Memories of Lisbon 67 – Part One

As we near the greatest night in Celtic and Scottish footballs history, we are delighted to share some memories from supporters at the Ottawa CSC. This is part one. Part two is tomorrow. Enjoy.

It was typically warm in Ottawa, and I was sweating but not just from the heat. From 9:00 a.m. that morning I had been teaching my classes at Sir Wilfrid Laurier H.S. but my mind was not on English Literature. I had calculated that, while I was having lunch in the cafeteria about 12:30, Celtic would be taking the field in Lisbon to play Inter Milan in the European Cup final … and it was agony.
In 1967 no world-wide TV coverage of such an event existed; even the BBC World Service could not be relied on short-wave radio. I was stuck. The afternoon was worse: Celtic were playing in Lisbon, and I was in an Ottawa class-room, and the kids knew their teacher was distracted – especially, when I (with a reputation for strictness, if not brutality, as indicated by the nicknames of ‘Chopper’ and ‘TC’) told them to ‘Read your books on your own for a while.”
About 2:30 it would be 7:30 in Lisbon; the game had started at 5:30, and so it would be over. It was a junior class, an Academic class with bright kids; I decided to tell them about Celtic, and they were intrigued: ‘He doesn’t just care about nouns and verbs; he’s a fanatic about a soccer team, an absolute fanatic …’
The phone rang, it was the vice-principal: “Tom, you were talking about a football game today? Well, I have the result, if you are interested.” Interested?
“Yes, Mr Labrosse, you could say that.”
“Well, here goes. Inter Milan won …” That was enough; I hung up on him; I may have slammed the phone down. The students had guessed already that it was bad news. Not a word, not a sound. Nobody was going to risk defenestration from a second-storey window. The phone rang again…
“Tom, I hadn’t finished. Where was I? Oh, yes. Inter Milan 1, Celtics 2.”
Joy, sheer unadulterated joy. We celebrated, the students and I. Most of them were fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who had won the Stanley Cup recently. They identified with my mood. No homework tonight, in fact, no more ‘Twelfth Night’ that day. (Tom Campbell)

My dad, who was the convener for the Dumfries CSC , simply told my mother: “Tommy’s off school today. Right.” He was serious; for him it was not a question but a statement. I’m sure it was a Thursday, definitely a school day. I remember the sun was shining in Dumfries. Honest.
What else do I remember? I was 12 years old. Our TV was black and white. I sat there with him in the living room, my Celtic scarf on, one of those old-style ones and he had bought it for me the previous Christmas.
Nervous as hell, he had fortified himself with his usual “wee half and a can of Tennents”; I was drinking lemonade and munching on a bag of crisps. Just the two of us, engrossed, (stressed out I can tell you); we went through agonies as Celtic piled on the pressure, fighting for an equaliser… and , after Gemmell scored, I just couldn’t watch anymore. It was all getting too much for me. I literally went outside, and paced the garden. I looked up to see my dad standing in the doorway. When he came out, I swear all he said was “ Tommy, we did it, son”. He was never a sentimental man but he hugged me right there in our wee garden like a long lost friend. I’ll never forget it till the day I die. I cried, I’m not ashamed to admit it, I bawled my eyes out.
By the way, as an aside, my father, ‘Tam’, as they called him, was the bus convener for the Dumfries CSC for many years. I’ve seen him throw people off if they were drunk, or being too rowdy. He took no nonsense from anyone. In fact, his nickname as a youth was “Punchy McLellan” and I kid you not. But I’m a Celtic man mainly because of him; he had no time for bigotry of any form, and he detested masons, and lodges… He loved the Celtic, and I was a proud son years later when I laid that same scarf across his coffin just before he was interred.
I went to a school where if you didn’t support Rangers you were considered a misfit. That win made my day, and the next day too; I wore my scarf to school proudly; nobody dared say a word..
That’s about it, but the memory of that day (even though I probably missed most of the second half) will stay with me forever. (Tom McLellan)

