The view from the roof, Celtic’s ‘happy day’ at Fir Park, Motherwell

Celtic’s happiest ever day in Motherwell came on 7 May 1966. Appropriately the weather was warm and pleasant, and it was a fitting end to the season in which Celtic at long last won the Scottish League after 12 long and painful years.

Discounting the years from 1938 until 1954 which of course included World War II, it was Celtic’s longest ever barren spell in the Scottish League, and in the intervening years teams like Rangers, Aberdeen, Hearts, Kilmarnock and Dundee had all been successful.

But on 7 May 1966 that was put all that right, and how the fans enjoyed this sunny day in Lanarkshire’s steel town.

Oh what it means to be Celtic! Ronnie Simpson looks if he may fall off the shoulders of Billy McNeill and Bobby Murdoch, but look at these guys on the roof! That is a corroded, weather beaten, piece of corrugated iron they are dancing on! Brave, brave bhoys! The chap on the extreme left looks in particular danger of slipping, does he not?

On the pitch, The Celtic Star columnist Jim Craig retains his dignity but permits himself a smile on the right.

But it had not been easy. The month of April had shown disturbing signs that Celtic might just blow up at the wrong time. Sheer bad luck and one appalling refereeing decision – an Honest Mistake – had seen us lose in the European Cup Winners Cup to Liverpool, and then the Scottish Cup final replay had been decided in Rangers favour by a late Kaj Johansen goal when it might easily have gone the other way.

This left the Scottish League and Celtic suffering from a few injuries and possibly even a lack of confidence.

Would the old Celtic death wish (which had lost us four Scottish Cup finals between 1955 and 1963) return?

Would the feeling that we were somehow not allowed to beat Rangers still linger?

Not a bit of it! Jock Stein was now the manager, and that meant a lot! Celtic beat Morton at Cappielow (thereby relegating the Greenock side, Jim Kennedy and all), and then after one Alex Ferguson had put Dunfermline ahead at Parkhead on the Wednesday night, Lennox and Johnstone won the game for Celtic, thereby triggering a pitch invasion which was both silly and premature, for Celtic still had to go to Motherwell and make sure that they did not lose four goals.

The Motherwell game on 7 May 1966 in fact was a distinct anti-climax with neither team looking likely to score, until the very last minute when The Celtic Star’s very own Jim Craig put a ball across from the right for Bobby Lennox to sweep home.

Now we could celebrate! And we did! Twelve years is a long painful time, and it was now a clear indication that, Kaj Johansen notwithstanding, the pendulum had taken a distinct swing to the east rather than the west of Glasgow. Such was the euphoria that I heard someone say he fancied our chances in next year’s European Cup.

“Now, now” I said, “let’s not get too carried away”.

David Potter

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

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