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‘WE FOUND IT DIFFICULT TO GET OUT OF OUR OWN HALF,’ LISBON LION

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CELTIC struggled at times to get out of our own half on Tuesday night against an Anderlecht side that was playing catch-up after Celtic won 3-0 in Brussels in September. The record books will show that Anderlecht won 1-0 at Celtic Park and that wasn’t enough to beat Celtic to third place in Group B and thus entry into the Europa League.

Below Jim Craig points out that even the great Celtic side of 1967 experienced similarly difficult nights in European football. Over to Cairney…

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THE first leg of the semi-final tie in the European Cup of 1967 was at Celtic Park and we all put in a good shift to beat Dukla Prague by 3 goals to one, with Willie Wallace getting two goals in the second half and just missing out on a third when he deflected a shot by Stevie Chalmers against the cross bar.

Thirteen days later, the return leg in Prague was an entirely different affair.

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Ever since that day, there have been conflicting stories – even among the players themselves – as to whether we set out to play a defensive formation or not.

My own view is that Jock Stein did set the team up with a slightly more defensive attitude but the situation looked even worse when, right from the start, we were subjected to an onslaught by the Dukla players – not surprising, as they were 1-3 down – which pushed us right back into our own half.

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The attacks continued for most of the first half and well into the second, with the Dukla lads showing why they had reached a European Cup semi-final, well marshalled by their midfield star Josef Masopust. We made only occasional breakaways, with Stevie Chalmers ploughing a lonely furrow up front. These were not predestined to be occasional; we just found it difficult to get out of our own half.

And that is why, I think, that we got some blame for being so defensive. However, in the end, a 0-0 draw put us into the final.

Round about 45 years later, my wife and I returned to Prague for a short break. The ground had been easy to find but I was having more trouble finding the International Hotel, where we had stayed during the trip. We were sitting having coffee at a pavement café when Elisabeth took my hand and said she had something to tell me. “Jim, darling, I know how keen you are to find this hotel but could I point out that you keep asking people who are their in their 20s or even teenagers. Why don’t you ask someone who has the same hair colour as yourself; they might have been around in 1967”.

And do you know, she was quite right. The first grey-haired guy I asked told me that the International was now the Crowne Plaza and just round the corner from where we were staying!

Jim Craig

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A Celtic State of Mind presents its 26th instalment of insightful discussion around the culture of Celtic Football Club, the city of Glasgow, and fans of the reigning invincible Scottish champions.

Paul John Dykes is joined by the ultra-talented actor, writer & director – Jonny Owen, who wrote and starred in 2013’s ‘Svengali’ alongside Vicky McClure, Martin Freeman, Matt Berry and Alan McGee.

He then went on to direct two critically-acclaimed football documentaries – 2015’s ‘I Believe in Miracles,’ and 2017’s ‘Don’t Take Me Home.’

Jonny chats to Paul John about Edgar Summertyme, Svengali, Jock Stein, Brian Clough, John Robertson, Brendan Rodgers and more in this eclectic half-hour interview.

The CQN Podcast has gone from strength-to-strength over the last few months, and there are many more guests lined up in the months ahead from the world of sport, music, film, art, broadcasting, literature and politics.

Connect with A Celtic State of Mind @PaulDykes, @anorthernprose and @CQNMagazine and subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or through your podcast player.

 
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