It is the afternoon of 30th May 1950 and a packed crowd is gathered inside the Stadio Torino in Rome to see one of the two sides who shared the ground – Lazio – take on Glasgow Celtic in a friendly to celebrate the Italian club’s 50th anniversary.
John McPhail is leading out the Celtic side and he is followed by goalkeeper John Bonnar, outside-right Jock Weir and the inimitable Charles Patrick Tully. The atmosphere all seems a bit serious for a friendly and unfortunately, the match turned out to be like that too. Over 40 free-kicks were awarded during the 90 minutes; ‘Big Hookey’ McPhail and his immediate opponent, Tramondini, were ordered off; and inside-right Bobby Collins was later reported as saying that it was one of the most vicious matches he had ever played in! The final score was 0-0, a rather disappointing centre-piece to the trip, which included a visit to the Vatican and an audience with Pope Pius X11.
One other feature of the photograph is the huge bouquet of flowers being carried by one of the Lazio players – centre left – obviously to be presented to the Celtic team before the match. In view of the toughness of the contest, in what was nominally a friendly, I have often wondered what exactly the Celtic party did with them after the game?