CELTIC great John ‘Yogi’ Hughes was missing from Jock Stein’s Lisbon line-up for the history-making triumph on May 25 1967.
The non-appearance of the iconic Hoops forward has been the subject of conjecture ever since.
Hughes played in five of the eight games leading up to the European Cup Final, but the nearest he got to the action on the big day was a place in the stand.
The juggernaut attacker offered an insight in his acclaimed autobiography, ‘Yogi Bare: The Life and Times of a Celtic Legend’, which was co-authored by his friend Alex Gordon and published in 2014.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE series, we will publish extracts to once and for all provide the answers to the Lisbon question.
WILLIE WALLACE, signed for something in the region of £30,000 from Hearts just before the turn of the year, should have made his European Cup debut against the Slavs of Vojvodina Novi Sad in the quarter-final.
However, an administrative blunder meant he was forced to watch the action from the stands. Apparently, he hadn’t been registered in time which is a bit strange when you consider he had been at Celtic for two full months before the Vojvodina game.
Anyway, he was primed and ready to go by the time Dukla turned up. I had played at outside-right in our 2-0 win over Motherwell the previous Saturday.
MASTERMIND…Jock Stein supervises training at Barrowfield.
That was classic Jock Stein. He knew only too well that the Czechs would have a spy at Parkhead that afternoon and he liked to bamboozle the opposition.
He was into mind games long before the current batch of bosses came on the scene. I had played in Wee Jinky’s position a couple of times earlier that season, so it wasn’t exactly a new role for me. The Dukla scout would have returned to camp with the news that the guy who normally plays on the left had switched wings.
It was all part of the game for Big Jock. He always liked to keep the opposition on the back foot.
ON THE WING…John Hughes in his accustomed outside-left position, but his versatility would see him move around the Celtic frontline.
I felt 100 per cent fit when I was told I would be back on the left wing for the tie against Josef Masopust and his men on the Wednesday.
Jock, in fact, held back announcing his line-up until the last possible minute after he had a final check on the ground conditions. He paced around the pitch about an hour before kick-off and it looked like a straight choice between me and Bobby Lennox. I was given the green light.
Jinky was back in his normal place on the right. Ronnie Simpson was in goal while Jim Craig and Tommy Gemmell were on the defensive flanks. Billy McNeill and John Clark completed the back four and Bobby Murdoch and Bertie Auld dovetailed in the middle of the park.
With Jinky and I on the touchlines, Jock gave the main striking roles to Stevie Chalmers and Willie Wallace. Once again, there were 10 players on the pitch that evening who would perform in Lisbon.
Do you need to guess who missed out?
CROWDPLEASERS…Celtic skipper Billy McNeill and his Dukla Prague counterpart Josef Masopust take a bow alongside their team-mates before the European Cup semi-final first leg at Parkhead in April 1967.
I realise I am not the first person to say this and I doubt if I’ll be the last, but European nights at Celtic Park were something else altogether. You had to witness these electrifying spectacles first hand to totally appreciate them.
The stadium would rock for hours before kick-off and the din the fans created as you come out the tunnel was ferocious. We would trot out onto the pitch and every now and again I would sneak a quick look at the opposition. I could see some faces draining of colour and knew they had never encountered anything like this in their life.
The decrepit Jungle, a vast area that resembled an enormous rusting farmyard shed, housed the noisiest of the fans. The racket ricocheted around the corrugated iron surroundings and, genuinely, you could feel the hairs standing up on the back of your neck.
It was orchestrated bedlam as they raised the roof. ‘CEL-TIC…CEL-TIC‘ were the words that tumbled down from the packed terracings and if that couldn’t inspire a footballer to the heights of his ability then I haven’t a clue what could.
I would go over to the left wing and when you were smack in front of the Jungle you couldn’t help but feel elevated. I really mean that. The sheer fanaticism of those supporters let you know how much the club meant to them. How could you let down these guys?
