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  • Anniversary of the start of Celtic's golden era

    Anniversary of the start of Celtic's golden era

    By: Joe Sullivan on 09 Mar, 2017 12:01

  • IT was 52 years ago today, March 9, 1965, that a new manager took over at Celtic, and nothing would ever be the same again for the club or for Scottish football.

    Six weeks earlier, on January 30, 1965, Celtic played Aberdeen in a league match. It was a crushing victory for the Hoops as they recorded an 8-0 victory. John 'Yogi' Hughes scored five of those goals, with Bertie Auld, Bobby Murdoch and Bobby Lennox scoring the other three. The following day the club announced that a new manager was to be appointed.

    Jock Stein, the former Celtic captain and now manager of Hibernian, would take over at Celtic Park, with his former team-mate Sean Fallon as his assistant. Jimmy McGrory, who had been manager since 1945, was about to take up the role of Public Relations Officer.

    The appointment was not immediate. Indeed, Stein stayed on as boss at Easter Road until March 9, helping Hibernian knock Rangers out of the Scottish Cup in the process.

    And it's unlikely that the announcement was accompanied by any media fanfare. After all, it is only with the benefit of hindsight that one can acknowledge the enormity of what Robert Kelly and the Celtic board had done. The results would be quickly apparent, but certainly not so in season 1964/65.

    Celtic played St Mirren on two consecutive Saturdays at Love Street following the news of Stein's appointment. On February 6, they won 3-0 in a Scottish Cup tie - a not insignificant result as it turned out - and they followed that up with a 5-1 victory in the league.

    A Bobby Lennox goal gave the Hoops victory in the second round of the Scottish Cup over Queen's Park, before another double triumph - this time against Kilmarnock.

    A 2-0 home win in the league was followed by a 3-2 victory at Celtic Park that saw the Hoops into the semi-final of the Scottish Cup.

    That cup game was to be Jimmy McGrory's last in charge of the team. He had been appointed in July 1945 and after a period of almost 20 years, he was stepping aside. The greatest striker ever to have worn the Hoops had not quite managed to replicate his playing achievements on the managerial front, although there had been notable triumphs along the way.

    The Coronation Cup victory in 1953, the league and Scottish Cup double of 1953/54 and the 7-1 League Cup final win of 1957 stood out amid the under-achievement and mediocrity of the post-war years.

    The new managerial team took its place in the dugout for the first time on March 10, 1965, when the Hoops played Airdrie at Broomfield.

    It was to be an impressive start for Stein, with Celtic winning 6-0. John Hughes opened the scoring on 25 minutes, but it was Bertie Auld who stole the show that day, scoring five goals in a superb Celtic performance.

    The Celtic team that day read: Fallon; Young, Gemmell, Clark, McNeill, Brogan, Chalmers, Murdoch, Hughes, Lennox, Auld

    It's interesting to note that seven of that team were in the starting line-up two years later when Celtic won the European Cup in Lisbon. Of the remaining four - Jimmy Johnstone was already a regular in the first-team squad, Ronnie Simpson had joined the previous year, having been sold from Hibs to Celtic by Stein, Jim Craig had joined the club in January 1965, while Willie Wallace was signed from Hearts in December 1966 - the only Lisbon Lion bought by Stein.

    Celtic's league form for the remainder of 1964/65 was erratic to say the least. Stein was in charge for nine of those games - he won two, drew one and lost five, including an almost unbelievable 6-2 defeat at Brockville against Falkirk.

    It was to be the Scottish Cup which was to prove the first glimmer of hope for long-suffering Celtic fans that things were about to get better.

    The Hoops met Motherwell in the semi-final of the competition at Hampden on March 27 and the game ended in a 2-2 draw. Bobby Lennox and Bertie Auld from the penalty spot scored the goals for Celtic, while a young striker called Joe McBride gabbed both of Motherwell's goals. He would become a Celtic player at the end of that season.

    In the replay, Celtic overwhelmed their opponents, with Stevie Chalmers, John Hughes and Bobby Lennox getting the goals in a 3-0 win.

    The final saw Stein face one of his former sides. He had led Dunfermline Athletic to victory in the Scottish Cup when they beat Celtic 2-0 in a replay after a 0-0 draw in the 1961 final.

    Now he was in the other dug-out, in charge of the Hoops, and twice he saw Celtic go behind, only for Bertie Auld to equalise on both occasions. And with only nine minutes left, Billy McNeill rose to head home a Charlie Gallagher corner-kick to bring the trophy back to Celtic Park.

    It was a wonderful day for the Celtic support but merely a foretaste of what was to come under Jock Stein - 10 league championships, including the famous nine-in-a-row, eight Scottish Cups, six League Cups and, of course, the European Cup triumph of 1967.

    In addition, there was another European Cup final appearance in 1970, two European Cup semi-finals and a European Cup-Winners’ Cup semi-final appearance in 1966.

    Bill Shankly is famously quoted as telling Stein in Lisbon, ‘John, now you're immortal.’

    Never has a truer phrase been spoken.


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