To Lisbon and back on a fiver – Thursday 25 May, Champions of Europe

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JERRY WOODS and his four Celtic supporting mates left Fife to drive to Lisbon on the Sunday before the European Cup Final in Lisbon on Thursday 25 May 1967. We have been carrying Jerry’s diary, from his new self-published book, To Lisbon and back on a fiver, on The Celtic Star every day since last Sunday and it has been a fascinating and entertaining tale as the Bhoys somehow made it to Lisbon. That happened on 24 May and you can read the eventful story of their evening on the Eve of Celtic becoming the Champions of Europe HERE.

And if anyone wants a copy of To Lisbon and back on a Fiver, just drop me an email to editor@thecelticstar.co.uk and I will put you in touch with the author. Jerry is charging just £5 for the book, to cover the costs, with £1 going to The Celtic Foundation. And what a great read To Lisbon and back on a fiver is!

Let’s hand over to Jerry to tell us what happened on Thursday 25 May 1967 in Lisbon…

Thursday 25 May – The Lisbon Lions and the Kings of Europe, The Feast of Corpus Christi

Today the reason why I am here. Would Celtic become the Champions of Europe or runners up?

We awakened early (about 5 am) because of the heat within the room and was worried about fleas in the bed which required de-lousing. It was also very noisy outside our window because of the city refuse collectors and the city street cleaners who were washing down the streets from around the square (all the litter from the previous night). Though it was still early and slightly dark outside, there were many residents up and about.

We washed all over with a clean hanky. My body dried quickly with the heat in the room, and when the coast was clear, I had a quick pee out of the window. I dressed and went outside to the square. I checked if the car was still OK in case it had been damaged from the previous night’s entertaining. We found a small snack booth, had a large coffee, bread and cheese, then returned to the benches in the square to eat and watch the residents go about their business.

 

Today was the feast of Corpus Christi. It was a Day of Obligation and a Portuguese public holiday. I decided to go to Mass in the RC Church situated at the end of the square (Igreja de Sao Paulo) to pray for a safe journey home, and for Celtic. The Church was full with youngsters and loads of women, their heads covered with a mantilla veil. The inside of the Church to St Paul was magnificent.

After Mass, the time was about 9 am. We returned to the Pensao Sul Americana to check out and for the return of our passports. During check out, we were informed that the Portuguese Police (Gendarmerie) had visited our Pension house during the night because of a large disturbance outside which started with a fight and ended with a stabbing.

Danny and I had heard shouting, banging and whistles but thought it was from the square outside. We were far too tired to be interested.

After the return of our passports, we returned to the square and discussed our thoughts from the previous night about the shortage of money. Without any hesitation, Danny and I decided to visit St Andrew’s Church of Scotland and the Rev. Kenneth Tyson to take him up on his promise written in The Sunday Post of 20 May. In that newspaper the Rev. Tyson stated that any Celtic fans who required help should get in touch with him and he would try and assist in any way he could.

We now had a Saviour (or so we thought) and received directions from – guess who? – our old friend Da Silva. I think he was the owner of the Pensao Sul Americana? We took a city tram for the first part of the journey and walked the last half mile.

On arrival at St Andrew’s Church of Scotland (R – Arriaga 13 – 1200 – 608), the scene outside the Church was chaotic. Celtic fans were everywhere, inside the Church, on pews and the vestry, on the pavement outside. Fans were in tents, vans and cars. Flags, posters and beach balls decorated the railings and the Church sign, and empty bottles and cans lay at the side of the road.

After much searching we eventually found the much distressed and worn out Rev. Kenneth Tyson and explained to him our monetary problems, but to no avail. He could not help.

He advised us to visit the UK Embassy with our passports and to apply for an Emergency Repatriation Loan. If the loan was granted, they would suspend our passports until the loan was repaid. We thanked the Rev. Tyson for his advice and received a bowl of watery soup and dry bread for our troubles. The soup kitchen was like the Jesus miracle with the two loaves of bread and the five fish (the feeding of the 5,000 – Matthew 14: 13-21). Later in life, the Rev. Tyson received the OBE from the Honours List. He definitely deserved it.

Feeling very distressed, we decided to walk back to the Sao Paulo square to kill time and save money. We arrived back in the square after 1 pm and eventually found the other three lads, who looked as if they were still recovering from the previous night’s exploits, and it also looked as if they had enjoyed a good meal somewhere (lucky them!). We rested at the square while Martin, John and Brian gave the locals their free flag and scarf display (now honed to perfection).

After 2.00 pm we found out from Da Silva the quickest route to the stadium, the Estadio Nacional and the nearest petrol station. On route we filled the car plus the can with the now sixth tank of petrol. Before departing for the stadium, we sat in the car for a short while discussing the money situation. Danny and I explained our failed Church of Scotland visit, and asked if we should contact the British Embassy and request their help.

We still required another four tanks of fuel to complete the return journey home at the cost of at least £12 plus. The other four – Danny, Martin, John and Brian – all agreed that they had enough funds to cover the cost (food not included). The only problem with this agreement was that not one of the four was in charge of the money (kitty), each being left to their own devices. At this point I should have stepped in and taken enough money from them to cover the fuel costs.