PACKED PARKHEAD…a sell-out crowd is in attendance as Jimmy Johnstone sends a cross into the Dukla Prague penalty box.
They were at their most raucous on the evening of April 12 1967 as we prepared for the challenge of the Czechs. There were 74,406 in attendance, but I’m fairly certain you could add another 5,000 or so to that total. The constabulary and stewards couldn’t keep these guys out of the ground.
Not having a ticket was a mere irrelevance to so many. They would have parachuted in if need be. Tunnelled up from Melbourne. You get the picture.
Jock had stressed the need for patience. He warned us they were a neat, compact side who liked to keep possession and piled forward in numbers on the break. He also told us they had a very dangerous centre-forward who was good in the air.
No wonder! I took a look at this guy called Stanislav Strunc and he towered over me. I would guess he was about 6ft 6in and wasn’t unlike Peter Crouch in height and build. He proved to be a nuisance most of the night when Dukla broke forward.
CHIP, CHIP, HOORAY…Jimmy Johnstone lobs the ball over Dukla Prague keeper Ivo Viktor for the opening goal.
The referee stifled the cheers of the vast support when he ruled out a Stevie Chalmers headed ‘goal’ early on. The Portuguese match official indicated Jinky’s foot was high when he went into a challenge just before he sent over the cross for Stevie.
We didn’t argue as we single-mindedly went about our business.
But the Wee Man responded by plonking one in the net that stood just before the half-hour mark. It was a race between Jinky and the sturdy Ivo Viktor, the Czech international goalkeeper who was rated one of the best in the world.
If he thought our diminutive winger might pull out when confronted by his massive frame, then he was in for a surprise.
HIGH JINKS…Wee Jinky Johnstone takes to the air as John Hughes (extreme right) races to add his congratulations.
Jinky had the heart of a lion. People could kick him all over the place and he kept coming back for more. Nothing intimidated this wee guy. Jinky got there just before the goalie and lofted the ball sweetly over his head and into the net.
We were looking good at this stage and I was more or less hugging the left wing while Jinky did a bit of roving around over on the right. However, disaster struck just on the half-time whistle when they levelled and it was a real sickener.
It was a goal that could have been avoided 10 times over. Our defence just couldn’t get rid of a bouncing ball on the edge of the penalty area. A player would slash at it, miss, it would hit someone else, come back into the mix and boots and bodies were flying everywhere as we tried to clear our lines.
As luck would have it, it took one rebound too many and fell right into the tracks of the gangly Strunc. He dragged it wide and then slid a right foot drive across Ronnie into the far corner.
I’ve never heard Celtic Park so silent. Not even in training back at the start of the sixties when we ran round the park in the dark. It was eerie.
Losing a goal at any time is never a good feeling, but when you concede one just before the interval it leaves you more than a little deflated. We trudged towards the tunnel while their players were still congratulating each other, looking as though they had already turned the game around.
SILENCE IS NOT SO GOLDEN…Stansislav Strunc fires the equaliser past Ronnie Simpson as a deadly hush sweeps over Parkhead. Billy McNeill and John Clark are helpless.
Someone should have informed them that a game at Celtic Park lasted 90 minutes and the only time opponents earned the right to look smug came with the final peep from the referee’s whistle.
Jock was always good value during half-time pep talks. He would notice all sorts of things during the opening period, where we could exploit their defence, areas we could dominate and how to curb their threats when they came forward.
No-one was hitting a panic button in our dressing room as we prepared to take the field for the next 45 minutes.
Once again, we got a real lift by the rousing, ear-shattering welcome from our support. They let us know they were solidly behind us no matter what. I can tell them here and now it was always most appreciated.
They were our twelfth man and they played their part. They did so again on that April evening.
* TOMORROW: Don’t miss the EXCLUSIVE Part Four of Big Yogi and Lisbon: The Truth – only in your champion CQN.