“Oh Harry, Harry…Oh Harry Hood”: Part 35: Fences, lunchtime kick-offs and segregation. Welcome to the brave new world.
Seven days after the damp squib League Cup final defeat at Hampden, Celtic faced Rangers again, this time in the League fixture at Parkhead. Sean Fallon made two changes in his attack, Dixie Deans now finally fit enough to return and joined by a 17-year-old George McCluskey making his first competitive start in the Hoops. Harry Hood moved to the bench with Bobby Lennox dropping out the squad, as Celts lined up as follows on Saturday, 1 November 1975.
Peter Latchford; Danny McGrain & Andy Lynch; Pat McCluskey, Roddie MacDonald & Johannes Edvaldsson;
George McCluskey, Kenny Dalglish, Dixie Deans, Tom Callaghan & Paul Wilson.
Substitutes; Harry Hood & Jackie McNamara.
The first League fixture to be impacted by the decision to kick off these matches at lunchtime attracted an attendance of just 55,000, some 15,000 below the set limit. We also witnessed the introduction of another unwelcome guest, one consequence of the mini pitch invasion against Hibernian a fortnight before, the installation of a perimeter fence, which now ran the length of the Jungle. The times they certainly were a-changing, and sadly not for the better.
The match would perhaps unsurprisingly be a huge improvement on the Hampden non-event of the previous Saturday, with Celts playing the better football but Rangers missing the better chances. It would finish with honours even at 1-1, after a four-minute spell late in the game which provided the only goal action. That commenced with a Keystone Cops opener from the visitors with 15 minutes remaining, with Andy Lynch and Tom Callaghan discussing options over a Celtic free-kick on the halfway line beside the newly-caged Jungle. I suspect none of those options included a pass straight to Tommy McLean, who instantly sent Derek Parlane clean through on Peter Latchford. There was a certain inevitability about the outcome as the Ibrox striker raced in on goal unchallenged to round the keeper and put his side 1-0 up.
Thankfully, there would be an instant and positive response from the Bhoys, with young George McCluskey the catalyst. He showed great skill in finding the yard of space required to deliver his cross from the right flank, the onrushing Dixie Deans failing to connect properly but Paul Wilson arriving at the far post to bundle the ball home for an inelegant but timely equaliser. The youngster would then make way for Harry Hood after an excellent debut. The draw would allow Celts to remain one point ahead of a chasing pack which included Hibernian, Motherwell, Rangers and Hearts, the Hoops enjoying games in hand of all of those.
Four nights later, the return leg of Celtic’s European Cup Winners’ Cup tie with Boavista saw another break with tradition, a UEFA directive forcing the club to wear huge black numbers on the back of the sacred Hoops for the first time, Celts looking more like Sporting Lisbon than themselves.
Sean Fallon made one change from the weekend derby clash, Jackie McNamara reinstated with goal hero Paul Wilson listed as one of his substitutes. Some 40,000 supporters avoided Bonfire Night distractions to attend and many of those would still be outside as Kenny Dalglish fired Celtic ahead within 35 seconds. There seemed little danger as the King played a speculative ball towards the far post, with Boavista keeper Antonio Botelho stepping off his line to claim under no pressure whatsoever. From my view in the front stand, it was unclear what happened next, however, the highlights footage would suggest he was already thinking of his next move, as the ball escaped his grasp and dropped into the empty net. (Video below incorrectly dates the game as taking place in 1976).
Celts received another lucky break on 20 minutes. Portuguese midfielder Manuel Barbosa is a Boavista club legend, his 14-year career tally of 345 League appearances unmatched by any other player. This would not be a moment for him to remember fondly, though, Barbosa’s attempted clearance from Andy Lynch’s free-kick travelling straight to the feet of Johannes Edvaldsson, who promptly rifled it straight back under Botelho for 2-0.
The crucial next goal would then go the way of the visitors, 10 minutes from the interval, Boavista star Alves playing a sublime reverse pass which gave Mane a glimpse of goal, the Brazilian striker conjuring up an equally brilliant finish which ripped past Peter Latchford into the roof of the Celtic net. A nervous second half would produce just one more goal, and the roar of relief would have been heard in Oporto.
