LISBON LION Bertie Auld was Celtic’s Commander-In-Chief alongside Bobby Murdoch as the double-act dovetailed perfectly in Jock Stein’s all-conquering side of the sixties.
CQN are celebrating the life and incredible times of the club legend in an EXCLUSIVE series with extracts from his best-selling autobiography, ‘A Bhoy Called Bertie‘, co-authored by his friend and writer Alex Gordon.
The remarkable life story continues with Bertie reminiscing about the evening in Lisbon on May 25 1967 when Celtic conquered Europe.
AS I RECALL, at half-time, there was a bit of shouting and cursing going down the tunnel and the match official was the obvious target for our anger.
‘What a surprise – an Italian team getting a penalty-kick’ seemed to be the drift of our argument, although it might not have been put so eloquently.
The West German referee Kurt Tschenscher ignored us. Jock was calmness personified once again as he talked us through half-time. We all agreed, a goal had to come. We had nine potential goalscorers out there and Inter had survived mainly due to the brilliance of their goalkeeper, Guiliano Sarti. It proved, at least, that we were getting through their defence, exploiting gaps and creating chances. Yes, it was only a matter of time.
Jock made few adjustments, but he did ask Jim Craig and Tommy Gemmell to pull the ball back a bit across the box rather than fire it into the mix in the middle of the goal where the Italians were defending with plenty of bodies.
Jock always liked to give his opposite number something to think about and he told Stevie to go and stand on the right wing with Jinky Johnstone coming inside for the restart. Herrera, of course, had known that all five Celtic forwards had, at some stage in their careers, played as wingers. He had warned his team to expect us to attack with pace.
TOUCH AND GO…Inter Milan keeper Guiliano Sarti pushes a header from Jimmy Johnstone over the bar with Stevie Chalmers following up.
Experienced Italian defender Tarsicio Burgnich looked across for instructions after he had trotted over to pick up Jinky, as usual. He appeared more than a little bit surprised to see Stevie standing there.
‘What to do now, boss?’ might have been his expression.
It was just a bit of kidology, of course, and a few minutes into the second-half, Jinky was back wide right and Stevie was in the middle.
It unsettled them for a moment or two. Jock was great at mind games.
One thing we had noticed during our interval talk was that Sarti was not taking any goal-kicks or, in fact, kicking the ball long. He would pass a goal-kick to a team-mate, pick up the return – you were allowed to do that back then, of course – and then throw it or roll it to one of his players.
On the rare occasions Inter launched the ball upfield it was one of their defenders who took the kick. Basically, that meant there was a good chance we would be onside if we gathered the ball and made a swift counter-attack. It also showed the Italians were content to keep possession in their own half and try to hit us on the break.
That might have worked against other teams – not this Celtic line-up, though. If you handed us the initiative we would take it. And how!
THE EQUALISER…Tommy Gemmell sends a thunderbolt past Inter Milan skipper Armando Picchi on its way into the net.
The second period went much the same way the first had ended – with us rolling forward in numbers, playing the ball around, bringing Jinky into play and the Italians holding out resolutely. It was something at which they were extremely adept; something they were used to every week in the Serie A.
We were not to be denied, though, and, as everyone had realised, it was going to take something exceptional to beat Sarti. Big TG came up with the answer in the sixty-fourth minute. The ball was whisked around crisply before Bobby Murdoch rolled it out to Jim Craig coming in from the right.
He carried it, a couple of steps, I think, and then slipped it across their eighteen-yard line. TG came in like a whirlwind to meet it first time with that lethal right foot and Sarti, even the great Sarti, could not repel this raid. TG’s strike strangled itself in the back of the net while the keeper was still in mid-air.
We had equalised. Now for the winner.
At long last we had rattled Sarti’s cage. He had looked imperturbable for most of the game. He was cool under pressure and his handling was excellent. Now, though, cracks were beginning to show in his facade.
It was highlighted when he got into a shouting match with the photographers behind his goal when they returned the ball too quickly after it had gone out of play.
He wasn’t happy with them and, for the first time that memorable day, he was beginning to get a little flustered.
The West German match official, so quick to award Inter Milan their penalty-kick, wasn’t quite so swift in his decision-making when he denied us a stonewall spot-kick. It doesn’t matter now, of course, but it was a penalty-kick alright and even Sarti seemed more than just a little puzzled at the bizarre decision by the referee.
HOLD ON…Inter Milan keeper Guiliano Sarti clearly grasps the right leg of Willie Wallace as the Celtic forward attempts to net another for Jock Stein’s side.
GROUNDED…Willie Wallace appeals for an obvious penalty-kick, but the referee turns a blind eye to the claim.
