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The Night Liz Taylor And Richard Burton Became Celts
There has never been a European Cup tie quite like it!

There has never been a European Cup tie quite like it! It was not just the result, a 3-2 aggregate victory over the Hungarian side Ujpest Dozsa, nor was it just the efficient way Celtic achieved it.

It was also the game in which Celtic gained two new V.I.P. supporters, the film world’s nearest approach to royalty . . . Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. A few weeks before the game between Ujpest and Celtic in Budapest the world-famous Burtons had thrown a fabulous lavish party-with celebrities present from all over the worId-to celebrate Liz Taylor's fortieth birthday .

Yet it is doubtful if the stars who were at that party got as much pleasure from it as the second party the Burtons gave in Budapest . . . when the guests were 130 Celtic fans celebrating their team’s 2-1 first-leg victory in the European quarter quarter final.

The idea for the party came when Richard Burton, filming in the Hungarian capital, met some of the Celtic fans who were staying in the same hotel, the Duna Inter-Continental.

He was invited to watch the game with them, but he had to decline because of filming commitments. However, he left a note for tour organiser Jim McGinlay apologising for his absence, and added . . . ‘My apologies also from my old lady.’ But as a consolation he laid on an after the match champagne and caviar party, with instructions to his guests . . . ‘Drink till you drop or we spend £5,000.’ And, not content just with that, they made it a night for every one of these fans to remember by putting in a personal appearance. . . . Richard Burton sang ‘I Belong to Glasgow’ . . . Liz Taylor put on a Celtic tammy and Celtic supporter’s scarf.

Sadly the only people who missed out were the Celtic team and othcials and the accompanying press party. They had all been imited. but their specially chartered jet was waiting to whisk them back to Glasgow right after the game. I record these events at the beginning of this chapter for the behaviour of fans is almost as important to a club’s prestige as the players.

It is an era when the world of soccer has shrunk so dramaticaliy that the capitals of Europe are as conveniently reached as Abeldeen, the farthest point in the domestic programme.

The majority of Celtic fans have generally been well behaved on these occasions abroad, but it would be wrong to ignore the fact that there have been some trouble spots. So it is pleasant to record that two days after the Burton’s party Jock Stein took a telephone call in his offce from a Mr. Jenkins in Wales.

The caller turned out to be one of Richard Burton’s brothers-Jenkins is his family name-and he had phoned the Celtic manager because of a call from his brother in Budapest. .Richard had said how sorry he was that the players had missed the party, how he hoped to see Celtic play some time in the future . . . and how well-behaved the fans had been! And certainly the fans had something to celebrate on that night in Budapest, a night when the weather produced a back-cloth like something out of an old Hollywood film set familiar to the Burtons, torrential rain, the loud peals of thunder, and jagged forks of lightning brilliantly lighting up the sky. For Celtic’s display against the highly-rated Ujpest side ranked with any of the previous European Cup successes.

This was a quarter-Fmal tie, the one where the draw was made in january, but the teams have two months to think about it before they actually meet. For Jock Stein it was almost where he came in on Europe; When he had been manager of Dunfermline ten years before, one of his First European ties was against Ujpest Dozsa in the Cup-Winners Cup.

It was also a personal memory for myself, it was the first European match I ever reported abroad . . . and it brought one of the quickest goals I have ever seen in a European competition, for Dunfermline scored in 45 seconds, although eventually they lost 4-3 on aggregate. Stein has a high regard for Hungarian football, nurtured ever since he and his Celtic team-mates of that time had watched the ‘Magical Magyars’, the international side who were the first foreign team to beat England at Wembley with a 6-3 victory in 1953.

And he still keeps in his home a film of that game, with the superb skill of the Hungarian masters such as Puskas and Hidekuti imprinted on it. Because it was the Hungarian close-season there was no chance for the Celtic manager to make his customary close inspection of Ujpest Dozsa, but there were plenty of warnings for Celtic about the dangers which lurked in the draw. Leeds skipper Billy Bremner, whose side had won and lost to the Hungarians, in European competitions said: ‘They are one of my tips for the European Cup.’ Newcastle United had beaten them in the 1969 Fairs Cup Final, but their skipper Bobby Moncur also warned: ‘A good Celtic side could beat them, but they will have to go some. ‘They are the finest side I have ever played against in Europe, and a team which never seem to panic.’ The Ujpest coach, Imre Kovacs picked the League match against Hibs at Parkhead to run the rule over his opponents . but I believe his impressions contained a fatal Haw. For although Celtic won 2-1, it was not one of their vintage performances, and coach Kovacs was remarkably frank after the game. ‘I feel much happier about the draw than I did before I watched this game,’ he said.

‘Celtic must be able to play better than today. In the first half I could have found much more to say about Hibs than Celtic.’ And he singled out Jimmy Johnstone . . .. ‘He was so poor today, he was the biggest disappointment for me. Perhaps he was trying to hide his true form. I would not be unhappy if he played like that in Budapest." As it turned out Kovacs did not have to worry about Johnstone in Budapest, for shortly after that Hibs game the little winger went down with a bout of chickenpox which ruled him out of the match in Hungary.

The Celtic manager had already made it plain before the game in Budapest that Celtic’s tactics would be guarded in the first leg.

And Stein threw a cloak of mystery around his presmatch selection when he announced before the game that one of Celtic’s babes would be introduced into the team The Hungarians had decided to play the fixture on their own ground-which held only 30, 000 fans but generated a massive Cup-tie atmosphere-instead of switching it to the giant but sometimes remote Nep Stadium.

