December saw the passing of Ian Young, over 160 appearances in the Hoops between 1961 and 1968 and still memorialised in song to this day:
There’s Fallon, Young and Gemmell,
who proudly wear the green,
There’s Clark, McNeill and Kennedy the best there’s ever been,
Jim Johnstone, Murdoch, Chalmers, John Divers and John Hughes,
And sixty thousand Celtic fans who proudly shout the news.
Aye it’s Celtic, Celtic that’s the team for me,
Celtic, Celtic on to victory…
Ian’s entry in the Alphabet of the Celts (McBride, Sheridan and O’Connor reads as follows:
Celtic took centre-half Ian Young (training at Ibrox) and centre-forward John McGaw from Neilston Waverley at the same time. Young John got a free transfer in 1962 but apprentice indistrial chemist Young played his first game for Celtic in the Glasgow Cup final of 1962 at Hampden after Dunky MacKay had chipped his elbow in the roughhouse against Uruguay at the same venue two days before.
He won his first medal in the replay on Friday may 11th.
He became Parkhead’s right-back in succession to Dunky on October 5th 1963 and had hist finest 90 minutes in a green and white shirt when Celtic beat Slovan 1:0 in Bratislava to reach the semi final of the Cup Winners’ Cup on March 4th 1964.
He won a Scottish Cup medal on April 24th 1964 and it was the power of an Ian Young tackle right at the start of the League Cup final of October 23rd 1965 that destroyed the threat to Celtic of Willie Johnston’s speed down the left wing. Rangers maintained ‘Bud’ had been sorted out; Celtic that it was no cruder a challenge than was typical of Celtic v Rangers encounters at the time.
Ian also won a championship badge for 1965-66 at the beginning of the nine-in-a-row.
Jock Stein experimented with Tommy Gemmell and Willie O’Neill on the North American tour of 1966 and at the start of the Annus Mirabilis of 1966-67 had decided on Tam and Willie as his full-backs.
Ian got two games all season and having ousted Dunky MacKay the chemist lost his place ultimately in turn to the dentist, Jim craig.
Yet Young and Gemmell is as memorable a combination as Craig and Gemmell; they were the full-backs at the start of it all, the Glasgow Cup final win of March 25th 1964 that marked the presence of the talent that the Big Man would exploit.
Ian played a significant role in Celtic winning the League Cup final of 1965.
David Potter describes events in his book ‘Our Bhoys Have Won The Cup’ in a chapter entitled The Dawn of the Free.
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With the Scottish Cup replacing the Chairman’s ashtray on the boardroom mantlepiece Celtic fans were entitled to feel slightly more optimistic as the 65-66 season loomed.
During the summer big Jock had invited four Brazilians to Parkhead for trials. In the end they were all released after they failed to agree terms so eager supporters had to make do with the signing of Henry Quinn from St.Mirren, a player whose career at Parkhead took off like a lead balloon.
By way of contrast, Stein had also swooped for Motherwell’s Joe McBride, his first of many inspired purchases. Tormentor of the Celts in the previous season’s Scottish cup semi-final, McBride’s was a move which would turn out to be the equivalent of signing a combination of Marco Van Basten and Gerd Muller.
The Celts could have used some Brazilian inspiration as the League Cup got under way in the days of the old sectional ties. A 1:0 victory over Motherwell was sandwiched between defeats by Dundee United at Tannadice and, worse, Dundee at Celtic Park; but the troops were duly rallied by the wily Stein who masterminded a 4:0 win at Tannadice on the opening day of the League season, the prelude to victories in all of the remaining League Cup games.
Plucky Raith Rovers kept up a stiff resistance in the quarter-finals before succumbing to a 12:1 aggregate defeat, which light relief set up a fraught semi-final against Hibs. It took a last-minute equaliser from Bobby Lennox to save the first match and force extra time before Celtic administered a 4:0 gubbing in the replay which went ahead at Ibrox despite the protests of both clubs over the quality of the Ibrox floodlights which hadn’t improved much since the days of wartime blackouts.
That semi-final victory set up a final against Rangers. David Potter takes up the story of that match in his book, “Celtic in the League Cup”:
The team had at last ‘arrived’ when they won the Scottish Cup the previous April, but could the momentum be maintained? The important tournament, of course, was the league Championship, but the League Cup would show everyone that Celtic were the team of the moment. There was also that most painful of recent memories – the League Cup final of the previous year when Celtic had given at least as good as they got against Rangers but still collected the losers’ medals – to expunge.
