Tue, 28 April 2020
The 9iar Chronciles - Season Six 1970/71
Merely Champions? Merely a Double? The End of an Era?
Celtic won their sixth successive League Championship and the League and Scottish Cup Double - the 7th time they had achieved this. But many folk were now shaking their heads and saying that the team was not what it was. The problem appeared to be less in what was on display but how the team achieved it's wins and the manner of those wins.
Celtic had invested heavily in youth in the past and in the development of players through from youths and Juniors through to first team players. Sir Robert Kelly had warned Celtic supporters in the fallow years to be patient and to wait for the youngsters coming through. That wait had resulted in the Lisbon Lions and the years of fat which preceded this season. Further investment in youth saw the emergence of the Kelly Kids and the Quality Street Gang and these were the players that were breaking through throughout this season and who would take the club forward. The problem was that these young players were seen in performance against the ageing Lisbon Lions squad and the games were judged by Lisbon Lions standards. Time had not stood still for the Lions. Though Ronnie Simpson, the oldest of the Lisbon Lions, had retired at the end of the previous season, it was at the end of this season that the major departures of the Lions began. Bertie Auld, Stevie Chalmers and John Clark all moved on - a situation that would have been thought impossible back two seasons past - and they would soon be joined by others. But their time had come they needed to and had to move on for the team's sake. Jock Stein realised this and throughout the season he carefully assessed all the playing staff at the club - who was in, who was available, who was coming through. And change was inevitable to preserve the talent of the club and to continue to move forward and to challenge for glory.
Thu, 23 April 2020
Covid or Novid
As you will hear, this is not our usual Celtic Underground guest - for a start she doesn’t go to games… More importantly that attending Celtic games however, she is working to save lives. Haley (my niece) is a nirse currently working in A&E, sometimes in general accodent & emergency, other times (liek this past week) on the Covid19 ward. To use the hospital jargon, she is either Covd or Novid.
Don’t worry, the content won’t unnerve (it might even put your mind at rest) for example A&E’s are quieter than normal.
She talks through what you might find if you go to hospital for whatever reason, what some of the symptoms are to look out for, how here and her colleagues are coping and, of course, the situation with PPE.
Tue, 21 April 2020
The 9iar Chronicles - Season Five 1969/70
A brilliant season that was nearly incredible!
When you look at that list of season accomplishments above you would have to conclude that it was so close to being a very successful season. The Double was very nearly a treble and close to a European quadruple. The truth is in the detail.
The one word that many people use when describing this season is 'complacency' The League was won by a clear 12 points from second placed (again) Rangers. Four league games were lost, three of them at home to Hibernian, Hearts and Aberdeen with the one away loss to Dunfermiline. The team played for the most part 'within' themselves and this led a number of observers to state that at times the team were over-confident and complacent in their handling of the game.
However, as the podcast confirms, this was somewhat unfair
Tue, 14 April 2020
The 9iar Chronicles - Season Four 1968/69
TREBLES ALL ROUND!
An extremely successful season, the second treble season and the 6th League and Cup double. Only two blips dotted the horizon. Those were the quarter final loss to AC Milan, who went on to win the European Cup this season, and losses home and away to Rangers in the League. They still finished five points behind in second place in the league, a result that again prompted whole scale changes across the river. The other loss in the league was at home to Morton at the end of the season. A total of 29 games were won with 89 goals for and 32 against and the points total was 55. The previous season had seen 30 wins with a massive 106 goals for and 24 against and 63 points.
Celtic had been one of the first clubs to protest against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. This led to the eastern Bloc teams pulling out of the competition and led to a redraw of the First Round. Celtic faced St Etienne who were beginning to come to prominence in Europe. Missing Bobby Murdoch and Tommy Gemmell they lost 2-0 away which was a major fright. A furious Stein vowed to go for all-out attack in the return game and the Celts gave no quarter running out 4-0 winners at Celtic Park to go through to face Red Star Belgrade who had failed to withdraw with the rest of the Eastern Bloc teams. They won 5-1 at home with Jimmy Johnstone running riot in the second half when told he might not have to travel if Celtic got a four goal advantage and then Johnstone-less held out with a 1-1 draw in Belgrade. and so on to the Quarter finals against AC Milan. The away leg in the San Siro was played in a snow storm in atrocious conditions and ended 0-0. Celtic were now being feted to go on to a final against Manchester Utd. But it was not to be, when Billy McNeill blundered early to allow Prati to score. Manchester Utd, by the way, lost to AC Milan 2-1 in the semi final.
