of Football’, published in 1998, in a section dealing the World Club Championship, there is a paragraph which sums up the match neatly and succinctly ;- “Cardenas scored the only goal after 56 minutes, but that was a rare moment of football during a sad 90 minutes in which the players appeared more concerned with settling the scores which had built up during the previous two games.

Paraguayan referee Rodolfo Osorio ordered six players off including Celtic’s Jimmy Johnstone, Bobby Lennox, John Hughes and Bertie Auld – although Auld ignored the order and, since the game was almost over, the referee overlooked the fact that he stayed on the pitch”.

It was indeed ‘a sad 90 minutes’. We had our chance to be top of the world and we blew it!

Jim Craig

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