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LISBON LOOKBACK: TOMMY GEMMELL’S MEMOIRS (Day Eight)

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CELTIC recently celebrated the 53rd anniversary of their unforgettable European Cup triumph in Lisbon.

Today, CQN continues to celebrate the historic achievement with another EXCLUSIVE extract from the late, great Tommy Gemmell’s autobiography, ‘All The Best’, co-authored by Alex Gordon, and published in 2014.

It was, of course, Big TG who walloped in the equaliser against Inter Milan to put Jock Stein’s great side on their way to victory on May 25 1967 in the Portuguese capital.

Gemmell, who sadly passed away in March 2017 at the age of 73, had a keen sense of humour and it comes across in these memoirs.

Please enjoy Day Eight of this CQN special as he continues his Hoops revelations.

STEVIE CHALMERS was one of those players who was always stripped and ready to go on the field about an hour before kick-off. Our striker just wanted to get out there and get involved immediately.

Like Ronnie Simpson, he was another golfing bandit. On the football field, though, he was a trusted team-mate. Unselfishly, he would run all day, going in where it hurt. Normally, Stevie was quite a placid bloke. He would mix it with the big guys, but he was never dirty.

However, there was one incident during a match on our five-week 1966 United States tour when I thought he had blown a gasket. We had played in places such as New York, Chicago, Ontario, Toronto and Bermuda and we were due to play Bayern Munich, Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller and Co, in San Francisco.

They had just won the West German FA Cup and joined the tour late. They were in great shape when they played us and we found ourselves two goals down with only twenty minutes to play. Our opponents from Munich were putting it about a wee bit and they didn’t like it when Joe McBride pulled one back. They were more than a little agitated when Bobby Lennox made it all-square.

THE HISTORY BHOYS…Stevie Chalmers scores the goal that won the European Cup.

Then came a sight I will never forget. Their right-back must have kicked Stevie in a tender place because I have never seen him react so angrily. Normally, he wouldn’t say boo to a goose, but on this occasion our frontman was out to exact instant revenge. In a fury, he took after the German. The Bayern man wasn’t hanging around to try to talk Stevie out of whatever he had in mind. He took to his heels.

It was like the chase scenes at the end of a Benny Hill Show. The German was running around the track and there was Stevie racing after him. For a moment I wondered if Stevie had indulged in some wacky-baccy with the hippies on Haight Avenue before getting ready for the game. Stevie eventually caught up with his prey and threw him to the ground. Fists were flying everywhere. I turned to Big Billy, ‘Am I seeing things or is that really our Stevie?’

‘It certainly looks like him,’ replied our skipper adding, ‘What’s got into him? Do you think we should go over and separate them?’ I laughed, ‘Are you joking? This is more entertaining than Ali v. Liston!’

The referee blew for time-up about five minutes early with the score at 2-2. The Bayern Munich players helped their stricken team-mate to the dressing room.

I caught up with Stevie. ‘What was that all about?’ My team-mate told me, ‘I told him if he kicked me again I would give him a doing.’ That’s fine, if the German actually understood any English and, if he did, had a clue about the old Glasgow expression ‘doing’.

Either way, he would undoubtedly have thought twice about kicking another opponent for the rest of his career!

TOMORROW: LISBON LOOKBACK: Tommy Gemmell continues his remarkable memoirs.

 
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