Memories of Lisbon – Part Two
In part two of their memories of Lisbon, the Ottawa CSC takes us back to that joyful day of May 25th 1967. Enjoy.
We lived in Ballygrant, Islay, in a house called Glencairn.
I came from a very mixed (up) family. My father was from Islay; my mother from Maryhill. She was a fanatical Partick Thistle fan but, like so many of that generation, a genuine football fan as well. There were other branches of the family on the mainland, some from the dark side (football-wise). Thankfully, at an early age, I chose wisely.
Anyway, we didn’t have a TV. Such things were still seen as posh on the island. And expensive. Like many families, these things were out of reach for us. The plan was to get our tea done early, and listen to the game on the radio.
So, that’s how we started.
But then, Inter got a penalty. I was pretty upset. Well, as upset as a nine- year-old was allowed to be in those times. It was pretty clear from what I imagined, listening to the radio, that it was a bad call from the ref. It was a view that I held onto for several years, until I actually saw a video of the incident.
Unlike my mother, my father wasn’t a football fan, and was grumping at me for deducing a version of reality that I hadn’t witnessed with my own eyes. At that point, my mother declared that this was too stressful to ‘watch’ on the radio; so, three miles up the road we went to Aunty Chrissie’s place. She was the aunt who owned a TV set.
And that is where we watched the remainder of the game with half a dozen of us huddled round a wee black-and-white flickering screen. And then Tommy Gemmell scored that goal. The excitement got the better of me, and I ran out the front door and into the garden, shouting like a wee, mad man. (Editor: What else is new?) My grumpy father came out the house, grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, hauled me back inside, told me to behave or…
Now, I hadn’t seen much football on TV up until this point in my life. Maybe one or two games from the previous year’s World Cup….but until then, I had never seen a game on TV that I cared about. A few minutes later, the BBC showed a replay of Tommy Gemmell’s goal. Nine-years-old, I thought we had scored a second goal. Out the door… shouting… scruff of neck… threats… back inside (but still celebrating), only to be told it was a replay. On reflection, I think it took more time to get the video replays on the screen back then. Sickening, as it really had felt like a disallowed goal.
Then, Stevie Chalmers scored. Absolute mayhem. Cups of tea, biscuits and jam pieces knocked to the floor. Outside, I was shouting and dancing in Aunty Chrissie’s front garden, with my father this time.
Even back then, I knew it was a special moment. It changed all of our lives.
It wasn’t until many years later, that I had the opportunity to watch the game again. Even then, I was astounded by how good we were. I think many younger supporters in our club will get their first chance to see the video as our May 25th celebrations get underway. They are in for a treat. (Ronnie Campbell)
I was a pupil at Blessed John Ogilvie and, along with Gerry Kelly, was picked to represent it at a week-long orientation ( canoeing, cliff climbing, hiking etc) somewhere up the north of Scotland (I think it was near Dalhousie, but it was stuck in the middle of nowhere).
When we arrived there on the Sunday night, we found out that there were only four guys from a Catholic school; St Pat’s in Coatbridge sent the other two. So, needless to say, we were the minority in a sea of Huns, and we had to take some abuse but there were also about ten Aberdeen supporters there, and we formed a great bond. They were great guys.
The 25th May was a Holiday of Obligation and with the help of the Aberdeen supporters we were permitted to walk the five miles to the nearest chapel. On the way back, I remember buying every newspaper available including the Daily Record, which wasn’t too bad back then). Excitement is not a word that could express our feelings that morning but, when we arrived back at the hostel, we were greeted by the huns gloating that we were not getting to see the game. One of the louder mouths was playing ‘The Sash’ on the piano. Not for long though, he stopped playing after his piano fingers started swelling and his nose started to bleed.
Now, unknown to Gerry and myself, the Aberdeen supporters were negotiating with the teachers, reminding them these were big times for Scottish football; Bayern Munich were playing some other Scottish team the following week.
