Semi-finals of any competition can be difficult affairs, even if the teams involved seem to be unequally matched.
When the above match was played, for instance, on this day in 1974, at Hampden Park, Celtic were lying in second place in the league table whereas Airdrie were mid-table. However, both had come through their respective sections in the League Cup campaign, Celtic having to overcome Motherwell, Dundee United and Ayr United before beating Hamilton Accies 6-2 in the two-legged quarter-final of the time.
Celtic fans obviously thought that their side was a certainty to go through against Diamonds, as a crowd of only 19,332 were present as the teams came out on to the pitch; the Celtic side on the day was Hunter, McGrain, Brogan, McNamara, McNeill, McCluskey, Dalglish, Murray, Deans, Hood and Wilson.
Afterwards, the word used a lot in the press reports was ‘nervous’, a condition which seemed to affect both sets of players on the day. Celtic were the more dominant side but found it hard to break down the Airdrie defence, the only goal coming in the 62nd minute through Stevie Murray. That was enough to put the Hoops into the final, where Hibs would be the opponents.
PS After Alan Rough left Partick Thistle in 1982, he went to Hibs for six years, then became player coach at Orlando Lions in the USA. He joined Celtic from the latter club in August 1988.
PPS This week’s question is about the goal-scorer in the above match. From which team did Jock Stein sign Stevie Murray?