Joe McBride’s goalscoring run continued unabated in the next League Cup outing when he thrashed four beyond St Mirren keeper Jim Thorburn as Celtic romped their way to an enthralling 8-2 win. Bobby Lennox added two more and there were singles from Bertie Auld and Stevie Chalmers as the Parkhead men continued to coast through their section towards the knock-out stages of the tournament.
Billy McNeill recalled that game for one very good reason. ‘Big Jock was raging when we got back to the dressing room,’ he said. ‘We had just scored eight goals and had been applauded off the pitch by a crowd of over 30,000, but our manager was upset that we had conceded two late goals. He made the point our concentration had dipped a little during the second-half. To be fair, we were seven goals ahead at the time!
‘There were only twelve minutes left to play when one of their players, a young forward by the name of Frank Treacy, scored. He plonked another behind Faither, Ronnie Simpson, about four minutes later. I looked over at the dug-out and, sure enough, there was Big Jock waving his arms about, clearly not happy with his defence.
‘Stevie got our eighth in the closing moments, but it wasn’t enough to deflect the ire of our manager. Once again, he made it abundantly clear that we were there to do a job for every minute of the ninety. However, I can’t think of too many teams who would score eight goals and still get a rollicking off their boss!’
The next game was due on Wednesday August 23 – the little matter of a Glasgow Cup-tie against Rangers at Ibrox. The pedigree of the competition meant little; this was a showdown between the two juggernauts of the Scottish game and presented Jock Stein with an early opportunity for reprisal following the Scottish Cup Final disappointment in late April.
It was not a chance he was ever remotely likely to overlook. The Ibrox side may have won the silverware, but no-one among the club’s hierarchy was being fooled; it was very much a case of Celtic losing the Scottish Cup and not Rangers winning it. The superiority of their Glasgow neighbours had been obvious in the league and their manager, Scot Symon, was given a blank chequebook during the summer.
He spent £100,000 – a serious amount of money in the sixties – on two players he believed would strengthen his team. He paid £50,000 to Aberdeen for Davie Smith, an elegant ball-playing left-half. This transfer might have surprised Jock Stein.
Around this period, he had made tentative enquires about one of the Pittodrie side’s emerging youngsters, a skilful inside-right by the name of Jimmy Smith, a Glaswegian with an known affection for a team which performed in the east end of the city. The Celtic manager was assured by his opposite number at Aberdeen, Eddie Turnbull, the Dons would not sell any of their first team squad to either member of the Old Firm.
A month or so later, Davie Smith pitched up in Govan. Symon also liked the look of yet another Smith – none of them related – Alex, of Dunfermline. He was a clever, old-fashioned inside-forward who was known to nick a goal or two. He also cost £50,000. So, the Rangers team which faced Celtic in the Glasgow Cup-tie in August at Ibrox had been enhanced from the one that had beaten them in April at Hampden.
Jock Stein plotted the downfall with as much care to meticulous detail as he would have a European tie. Bertie Auld recalled, ‘Big Jock was only too aware of the fuss that had been made of Kai Johansen after his Cup Final goal against us.
‘The gaffer believed the Rangers right-back would be enticed to play further forward up the pitch in the hope of getting another goal and the adulation that would go with it. Remember, Johansen had been slaughtered by Big Yogi in the January game when we won 5-1 at Parkhead.
‘He had been heavily criticised for not being able to cope with our outside-left when Yogi ran amok in the second-half. But he was given all the credit for his Scottish Cup winner and it was easy to see he might just fancy some more of that. Big Jock laid his plans accordingly.’
Tommy Gemmell also remembered the instructions from the Celtic boss prior to kick-off. ‘I thought I was hearing things. Big Jock was actually telling wee Bobby Lennox to stay up the pitch. Normally, he would tell every player to be mindful of their defensive duties. Even Wee Jinky was told to get back and cover.
‘Bertie still tells people he could have played at least another five years at Celtic if he hadn’t had to spend so much time running around and covering behind me! No truth in that, of course. But Big Jock was quite clear before this match. Bobby Lennox was given a free reign and was practically ordered not to come into our half. Naturally, Wee Bobby was more than delighted to do as the Boss ordered.’
