What Was On This Day? 14th September 1977 Celtic 5 Jeunesse Esch 0 European Cup First Round First Leg

The late 1960s and early 1970s had been an excellent time for anyone with Celtic’s interests at heart.

For 9 consecutive seasons – 1966/67 to 1974/75 – the team had been involved in the European Cup. Then came two seasons when Celtic missed out on top spot in the Scottish League, so they ended up in the minor competitions, the Cup-Winners’ Cup in 1975/76 and the UEFA Cup in 1976/77. Another title triumph, though, in 1976/77 – indeed, a ‘double’ of League and Scottish Cup – put Celtic back into the European Cup for the following season. And when the first round draw was made and Celtic was paired with Jeunesse Esch of Luxembourg, regarded as one of the so-called ‘minnows’ of European football, there was rejoicing among the support, the fans quite sure that their heroes would progress into the next round.


TEAM OF 1976-77

Unfortunately, the first few weeks of season 1977-78 did not go to plan. After a 0-0 draw with Dundee United at Parkhead in the opening league match of the season, Celtic lost the next four – Ayr United 1-1 (A), Motherwell 0-1 (H), Rangers 2-3 (A) and Aberdeen 1-2 (A). In the League Cup, Celtic drew 0-0 with Motherwell at home, then had a comfortable 4-2 win in the second match at Fir Park. These results did not do much for morale so it was with some trepidation that 22,000 turned up at Celtic Park on the evening of this day in 1977 to see the Hoops take on the amateurs from Luxembourg. They need not have worried.

Celtic ran the visitors into the ground  and could have reached double figures if Jeunesse Esch’s goalkeeper Rogues had not been in such brilliant form. Even so, the goals rained past him, from Roddy MacDonald (20), Paul Wilson (37), Joe Craig (53, 60) and Brian McLaughlin. The result put Celtic in a good position for the return in Luxembourg.

NB Brian McLaughlin was 23 by the time of that match. After signing an S-form in 1968, he had been farmed out to Linlithgow Rose and joined Celtic full-time in August 1971. Brian was highly rated by all of us who were there at that time, even though he was a laddie and we all felt that he would go on to have along career at the top level. In September 1973, however, he received a horrendous knee injury against Clyde and the damage took a long time to heal. And, of course, the longer one is out of the first team, one’s confidence takes a beating and it also allows a rival to come in and take your place. Both of those circumstances happened to Brian and he eventually left Parkhead and went to Ayr United, with whom he won the Division One Player of the Year award in 1979.

What Was On This Day? 10th September 1958 Celtic 2 Cowdenbeath 0 League Cup QF First Leg

Celtic had qualified for the quarter-final stages of the League Cup in season 1958-59, coming through a section comprising Clyde, St Mirren and Airdrie.


Celtic  6 4 1 1 17 11 9

Clyde  6 4 0 2 15 11 8

St Mirren 6 3 0 3 15 19 6

Airdrie  6 0 1 5 12 18 1

In the quarter-finals, were paired with Cowdenbeath from Division 2, the first match of the two-legged affair taking place on this day in 1958. The Celtic team was Dick Beattie, Dunky MacKay, Neil Mochan, Willie Fernie, Billy McNeill, Bertie Peacock, Eric Smith, Charlie, Mike Jackson, Bobby Collins and Bertie Auld.



Celtic found the visitors quite a handful and they only managed two goals, the first from Bobby Collins in 31 minutes and the second from Bertie Auld in 67 minutes. The support was quite disappointed, as they had been expecting more goals. They might, though, have been even more disgruntled if they had known that they were witnessing Bobby Collins’ final match for the club. In the years between 1949 and 1958, the popular ‘Wee Barra’ made 320 appearances, scoring 116 goals. On 12th September 1958, Bobby was transferred to Everton.

NB Bobby Collins turned out to be a star in England as well. After four years masterminding a fine Everton side, he moved on to Leeds United, where Don Revie made him captain and he revelled in his role of general in that excellent side. In season 1964-65, Bobby win the Player of the Year Award.

