Memorable Matches-Part 6
Continuing the theme of Most Memorable Matches,I can hardly pass up the chance to recall my first winning final.
Not a bad way to break my duck,this. I’d been at the League Cup Final earlier in the season,and I’m positive that it was the first time I’d ever seen Celtic lose,which isn’t bad,considering I’d been going since a 2-1 victory over Aberdeen in late 1967.
But 4-1 against Partick Thistle? Aw,ffs…
And let’s face it,Hibs were no mugs at the time. A very good team indeed,and this was us on the back of a demoralising penalties defeat from Inter Milan in the semi final of The European Cup only a few days earlier. And with a number of injuries too,such as Bobby Lennox,Harry Hood,David Hay,Danny McGrain.
No,this was far from a gimme.
But in front of 106,000 fans,Celtic were simply unstoppable. From the second minute when Cesar scored from a free-kick,we were majestic. Hibs contributed largely to a wonderful match-I think Pat Stanton could have scored a late hat trick but for Evan Williams saying Naw!-but there was no stopping Bobby Murdoch and Jimmy Johnstone that day. They simply ran riot.
This wasn’t a day for going up on the bus,as my Uncle Jim and my Dad were both doing the dreaded Saturday morning shift at their workplaces,and their pal Harry downed a few extra pints waiting for them. We drove up at full pelt,hit The International Bar just in time for me to get the obligatory lemonade and crisps at the front door-pubs didn’t double as crèches in those days!-and made our way into the North-east corner of the ground.
The Celtic End,no less. There are certain traditions as you will all know,and I duly made my way to the front. My Dad knew exactly where I would be,even in a crowd that size,and what I witnessed is part of the legend of Celtic.
No-one had scored six in a Scottish Cup Final since the year of our foundation,but we did,and frankly we were short-changed. Lou Macari chipped in with a couple,but really the stars of the show were Bobby and Jimmy. Bobby sprayed the ball around that pitch like he’d been given the freedom of it-but only for the day,so don’t waste it!-and Jimmy? Well,Jimmy would receive the ball and just tease Hibs.
It was cruelty,really. And a pleasure to behold. George Connelly wasn’t to be outdone either,showing his repertoire of solid defence-remember,this was a very good Hibs team indeed-and the rest of his Beckenbaueresque repertoire as he attempted to outpass Bobby and outrun Jimmy.
But no-one could outshine Dixie,oh no. From the despair of landing the first Mitre on the moon on Wednesday,to putting the Celtic end into orbit on the Saturday. No pressure,and a wonderful hat-trick.
The pick,of course,was his second. Lou hit a hopeful long ball,a Hibs defender got to it first and headed it towards his keeper. Dixie was onto it in a flash,and from a wide angle,rounded the keeper. Only to find the defender blocking his path. No problem,rounded him too-only to find the keeper blocking his route to goal.
Naturally,he rounded him again,only to find,oh you get the drift,this went on for about half an hour until the two Hibs players and,by this time,a colleague,needed to be given oxygen while Dixie put it in the net.
I might have been exaggerating about how long it took,but it is no exaggeration to say how well appreciated that goal was,we chanted Dixie’s name for a good few minutes,and again when he finished off his hat-trick.
The Hibs fans did their best to ruin a great occasion with a minor pitch invasion,but it was Celtic’s day in the sun. And Dixie’s. For all that we had seen outstanding performances from Bobby,Jimmy,George-and also from Tommy Callaghan,I might add-it was Dixie’s day. Dixie’s Cup Final. It was also Bertie Auld’s last appearance-as a late sub for Hibs-and Jim Craig’s last appearance for Celtic.
And my first time seeing a Celtic captain raise a trophy.
Great day,not even a post-match thunderstorm could dampen my spirits,and I doubt it could dampen those of Dixie.