The spectre of Atletico Madrid, 1974 still reeks of disgrace

The Spectre Of Atletico Madrid Still Reeks Of Disgrace…

I remember the night which shamed the Beautiful Game as if it were yesterday. I remember staring at my brief as if it was Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket on 10 April, 1974. I was 15 years old and loved the Celtic more than anything else I can remember.

The continental magic in the names of the Spaniards visitors had me dreaming of another battle with the greats, and I envisioned Billy McNeill climbing another set of stairs to hold aloft yet another glittering trophy.

That 15-year-old Bhoy was to witness a shock of epic proportions, one which had him in floods of tears well before the hapless, Dogan Babacan put his whistle to his mouth to light the touchpaper in a seething Parkhead cauldron.


The Turk had allowed some of the most shameful and disgusting assaults on a superb Celtic side, attacks not seen since the infamous Racing Club shame and ones which would ultimately deny the great, Jock Stein’s Bhoys another tilt at a European Cup Final which would have made it three in seven years.

It didn’t happen, and as was oft the case when the left to the clearly corrupt officials within the governing body when Scots teams were seeking justice, a blind eye appeared to make the vital call.

The shirt Atletico Madrid are wearing on Wednesday night to ‘honour’ their thugs from 1974.

70,000 green and white-clad fans were shoehorned into Paradise, animated and excitedly reading from the match programme the names which jumped out of the pages: Ruben Diaz, Ruben (Little Mouse) Ayala, Eusabio, Garate, etc, etc.

Mouthwatering names which we all pined to see, but reality ‘kicked’ in when our esteemed guests spent the entire 90 minutes booting, hacking, punching and spitting on our players, and the Spanish circus had well and truly come to town.

I was with my Dad and his mates as usual under the towering floodlights to the right of the old ‘Rangers End’, and I’ll never forget the agony I went through seeing my heroes being brutalised time and again, particularly Jinky, Hay and Dalglish.

Three savages were sent packing, although the ref should have been braver and sent the whole band of thugs packing. He didn’t, and the eight ‘men’ (I use that word guardedly) who remained celebrated like they had just lifted the trophy.

A battle broke out in and around the tunnel when the smirking Latin cheats goaded the irate Celtic players, ones who could still walk, never mind play. Some hooped combatants took umbrage, and a little retribution ensued with the help of local constabulary who felt the need to ‘intervene’.

Me? I stood crying on the terrace as all hell let loose around me, and to this day I am amazed there was not a pitch invasion. I’ve rarely, if ever, seen the Celtic support so enraged, but still, they did the club proud and stayed on the terraces but were still baying for claret.

Celtic’s ‘goal’ scored by Kenny Dalglish was ruled out as the linesman reckoned that the ball was out of play.

Of course, the Spaniards got away with it and won the second leg in Madrid 2-0 with their superior regular players, not the butchers they had lost through suspension. They had initially hand-picked Argentinian and Uruguay thugs to soften us up for the second leg-it worked.

Jimmy Johnstone was visibly shaking en-route to the ground the morning after the debacle and if truth be told, the Madrid game was a farce and one which should never have taken place. Did I mention the UEFA authorities? Rogues and reprobates whose reputation preceded them in matters like this. The more things change…

They got Bayern Munich in the Final and were only minutes away from a shock 1-0 victory courtesy of an extra-time sickener from Aragones when big Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck hit a long-range screamer and sent half of Glasgow into absolute ecstasy.

‘Der Kaiser’ Franz Beckenbauer’s superstars took the Spaniards apart in clinical fashion in the replay, a humiliating 4-0 rout, and every goal deliciously celebrated by most ‘reasonable’ Scots fans as if it were Stein’s team who scored them.

At 15, I may or may not have swigged more than a little of my Dad’s McEwan’s export which may or may not have been left open next to me, by mistake of course. We were all Bavarians that evening I can assure you!

The Spanish outfit come calling again this week, back to the scene of the crime. But they don’t see it that way. They grafted their sleazy way out of trouble in 1974 with lies and disinformation, now they intend to rub salt into our wounds by flaunting the ‘pride’ they so clearly have in their animalistic behaviour by wearing replica strips of that sickening night.

They are openly boasting of that ‘great night’ and their pride in ‘beating’ the giant of Celtic. Well, they sure as hell ‘beat’ us, but not in a way which any self-respecting club or supporter would relish or would like to be associated with.

