CELTIC had already been crowned champions by the time they faced old foes Rangers in the Scottish Cup Final on this day on May 7 1977.
It was an afternoon at Hampden when Kenny Dalglish had a shock in store for legendary manager Jock Stein.
The story behind the scoreline is told by author Alex Gordon in his fifteenth Celtic book, ‘50 Flags Plus One‘, his tribute publication to the club’s first 51 untainted titles.
CELTIC clinched their tenth title during the glorious Jock Stein era with a 1-0 triumph over Hibs at Easter Road on Saturday April 16 1977 when Joe Craig claimed the matchwinner.
The silverware had been secured with four games to go and the champions eventually settled for a nine-point gulf beaten themselves and runners-up Rangers.
The Ibrox outfit were also cast as the nearly men when the two teams met again in the Scottish Cup Final on May 7.
Both sets of players were tasked with wading through a sodden Hampden surface as the rain incessantly swept down. Wretched conditions ruled out any possibility of a classic and the destination of the trophy was settled with a disputed twentieth-minute penalty-kick.
ON THE SPOT…Andy Lynch is hugged by Roy Aitken after netting the penalty-kick winner against Rangers in 1977. Joe Craig and Kenny Dalglish are about to join in.
Johannes Edvaldsson forced a shot forward in a goalmouth scramble after keeper Stewart Kennedy had mishandled the greasy ball from an inswinging corner-kick. Derek Johnstone awkwardly tried to clear and referee Bob Valentine, with a good view of the incident, immediately pointed to the spot believing the Ibrox player had handled the effort.
Johnstone and his colleagues protested vehemently, but the match official was hardly likely to change his mind.
Jock Stein had been aware Ronnie Glavin, who had adopted the role as the team’s usual penalty-taker, would be missing through injury and had put his players through spot-kick sessions at their Seamill HQ throughout the week.
PICK IT OUT…Celtic left-back Andy Lynch fires a perfect spot-kick behind Rangers keeper Stewart Kennedy.
Skipper Kenny Dalglish had missed a couple from 12 yards during the campaign and wasn’t overly-keen. Andy Lynch had the best record in practice, but even before kick-off it still hadn’t been decided who would take a kick if Celtic were to be granted an award.
Stein confessed later he thought his captain would step up. Dalglish, though, reneged on the responsibility.
The manager, watching through the pouring rain, must have been a trifle surprised when he saw Lynch place the ball carefully on the spot. The defender composed himself, took a couple of steps back, raced forward and struck a perfect effort that arrowed low past Stewart Kennedy at his left-hand post.
Lynch, it was later revealed, had only taken two penalty-kicks in his career with previous club Hearts. He missed them both. The full-back was obviously a great believer in third time lucky.
Alfie Conn held aloft the silverware as the Celtic players went to their support’s half on the national stadium at the end. He had become the first player to win Scottish Cup medals with both Old Firm clubs. He probably didn’t think it was an opportune occasion to broadcast the fact he had scored in the last one, a 3-2 win over the Parkhead side in 1973.
HAMPDEN HURRAHS…Andy Lynch leaps high in delight with Kenny Dalglish and Joe Craig about to congratulate the 1977 Scottish Cup matchwinner.
Twenty-four hours after the Cup Final, Stein held his customary Press Conference with selected newspapermen at Celtic Park. Debates about the validity of the spot-kick award continued to dominate conversations.
Stein looked at the assembled journalists. “Look,” he said, “there is always controversy when a match is won in such a fashion, but we are still convinced it was a penalty. Andy Lynch scored and the prize is in there.”
He pointed to the Celtic trophy room. End of that line of questioning.
Jock Stein had won his twenty-fifth trophy in twelve years as Celtic manager.
Unfortunately, it was to be his silverware swan song.