On the journey to the Estadio Nacional (Stadium of Light) we were joined by loads of buses and taxis with Celtic fans on route from the airport to the stadium. Flags, scarves, banners, drums, bagpipes and whistles were on display everywhere with music and songs filling the afternoon air. We decided to join in and follow this Celtic cavalcade to the designated car park with all horns blazing.

Inside the car park (no charge) the noise and colour was fantastic. What a truly wonderful experience! Now I realised why I took on the epic journey and why I was so proud to be a Celtic supporter – “A club with no equal”.

The time was just after 3.00 pm, entrance gates did not open until 4.00 pm and the kick-off was not until 5.30 pm GMT. The heat this day was immense, beautiful blue sky, no clouds or wind, just a perfect day for Celtic to perform.

We sat and lay outside entrance to stadium on long concrete benches and purchased match programmes and locally made Chinese hats to avoid the heat from the sun.

The gates opened at 4.00 pm (we were nearly the first group to enter the stadium) with the ground filling up very quickly. John and Brian, on noticing that the majority of the Celtic fans were congregating at the opposite end from where we had decided to sit, moved to that end (the goal end) and we agreed to meet them in the car park after the game. Even though the two of them were at the other end of the stadium, we noticed that they had joined their tricolour flags into one large banner, clearly visible from our end.
The Italian supporters were all well dressed, tanned and looked the part. What they thought of thousands of hairy Scots and Irish is beyond thinking about, but the Italian flags, scarves and banners were spectacular (no home-made bed sheets there!)

About 4.45 pm both teams appeared in their suits and ties to inspect the park and soak up the joyful atmosphere. (Apparently, no warm-up was allowed for this game.) The Italians all looked very tall compared with the Celtic lads. This Celtic team was unique – eleven home grown Scots of mixed religions, and all born within a 30 mile radius of Glasgow.

The game is well documented and recorded, but here is a brief summary of the teams and the game. Inter Milan were known as Internazionale and played the catenaccio style of defensive football. Their Manager was Helenio Herrera, and Inter had won this competition in 1964 and 1965 and were odds-on favourites to win the 1967 final.

Celtic were formed in 1888 in Glasgow by Brother Walfrid, an Irish Marist Brother to help feed the poor on the East side of the city. This was their first time in this competition and the first Scottish or British team to reach the final. Their Manager was Jock Stein, they had eleven Scots and they were renowned for their attacking style of play.

First half – Jim Craig (7 minutes) conceded a penalty, converted by Sandro Mazzola – 1-0 for Inter.

Second half – Celtic equalised via Tommy Gemmell (63rd minute). Score now 1-1. In the 83rd minute with 7 minutes left, Stevie Chalmers scored the winner to make the final score Celtic 2 Inter Milan 1.

Celtic were now crowned, and they were the first Scottish or British team to win this competition – this famous team is now known as the Lisbon Lions. If the game had finished in a draw, there would have been no extra time. The stadium had no floodlights and substitutes were not allowed. If a replay was required, it was to be played the next day.

After the final whistle at 7.20 pm the stadium erupted with Celtic fans invading the park to congratulate their heroes. With so many fans on the park, the only Celtic player able to receive his winner’s medal and the European Cup was the team captain Billy McNeill. The other ten players were in their dressing room unable to collect their medals, and they missed the Cup presentation due to the amount of fans on the park and the area designated for the Presentation Ceremony.

To get onto the park, you had to leap over a deep moat about four feet deep and five feet wide with the police manning this area. This was no problem for fit young Celtic fans, even though we had just travelled 1,800 miles. After negotiating the moat, we joined up with the massive hordes of Celtic fans on the pitch and were locked in a large group, unable to move other than side to side. The atmosphere and excitement were electric. “Yes, I was there” with my Scottish Five Pound note.

While I was on the park, I noticed the TV cameras, and worried in case I was recognised at home on TV and reported to my employer. After the celebrations had died down (a bit) Danny and I met up with the other three lads in the car park. It was hard to miss them with an eight foot tricolour!

Once all five of us were in the car (my car) I informed the other four that we were going to return home immediately due to the shortage of money and the 1,800 mile journey required. I received no objection from anyone, although I suspect John and Brian would have loved to have spent a celebration night in Lisbon.

We departed the stadium car park after 9.00 pm and drove for about one hour to the outskirts of the city. We stopped in a residential area as it was now dark for our overnight sleep.

Note: In February 2018, John Allan told me that he had bought eight match programmes to keep for the future. He also told me that Brian Whyte had cut up the white area of the penalty spot with a pen knife and had kept it in a sealed jar in his home in Leven for many years. No reason to disbelieve him, but neither he nor Brian mentioned this on the way home.

Jerry Woods

To Lisbon and back on a fiver will continue tomorrow only on The Celtic Star…

Also on The Celtic Star today…

Henrik’s Cup Final hat-trick, Martin’s his first Celtic trophy…see HERE.

His Departure was Devastating for Celtic and the Support…see HERE.

Sold Down the River – More Supporters Respond, Running to Stand Still…see HERE.

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