“Oh Harry, Harry…Oh Harry Hood”: Part 34: A last goal and cup final for Harry but no foggy due for the Irishmen
Saturday, 4 October 1975 would be a significant day in the wonderful Celtic career of Harry Hood, albeit neither he nor anyone else present would have been aware of that at the time. Sean Fallon stuck with the team who had scored seven in the midweek European tie for the home League fixture with Hearts, Hood’s double and link-up with Dixie Deans against Valur seeing both fans favourites maintain their places in the following attack-minded line-up.
Peter Latchford; Danny McGrain & Andy Lynch; Pat McCluskey, Roddie MacDonald & Johannes Edvaldsson;
Harry Hood, Kenny Dalglish, Dixie Deans, Tom Callaghan & Paul Wilson.
Substitutes; Jim Casey & Bobby Lennox.
The 21,000 faithful supporters who braved the wet, blustery weather conditions witnessed an explosive start from Celtic, which finished the match as a contest within 20 minutes. In the 12th minute, the now world-class combination of Danny McGrain and Kenny Dalglish sent Paul Wilson down the right flank, his cross met at the far post by the reinvigorated Deans to put the Hoops 1-0 up.
Five minutes later, Dixie and Johannes Edvaldsson set up an opportunity for Harry Hood in front of goal which he gleefully accepted, slamming the ball past Jim Cruickshank for the 125th strike of his Celtic career. The third goal would arrive just as quickly, McGrain’s magnificent full-back play once again taking him to the byeline, a pinpoint cross picking out Wilson who showed superb skill to beat the Hearts keeper for 3-0.
With a League Cup semi-final against Partick Thistle looming 48 hours later, perhaps understandably Celts played out the remainder of the match very much within themselves, a slight dampener, as if any were needed, coming in the shape of Drew Busby’s late consolation goal for the visitors. Those of us who trudged home in a happy mood despite the constant drizzling rain would be unaware that we had just witnessed Harry Hood’s last goal in the colours of his beloved Celtic, the day after he had celebrated his 31st birthday.
Bertie Auld’s Jags would now stand between Celtic and a 12th successive League Cup final. The Maryhill outfit had enjoyed a wonderful tournament, the bottom seeds in a tough section comprising Dundee United, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock proceeding to defy the odds by winning all six matches to secure the only perfect qualifying record in the competition. They would then finish the quarter-final in the first leg by beating Clydebank 4-0 at Firhill.
Bertie would arrive at Hampden with high hopes of his team inflicting another painful League Cup defeat on his old club at the national stadium, whilst Sean Fallon named an unchanged side. Over 31,000 spectators would witness a tense match settled by Celtic’s new Bhoy Johannes Edvaldsson just before the half-hour, the big Icelander reacting first to a defensive clearance to launch the ball spectacularly past Thistle keeper Alan Rough. Celts would now await the winners of the other semi-final tie between Rangers and First Division Montrose, who had caused a sensation by knocking out the previous season’s beaten finalists, Hibernian, after extra-time at Links Park in their quarter final. The Ibrox club had also required an additional 30 minutes to overcome Queen of the South at the same stage.
Next up for Celts was a tricky League fixture at Pittodrie, five days later, Saturday, 11 October 1975, Fallon again going with the same starting 11. That would be reduced by one within 12 minutes, Paul Wilson reacting angrily to a challenge by Aberdeen defender Eddie Thomson, the Celtic winger throwing the ball in his face, a rare flash of temper which had referee George Smith reaching for his red card.
Two minutes later, the Bhoys would have better luck as Drew Jarvie’s hesitation was punished by the lightning reflexes of Kenny Dalglish, the Celtic striker colly chipping Bobby Clark to give the 10-men an unexpected early lead. And it was another defensive disaster by the Dons just before the break which saw the points heading back to Glasgow, this time Harry Hood robbing Jim Henry to fire a shot at goal, Clark’s parry falling nicely for Dixie Deans to roll the ball into the empty net.
Jocky Scott had caused Celtic many problems in the past whilst wearing the colours of Dundee, and he would raise hopes of a fightback when he slammed the ball past Peter Latchford on the hour, however, a Celtic side who had played for almost 80 minutes one man short would hold out for a deserved 2-1 win.
A fourth League defeat of the season for Aberdeen, coming hard on the heels of a 5-2 home loss to Middlesbrough in the Anglo-Scottish Cup and a League Cup exit at the group stage, the only victories achieved there being against second-tier Dumbarton, would see a parting of the ways between the club and manager Jimmy Bonthrone over the weekend, the early favourite for the Pittodrie role being flamboyant Ayr United manager, Ally MacLeod.
The man Bonthrone had replaced at Aberdeen, Eddie Turnbull, would be in the news seven days later, after one of the more controversial Scottish matches of that decade. On Saturday, 18 October 1975, he brought his Hibernian side to a Parkhead enveloped in the thick mist which had plagued the city for days. Sean Fallon once again named an unchanged side – in those days a player sent off did not automatically miss the next match – as 33,000 spectators turned out for one of the glamour fixtures of the 1970’s. Sadly, it would be ruined by the weather, which as it turned out was a huge stroke of luck for Celtic, but not their opponents, whose very name I believe translates as “Irish” or “Men of Ireland.”
They would enjoy the best of the first half and score the only goal midway through that period thanks to a header from midfielder Des Bremner. In those days, it was possible for supporters to switch ends at half-time, and on that particular afternoon your 14-year-old author would have left his Dad in the Celtic End to walk around the ground to view the second half from the east terracing, presumably as the Hoops would be shooting towards that goal after the break.