The Celtic propaganda machine was now in full operation. A piece written by Sean Fallon appeared in the Scottish Daily Express on the Wednesday between the semi-final replay and the final on Saturday, in which Sean stated that Celtic would win on Saturday The beauty of all this was that there was no hype or hysteria, no jargon or journalese, just a simple statement of fact that Celtic would win en route to even greater things at the end of the season.
107,609 – a record crowd for the Scottish League Cup which will now never be beaten – attended the final on Saturday 23 October 1965. Stein stuck with the men who had served him well in the latter stages of the campaign, and Rangers were at their strongest as well. The teams were:
Celtic: Simpson; Young, Gemmell; Murdoch, McNeill, C!ark; Johnstone, Gallagher, McBride, Lennox, Hughes.
Rangers: Ritchie; Johansen, Provan; Wood, McKinnon, Greig; Henderson; Willoughby, ForresL, Wilson, Johnston.
The referee was Hugh Phillips of Wishaw, and he would play a significant part in the proceedings.
Celtic started off playing towards their own supporters in the pleasant autumn sunshine, but it was Rangers who seemed the stronger side in the opening stages. More than once the Celtic end held its breath as McNeill, uncharacteristically hesitant, lost out to Jim Forrest and only poor finishing prevented Rangers from taking the lead.
Before that had happened, as early as the fourth minute, Celtic full-back Ian Young, a strapping youngster with a peculiar hunched run, went in like a tank on Rangers’ Willie Johnston. Young was booked for the tackle and Johnston for retaliation, but the challenge served its purpose in that Johnston did not contribute as much to the game in the later stages as he could have.
It was also a clear statement of Celtic intent. From now on there would be no more ‘Mr Nice Guy’ from a Celtic team whose management had frequently in the past given the impression that a defeat was acceptable, as long as everyone played the game fairly. This was now a more professional and determined Celtic.
Eighteen minutes of this torrid game had gone when there occurred one of the bizarre and inexplicable things that happen on a football field. Celtic won a free-kick half way inside the Rangers half. It was taken by Murdoch and was sailing harmlessly over the heads of defenders and attackers alike when Ron McKinnon jumped up and handled the ball. There was a stunned silence before Hugh Phillips pointed to the penalty spot as the Celtic End gasped and congratulated each other, as supporters do in these circumstances.
Up stepped John Hughes to take the penalty kick.
‘Yogi Bear’ was having a good season. He had scored that marvellous goal at Dens Park, as well as one or two other fine counters, and had even scored a penalty against Rangers in a League game a month previously. Yet he had suffered a great deal of abuse from the support in the years before Stein arrived, and his temperament and inconsistency still did not mark him out as a natural penalty taker for Celtic. Breaths were held as John placed the ball, ignored the gamesmanship of Billy Ritchie and lumbered back for his short run-up before slotting home an assured penalty kick to unleash a sea of rejoicing on the packed terracing behind the goal.
The value of this goal was seen immediately in the confident nature of Celtic’s play, with McNeill, in particular, now rising for every ball to get the better of Forrest. Relief was now the dominant emotion on the King’s Park terracing and Celtic began to get a grip of midfield, with Charlie Gallagher, that great reader of a game, coming into his own.
Ten minutes later, Celtic were 2-0 up. The circumstances were equally bizarre as Mr Phillips made a mistake when he awarded a penalty after Davie Provan seemed to bring down Jimmy Johnstone. It was inside the penalty area, but there was no immediate danger, and television replays would show that there was no great contact either. Rangers chairman John Lawrence would later say that what he thought of that decision could not be printed – a remark which got him into a certain amount of hot water – and not even the most ardent Celt could put his hand on his heart and say that it was a definite penalty kick.
Yet it was all so ironic. A year previously, with the same personnel – Provan, Johnstone and Phillips – there had been an absolute stonewall penalty claim which was not given. Here now, Celtic were even being given the soft ones, and it is perhaps salutary to recall two quotes made by members of the Celtic staff about the influence of Jock Stein on referees. ‘He cowed them into fairness,’ and ‘It was remarkable the amount of penalties that we started to get when Stein took over’.
