What Was On This Day? 29th April 1964 MTK Budapest 4 Celtic 0 Cup-Winners’ Cup Semi-final 2nd Leg

The first few years of the decade of the 1960s had not been successful ones for Celtic. Indeed, the last time they had won one of the three major domestic trophies was in 1957, the 7-1 victory over Rangers in the final of the League Cup. So, when the Celts went on a fine run in the European Cup-winners’ Cup in season 1963-64, it was not only a surprise to many in Scottish football but also to their most dedicated fans.

Celtic were only in the competition in the first place because they had lost to Rangers in the final of the Scottish Cup the previous season and as the Light Blues also picked up the League title and thus qualified for the European Cup, it left a place for Celtic in the lesser tournament.

In round one, the Hoops beat Basle of Switzerland 10-1 on aggregate; in round two, Dinamo Zagreb of Yugoslavia were dispatched 4-2; while in the quarter-final, it was the turn of Slovan Bratislava of Czechoslovakia to fall to the Scots by 2-0. That put Celtic into the semi-finals and a tie against MTK Budapest, the first leg of which, in Glasgow, ended in a very comfortable 3-0 win for the home side, the goals coming from Jimmy Johnstone and Stevie Chalmers (2).

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STEVE CHALMERS

The result put Celtic into a very fine position for the return leg in Hungary and it was a pretty confident party which travelled to Budapest for the second match. Then somebody behind the scenes made an almost unbelievable decision.

At some point before the return leg, held on this day in 1964 – and don’t forget Celtic were sitting on a 3-goal lead – ‘somebody’ from the directorial or managerial staff told the players that they had a duty to go out and show the Hungarians just how well a Scottish team could play football. The Celtic eleven – Fallon, Young, Gemmell, Clark, McNeill, Kennedy, Johnstone, Murdoch, Chalmers, Gallagher and Hughes – tried to do as they had been advised but their rather open system left spaces for MTK to take advantage of and this they truly did, going on the win the leg 4-0 and the tie 4-3!

NB Towards the end of that season and during the summer, there were some changes in the playing staff. In April, John MacNamee had been transferred to Hibs for £17,000; in the same month, Billy Price was given a free transfer; in June, Frank Brogan moved to Ipswich for £12,000 and Paddy Turner crossed the Irish Sea to Glentoran for £1000.

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What Was On This Day? 23rd April 1997 Falkirk 1 Celtic 0 Scottish Cup Semi-final

This match was played on this day in 1997 in truly atrocious conditions.

This was a huge occasion for Celtic. It was the club’s last chance to pick up a trophy during that season of 1996/97, which frankly had been a disappointing one. Celtic had finished second in the league behind Rangers; had been knocked out of the League Cup at the quarter-final stage by Hearts; and had made an early exit in the UEFA Cup at the hands of Hamburg.

The Celtic team on the day was Kerr, Boyd, McKinlay, MacNamara, Stubbs, O’Donnell, Di Canio, Hannah, Donnelly, Thom, Cadete; and both sides took to the field in poor conditions, a heavy wind and a slippy, unpredictable pitch. The surface made life difficult for everyone, Stuart Kerr being tested early on when dealing with firstly, a high cross and then a fierce shot.

Paolo Di Canio was the main Celt, his talent shining like a beacon through the gloom. However, the crucial strike was made by Falkirk and it arrived as early as the 19th minute. A long, diagonal cross fell at the feet of inside-forward David Hagen, his miss-hit shot rose into the air and Paul McGrillan was able to send a looping header in a perfect arc over Stuart Kerr. From then on, the match was fairly even, even if the quality of play was poor, although Falkirk came close to a second when outside-right Scott MacKenzie hit the post with a shot.

This result was a real blow to everyone connected with Celtic. It meant not only another season without a trophy, it was also the 2nd time in 3 years that Celtic had lost to 1st Division opposition at Ibrox. By that time, Tommy Burns had been in charge for three years, had spent 15 million on new players and only won one trophy, the Scottish Cup against Airdrie, another First Division side. Six months earlier, Celtic had lost to Raith Rovers in the League Cup final.

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TOMMY BURNS

NB If we exclude the 1940s, six years of which were interrupted by the 2nd World War, the 1990s was the poorest of the 11 full decades thus far in Celtic’s history. The figures apply to victories in the two major domestic trophies until the 1930s and then three trophies from then on;

1890s  7

1900s  9

1910s  7

1920s  5

1930s  5

1950s  5

1960s  13

1970s  13

1980s  8

1990s  4

2000s  13

What Was On This Day? 19th April 1966 Liverpool 2 Celtic 0 European Cup-Winners’ Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg

On this day in 1966, several thousand Celtic fans were making their way by train or car to Liverpool, where in the evening their heroes would be facing the Reds in the second leg of a semi-final of the European Cup- Winners’ Cup.

