On Wednesday night, the 8th March 1967, I was standing in the jungle at Parkhead watching Celtic play Vojvodina in the return leg of their European Cup quarter final. The Yugoslavs were the most technically gifted side in the competition and Celtic had done well to hold them to a single goal away from home. Apart from the result my most abiding memory from that night was finding the back of my trouser legs covered in mud spatters despite the fact that it was a dry night. Mind you there were 75,000 in the ground that night and the drinking ban had yet to be introduced.
In the first half Vojvodina showed their class but Ronnie Simpson was in top form and there was no scoring at the break. Celtic kept pressing and we were all getting a bit anxious as the hour mark approached but the ground erupted in the 58th minute when Stevie Chalmers scored to cancel the visitors advantage from the first leg.
Here is where I confess that I am not a Celtic fan and my big mate who was with me that night was a Rangers man. However, unlike people who refuse to give credit to any team but their own, we were real football fans who would go anywhere to see a good match and, believe me, the Celtic team in those days was really worth watching. It was lucky for me that the big lad was 6ft 2″ tall and, as my view was often blocked by people in front of me with me being 5ft 5″, I had to rely on his commentary for much of the match. Nevertheless, being there was what counted as there are thousands of Celtic fans born after 1967 that missed out on seeing their best ever team.
As the 90th minute approached we thought it time to go before the rush at the end and I was half way down the London Road steps when the big yin shouted “Hang on a minute, Celtic have a corner which Gallagher is going to take.” He continued his commentary “…the ball is in the box; McNeill is up and has powered his header past the keeper.” I thought he was taking the p*** until I saw the crowd all jumping up and down and I must have looked like an idiot doing my jumping on the London Road steps. The first time I saw the goal was on the match highlights at home.
To give credit to Vojvodina they were a better side than either Dukla Prague (I saw that semi final game too) or Inter and were the only team that could have ended Celtic’s European dream and denied the Lisbon Lions the honour of being the first British side to win the European cup. Well done to the eleven Scottish boys who did their nation proud.
Written by our guest author Allan Alexander