It was a gift horse perhaps, but it still had to be converted. Once again, hearts in mouths as John placed the ball. This time, it was a weaker penalty and Ritchie did get a hand to it, but it still went in and delirium reigned once again at the Celtic End.
Half an hour gone and 2-0 up. Those of us who had suffered so dreadfully during the early 1960s were convinced that Celtic would throw it away but half-time came with the same margin.
There had been one moment of panic towards the end of the half when veteran Ronnie Simpson had to dive to show his mettle in the face of a fierce shot from John Greig. The game had been fast, furious and frantic – and players on both sides rather too keen to ‘mix it’ with each other – but the bottom line was that it was still Celtic 2 Rangers O.
Half-time joy was tempered by the thought of the long second half to come, but this was now a far more professional Celtic team who were learning, ever so slowly, that occasionally, to win football matches, defensive play and ‘soaking up pressure’ is necessary.
McNeill was now more composed and was stoutly supported by Murdoch and Clark (as well as by forwards like Gallagher and Johnstone pressed into defensive duties). Gemmell had total control over Willie Henderson (whose sad decline from the game may date from this event) and behind them all stood the vastly experienced figure of Ronnie Simpson.
Simpson, the son of a Rangers player, had already won two FA Cup final medals with Newcastle United in 1951 and 1952. Still very agile at the age of thirty-five, Ronnie dominated his penalty area, and how reassuring it was for the 50,000 anxious souls behind the King’s Park End goal to see him laying down the law to his defenders, captain McNeill included, about the necessity for concentration and positional awareness. Only once towards the end of the game in the 85th minute was the Celtic defence pierced, and it was a scrappy affair. A Henderson free-kick saw Ian Young and John Greig go up together. Both seemed to push each other, but the ball hit Young’s face and skidded into the net.
It was an unsatisfactory goal, but it did give Rangers a ray of hope as well as doing dreadful things to the nervous system of the massed-ranks behind the King’s Park goal. But Rangers’ frantic attackers made no further impact on the spoiling tactics of the Celtic defence, and the game finished with Celtic winning 2-1.
Yet this was not the end of the drama. Celtic were presented with the league Cup and set off for their customary parade around the pitch to show the trophy, which they had now won for the third time, to their adoring and relieved fans. The Rangers supporters took exception to this and invaded the park with clear aggressive intentions to the Celtic players. The players managed to escape on time and, mercifully, the Celtic fans did not retaliate. The upshot was that laps of honour were banned for some time afterwards – something that punished Celtic almost exclusively.
This incident sadly made all the headlines the following day, and it was noticeable that many members of the press, who a year previously had lapsed into sycophantic adulation of Jim Baxter and his cavorting with the same trophy, were now describing the showing of the League Cup to fans as ‘provocative’ and ‘insensitive’. Charlie Tully, however, wrote a piece in the Daily Record to redress the balance – a fine example of how the media now had to be fair and be seen to be fair.
Not that it mattered, of course, for Celtic fans could now afford to laugh and not take umbrage at any ill-disguised courting of the Rangers readership. Much had also been made about how poor a match it had been and how dirty (there had been five players booked, but it hardly deserved the label ‘Orgy of Crudeness’ which the Glasgow Herald put on it) but the bottom line was that Celtic had won the League Cup and no amount of camouflage or obfuscation could disguise that fact. There was now in place a manager who realized that success on a football field is more important in the hearts of supporters than anything else.
The winter of 1965/66 was spent in the pursuit of the League Championship and the European Cup Winners’ Cup. There was precious little time to bask in tbe afterglow of a famous victory which, in retrospect, was even more significant in the long-term development of Celtic football club than it appeared at the time. Without this victory, the team might. well have once again subsided into its inferiority complex: which had been so much part of club’s make up in the early 1960s. But the pendulum had swung and swung decisively
In the meantime, the dark nights of November and December of 1965 were lit up by the thought of the Scottish League Cup and the Scottish Cup sitting together for the first time on the Parkhead sideboard. The Glasgow Cup was also there for good measure. It was rumoured that the League Cup turned to the other two and sang ‘Take my hand, I’m a stranger in Paradise’. She was now well on her way to becoming a recurring visitor.