In the League Cup Celtic qualified easily from the group stage winning all their games in a group with Morton, Partick Thistle and Rangers and were the best performing qualifier from all the groups. The Quarter final saw Hamilton Accies put to the sword with an aggregate score of 14-2. With a 10-0 win in the first leg Jock Stein felt confident enough to give many of the younger staff a run out with the average team age being 22. Onto the semi against Clyde which proved to be a hard fought match which was only settled by a goal from George Connelly, on as a substitute for Joe McBride. The final at Hampden was delayed due to a fire and when finally played in April Celtic destroyed Hibernian 6-2. Six goals up in 75 minutes they took their foot off the pedal for the last quarter of an hour allowing Hibs to score two goals.
The Scottish Cup started with the first round proper against Partick Thistle away and Celtic let a comfortable 3-1 lead slip away to a 3-3 draw. The Big Man wasn't happy in the least and conducted an in-depth investigation demanding more from the players. The replay was never in doubt with every forward scoring in a 8-1 win. The second round saw Celtic drawn away again against Clyde. In a match that probably should not have been played Celtic drew 0-0 with Ronnie Simpson carried off with a dislocated shoulder which would see him out for the rest of the season. The replay was won 3-0 on a heavy and muddy pitch. The quarter final saw them drawn at home against Willie Ormond's St Johnstone. This proved to be an excellent game where the Bhoys showed all their fighting spirit to come back when St Johnstone equalised. The semi was against Morton who scored first but then had no answer to the brilliance of Jimmy Johnstone. And so onto the final against Rangers. This was Jock Stein at his best outwitting Rangers and out-thinking Davie White.
Throughout the season Jimmy Johnstone and John Hughes were outstanding on either wing both proving themselves to be world class players. Jimmy managed to get himself suspended by the club for shouting at the bench and throwing his shirt when he was substituted in the League game against Dundee Utd. The story still leads to much hilarity when told but was serious at the time. Jock Stein would regularly throw the curve ball at the opposition by having John Hughes run out in the number 11 shirt and then play him at centre forward. Bobby Murdoch won the Scottish Player of the Year award, Willie Wallace finished top scorer. And finally Robert Kelly was given and accepted a knighthood on behalf of the club.
All seemed good at the club with the lack of knighthood for Jock Stein transferred to one for the Chairman and on the field a vivacious, attack-minded Celtic team and more quality youngsters coming through.
Sun, 12 April 2020
Aitch is retired!
I love having guests on the podcast. Most of the time we have myself and the usual team of guys discussing the events of the day affecting our cub however every so ogten we get guests on to provide us with a little something extra. What makes the guest so great is that they give up, what usually ends up being 2 hours+ of their day to be “interviewed” by a complete amatuer and they do so willingly and for free. What is also great is when the guest has so many stories that I run out of time to ask all the questions that pop into my head and that was the case with Andrew.
A great guest who was at Celtic during an incredible time, Andrew has some brilliant stories to tell. so many in fact that we will need him back on again because, after 90 minutes I ran out of time.
I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed recording this.
Tue, 7 April 2020
The 9iar chronicles - Season Three 1967/68
The Second Greatest Season EVER in the History of the Club - and a Double season.
After the highs of 1967-68 it would be difficult to know how to go forward with the club. That Jock Stein had a vision of where the club should be was without doubt. He had clearly shown that the club could move forward with suitable backing and one voice. That direction was most clearly in Europe and to be recognised as a great and formidable club. And for this reason Europe and the participation in European competitions was THE most important thing. That is not to say that the other games were non-important. If Jock Stein was anything, he was competitive and aspirational. Having done it once, he wanted to do it again.
It seems almost inevitable as nemesis follows hubris that having won the competition at the first time of asking that the following season the team should fall at the first hurdle. But that's what happened. In Dynamo Kiev, they met a team as well prepared and ready to fight as Celtic were. At home in the first leg, they lost an early goal and then a second, both from errors made by Celtic players and though the effort was all-out in the second half they could only find the one goal. Stein had been looking for a win and by a clear three goals to give him the margin for the return leg. As a master of 'attack being the best form of defense' the away leg would have to be all-out attack. What happened was that though Celtic charged, the game was sorely affected by the pernickety refereeing of an Italian and the Bhoys never got a good clear run to build up the constant pressure of 9 men capable of scoring. And then on 59 minutes Bobby Murdoch was sent off for a second yellow card. A seemingly decent goal was then disallowed and Celtic found themselves knocked out.
With an abrupt termination of European competition this season, the necessity to qualify for next season was paramount. The League HAD to be one. There was just no two ways about this. The team embarked on a winning streak which lasted till the 2nd January and the game against Rangers at Celtic Park. Rangers were two points ahead in the League. The stage was set and no one was more keen than Jock Stein to put Celtic back where they belonged. What happened was to haunt John Fallon for the rest of his career. Two goalkeeping errors allowed Rangers to draw 2-2 and the nip-and-tuck would go on right to the end of the season. In the end it was Rangers that blinked. It was for them to lose the title which they duly did, missing out in crucial games allowing Celtic to continue to maintain their League win record and take the title with a rousing performance at Dunfermiline.