The youngster who made his European Cup debut for Celtic was right-back Danny McGrain, and the team lined up: Williams, McGrain, Brogan; Murdoch, McNeill, Connelly; Hood, Hay, Dalglish, Macari and Lennox.

The match was beamed live across Europe to be shown by STV to viewers at home . . . a programme incidentally which was watched in Scotland by the highest number of viewers for any show that week. Just as the television transmlssion began the weather broke, with the rain lashing down to make a mockery of conditions for the first twenty minutes. There were, as always in away games, tense moments as each side sparred to try to take command.

And then Celtic got a marvellous bonus, the sort of goal which still makes soccer so full of the unexpected despite all the modern-day planning. Left-back Jim Brogan gathered the ball deep in the Hungarian‘s own half, but there seemed little danger about his high cross into goal.

Then suddenly as left-half Horvath dashed in, it cannoned off the Ujpest player into the net. That was the signal for Celtic to take complete command of the game.

They had no failures in their side as each man dove-tailed perfectly into the tactical scheme. However, the skill of Ujpest was shown as they wrestled for control with Celtic in the second half.

Evan Williams, so often the target of criticism by the Celtic terraces, was a superb ’keeper for his club . . . a hero who defied the purple-shirted Hungarian side. Ujpest had two penalty appeals turned down by German referee Hans Wayland, before they struck to grab the equalising goal.

And if it had to come from anyone it was perhaps fitting that the man who had been the victim of such a tragic first-half, left-half Horvath, was the scorer, with a wonderful shot from thirty yards. Yet it was at this stage that these Celtic babes, brilliantly bossed by Billy McNeil], showed just how mature they have become. By all the unwritten laws of football the Hungarians should have surged ahead, thanks to the tonic of that goal. Yet it was Celtic who again became the commanders of the game, and their supremacy was established only four minutes from time .

They forced four successive corners, and then from the fifth little Lou Macari bobbed up to slam in the winner, to give them that 2-1 victory. In the dressing-room corridor after the game Jock Stein enthused: ‘At this level, and when you consider the age of this team of ours, it is probably Celtic’s best European Cup display since Lisbon.’ But farther along the corridor, in the funeral-like silence of the Ujpest dressing-room Imre Kovacs tried bravely to put a face on it.

Yet this had been a different Celtic from the ones who had faced Hibs, a Celtic he had obviously not bargained for in his pre-match planning. And when I asked him if he considered Celtic had played better than when he saw them he snapped . . . ‘We did not play as well as Hibs.’ So the soccer stage was set for the second leg in Glasgow, with a 75, 000 all-ticket crowd and almost as many unable to get tickets. Johnstone, the man the Hungarians feared perhaps above all, had not recovered in time to play a game for his side’ 5 league team before the second leg, and he was listed as one of the substitutes.

The Celtic team was the same side that had played in Budapest, yet within five minutes the carnival atmosphere had disappeared and the 2-1 lead so carefully built up two weeks before in Hungary had disappeared. Bobby Murdoch and Billy McNeil] got into a tangle in the middle of the Celtic defence, the shrewd veteran centre Bene slipped the ball through, and inside-left Anton Dunai raced in to equalise. The rest of the first half was an agony for Celtic-they still held a slender lead because away goals count double, and they had scored two in Budapest.

But what a difference there was in the second half, when Celtic, superbly inspired by that little soccer buzz-bomb Lou Macari, finally swept into their stride. Then when Jim Brogan had to go off hurt, the Celtic side was reshuffled with David Hay moving to full-back . . . and a mighty roar, like a thunder-clap rolled round Parkhead as Jimmy Johnstone ran on.

His very presence inspired his team-mates, and rattled the now nervy Ujpest side. They had to combat the menace of sweeping Celtic attacks, and keep an eye on Johnstone, this man they feared so much. And finally in the 65th minute a long George Connelly lob caught out defender Laslo Maurer.

He tried to turn it back to his ’keeper, but Macari nipped in to neatly lob it over ’keeper Szentmyhali. The only attack after that was one attempt by Bene near the end, but Celtic, although ruffled and ragged in that first-half, had magnificently kept their cool to become the soccer masters.

There was praise at the end for Macari, and a special hug for Danny McGrain, who was to be the victim of such an unfortunate injury three days later in a league game against Falkirk at Brockville. Even Stein, the most experienced European campaigner among British managers, could say afterwards about his young team: ‘When the season began I was only beginning to think about planning for a new assault on Europe, in a year or two perhaps. But we seemed to have rolled two or three years into one.

Look where we are now. . . .’ The earlier rounds of the European Cup marked the end of two great campaigners from the Lisbon side, Willie Wallace and Tommy Gemmell. Celtic suffered a shock 2-1 defeat against B.K. 1903, a team mostly composed of amateurs, when they only scored with a Lou Macari goal.

But in the return game Willie Wallace bowed out. before his transfer to Crystal Palace, with two goals, and Tom Callaghan scored a third.

Then in the next round against Sliema of Malta it was the turn of Tommy Gemmell to make his farewell appearances before he moved to Nottingham Forest. He scored in the 5-0 victory at Parkhead , along with Harry Hood, two goals one from a penalty. , Jim Brogan and Lou Macari. And in a 2-1 victory in Malta Hood and Bobby Lennox were the scorers.

Playing for Celtic no4 By Rodger Baillie

Submitted By Lizardking Randalstown Hoops

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Posted by voc1967 on Sunday 23 August 2020 - 11:40:22 | Comments (0)  |  printer friendly
 
 
 
 
 
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