JOCK STEIN’S Celtic team became History Bhoys when they claimed their ninth successive title on this day on April 27 1974.
The extraordinary feat was achieved in a less-than-memorable 1-1 stalemate with Falkirk, but the point got the job done and returned the silverware to its home in the east end of Glasgow.
Author Alex Gordon highlighted the achievement in his tribute book to the club, ‘Celtic: 50 Flags Plus One‘, which celebrated the team’s first 51 untainted championship triumphs.
Here is an edited extract from the chapter devoted the original nine-in-a-row Celts.
CELTIC’S unparalleled and unstoppable odyssey of silverware splendour had begun with a 13th-minute goal from Johnny Divers in a 4-0 triumph over Dundee United at Tannadice on August 25 1965.
The ninth successive First Division championship had already been annexed by the time Brian McLaughlin, a second-half substitute for Andy Lynch, exquisitely chipped the ball over Morton keeper Roy Baines in the 67th minute on the evening of April 30 1974 to nullify a strike from future Celt Mark McGhee to earn the champions a 1-1 draw at Parkhead.
In between Divers’ 12-yard drive on Tayside and McLaughlin’s 16-yard lob in the east end of Glasgow, Celtic had scored 784 league goals while conceding 231, winning 212 games, drawing 37 and losing 22.
They were held in their 34th league match that season – and 306th in total – against the same opponents at Cappielow in a scoreless stalemate a week later to bring down the curtain on a golden era for Celtic Football Club.
The title was won on April 27 with very little razzamatazz at broken-down Brockville when Jock Stein’s side went one over the eight in a 1-1 impasse with Falkirk. It wasn’t exactly how a Hollywood director would have arranged the grand occasion, but it got the job done.
Celtic arrived with the burden of a monumental sense of injustice after a European Cup semi-final knock-out from Atletico Madrid, thugs masquerading as footballers, three evenings earlier. They lost 2-0 and no-one outside a corner of the Spanish capital would commit to the belief the victors over two bruising, controversial legs had been the superior set of players.
Falkirk, for their part, knew they had to win to dodge relegation for at least another week.
Kirkie Lawson must have thought the miracle was on when he beat Denis Connaghan with only three minutes on the clock. Celtic, understandably, looked tired, but it didn’t prevent a moment of sheer genius from Kenny Dalglish to fashion an equaliser in the 20th minute.
KING KENNY RULES…Celtic hero Dalglish turns away in triumph after hitting the goal that ensured nine in a row.
FOILED…Kenny Dalglish is thwarted by keeper Ally Donaldson and George Gibson as he tries to force in the winner at Brockville on a historic day for Celtic.
Following some delicate weaving and twisting, he carved open a space and from 12 yards made no mistake with an effort that left keeper Ally Donaldson helpless. The remaining 70 minutes will not live long in the memory banks of the 14,000 fans who witnessed it that afternoon.
Dalglish almost claimed the winner with a wicked drive that came close to demolishing the Falkirk crossbar, but, in the end, Celtic celebrated their ninth successive title and 29th in their history while the dejected Falkirk displayed remarkable sportsmanship by applauding the feat of their opponents before trooping off with football in the Second Division to look forward to in the new season.
After the Brockville confrontation, Celtic kicked off a mop-up operation to get through their league fixtures and the following Monday they drew 0-0 with Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
Twenty-four hours afterwards, Brian McLaughlin, playing his first league game since being savagely assaulted by Clyde defender Willie McVie after the unfurling of the eighth league flag at Parkhead on September 8 1973, got the goal that mattered.
Two days after beating Dundee United 3-0 in the Scottish Cup Final with goals from Harry Hood, Steve Murray and Dixie Deans, the final whistle was blown on the season with a goalless tussle against Morton at Cappielow.
HEAD BHOY…Falkirk defender David Whiteford leaps to clear from Celtic dangerman Kenny Dalglish.
Jock Stein declared: “One of the most satisfactory features in our championship victory was that we took points against the teams that counted. I think at the end of the day that was the difference between ourselves and the rest.
“The record books show three points from Hibs, four from Rangers, three from Aberdeen, four from Hearts and two from Dundee. We did play below par in some games, but we still managed to win or draw in them.
“When our challengers had a bad game they lost valuable points.
“And, as I think I can modestly say we have proved it, it’s relentless consistency that wins league championships.”