The Stateside tour that moulded a fine team into Celtic legends

Celtic headed on their fourth ever tour of the United States in 1966 as League Champions after a successful first season under the management of the legendary Jock Stein.

1965 really was the year that Jock Stein changed everything, as David Potter brilliantly explained in his ‘The Celtic Rising’ bestseller, and now the rewards were coming his way.

First steps on the tour that begins a magical season

Jock was something of a perfectionist and despite leading his side to league glory in his first full season, he still wasn’t content. His side was decent, but Jock wanted to mould them into something better, something special and this tour was his chance to do just that.

Jock his assistants and squad of 17 players minus one notable absentee in Jim Craig, who as a dental student at Glasgow University wasn’t available for the tour headed to The States via London from the newly opened Abbotsinch airport. Quite a change from the clubs previous means of transport in past visits to the United States.

Their first port of call was Bermuda where they would play two games against Bermuda and Bermuda YM which ended in thumping 10-1 and 7-0 wins for the Hoops respectively.

Jock used these games to experiment and played Tommy Gemmell as a centre forward and big Tam nabbed a brace in both games. Indeed Jock used this tour as a means to tinker with his side and his use of Bertie Auld as a centre midfielder instead of his more traditional winger role would reap dividends in his transition of the side.

The side then travelled to the States and Canada where they packed in nine games in three weeks playing New Jersey All Stars, Tottenham Hotspur (on three occasions) a Hamilton Primo XI, Bologna, St Louis CYC, Bayern Munich, and Atlas.

The tour was a huge success with the side winning eight games drawing three and losing none – 47 goals were scored and only six conceded.

But the biggest achievement was to follow in the coming campaign. The tour saw the already close knit squad create an even stronger bond that along with their undoubted ability moulded them into a legendary side, sweeping all before them. A side that would become known as the Lisbon Lions – the Champions of Europe.

Just an Ordinary Bhoy

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About Author

An ordinary everyday Celtic supporters hailing and still residing in Govan in the shadows of the enemy. I’m a season ticket holder. I Witnessed my first Celtic game in 1988 and have attended when I can ever since. Growing up in the 90s I witnessed Celtic at their lowest, and now appreciate the historic success we enjoy today. I enjoy writing about this wonderful football club and hopefully will continue to do so. I’ve always been a keen writer and initially started this a hobby. My ambition is to one day become as good an author as my fellow Celtic Star colleagues.


  1. The tour was a pivotal moment in relation to us winning the big cup. The tour is covered in great detail in Graham McColl’s book:
    A Year And A Day. Well worth a read, for any Celt obsessed with Lisbon67.

    Hail Hail.

  2. Lots of Celtic supporter clubs and schools got to see 8mmm movie film of the tour with Celtic players present and signing autographs. After watching it I was delighted to get Bobby Lennox and Billy McNeils autograph at St Monicas primary School in 1966.

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