I still have the original copies of the Scottish newspapers from May 25/26/27th, as well as the ‘Celtic View’ of Wednesday, May 24th, and I treasure them to this day, now fifty years later. These were preserved at the time by my Uncle James and they eventually made their way to me. His days as a Celtic supporter would have gone back all the way to the late 1930s; so, he had seen the best, and the worst of Celtic! I’m glad he lived long enough to see the greatest night, and the best in Celtic’s history. As the oldest son, he would also have been the person who first took my dad, his brother, to the games after the war.
In due course, the love of Celtic was passed on to me.
I was only seven (and a half!) when we won the Big Cup; I can remember the game and the excitement in our house, but didn’t really ‘get’ the significance of it. I had never seen my dad get so worked up about a game before, and he did go crazy when we scored those goals. Next day at school, playtime consisted of us marching round the playground singing Celtic songs: “Champions of Europe! Champions of Europe!”
I’ve seen the game on film more than once. I think it was later that year that that European Cup final was shown in the chapel hall in our parish, and the cheers were just as great when we scored. I may have been eight years old then.
I saw the game again when I was in my early 20s; so, of course, I had a fuller appreciation of how good we were that night in Lisbon. Apart from the goals what stood out was our all-out attack and the total domination. We hammered them 2-1; we destroyed them.
My earliest memories of actually being taken to games coincided with Celtic’s ascendancy from 1965 onward. Maybe, as a seven year-old, I thought that winning the European Cup was just something Celtic did ! My uncles and my dad were quick to tell me it wasn’t always the case but from my young perspective, from 1967 on, I knew there was no team in Europe that we needed to fear. (Kevin Dale)

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3 years ago

Fantastic keep them coming.
My uncle John went to the game, he brought home some of the turf, the tri colour that they took still goes to Europe,the grass stains still there,where they knelt upon it on the Lisbon turf.It remains and will forever stay unwashed.
HH.

3 years ago
Reply to  jimmybee

Nice one,JimmyBee

Weered
3 years ago
Reply to  jimmybee

Yes…that is a real heirloom… It’s stuff of legends on and off the pitch

Weered
3 years ago

I only have vague recollections of 67. It is wonderful to read these memories beautifully shared with loving care and accuracy.
Thank you so much for this HH.

3 years ago
Reply to  Weered

Weered,
Thought you and Mike would have been fond of ’69?

Weered
3 years ago
Reply to  Monti

Monti ya seem to have a strange sense of occasion.

mike
3 years ago

Brilliant Hector, I was 18 years old, watching with my mate on his fathers black and white telly. When Tam’s rocket went in we ran out into the street, running around like maniacs, they didnae call me mad Mike for nout.
You were only allowed one substitute then, a sub. goalie John Fallon, I always try to remember the squad players who never played in Lisbon, John Fallon of course, Yogi Hughes, Joe McBride, who despite being out injured for most of the season with injury, still was the leagues highest scorer,with 35 goals out of 26 appearances, Willie O Neil, Charlie Gallagher and Jim Brogan, they like Sean Fallon (Assistant Manager) Neilly Mochan (Coach/ Trainer) all played there part in the teams success.
Hail Hail to our Lions.

3 years ago
Reply to  mike

18?? Cough
29 more like.

bgbhoy
3 years ago
Reply to  mike

mike, if you where going on Saturday you’d meet my mate Kieran, who is John Fallon’s great nephew… same surname, he won the magners competition and played at celtic park last night for having the same surname as a member of the Lisbon squad!

Pensionerbhoy
3 years ago
Reply to  mike

Jee whiz, mike,

I honestly thought you were kidding when you said you were auld – did you mean Bertie? If you were 18 then, then I am deid now 🙂

H H

3 years ago
Reply to  Pensionerbhoy

🙂

Weered
3 years ago
Reply to  Pensionerbhoy

PB.. MIKE’S AS OLD AS THE YOUNGEST SHEEP HE OWNS 🙂

3 years ago

Lisbon 1967 was 4 years and 7 months before i was born.
Remember in my youth reading book after book about the Lions,and i remember trying to memorise the line up in my head and the delight when you could eventually reel the team off.

Can only imagine what state i’d have been in that night we won the European cup, had i been old enough to drink.

The Lisbon Lions and big Jock Stein put our club on the map, there has been no looking back.
Let’s go out there on Saturday and win the Scottish cup the Celtic way & as big Jock said ” Make it a season everyone will remember “!

Hail Hail!

Weered
3 years ago
Reply to  Monti

What time were you born at. What weight were you. What was the midwifes name etc or are you a figment of the darker recesses of our collective minds…

3 years ago
Reply to  Weered

Goodmorning Weered Monti and Every Other Bhoy.The Lisbon 67 programme is amasing.Defo brings a lump to the throat…..