But back to our game. The teachers agreed that we could all watch the game in the gymnasium on their small television. Gerry, myself and the two guys from Coatbridge had seats in the front row, courtesy of the piano player who quickly volunteered his place. The Aberdeen guys were in the row behind us and the adrenaline was sky high among us all. The game started and, to give credit to the ‘others’, everybody joined in wishing us good luck and singing with us. Then, after about five minutes the telly went dead. When it returned, we were down by a goal and the cheers from some of our ‘new’ friend was sickening. The Aberdeen guys soon had them sitting quietly in their seats again. All we could do was sit in silence and try hard not to cry. As we all know, Inter were the bookies’ favourites, and we just hoped that we were not going to get a thumping. As the game progressed, and Celtic had control of the game we knew that the magic was there; personally, I think it was because all the prayers we had said that morning at Mass. After our second goal, the rest of the day is just a blur. I only remember looking around at the back of the hall, where even the ‘others’ were also dancing with happiness and pride.
I’ve watched the game now a few times but I’ve yet to watch when I don’t get a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. the next day, with the orientation over, we jumped on a train back to Glasgow and then the bus to Hamilton.
One regret, though. We could have got off the bus at Parkhead and gone along to Celtic Park to join the thousands who were lining the streets waiting for the return of the Lions … but we didn’t. (George Devlin)
In the first place, I have absolutely no recollection of the 25th May 1967 whatsoever. I was only four and apparently watched the game at home with my dad who, I am told by reliable witnesses, threw me up in the air when both Celtic goals went in.
Money was tight back then, and my dad, who went to Celtic Park every other week, just couldn’t afford to go to Lisbon. On the 25th at the final whistle he went up to the pub to celebrate with what cash he had; it wasn’t much because it was a Thursday and pay day was on Fridays.
I think that night he vowed to himself that if Celtic ever got to another final he’d be there. European finals? I remember him leaving, and returning, from Milan in 1970, but that’s another story for another time …and we were both in Seville a few short months before I immigrated to Canada.
My first memory of THE game was a few years later at a packed St Brides Church Hall in East Kilbride when there was a Celtic Film night. The two films I remember them showing were the European Cup Final, and the 1969 Cup Final. It seemed every Celtic supporter in East Kilbride was in the hall that night, each goal in the two films being celebrated anew as though we were at the match itself.
Subsequently, over the next few years there were various visits by the guys at Celtic Films to EK organised by the various CSCs in town, and the same films of the games (about twenty minutes long) were always shown, with the same reactions from everyone in the hall! At some point about then my dad had acquired a cine projector and the three films he had were the Inter Milan game, the 1969 Cup Final and the Leeds game at Hampden, all without sound and in grainy black and white… but treasured nevertheless
So, although I was unable “to live the moment” on that day in 1967 that twenty-minute film was burned into my memory from a very young age. My own personal memories of watching Celtic did not really start until the early 70’s, although my dad had been regularly taking me to games since I was very young, I was two years old when he took me the first time!
As it is, my memories of Lisbon are more than just the game: they are gleaned from reading books, and we had a book of the 1967 season (‘Celtic Triumphant’ by Ian Peebles) which covered every game. As a youngster, I devoured that, memorising every statistic, and wondered how did Dundee Utd manage to beat us twice. We even played Elgin City, I remember! The other memories are from watching the video of ‘TheCeltic Story’ three or four times, and from other various videos, DVDs and TV programmes over the years.
My ‘memories’ are of the other images surrounding the game: the motorcade setting off from Celtic Park, the guy with the homemade Jock Stein tee-shirt on the park, the footage of the team on the bus travelling back to Celtic Park from the airport and, of course, the coal lorry (apparently because there was nowhere in Glasgow they could get an open-top bus!). Kenneth Wolstenholme’s commentary is also a stand out, as he was the top football man at the BBC and had done the World Cup Final the year before.
The image of Billy McNeil standing alone high up in the stadium majestically holding aloft the trophy to me is perfect; not only the most famous picture in our club’s history, but one of the most iconic football images ever.
I’ve been present at some of the most famous games in Celtic’s history: the 4-2 game in 1979, Love St, in 1986, beating St Johnstone and ‘stopping the 10’, Martin O’Neill’s first match against Rangers, the 6-2 game… I couldn’t name the starting elevens for Celtic in any of those games.
But, without even thinking about it, I can name the team that walked onto that park in Lisbon about 5.30pm on the 25th May 1967, a match I don’t remember watching. I don’t think I’m alone in that. (Jim O’Donnell)