The Dirtiest Game
As promised, Part 1 of a Trilogy of contributions from our esteemed Sentinel, Jimbo67… enjoy folks!
THE DIRTIEST GAME?
I think most people who read this will know quite a lot about the series of games I am about to write about so I am going for something a bit different which means you’ll get the jaundiced, inaccurate reminisces of someone who was probably too young to understand things fully.
I have not, to the best of my recollection, read Tom Campbell’s book about the games but I met the author prior to its publication and he is the source of the Maschio/Bobby Murdoch anecdote which may or may not be in his book. The other sources are books and articles I read in the period between 5 November 1967 and perhaps 7 years later most notably Celtic by Bob Kelly, Jonathan Wilson’s history of Argentinean football Angels With Dirty Faces, an exchange of Messenger messages and a chat in an Edinburgh pub just before the last World Cup with an old mate who has seen Racing Club play rather more recently than Celtic’s visit and, inevitably, the Celtic Wiki.
I was a child in the sixties so I remember a lot of the cultural and sporting totems of that decade from when they were new and also saw the great Celtic of that decade play, both on television and in the flesh. I sometimes say that the first game I remember seeing Celtic play was the match where we beat Internazionale of Milan in Lisbon on the 25th of May 1967 and that it’s been downhill ever since but I had seen highlights of our games played before Lisbon.
At my school of those days, St Matthew’s Primary, a high proportion of the pupils and staff seemed to be crazy about the team and because the son of the team’s star striker was a fellow pupil the hero for many was Joe McBride. Although I was disappointed not to be taken to Parkhead to see the team’s return to Parkhead with the big cup on 26th May I cannot truthfully say I understood the depth of the significance of the Lisbon triumph or even that much about football itself. But I was not a slow learner and 5 months later I had begun to understand and there was even talk of me being taken to a game. In my own mind 5 months after Lisbon, I was an expert. I would make no such claim now I must add.
One of the consequences of that victory in Lisbon was that it meant Celtic would play against the champions of South America in the Intercontinental Cup- the world championship of club football. I did not know until quite a few years later that the ‘world champion’ title was an unofficial one and that the games governing body, FIFA, had nothing to do with the tournament – officially at least. Unlike the contemporaneous Inter-Cities Fairs Cup which was not recognised by UEFA but which was still administered by that organisation all the same , the Intercontinental Cup was, you might argue , not much more than a series of glorified friendlies. And yet whatever the official status of the competition supporters and clubs wanted to win it and the clubs which had won it prior to 1967 were massive names- Real Madrid, Santos, Internazionale and Penarol . The last named had won the cup in 1966 and Celtic had beaten the Uruguayans in a friendly in the September of 1967 in what was seen as a dress rehearsal for the real thing.
1967-10-18: Celtic 1-0 Racing Club, Intercontinental Club Cup 1st Leg ( Hampden Park, Glasgow)
Celtic (Scotland) 1-0 Racing Club (Argentina)
Celtic: Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace, Auld, Hughes
Scorers: McNeill (69)
Racing Club: Cejas, Perfumo, Díaz, Martín (c), Mori, Norberto, Raffo, Rulli, Cárdenas, Rodríguez, Maschio.
Referee: Juan Gardeazábal (Spain),
The first game with Racing Club was played at Hampden on the 18th of October to allow more people to see the game- 103,000 was given as the attendance figure in the next day’s newspapers. The game was not televised live and because the next day was a school day, I was not allowed to stay up to see the highlights. My first words on the morning of the 19th were ‘did Celtic win?’
We had, 1-0, and Billy McNeill had scored the goal I was told. As I ate my Rice Krispies, I learned though that it had been a nasty match. Wee Jimmy had been kicked repeatedly and after one foul that had left Jimmy writhing on the ground the Racing goalie, Agustin Cejas, had run from his goal to console the player and then with players by now surrounding the referee this same angel of mercy had had a fly kick at Jimmy. Wee Bertie had had the head stuck on him but worst of all, somehow, had been the sight of our players being spat at repeatedly. My dad was at times quite a volatile character but generally football was just a game for him, triumphs were great sure but he did not subscribe to Shankly’s theory about football, life and death . But he was raging that morning as he could not believe what he had seen the night before. Words that children probably should not hear were used to describe the play of Racing Club and for once mum did not scold my dad using such words (This meant it was serious) . Meanwhile, the referee was as much a target for his venom as the opposing team it seemed. I shall now provide an extract from a report made by Willie Allan of the SFA on each of the matches.
Senor Juan Gardeazabal …was a referee of experience of known and good reputation throughout Europe…He was lacking in that essential attribute of a first-class referee- control… He made no real effort to curb indiscipline and seemed incapable of taking disciplinary action against players guilty of violent conduct or of persistent infringement, of whom there were several. His attitude served only to encourage those who were disposed to offend, and not a few made good use of his laxity.
My dad had used rather fewer words to describe Senor Gardeazabal, but I suppose his words meant the same thing as Allan’s.
To be continued ….Part 2/3 to follow.