TOMMY GEMMELL revealed his club and country secrets to friend and author Alex Gordon in his best-selling autobiography, ‘All The Best,’ published by CQN in 2014.

In Part Seven of our EXCLUSIVE series, we discover the real reason why club great Jimmy Johnstone missed out of the World Cup Finals in West Germany in 1974.

The Hoops legend, who sadly passed away at the age of 73 on March 2 2017, tells why his great friend was dramatically omitted from Willie Ormond’s squad for the soccer showpiece.

Here is an edited extract from that chapter.

Please enjoy.

WEE JINKY’S nocturnal escapades on a rowing boat at Largs have been well documented. There was another hilarious adventure concerning Jinky and Billy Bremner, but, unfortunately, it had dire consequences for the Celtic player.

Davie Hay was in the Scotland squad that had gone on a two-game trip to Belgium and Norway to prepare for the 1974 World Cup Finals. He told me the story of the Scottish players on their way to Norway after losing the first game 2-1 in Bruges.

There were five days between the matches and the cabin crew had been very generous with the champagne on the flight to Oslo. Apparently, the bubbly was flowing and things can get a bit out of hand in these circumstances. I’ve been there, seen it and got the T shirt, as they say.

TWO OF A KIND…Jimmy Johnstone and Tommy Gemmell celebrate the goalless draw against Dukla Prague in Czechoslovakia in April 1967 that earned Celtic a place in the European Cup Final a month later in Lisbon.

It continued into the bar of the team’s hotel where Jinky and Billy broke manager Willie Ormond’s curfew. According to Davie, the team manager discovered they had gone AWOL and wouldn’t have required the aid of a Private Eye to track down the offenders to the bar.

Words were exchanged and the Oslo Two appeared to be very unhappy about being reprimanded by their nation’s manager, preparing for Scotland’s first appearance on the World Cup Finals stage in sixteen years.

They both decided the football extravaganza would go ahead without their input. They were going home.

Davie put it this way, ‘I got wind of what was going on and I tried to talk some sense into them. They had gone to their rooms, packed their bags and were making their way to the lifts with the full intention of going home.

‘Dishevelled and obviously the worse for wear, they were teetering about with their luggage undone while their clothes, sleeves, trouser legs and ties were hanging out of their bags.

TWO OF A KIND…Davie Hay and Jimmy Johnstone before Scotland’s 2-0 win over England at Hampden in 1974.

‘Goodness knows how they were going to get back to Scotland. They had no air tickets and there was the little matter of the North Sea separating the two countries. That didn’t seem to bother them too much at the time.

‘Jinky, in that condition, might have contemplated hiring a boat! Eventually, they were talked out of going home and returned to their rooms.

‘I understood the seriousness of the situation, but it was comical seeing them standing there with their half-packed bags ready to make their escape. Neither Willie Ormond nor the SFA saw the funny side of things as the players surfaced the following morning.

‘It looked as though they might be going home, after all. But this time it wouldn’t be their decision. I believe there were some at the SFA who wanted the pair sent packing on the first available flight.

‘The team manager didn’t want to take such stringent and drastic action, of course.

‘For a start, Billy was our captain and on-field organiser. He was invaluable as to how the team was set up. Eventually, sanity kicked in and peace broke out. The players weren’t being sent home. They both got a stiff reprimand, instead.’

There were repercussions, though, for my wee Celtic pal. He never got to kick a ball in those World Cup Finals while Billy, of course, captained Scotland against Zaire, Brazil and Yugoslavia.

Isn’t it amazing to discover that players of the quality of Jinky, George Best and Alfredo di Stefano never got the opportunity to display their God-given skills during soccer’s showpiece on that glittering platform?

My wee mate was in good company.

TOMORROW: Don’t miss Part Eight of CQN’s EXCLUSIVE international revelations from the legendary Celt.

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