3 years ago

Without The Support it means Nothing,What a Club What a Support,What History We Have To Look Back on.The Lions Put Our Club into Stuff of Legends.And Will Never Be Forgotten.Lions We Hail You.HH The Celts Are Here.I was only a nipper of 3,But i have my Old Grandad to Thank for Putting me on the Celtic Path from Birth.Its A Bhoys Thing!!!!!

CarlJungleBhoy
3 years ago

Excellent read!

CarlJungleBhoy
3 years ago

Accoording to my older sis, when my Da worked at Linwood, he was involved in putting the finishing touches to the green & white Hillman Imp that drove to Lisbon – a journey now being repeated again this week.

Weered
3 years ago
Reply to  CarlJungleBhoy

CarlJungleBhoy…That’s a great piece of family history connected to the Lions… Something to really treasure 🙂

CarllJungleBhoy
3 years ago
Reply to  Weered

Cheers! Believe it or not, only 2 years ago I discovered (depending on how you look at it) an even closer family connection: The Coatbrisge Shamrock Accordion band who marched in front of the parade of the Lisbon Lions around Celtic Park on 26th May 1967 was led a fmaily member – Jimmy Brennan – who married my cousin (he met his wife when he was best man at my sister’s wedding).

I wrote an article about him on E-Tims 2 years ago. There’s also a wee bit of film showing big Jimmy on the BBC Alba Jock Stein doc.

There’s a link to it on my Twitter home page @CarlJungleBhoy but I plan to post it again on the 50th anniversary (this Friday)

CarllJungleBhoy
3 years ago

BTW A short clip showing Big Jimmy Brennan giving it laldy with his baton leading the parade at Celtic Park was also shown on in the first few minutes of last night’s Glasgow 1967 doc on BBC1.

3 years ago
Reply to  CarlJungleBhoy

CarlJngleBhoy,i know the Wee imp your talking about M8.Ive seen it in pics when the pilgrimage happened from Paradise.If its the same one??

3 years ago
Reply to  Tioc67

I know a wee imp from Musselburgh…..great ride 🙂

CarllJungleBhoy
3 years ago
Reply to  Tioc67

I think so. – I’m pretty sure there was only 1 famous one in ’67. Got a lot of publicity at the time.

3 years ago

Ive seen it oan my Lions dvd im certain of it when the supports leaving from Parkhead for Lisbon.First time i seen it was in an old newspaper.

Pensionerbhoy
3 years ago

Great reads, Desi.

I remember the day well. It was one of sheer unbridled joy. being the gentleman I am, I did not do anything extraordinary or worthy f note like your writers. Did I say gentleman? Old uninteresting bore more like.

Looking forward to more Lisbon tales.

Prayers for the injured and dead of Manchester, especially the young. Condolences to their families and friends. Terrible, terrible times, inexplicable actions! R.I.P.

H H

3 years ago
Reply to  Pensionerbhoy

Was that on your 50th PB?

3 years ago
Reply to  Monti

Pensionerbhoy,
Just answer YES or NO and the glass will move 🙂

Weered
3 years ago

Methinks Monti has forgotten to take HIS meds

3 years ago
Reply to  Weered

I didn’t know you did thinking…..

Weered
3 years ago
Reply to  Monti

Probably as much if not more thinking than you.
It’s the putting it into practice is the issue 🙂

3 years ago
Reply to  Weered

🙂

3 years ago
Reply to  Monti

G,Day Bhoys.The Lions Programme is Great.I have the 67 DVD of the whole game.Black n White.No doubt its in color somewhere?.Have a Great Day All.

3 years ago

You know it’s times like this,when I just wished I would have written it all down,about the experiences they had on there travels that great day 50 years ago.
My Uncle John told me often enough, I was just thinking aye my time will come tae uncle. Because this is easy. Of course we reached the next final,and off they went again. I’m thinking yip, the next one he promised to take me. Of course what happened Dixie skied it over the bar in the shoot out,my chance gone.
But 5 semi finals and two finals, What a Grand Old Team to see.

melbournebhoy
3 years ago

It was a holiday of obligation so all the Catholic schools in Scotland had the day off. I was 12 and the telly wsa black and white

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