Whatever the reason, I can recall clearly standing up there alone for the second half, albeit that will be the last time I mention the word ‘clearly’ in this paragraph. Newspaper reports advise that first Dixie Deans then Kenny Dalglish had to leave the field due to injury, albeit I have no recollection of that or indeed a second goal for Hibernian scored by Joe Harper with 15 minutes remaining. In over 50 years of watching football, I have, quite literally, never seen anything like this, a cloud of thick fog which rendered anything happening beyond that invisible. I genuinely still thought the score was 1-0, when word eventually spread around our terracing that the game had been abandoned. The referee that day was a certain RH Davidson of Airdrie.
Suffice to say he was no friend of Celtic, so for him to bring play to an end with Hibernian 2-0 up at Celtic Park, where I believe they had not won for six years, and with only five minutes of play remaining, perhaps gives you a sense of just how farcical things had become. Presumably, those in the Jungle had some idea of what was going on, as there would be a mini-invasion of the pitch which I guess was the final straw. Despite the outrage of Eddie Turnbull at the decision, the match would have to be replayed and, despite their excellent performance, his Hibernian players would not get their foggy due.
Celts would swap the misty gloom of Glasgow for the sunshine of Portugal in midweek as they travelled to face Boavista in the first leg of their second-round tie in the European Cup Winners’ Cup. The club from the western Oporto suburb of the same name, who wore those unique black-and-white chequered shirts, had just enjoyed their best-ever season, finishing fourth in the Primeira Divisao behind the Portuguese holy trinity – Lisbon giants Benfica and Sporting Club and Boavista’s own city rivals, FC Porto – whilst beating the mighty Eagles to win their first major trophy, the Taca de Portugal, on Saturday, 14 June 1975. The winning goal that day had been scored against his old Benfica teammates by Boavista’s star midfielder, Joao Alves, the first player I can ever recall who wore gloves on the pitch as a matter of course.
That Portuguese Cup win would see the Panthers compete in European football for the first time, their Cup Winners’ Cup first-round opponents being Czechoslovak Cup-holders Spartak Trnava. A goalless draw in the first leg in what is now western Slovakia would be followed by an emphatic 3-0 triumph in the return match at the Estadio do Bessa, as Celts were dumping Valur 7-0 in Glasgow. The sides would then be drawn together in the second round.
Both captain Kenny Dalglish and striker Dixie Deans would fail to recover from the injuries sustained in the abandoned match with Hibernian in time to line up in Portugal. Bobby Lennox would return to lead the side with Sean Fallon also introducing Jackie McNamara to midfield, however, the hero of the day would be goalkeeper Peter Latchford, who capped his best performance for Celtic by saving a late Alves’ penalty, after Tom Callaghan had handled in the box. That would enable the Bhoys to leave Portugal with a very respectable goalless draw.
As an aside, Boavista would go on to make that 1975/76 season their finest ever, this time finishing just two points behind champions Benfica in second place whilst retaining their Taca de Portugal by beating Vitoria Guimaraes 2-1 in the final, that victory perhaps tasting even sweeter as it took place at the Estadio das Antas, the home of local rivals Porto.
The last match in October took place three days later, Saturday, 25 October 1975, and it was no ordinary game. Two nights after Celtic’s defeat of Partick Thistle at Hampden, Rangers had beaten Montrose to set up a first League Cup final meeting between the clubs for five years. On that afternoon in October 1970, a Derek Johnstone header had ended the Hoops five-year dominance in the competition before over 106,000 spectators, the last time that the League Cup finale had drawn a six-figure attendance. A controversial decision to bring forward the kick-off time for this latest clash to 1pm would be one of the reasons why the 1975 final would attract little over half that crowd to the national stadium, less than 59,000 making the effort. Lunchtime kick-offs remain one of the bains of my football life. I detest them.
Nevertheless, I was excited at the prospect of attending my first cup final against Rangers, something I had grown up hearing all about from my dad and brother. It was a first final also for Sean Fallon as Celtic manager, and it would turn out to be the last for the Sligo man and a number of his players that day, including Harry Hood.
Captain Kenny Dalglish would be fit enough to return, Jackie McNamara moving to the bench in the only change to the midweek line-up in Portugal, the ongoing injury problem for Dixie Deans ruling him out of the squad completely.
My recollections of this game are of huge anti-climax and disappointment, the half-empty national stadium rather than the Hampden Roar, and a struggling Celtic side who rarely looked like winning the match. From my spot high up in the old North Enclosure, I had a bird’s-eye view of the only goal, which arrived, of all times, in the 67th minute. There seemed little danger as Quinton Young’s lofted cross looked to be heading out for a goal-kick, Rangers striker Derek Parlane and the ball being shepherded out by Roddie MacDonald. Perhaps a little inexperience crept in, Parlane somehow allowed to retrieve the ball and cross into the danger area, where Johannes Edvaldsson’s defensive header appeared to have ended the threat. Sadly, it was nodded straight back in towards the penalty spot, where Alex MacDonald completed the session of head tennis by diving to beat Peter Latchford low at his right-hand post. It would be John Greig rather than Kenny Dalglish who would climb the stairs to receive the trophy, as the green half of Glasgow trudged home to lick their wounds after a fifth League Cup final defeat in six seasons.
Thanks, as always, to the wonderful Celtic Wiki.
Follow Matt on Twitter @Boola_vogue