In the following blog you will hear from Jim tales of how legendary manager Jock Stein plotted Celtic’s road to glory in Portugal and how Jim overcame the worst of starts to play a major role in the greatest of all Celtic’s victories. Before all of that though, I began our chat by asking him when he first started switching on for the European Cup Final.
“I had a bit of a mixed season since I missed the first two games of the campaign against Football Club Zurich and Nantes because at that time, I was sitting my finals in dentistry and was not that overly involved in football.
I came in on time for Christmas and was involved from FK Vojvodina onwards; we beat FK over two legs; they were a really good side.
I felt then that there was an atmosphere building.
We then beat Dukla Prague in the semi-finals so after that we really felt set for the final.
We had always been warned by the Boss (Jock Stein) not to anticipate too much or expect too much too early because we were taking on a League campaign as well as a Scottish Cup campaign with quite remarkably, a small pool of players.
We only had about fifteen or sixteen players; sadly, Joe McBride did not play after the New Year period which knocked us back in terms of numbers so it was very close towards the end of the season before we started paying attention to the European Cup Final”
In season 1966/67 Celtic entered five major competitions and won them all.
It was an all-conquering campaign as the Scottish League Title, the League Cup, the Scottish Cup and the Glasgow Cup all took pride of place inside the Celtic Park boardroom.
With the Scottish Cup won at the end of April and then the League title secured on the 6th May I wanted to know from Jim if wrapping up those victories relatively early all contributed to the preparations for the European Cup Final.
“Yes, I think it did. The game against Rangers at Ibrox where Jimmy Johnstone scored a remarkable equalizer to give us a draw meant that the point we gained that day secured the title for us.
That was then the League, the League Cup and the Scottish Cup all wrapped up which meant we could take more of an interest in who we were likely to play in the European Cup Final.
Inter Milan were playing CSKA Sofia in the other semi-final and this tie gave us a good idea of how they played because the first game ended in a 1-1 draw and the second game ended in a 1-1 draw.
The deciding game was played in Bologna with Inter winning 1-0 so there weren’t that many goals for us to watch” Jim laughs! “That gave us a very good idea of how we thought Inter would approach the final which was very much in a defensive capacity”