Just four minutes were left on the clock when Dalglish’s pass saw Dixie Deans scampering down the right flank unchallenged, Portuguese defenders with raised arms waiting for a flag which would not be forthcoming. The deadly Deans would bore down on the Boavista goal, before clipping the ball over Botelho to seal the tie, as the roof came off the old stadium. One of the great European moments for those of us of a certain vintage.
The European Cup Winners’ Cup had long been regarded as the easiest of the three major UEFA tournaments to win, given the number of second-tier teams who would gain access, on occasion as runner’s-up to major clubs who had completed a League and Cup double. Thus, you would occasionally see clubs win the trophy who could only dream of success at the real summit of continental football.
This year’s competition would be no exception, with Welsh Cup-winners Wrexham progressing to the quarter-final, whilst England was represented by FA Cup-winners, West Ham United, who had won it at Wembley back in 1965. Of the other top nations, Atletico Madrid were beaten by Eintracht Frankfurt whilst the shock of the round was Coppa Italia holders Fiorentina’s exit at the hands of East Germans Sachsenring Zwickau, thanks to a shoot-out penalty converted by their long-serving goalkeeper, Jurgen Croy. More on them to follow later. The last eight was completed by Anderlecht, Austrians Sturm Graz and KNVB Cup-winners ADO Den Haag. Celtic had knocked on the door of the European Cup final in recent seasons, perhaps just short of the quality in depth possessed by Ajax and Bayern Munich, however, there was no doubt in my mind that this competition had just opened up.
The often mentioned but dreaded “Euro Hangover” would be in evidence three days later, as League leaders Celtic travelled to Dens Park, some 11 months after Kenny Dalglish and Jimmy Johnstone had run riot against the Dark Blues there in a 6-0 win. Jinky had, of course, since departed Parkhead and was at that point still considering his next move after a brief stint in the USA. King Kenny had not left the building, however, he would be outshone on the day by a young red-haired midfielder called Gordon Strachan, as a Celtic side with Harry Hood and Bobby Lennox in for George McCluskey and Tom Callaghan struggled to make any impact.
Hoops keeper Peter Latchford limped through the vast majority of the 90 minutes, following an early ankle injury, and Sean Fallon would probably have accepted the point that was still within our grasp as the clock ticked down towards full-time, however, with three minutes remaining, Dundee’s Scottish internationalist midfielder Bobby Robinson suddenly found himself in the clear with only the toiling Latchford to beat, his unerring finish securing a 1-0 victory which enabled both Motherwell and Hearts to leapfrog Celtic at the top of the table.
Perversely, Celtic would then make the journey down to Somerset Park, Ayr in midweek and produce their best performance since that December 1974 victory at Dens Park. Paul Wilson and Tom Callaghan returned to the team, replacing Harry Hood and Bobby Lennox, as Sean Fallon sought a winning formula.
Once again, as on that memorable afternoon at Dundee, Kenny Dalglish was the destroyer-in-chief, the Celt elevating his performance that night to a higher plain, although the main headlines quite justifiably would reflect the fact that Johannes Edvaldsson had scored his first hat-trick in Scottish football. The Iceland captain would benefit from two Wilson deliveries to power the Hoops 2-0 up within 20 minutes, Dixie Deans, Dalglish himself with a glorious goal then Roddie MacDonald piling on the agony as Celts went nap just after the half-hour mark.
The hosts’ fightback would be led by winger Johnny Doyle, the future Celtic hero felled by a current one in Danny McGrain to allow Johnny Graham to pull one back from the spot, just before the interval. Doyle himself would make it 5-2 by scoring against his Bhoyhood team 10 minutes into the second half, before a late burst saw two further Celtic goals take the tally to a magnificent seven. With 15 minutes remaining, we had the spectacular sight of Big Shuggy and Wee Dixie both diving to meet the same cross, Edvaldsson’s head making contact to bullet the ball past Hugh Sproat for 6-2. Deans would get his own second in the closing stages, as a fabulous 7-2 victory saw Celts go top once again.
The yo-yo season would continue at the weekend, with a summit meeting between Celtic and Motherwell at Parkhead. An unchanged team from Wednesday’s seven-goal mauling of Ayr United took the game to the visitors from the outset, the crossbar twice coming to keeper Stewart Rennie’s rescue, as first a wonderful free-kick from Andy Lynch then a header from Dixie Deans against his old club rattled the goalframe.