NB2 Just before Bobby left Celtic, on 23rd August 1958, a young man called Billy McNeill ran out at Celtic Park to face Clyde in his debut

What Was On This Day? 6th September 1888 Celtic 0 Cowlairs 2 Glasgow Exhibition Cup Final

The 1888 Glasgow Exhibition was held in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow. It was an event designed to promote Glasgow’s industry and commerce and also to raise the profile of the city. As part of the Exhibition, a football tournament was organised, all the matches being played at Glasgow University’s Recreation Ground, just to the west of the main buildings.

Celtic entered the competition, the first one in which the club had ever participated and faced Abercorn, a team from Paisley, in the first round, the match finishing 1-1. Unusually, no record exists of any replay but Celtic did proceed to play, and beat, Dumbarton Athletic 3-1 in the next round and Partick Thistle 3-1 in the semi-final.


Their opponents in the final would be Cowlairs, from the north of Glasgow, who decided to take no chances against these new boys from the east end of the city by inviting three Scottish internationalists from other clubs to turn out for them, a quite legitimate tactic in those early days. On this day in 1888, the Celtic side which ran out on to the pitch was Dunning, Collins, McKeown, Gallagher, Kelly, McLaren, McCallum, Coleman, Groves, M Dunbar and O’Connor.

Unfortunately, in a very tough encounter, Cowlairs proved too strong for the ‘Celts’ and won the match 2-0. There would appear to have been no trophy for a presentation and the Celtic players and committeemen were not happy with the attitude of the crowd. Willie Maley, match secretary at the time, wrote in his book – The Story of Celtic 1888-1938 -that ‘much ill-treatment was generated by their [the players’] treatment both on and off the field by those in control’.

NB Celtic did not have to wait long to take revenge. Only 16 days later, in a second round tie in the Scottish Cup, this time at First Celtic Park, Celtic beat Cowlairs 8-0, their performance described by Willie Maley as ‘a display that has never been equalled for dash and precision in the history of the game’.

NB2 The football played at this time was tough. Some idea of the ‘competitiveness’ of the encounters might be gleaned from a notice from the SFA which all clubs had to post in their dressing –rooms;

“Rough play, as specified in Rule 10, is tripping, ducking, hacking, jumping at a player, pushing and charging’.

What Was On This Day? 2nd September 1971 Celtic 1 Feyenoord 1 Friendly

This match took place at Hampden, some 15 months or so after the European Cup Final in Milan between the same sides, when the Dutch champions won 2-1. Subsequently, unlike Celtic the year before, Feyenoord went on to win the World Club Championship, drawing 2-2 with Estudiantes of Argentina in South America in the first match, then winning the second game 1-0 in Rotterdam.

In another blog, on another site, it states that the above match was arranged as a warm-up for Celtic before they met Ajax in the European Cup. Well, as this encounter at Hampden took place on this day in 1971 and Celtic had already played Ajax in March 1971, I doubt if that could be true. Knowing the personnel involved, I would think it more likely that this match had been arranged as a sort of ‘grudge’ affair, a chance for the Celtic players to atone for their poor performance in Milan and show the Dutch side who was the better?

51,172 turned up to see the game, a truly excellent figure for a friendly. Jock Stein decided to change his system a little, playing George Connelly as an out-and-out ‘sweeper’, with myself, Billy McNeill and Tommy Gemmell just in front.


Bertie Auld, Davie Hay and Tommy Callaghan were to make up a ‘narrow’ midfield, with Bobby Lennox and Stevie Chalmers a double spearhead and Jimmy Johnstone having a roving role. The idea was to leave the wide areas free, leaving space for the full-backs and wing-halves- nowadays they would be known as wing-backs – to come forward.

By contrast with all this all-action activity on the Celtic side, Feyenoord were much more laid-back and very economical in their use of the ball. Celtic’s goal came from a Tam Gemmell penalty in 20 minutes; Feyenoord equalized 20 minutes later, when Evan Williams rather mis-punched a high ball into the middle and striker Posthumas hooked the ball over his shoulder into the net.

At the end, everyone was all friendly and a lot of back-slapping went on among the players. However, as Jock Stein shook hands with his opposite number, the look of his face was not one of contentment.

NB When Feyenoord won the World Club Championship, it was the 11th time the competition had been held. European sides had won the trophy on four previous occasions – Real Madrid 1960, Internazionale 1964 and 1965, and AC Milan 1969. The winning sides from South America were Penarol 1961 and 66, Santos 1962 and 1963, Racing Club 1967 and Estudiantes 1968.