Celtic cantered to a landslide 4-0 triumph at the home of their bitterest rivals and Bobby Lennox helped himself to an exceptional hat-trick while Billy McNeill played the captain’s part and got the opening goal with a shot beyond goalkeeper Billy Ritchie.
McNeill’s effort had historians researching furiously to discover when he had last scored a goal for the club with any part of his anatomy other than his head.
The legendary captain recalled, ‘Aye, it was a bit of rarity. In actual fact, I was coming up the field to take my usual position in readiness for a header when we were awarded a free-kick about thirty yards out. However, Wee Bertie decided to take a quick one and slipped the ball short to Charlie Gallagher.
‘Charlie skipped past a challenge, saw me on the left out of the corner of his eye and slid a pass in front of me. It was perfect for my left peg and I first-timed it towards goal. Ronnie McKinnon, the Rangers centre-half, raced out to block the shot, but I followed up with the rebound and just hammered an angled drive towards goal.
‘Their keeper was at his near post and looked startled as the ball zipped through his legs into the net. Maybe not one of my best, but I was still happy to claim it. It came inside ten minutes and set us up nicely for the rest of the evening.’
Auld added, ‘I had kept it in mind what Big Jock had said and, as soon as we were awarded the free-kick, I glanced to see if Johansen was in his right-back berth. He had been lured infield leaving a lot of space on their left wing. I quickly passed it to Charlie and he was clever enough to skip away from Greig and, suddenly, everything opened up for Caesar.
‘With Johansen out of position, McKinnon had to race out of central defence and, although he did well to get a foot to the initial shot, our skipper kept going and got his reward. It was a well-executed goal, but it was all down to the forward thinking of our manager. He had read the situation perfectly. Neither Rangers nor Johansen twigged all night as we picked them off down the left.’
The first of Bobby Lennox’s goals was intoxicating, a spectacular finish that would have graced a World Cup Final. Many years later, I asked Bobby to name some of his favourite goals. Considering he netted 273 in 571 games, I reckoned he might be spoiled for choice. But, sure enough, that effort at Ibrox was high up in his ratings.
He saw it this way, ‘One that means something to me came against Rangers in a Glasgow Cup-tie in 1966. The tournament might not have been the most prestigious, but that didn’t matter and we were all aching to get at our old rivals to make up for our Scottish Cup defeat against them.
‘I was fortunate enough to score three in an emphatic, one-sided triumph. The one I can recall vividly was our second goal – my first ever against the Ibrox side. That would have been memorable enough, but I am glad to say it was a real belter. I got the ball about thirty-five yards out on the old inside-right position.
‘I just took off, got away from John Greig and hit a left-foot effort from the edge of the box. Billy Ritchie had the good grace not to bother even going for the ball as it rattled high into the roof of the net. That was a sweet goal.’
And the man known as ‘Buzz Bomb’, the original fox in the box, claimed two more in the second-half. As Jock Stein had prophesied, Johansen was elsewhere, distracted, no doubt, by the possibility of bright lights and large headlines.
Charlie Gallagher set up Celtic’s third with a piercing long pass which created a problem for Greig. He lost the flight of the ball and, with no defensive cover from either Johansen or McKinnon, Lennox swooped to take control and, with the the utmost impudence, calmly flicked the ball away from Ritchie with the outside of his boot.
His trio was completed when he came in from the left, unhindered by the Danish right-back who had been drawn once again to the ball elsewhere. Auld, with that cunning, quick brain, slid a delightful ball wide to Lennox, who took a touch, picked up momentum, cut inside and smashed a drive low past the keeper at his right-hand post.
A crowd of 76,456 was in place to watch the destruction of the Scottish Cup winners by the Scottish champions. Twenty-four days later at Parkhead, Rangers would have that old familiar sinking feeling in the first league meeting of the rivals of the season.
Extract from That Season in Paradise – Ten Months of Celtic Heaven by Alex Gordon which is published by CQN. Lisbon Lion BERTIE AULD has signed a limited number of copies of the book for us and these are available on a first come first served basis from www.cqnbookstore.com
There are plenty of other books and DVDs to choose from including the club’s 50th Anniversary of Lisbon book and DVD.