The drive for the League Championship this season established records. The team produced a post-war record of 63 points to win, 5 more than the previous season, and in doing so they lost only one League game. They did not score as many goals with 106 as opposed to 111 the previous but they conceded less - 24 against 33 in 66/67.
In the face of this success it might therefore be thought churlish to complain but there was something different about the performance this season. Despite the number of games won the team appeared to be less imperious than it had the year previously. Jock Stein recognised that no team could stand still and measures had been taken to bring new players through. There was a good crop of youngsters developing but this would take a little time. In the mean time Celtic still had a team capable of attacking with 9 men and defending in depth when required.
Of the other three competitions, Celtic were knocked out of the Scottish Cup at the First Round - something that had not happened since 1952 - by the team that would go on to win the trophy - Dunfermiline. Celtic retained the League Cup after qualifying from a group containing Rangers, Dundee Utd and Aberdeen - another nose rubbed in the dirt. And when Rangers withdrew from the Glasgow Cup citing fixture congestion the word everywhere was that Rangers were afeared to face an in-form Celtic. Celtic duly retained the Glasgow Cup.
Perhaps this last excuse needs bearing in mind when considering the Intercontinental Club Championship games against Racing. There is no doubt that Jock Stein wanted to win this. Even in the face of the debacle after the second leg in Buenos Aires It was Jock that insisted on playing the replay in Montevideo. Robert Kelly was all for returning home. But how would the public have seen a statement like that? In the end it was probably the players view that they could beat Racing which turned opinion to playing the replay and what happened made Jock Stein regret his decision to go ahead with the replay. In the face of the film of the incidents being shown around the world the club had no choice but to censure the players. But what people throughout had failed o see was the utter intimidation and dirty behaviour that Celtic had faced from the Argentine side throughout the three games. And the patience and fair play of the team finally broke and led to the incidents.
So what we have then is a great season in many ways, but flawed and not perfect as say 1967-68 had been. It still represented a phenomenal achievement. Celtic were playing total football with local players all from within 20 miles of Celtic Park long before the phrase became popular and in relation to the Dutch.
The next season as always would present new challenges.
Fri, 3 April 2020
Tale from the Celtic Wiki plus the radio commentary of the goals
There is little introduction required for Celtic fans of this game - 25th May 1967. Celtic 2-1 Inter Milan.
This 9iar extra features a return of The Human Torpedo and a Tale from The Celtic Wiki and the radio commentary of the goals from the game.
Thu, 2 April 2020
The 9iar chronicles - Season Two 1966/67
This is the second in our nine in a row diaries and it is the story of the most remarkable season - The greatest season ever in the history of the club and one of the greatest seasons of any football club anywhere.
• League Position – 1st - Second League title in a row
Every competition that the club entered it won. There can be no better season than 1967. The first North European club to win the European Cup since the competition started in 1955. The FIRST BRITISH TEAM TO DO SO.
The previous season had been good but this season was outstanding. Jock Stein deservedly won the title of Best British Manager for the second successive season. If other teams had sat up and looked at Celtic and their manager during the previous season, then with the win in Lisbon the whole of the world became aware of Jock Stein and Celtic.
The foundations for this outstanding success had already been laid the previous season. At the start of 1966-67 the final touches were put in place with the purchase of Joe McBride from Motherwell. Joe went on to have an outstanding goal scoring run before knee trouble put pay to his further appearance at the turn of the year. This pushed Celtic into the transfer market again and Jock Stein identified Willie Wallace as the man who could take over where McBride had left off and continue the goal scoring progress that Celtic had made.
The key to ALL the success of the season stood firmly with the belief and clear vision that Stein laid out. This was a team. It played together as a talented team, not just eleven talented individuals but a cohesion that came from trust and acceptance of fellow players and belief in the greatest manager. Jock Stein thought deeply about the game. He analysed every team that Celtic played and had a plan for every game and every opponent. The players were told to listen and to follow that plan and woe betide those that did not do what the Big Man said. But the Big Man's analysis was generally spot on and with his back room staff they prepared a fit lean playing machine that could hang together, knew how to fight back and knew what was needed. Never before had this been seen in football. And the world recognised it when Celtic beat Inter in Lisbon. It was a win for the future of football.
The names of Jock Stein, Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdock, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Auld, Chalmers, Wallace and Lennox will never be forgotten.