The Dryburgh Cup was a pre-season tournament, exclusively for Scottish teams, sponsored by a brewery to advertise its products.
The participating clubs were the top four scoring sides in the First and Second Divisions of the previous season. In the inaugural competition, in the summer of 1971, Celtic beat Dumbarton 5-2 at Parkhead in round one, then St Johnstone 4-2 at Firhill in the semi-final before losing 1-2 to Aberdeen in the final at Pittodrie. Four of the goals against Dumbarton and three of the four against St Johnstone were scored by a promising young player called Kenny Dalglish.
One year later, Celtic beat Dumbarton again in round one, this time by 2-1 and on this day in 1972, met Aberdeen in the semi-final at Celtic Park. The Hoops side was Williams, McGrain, Brogan, Murdoch, McNeill, Connelly, Johnstone, Dalglish, Deans, Macari and Lennox.
This turned out to be an excellent game, with both teams in top form. In the first half, when Jimmy Johnstone was on song, with the little winger opening the scoring in 15 minutes, only superb goalkeeping by Bobby Clark and good defending by centre-half Martin Buchan kept the Dons in the game and the deficit down to that single goal.
The second half was more equal and the Dons equalised though Buchan. Just before the final whistle, referee John Paterson collided with Aberdeen defender Willie Young and had to leave the field. One of the linesmen took over the arbiter’s role and an announcement for help over the loudspeaker system resulted in a linesman watching the match volunteering for the vacant post. At the final whistle, it was still 1-1, so extra-time beckoned.
In the 5th minute of the added period, Aberdeen went ahead with Buchan again getting on the score sheet; in 18 minutes, substitute Paul Wilson made it 2-2. Then, with 9 minutes to go, Celtic got the winner, when a far-from-convincing header by Tommy Callaghan from a Johnstone cross soared past Bobby Clark.
NB1 In the final, Celtic faced Hibs at Hampden and the match again went to extra-time. This time, though, the additional period did not work out to Celtic’s advantage, as Hibs won 5-3
NB2 This match was played just over five years after the European Cup win in Lisbon in 1967 and the Celtic side shows how football teams evolve. Of the winning eleven in Portugal, only Bobby Murdoch, Billy McNeill, Jimmy Johnstone and Bobby Lennox took to the field that day in 1972.