Supporting Celtic from Near and Far, 1972-73 Season (part 1)

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This is part ten of my story for The Celtic Star: “Supporting Celtic from Near and Far.” All previous editions can be found using the search function on the site.

1972-73 Season

My playing badly career ended at the close of the 1971-72 season but I was keen to stay in the game and had often thought about refereeing. A fellow Scot in the office had been whistling before he came South and had carried on in Manchester and was doing well having been promoted to the referees’ list of the then Northern Premier League. (Next step would be Football League linesmen’s list to be followed, if successful, by promotion to Football League referees’ list.) I had a few chats with him and in summer 1972 I attended the training course and started refereeing when the amateur season commenced in September.

I had a wonderful time for five years before I retired. I have some glorious memories and some horror stories.

This is about supporting Celtic but I want to share one incident with you which still makes me laugh 50 or so years later. As I was about to start the season I went with my pal to the leisure centre across the road from the office to join the men’s keep fit class.

There were some great lads there and we had some fun. After I had been attending for two or three years a guy came along who was a good footballer but a bit of a hot head who could find trouble reasonably easily. When he saw my pal and me he was less than impressed.

Certainly I had cautioned him a few times and had probably sent him off on an occasion. Anyway that seemed to have been left on one side and training went along happily. Some time after and bearing in mind that at the time I worked in the tax office which was common knowledge amongst the lads and so he definitely knew I was on a match involving his team.

He was not having a good game and things were not working out for his side either. He and his mates were giving me a hard time and moaning. For me most of what was being said was water off a duck’s back but as the match progressed his frustration increased and at one point, behind my back, he announced to his mates in a derogatory fashion that I was a tax man. The next decision that annoyed him produced the protest, again behind my back, “He’s probably a traffic warden in his spare time.” Referee, tax man, traffic warden! Three hated professions? Wonderful!

Back to Celtic! The six League Cup section matches produced four wins and two home draws to take us to the knock out stages with the final game (3-3 against Arbroath) being remarkable. The visitors scored an own goal and Derek Rylance who had never scored for the Red Lichties before grabbed a hat trick. Funny old game!

September saw a combination of competitions opening with our defence of the League title in a 7pm kick off at Hampden (work being done on the main stand at Celtic Park) where we hammered Kilmarnock 6-2 in front of a crowd of only 11,560. A visit to Morton yielded a 2-0 victory and this was followed by a low key, and low attendance 18,000+, European Cup tie at home (Hampden again) to Rosenborg (2-1). Another League match at Hampden saw us destroy Rangers 3-1.

Now came a huge delight for me as the Bhoys arrived at Old Trafford to play in Bobby Charlton’s testimonial. For days I had been telling my work mates that we would win and win well. We certainly played well but just could not score and it ended 0-0 but it was a joy to be among Celtic fans again (and it cost me 10/- in a side bet with one of the many Man Utd fans in the office).

On the way home the team achieved a 2-1 win at Stranraer who scored first in a hard fought match but it just about secured our place in the next round of the League Cup. A visit to Dens Park saw us play decently but on the day no match for an excellent Dundee side well worth their 2-0 triumph. Off to Trondheim next for the second leg against the amateurs of Rosenborg who gave us a tough time and on taking the lead after 37 minutes were ahead in the tie with their away goal. Strikes from Macari, and Hood and Dalglish at the end saw us through. Back home in Paradise we closed out the month with a 1-0 win against Ayr United to move back to the top of the table having been dislodged by Dundee.

The Celtic bench at the away game v Rosenborg

Into October and we entertained Stranraer in the 2nd leg League Cup tie. Again the Stair Park men took the lead but we ended comfortable winners (5-2 on the night and 7-3 overall). Now a 1-1 draw at home to Airdrie caused some frustration as the Diamonds defended well after having taken the lead. Another disappointment against Dundee (0-1) in the away leg of the League Cup tie was followed by four victories Partick Thistle (A 4-0), East Fife (H 3-0), Ujpest Dosza (H 2-1) and Aberdeen (A 3-2). Those three domestic games were all in the League but would the European Cup win be sufficient against a good Hungarian side that had caused us so many problems last season?

As we moved into November we had played 21 competitive matches, ignoring the pre-season Dryborough Cup, and we had another nine lined up. First we hosted Dundee in the League Cup and won 3-2 so squaring the tie after 90 minutes. Extra time produced no goals.

Once again Mr R H Davidson provided one of his curious performances resulting in Jock having an exchange of words with him and being fined £100 by the SFA. Mr Davidson managed to upset Dundee as well. The decider was played at Hampden on the 20th with Dundee taking the lead. The Bhoys hit back strongly and by half-time were 4-1 ahead which is how it stayed.

A 3-1 win at home to Dundee United sent us off to Hungary for the vital second leg. We started appallingly, nothing new there, and were three down and out after 22 minutes. We could not drag ourselves back into the tie despite hitting the woodwork twice late on. We came back well from that bad experience scoring five without reply at Motherwell, four at home while conceding two against Hearts, another four in that League cup replay and three for the loss of two at Falkirk.

That gave us a four point lead at the top of the league. We closed out the month by going behind for the fourth game in a row in the League Cup semi-final against Aberdeen but within three minutes Harry Hood had levelled from the spot. On 73 minutes Aberdeen took the lead again but immediately Jinky equalised and seven minutes later Tommy Callaghan notched the winner.

Hibs were waiting in the final next month.

There were only four matches in December beginning with a 6-1 thrashing of Dumbarton at Boghead. Now came that League Cup final where in a fine game Hibs deservedly carried home the trophy. Following that a visit to Arbroath saw the hosts score after about 20 seconds but two late goals from Harry Hood made the points safe.

The visit of Hibs produced a fine top of the table clash as a 1-1 draw took us into the New Year still with that four point lead. On 28 December Jock was admitted to Glasgow Royal Infirmary cardiac unit for observation.

Part 2  to follow shortly, so stay tuned…

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