Celts were then sucker-punched in the seconds immediately before the break, Willie Pettigrew finishing off a classic counter-attack by nodding the ball past the previously-untroubled Peter Latchford. The Motherwell striker was being watched by European champions Bayern Munich and he would do his chances of a dream move no harm by putting his team 2-0 up within six minutes of the restart, this time the predator forcing the ball past Latchford at the far post after good play by Bobby Graham. There would be no way back for Celtic as Motherwell defended that lead resolutely to the final whistle, the game ending in defeat much to the disappointment of the 33,000 spectators.
Seven days later, Saturday, 22 November 1975, it was the turn of bottom-dogs St Johnstone to visit Celtic Park on League duty. With Paul Wilson commencing a suspension following his October red card at Pittodrie, there was a return for George McCluskey, whilst Bobby Lennox replaced the injured Jackie McNamara and both Harry Hood and Ronnie Glavin were restored to the bench.
Neither would see action, as the veteran Lennox struck either side of the break to cancel out opportunist goals from Jim O’Rourke and Charlie Smith, which had threatened to further derail Celtic’s title hopes. The Lisbon Lion had also struck woodwork twice in the first half in a typically energetic performance, however, it was the cool head of Kenny Dalglish which would provide the winning goal for Celtic, just seven minutes into the second half, the Parkhead skipper’s turn and shot beating Saints reserve keeper Dave Nicoll, as the Hoops eventually edged a five-goal thriller to maintain their push for a first Premier League title.
There was a midweek distraction and a return home for Peter Latchford, as Celts travelled to St Andrew’s to face Birmingham City to celebrate the centenary of the club formed as Small Heath Alliance back in 1875. Disappointingly, Latchford’s brother Dave would not be between the sticks for the English First Division outfit, and there would be no place for defender and future Celtic assistant manager Gary Pendrey or star centre-forward Trevor Francis.
Familiar names in the Blues line-up would include Howard Kendall and the Scottish duo of Kenny Burns and Jimmy Calderwood. This would be a golden opportunity for young Irish forward Hilary Carlyle, who had impressed against Celtic in a pre-season game for Finn Harps and would now play in a live trial in front of 15,000 spectators. He would struggle to get a positive verdict on the night, eventually replaced by Harry Hood as the Hoops went down to a strike in first-half stoppage time by a man whose goal would later win the 1982 European Cup for Aston Villa, Peter Withe. Celtic passed up a great chance to level the match with 15 minutes remaining, a goalbound shot from Kenny Dalglish punched off the line by City full-back Ray Martin with his keeper Steve Smith well beaten. Sadly, the ongoing saga of penalty misses continued as Pat McCluskey’s effort was saved by Smith and the hosts celebrated their big night with a 1-0 win.
The final match of a roller-coaster November saw the introduction of another concept which would have been alien to the spirit of the game less than a decade earlier, segregation. Prior to this, my only experience of fans being completely separated inside the ground had been for games where Celtic faced Rangers, however, at Tannadice on Saturday, 29 November 1975 it would be Dundee United fans who would be exclusively occupying that spot in the steep terracing opposite the main stand where I had stood to watch my first game at that venue just a few years earlier, a no-man’s land and police cordons now in place between the home and away supporters.
Suspension-free Paul Wilson replaced George McCluskey, as Sean Fallon entered this not-so-brave new world with the following line-up.
Peter Latchford; Danny McGrain & Andy Lynch; Pat McCluskey, Roddie MacDonald & Johannes Edvaldsson;
Paul Wilson, Kenny Dalglish, Dixie Deans, Tom Callaghan & Bobby Lennox.
Substitutes; Harry Hood & Ronnie Glavin.
On a bitterly cold afternoon, Dixie Deans would warm the cockles of the visiting hearts by putting the Hoops ahead within three minutes, the striker following up after United keeper Hamish McAlpine had parried an effort from Kenny Dalglish. The points were then settled with two superb goals in a five-minute spell midway through the second half. First Bobby Lennox took advantage of a defensive error to make it 2-0 with a glorious angled drive, then a short free-kick taken by Dalglish was lashed past the helpless McAlpine by Andy Lynch to make the game safe. A Paul Hegarty header with seven minutes remaining gave the home fans something to enjoy as Celts ended the month ahead of Hibernian and Motherwell on goal difference, defending champions Rangers tucked in one point behind the leading pack.
Thanks, as always, to the wonderful Celtic Wiki.
Follow Matt on Twitter @Boola_vogue