Rangers 1963-64 – a final flourish for the 60s

THE mid-1960s through to the 1970s was Celtic’s time in Scotland, Jock Stein’s side winning almost everything on offer. Before the tide turned in Glasgow, Rangers completed a memorable treble in 1963-64. Ibrox Park regulars would have found it hard to believe if anyone had told them, in 1964, that the Gers would not be crowned Scottish champions again for 11 long years. The Rangers … Continue reading Rangers 1963-64 – a final flourish for the 60s

Great teams take the treble chance

SURPRISINGLY, only eight teams have managed to win a comparable trio of competitions, although many have gone close. Some of this select group have been built around outstanding individuals, such as Lionel Messi and Ajax’s Johan Cruyff, while others – like Celtic in 1967 –  were founded on the team ethic. Inevitable comparisons will be made about “who is the greatest?”, but it’s an impossible … Continue reading Great teams take the treble chance

Stable gates, but study underlines systemic clubs

FOOTBALL’s principal emerging nations, the US and China, have almost arrived, with the top divisions of their leagues in the top 10 in terms of spectator interest. According to CIES Football Observatory’s latest report, China and the US are sixth and eighth respectively over the past five years by average crowds. The German Bundesliga has an average of 43,302 with the English Premier second-placed on … Continue reading Stable gates, but study underlines systemic clubs

The clubs that became flag bearers

IF YOU asked 10 people in a room to name a German club, they would undoubtedly come up with “Bayern Munich”. Ask them the same question about Portugal, and they’d probably reply, “Benfica”. Have you noticed that wherever you are in Europe, if you bump into a Portuguese, ask them who they support and it will invariably be “Benfica”. In the town I live, I … Continue reading The clubs that became flag bearers

Great Reputations: Dunfermline Athletic 1967-69 – heroes from Fife

THEN, AS NOW, Celtic ruled the roost in Scotland, winning everything that came before them at home and, in the 1960s, abroad. Rangers, who had a decent team in the late 1960s were in their shadows and the rest of Scottish football could only look on and admire. Celtic were Scottish Champions with a two-point margin over Rangers in 1967-68 with Hibernian in third place … Continue reading Great Reputations: Dunfermline Athletic 1967-69 – heroes from Fife

Great Reputations: Celtic ’67 – a victory for sport

JOCK STEIN said it all really: “I want to be remembered for the football we played”. He was referring to Celtic’s first European Cup final appearance against the formidable Inter Milan in Lisbon and the possibility of defeat, something that Stein’s side were unaccustomed to experiencing. Fifty years on, the quality of Celtic’s football in that glorious season and the scale of their achievements is … Continue reading Great Reputations: Celtic ’67 – a victory for sport

Celtic are worthy champions, but what happens next?

THE GREEN flags are flying in Glasgow as Celtic are crowned Scottish champions, but even the most myopic member of the tartan army would struggle to deny that the nation’s football remains in a worrying state. There are some sceptics who would suggest that Scotland’s current situation is how England might look if it were not for the massive injection of TV money the Premier … Continue reading Celtic are worthy champions, but what happens next?

In 1968, these were Europe’s finest players…

LESLIE VERNON was football journalism’s European expert in the 1960s and early 1970s. Information on this gentleman is scarce, but for some reason I assumed he had some sort of link with Hungary. Somebody told me he had come to England in the mid-1950s during the Hungarian uprising. I had an image of this pencil-bearded academic schooled in the football wisdom of Ferenc Puskas, Willie … Continue reading In 1968, these were Europe’s finest players…

Great teams take the treble chance

Everyone’s darlings, Bayern Munich, became the first German team to win the three main prizes they competed for in a single season: the UEFA Champions League, the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal. They are the latest team to acquire the tag “invincible”. Surprisingly, only seven teams have managed to win a comparable trio of competitions, although many have gone close. Some of this select group … Continue reading Great teams take the treble chance

Scotland the weak

In a week when Gordon Strachan admitted that Scottish football needs “wholesale reform”, it was interesting to see comedian Andy Cameron on a re-run of Top of the Pops, singing “Ally’s Army”, that paen to the 1978 Scottish international team bound for Argentina. How times change, for in 35 years, Scotland have gone from being a confident, strident international team to absolute also-rans. In fact, … Continue reading Scotland the weak

Juventus and Forrest Gump evoke the spirit of Catenaccio

In the old days, it was enough to be big, imposing and difficult to handle. Today, playground pushing and shoving is what corner-kicks [and set-pieces] are all about. It’s bound to end in tears, if only because at some point, an over-enthusiastic centre-forward is bound to land tangled up in the back of the goal like a Dolphin caught in a tuna trawler’s net. The … Continue reading Juventus and Forrest Gump evoke the spirit of Catenaccio

Celtic will need new Lisbon Lions to get through

As brilliant it was to beat Barcelona, Celtic cannot be sure of qualifying from the group stage in the UEFA Champions League. Nobody gave Celtic much hope when they were drawn in the same group as the Catalans, Benfica and Spartak Moscow, but with two games to go, they’ve got a great chance of getting into the last 16. But the hard work is not … Continue reading Celtic will need new Lisbon Lions to get through