A Real Good Night!
Concluding,until the next break from proper football,our series on Memorable Matches,one from my own memory banks which only cost me £2 to witness. Best two quid I ever spent!!!
The fifth of March is always a big day for my family-it’s my kid sister’s birthday! Sadly,I couldn’t hang around for the celebrations that night in 1980,there was agame of football which took precedent. And what a game it turned out to be.
Celtic were once again the champions of Scotland,and for the first time since 1974,we had reached the quarter finals. Least said about the previous rounds the better,they were an accurate reflection of an up and down season so far.
There are few easy games at this stage of Europe of course,and when we were drawn against Real Madrid,our anticipation of seeing Celtic play against possibly the most iconic name in World Football was tempered by the reality of our moderate form so far.
Now,on our night,we can beat anyone-but this was a Real Madrid team which had won four of the previous five La Liga,and would win it again that year too. In fact,they would only lose out narrowly to Liverpool the following season in the final. And they boasted some genuine world-class players. Jose Antonio Camacho was the best left back in the world at the time,a legend who played over 500 times for the club,and over 80 times for his country. Uni Stielike was the steel-like metronome of their midfield,breaking up attacks and starting new ones. A difficult barrier to break and a danger on the ball. Up front was another club legend,Santillana,who played over 600 times and scored around a goal every two games.
And we mustn’t ignore Laurie Cunningham,a man on top of his form,who could tie defenders in knots-and he took a mightily impressive corner kick too!
We,on the other hand,could best be described as a team in transition,and lined up against these pre-Galacticos with
The game was a one-way procession towards the Celtic goal,just as many of us had feared. Murdo and Big Roy were like terriers chasing down every ball and working to find an opening,but they were overwhelmed by the superiority of the Madrid players. Provan too was having a good night,but he was tightly marked and the defence were clearing his final ball with ease if not nonchalance. Their forwards were relentless in their attacks on our defence,where Danny McGrain might have been performing wonders against the skills of Cunningham,but through the middle,we were up against it. Of course,Real Madrid were then up against Peter Latchford-who was having the game of his life!
We were mightily relieved to hear the half-time whistle and still be 0-0,and I doubt there were many of us in the sell-out 67,000 crowd who thought it was likely to remain that way. Two pies and a blindfold was the request at the pie stalls underneath The Jungle!
Well,I dunno what the players had at half-time,nor what advice was offered by Billy McNeil. What I do know is that the second half was a complete turnaround,and an utter joy to behold. ATHINGOFBEAUTY,if you will! We came out roaring like,well,Lions. We seemed to catch Real a little cold,they ignored the move inside by Davie Provan to allow Alan Sneddon-who was also having a superb game,btw-to overlap down the space vacated by him and his marker. And it was from one of those overlaps that the first goal came only seven minutes in. Keeper Ramon couldn’t hold Sneddon’s shot and George McCluskey swept the rebound home.
The whole ground erupted! The atmosphere up till then had been amazing,despite the team being on the back foot. Now,we cranked it up to eleven!!! The team responded by putting on the style,Real responded by hitting us with everything they had. But we had the upper hand,only a few dodgy offside decisions and some ferocious tackling by Stielike especially preventing us from adding to our lead.
That’s when Alan Sneddon again took the leading role out wide. With around 15 minutes left,Murdo robbed Cunningham in midfield. Spotting Sneddon in acres of space,he duly passed it wide. Sneddon was on it,he scampered down the right and hit in a peach of a cross. Of course,we didn’t have a lot of height up front,but Johnny Doyle borrowed a trampoline from somewhere and climbed on the shoulders of giants to smash home a header.
Cue bedlam! Unbelievable,we were beating Real Madrid 2-0!!!
You know what,we could and should have scored more too. Some more decisions went against us,a particularly poor one against Tom McAdam which saw a goal disallowed,Murdo hit a screamer,well saved by the keeper-as did Danny!-but really I don’t want to be grudging about a great night,a great performance. Real Madrid played up to their best,a really good side,but they were no match for that second-half performance. And they knew it,by the end they were hanging on grimly,knowing they had been bested by a fortuitous first 45 and a whirlwind performance in the second half. Every one of our players that night performed heroics,and every fan who was there will never forget what a wonderful night it was in Paradise. Thank you,Bhoys.
But hey,don’t take my word for it. Have a look for yourself.
Above article by BMCUWP. If you want to share your experiences or simply offer your thoughts on any subject,let us know at