TG sizzled in a low cross from the left, Sarti and a defender got in a real old fankle at the backpost and Willie Wallace nicked in to collect the ball. Just when he was about to roll it over the line from about two yards, Sarti, on the ground, wrapped his arms around his leg and sent him toppling in a somewhat undignified manner.
Penalty? The whole of Europe must have thought so, but Tschenscher waved play on. Remarkable! Sarti got to his feet, had the good grace to look at Wispy and shrug his shoulders in that extravagant manner of the Latins.
‘I don’t know why he didn’t give it either,’ he could have said.
‘Right,’ I thought, ‘we’re not going to let them away with this – Inter Milan or the referee!’
We maintained the bombardment and we had them gasping as we continued to play the ball around at a spellbinding pace. TG flummoxed Sarti with a long, looping ball from the left that cracked off the crossbar and, once more, bounced away to a grateful defender who thumped it anywhere just to clear the danger.
Five minutes remained on the clock when Stevie Chalmers got the most valuable goal in Celtic’s history – the European Cup winner.
TG was involved again in an interchanging move with Murdoch who slammed one into their penalty area from an angle and there was Stevie smack in front of goal to divert the ball past Sarti. They made a half-hearted claim for offside, but not even Herr Tschenscher, with Europe looking on, could nullify that effort.
THE WINNER…Stevie Chalmers turns the ball beyond the helpless Giuliano Sarti – and it’s party time in Portugal!
Inter did nothing to get back into the game. They were beaten and they knew it. I don’t think they fancied the prospect of extra-time even if they had got lucky and got a second goal. It was our day and everyone knew it.
Three minutes from time, I decided to help make sure the game was ours when I came inside from the left and could see Burgnich coming across. He had decided he had had enough of Wee Jinky. I could see he looked tired, even a bit bedraggled.
Remember, this was one of the top defenders in Europe and, in fact, along with Inter team-mates Sandro Mazzola, Angelo Domenghini and Giacinto Facchetti, he would play for Italy in the World Cup Final against Brazil in Mexico three years later.
I decided to commit him and I knew what would come next. Sure enough, I was clattered and I decided to show the Italians how it feels to see someone waste time as they had done continually against us. Eventually, I got back to my feet and TG said, ‘Just give me the ball, Bertie.’
I asked, ‘What are you going to do?’ He answered, ‘I’m going to kick it as far over that bar and out of the ground as I can.’
And that’s exactly what he did.
EURO CONQUERORS AND FRIEND…goalscorers Stevie Chalmers and Tommy Gemmell, wearing their swapped Inter Milan shirts, celebrate with the club mascot.
Jock’s tactics had worked perfectly and if I can take you through a few statistics they will underline this. Our boss had ordered Wispy, Stevie and Bobby Lennox to try to pull their defenders out of position to allow Bobby Murdoch and myself to come from behind into spaces vacated by our opponents.
They were also asked to make runs that would enable Cairney and TG to get wide on the wings. Would you be surprised if I told you we had THIRTY-FIVE attempts on goal with nineteen on target?
TG, unbelievably, had nine shots on target. A left-back in a European Cup Final having so many attempts? Awesome. He could have had a hat-trick easily. He would have been due it.
Paradoxically, Stevie had only one shot on target – the winner! Wispy drew one save from Sarti and Wee Bobby didn’t hit the target at all. When you consider these guys had netted nine of our eighteen goals in the competition that season – Stevie (5), Wispy (2) and Bobby (2) – it tells you how they curbed their natural instincts for the cause of the team.
WALLOP…Bobby Lennox fires a shot past Inter Milan defender Giacinto Facchetti that flies over the bar.
My God, they scored FIFTY goals in the league among them – Stevie hitting twenty-three, Wispy claiming fourteen and Bobby snatching thirteen. So, one look at those stats merely emphasises what they were prepared to do in our efforts to beat Inter Milan and, in doing so, conquer Europe.
They were utterly dedicated, totally professional and completely unselfish. Bobby Murdoch had four shots saved by Sarti while I had two on target, including the one that hit the bar, and Jinky chipped in with two, one a header that was expertly tipped over the bar for one of our ten corner-kicks.
Inter Milan had three attempts at our goal, including their penalty-kick. Mazzola was the man who had all three efforts. They didn’t force a solitary corner-kick. They may have been masters at time-wasting, but I have to say they were not dirty. There wasn’t a single booking in Lisbon.
Did we deserve to win that European Cup? What do you think? The defence rests!
TOMORROW: DON’T MISS THE UNFORGETTABLE BERTIE AULD: PART TWENTY-FOUR