This was the 2nd time in 3 seasons that the Hoops had reached this stage of the competition and their fans were very keen – and expectant – that the team would go through to the final, especially as they were carrying a one-goal lead from the first leg. 54,000 was the official attendance and the Celtic eleven was Simpson, Young, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Lennox, McBride, Chalmers, Auld and Hughes.

Liverpool obviously needed to score and went about trying to do so in a very positive manner, Celtic for the first hour putting up an excellent rearguard resistance to preserve their lead. Then the roof fell in. Goals by Tommy Smith (60) and Geoff Strong (65) sent the home fans into raptures and as Celtic tried to make more of an impression on the game in attack, the Reds defence showed that it could also be more than adequate in protecting its goal.

However, the match ended in controversy. Just before the final whistle, Celtic got the ball in the net thanks to a Bobby Lennox dash through the middle and fine shot. To the horror of the Celtic fans, though, the linesman’s flag was up, the goal was dis-allowed and Liverpool went though to the final on a 2-1 aggregate.

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BOBBY LENNOX

NB In the other semi-final, Borussia Dortmund beat West Ham United 5-2l. Rather ironically, this final match was played at Hampden Park before a crowd of 41,000 and the West Germans and Liverpool played out a 1-1 draw, putting the game into extra-time. In the 109th minute, though, Libuda scored the crucial goal which gave Borussia Dortmund a 2-1 win, the club becoming the first from West Germany to win this particular trophy.

What Was On This Day? 15th April 1916 Two Matches In One Day

The advent of the First World War, which for Britain began in August 1914, had serious repercussions for Scottish football.

The FA and the SFA agreed to abandon international matches; the SFA also decided to scrap the Scottish Cup competition.

Players’ wages were to be reduced by 25% and later were fixed at £1 per week.

No wages were paid during the close season and footballers were expected to take their places alongside the other workers in the shipyards and munitions factories.

League matches were confined to Saturdays and holidays and players could only take part if they had worked the rest of the week.

The latter condition could have been greatly to Celtic’s disadvantage in the 3rd of their four-in-a-row league title wins between 1913/14 and 1916/17. The club’s away match against Motherwell on 25th March had been postponed because of snow. That meant that 7 matches were still left for Celtic to play and as they could only take place on Saturdays or holidays, there were not going to be enough suitable dates for them to be played before the last day of the season – 29th April.

Games were under-take against Morton (0-0) on 1st April and Falkirk (2-0) on 8th April. That left five matches left and to relieve the pressure, Celtic agreed to play two matches in one day and these took place on this day in 1916. The first took place at Celtic Park against Raith Rovers with a 3.15pm kick-off, when the team was Shaw, McNair, McGregor, Young, Dodds, McMaster, McAtee, Gallacher, O’Kane, McMenemy and Browning. Celtic won 6-0, the goals coming from Gallacher (3), O’Kane (2) and Dodds.

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The players then had a quick bath and got on to a bus which took them to the next game, at Fir Park against Motherwell. This match began at 6pm and the only change in the side from the earlier contest was at centre-forward, where Joe Cassidy replaced Joe O’Kane. Celtic won this one too, this time by 2 goals to one, thanks to a Joe Dodds penalty and a Jimmy McMenemy strike.

What Was On This Day? 11th April 1973 Celtic 3 Dundee 0 Scottish Cup Semi-final

On 11th April 1925, Celtic had beaten Dundee in the final of the Scottish Cup, the match made especially memorable for a remarkable solo effort by Patsy Gallacher. 48 years later, on this day in 1973, the teams met again at Hampden, this time in a semi-final replay of the same trophy.

In the earlier rounds, Celtic had beaten East Fife 4-1, Motherwell 4-0, Aberdeen 1-0 in a replay after a 0-0 draw in the first match and that goalless stalemate was also the score in the first match between the Hoops and the Dark Blues. The Celtic team that evening for the replay was Hunter, McGrain, Brogan, Murdoch, McNeill, Connelly, Johnstone, Dalglish, Deans, Lennox and Callaghan.

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GEORGE CONNELLY

Unfortunately, as in the first match, the 90 minutes turned out to be a fairly dull encounter and the lack of goals put the game into extra-time. Thankfully, things then picked up, especially for Celtic. In the 101st minute, Kenny Dalglish guided a long upfield punt out of defence into the path of Jimmy Johnstone, who steered the ball the Dundee keeper. One minute later, a Tommy Callaghan cross was only parried by the keeper as far as Dalglish, who had the simple task of hooking the ball home. And, 10 minutes from time, a pass from Danny McGrain gave Wee Jimmy the chance to race forward and fire home a fierce shot to give Celtic a 3-0 victory.

NB This would prove to be Bobby Murdoch’s last full season with Celtic. On 17th September 1973, he joined Middlesbrough on a free transfer.

NB2 At centre-forward for Dundee that night was John Duncan, for whom Celtic made an unsuccessful bid of £50,000 in August 1973.