They are, of course, an abnormal lot who wear their violence and cheating as a badge of honour. They have no shame, and although they are cashed up and likely to claw the points back to their hovel, I will embrace the Kevin Keegan saying, “I’d love it if we beat them!”

They reeked of filth in April of 1974, they reek of filth now, and this choice of attire merely demonstrates how low they will stoop to prove this to the world. Regardless of the result, I’d much rather be a proud Celtic man than an unsporting, classless circus clown.

Do us all a favour Celtic, please?

Eddie Murray


If you were at this European Cup semi-final between Celtic and Atletico Madrid we’d love to hear your stories and memories of that disgraceful match when Atletico Madrid shamed the beautiful game…


About Author

Eddie Murray – I Grew up with the Lions, coming from a Celtic-daft family. Played against Jinky once! Paradise was my second home and Dalglish was my hero. A long term Brisbane Bhoy for many years and have been blogging here for many years. Written a book on Ange/ Brisbane Roar/ Celtic which awaits publication. Writing on other genres as I speak. Top moments? Interviewing Cesar, Wispy, Cairney, The Maestro, Alan Thompson.


  1. Sophie Johnstone on

    My first ever Celtic game,I was a 7 year old,but I still remember it as if was yesterday.Wee Jinky especially kicked all over the ground.I was devastated.Lets hope Celtic right the wrongs of that evening

  2. I was there that night, 17 years old and naive enough to be incandescent at the miscarriage of justice and expecting someone to come onto the pitch to stop the carnage.
    It was brutal, 11 John Greggs on the park against us with 3 masons in black in charge.

  3. I was there. 18 year old student, in the Jungle with my late Father. I echo Eddie’s thought, how there was never a pitch invasion is beyond me. They were absolutely the most cynical, dirty bunch I have ever seen. I remain convinced we should have ceded the second leg with all the hysteria that surrounded that. Still Falangist Spain in those days. Disgrace if a team, I have never forgiven them, Wednesday’s strip seems like an outright provocation.

  4. It was the last game I watched at Parkhead before emigrating to Canada. I was 14 at the time and I came with big brother and my brother-in-law. We were in the middle of the Jungle and I could never forget one time when Jinky was hacked down I could actually hear his body thud on the ground from where I was. Some guys behind us threw a bottle but didn’t make it on to the pitch. It was a disgusting display to witness.

  5. My first ever European game under the old lights at Celtic Park. The expectation in the ground when the teams came out was unbelievable – and then carnage. I met a Real Madrid fan years later who told me that Babakan the referee is a hero to that half of Madrid for sending off 3 and booking another 7.

  6. Me and my pal (both 12year olds) were in our usual position for big European games, right at the front behind the goal at the old Rangers end. We were confident as Celtic at that time were a very good side reaching the latter stages of the European Cup on a regular basis. Jinky was my hero and he was clearly identified as THE danger man, I have never seen a player take as much punishment as he did that night. My abiding memory was Rueben Ayala with long black hair not even looking at the ball, instead assaulting Jinky time and again. He then infamously stood before the ref with his hands behind his back as if butter wouldn’t melt. It was shocking

  7. Catherine Hunter on

    My friend Eddie what a fantastic report Ryan our Grandson from NZ and I are going to match on Wednesday I will do the shouting for you GOYBIG xx

  8. I was in The Jungle that night as a 16 year old … we were all battered and bruised after that encounter and I’was amazed that we didn’t invade the park … if we had there would have been murder done … they should have been banned for a decade … what happened that night is still the most shameful thing I have ever witnessed.

  9. I was in the Jungle. Looking straight on to the penalty area at the Rangers end. The Atlético players were a disgrace. Worse than Racing in 1967. We should have refused to play the second leg, although UEFA would have favored the Spanish side. The following morning at work a Rangers supporter said to me that if it had been at Ibrox the fans would have been on the park. At least that was one good aspect about it. Proud that the Celtic fans were able to restrain themselves. I have waited a long time for revenge. Unfortunately the gap between us and them is so huge that I can’t see us getting anything. I have traveled from Auckland for this one and my son from Sydney arrived in Glasgow yesterday. He returns on Thursday afternoon. Let’s hope that despite the odds we have something to celebrate on the long journey home