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1967-11-04: Racing Club 1-0 Celtic, Intercontinental Club Cup (play-off)
|Match Pictures | Matches: 1967 - 1968 | 1967-68 Pics|
- Celtic players get brutally assaulted and beaten in this winner takes all match after the first two games were 2pts each.
- Celtic's biggest ever mistake, should have gone home and let it go.
- For this third game, a neutral territory was chose (Uruguay) which was a big mistake again, although not as bad as Argentina.
For some people, Jock Stein could never do any wrong, but obviously this is nonsense and like anyone he was as human as the rest of us and this game is an illustration of an instance where he put pride and ambition above all else. He was correct to believe that we could take on Racing and beat them but didn’t take the environment risk into account. Uruguay may have been more “neutral” territory compared to Argentina, but it wasn’t the solution. The previous two legs hadn’t been football. Bob Kelly was against our playing the game and Jock Stein in retrospect is likely to have regretted going ahead with this game.
The rules had stated that in the event that the ties weren’t decided after the two games (no away goals rule in those days) that there was to be a play-off match on neutral territory. Chairman Bob Kelly said no chance, manager Jock Stein we can take them and Desmond White (a future Celtic chairman) whinged that we couldn’t stop as we had spent so much money on this trip so far (nice one Des!). Celtic demanded guarantees for their security and a change of referee; in retrospect that was still too little.
Anyhow, the third game was decided to go ahead only three days later in Montevideo (Uruguay). Not Argentina, but not “neutral” enough in this writer’s opinion. The close proximity to Argentina allowed a large contingent from Argentina to travel over (30,000), a number of whom decided to congregate outside of Celtic’s hotel at 2 in the morning to keep the players awake. A charming bunch!
Prior to the game Jock Stein reported to have said: “I cannot send my team into this game, with one hand behind their backs.” Sadly he did, not through him but due to the circumstances.
The MatchThe match kicked off with a referee from Paraguay (so more Latin American elements) and the match went into freefall. From the start, the referee was simply out of his depth, the cynicism and violence by the Argentinians carried on from the last game, and fisticuffs was the order of the day. The referee had to call the captains together in the middle of the first half to try to control stuff to try to regain his own self of security. It didn’t work, and in retaliation to the abuse the Celtic players suffered they fought back, and to the chagrin of all the Celtic players ended up being the ones who were punished! There were 30 fouls given against Celtic and 21 against Racing. For anyone who had seen Celtic play over the past year or so, they knew Celtic were not a dirty side, yet they were being hounded to death in this cauldron.
In total, six players were sent off in this match, four Celts and one Racing. However, it really ended up being three Celts as Bertie Auld on being red carded refused to leave the pitch and the referee being as incompetent as he was, allowed him to remain on the pitch. The whole thing was a farce. All four of the Celtic players were forwards: Lennox in the first half, then Johnstone, Hughes and Auld in the second. For a neutral’s review of Jinky’s sending off, experienced journalist Francis Thébaud (Mirroir de Football) wrote the following clearly describing the whole charade:
“Johnstone, in the middle of the pitch slid the ball to Wallace and got free to receive the return. Martín without bothering about the ball, threw himself at Johnstone’s waist. Both fell and Johnstone struggled and Martín rolled on the ground as if he had been the victim of a blow. Without hesitating, Peréz [the incompetent referee]... sent Johnstone off! Thus he who had been the constant target of all the aggression since the beginning of the match... became the victim of a man whose aim was to protect the footballer against the fakers and the foulers. For my part, I have never seen such a staggering decision.”
Ten minutes after half-time Racing scored a goal but that was the least of the problems in this match for Celtic. Surviving it was paramount. Ironically, Ruilli was sent off for Racing for what was likely their lightest foul of the match. The match finished with no further goals and no honour for anyone.
It wasn’t just Celtic who were unimpressed by what had happened. The Uruguayan spectators felt sympathy for Celtic, and as Racing tried to do a lap of honour (sic!) they were showered with just about anything the Uruguayan supporters could throw at them. Some of the Racing players in fear ran to the centre of the pitch to obtain some refuge from the anger around the ground against them. Police had to be called in to clear away the Uruguayans who had crowed around the place (inc outside the Argies dressing room) in some clashes.
A sad day for football and for the Lisbon Lions. If there had been away goals rules this last farce of a game wouldn’t have happened, and Celtic would have been the World Club Champions and for the sake of football that would have meant all for the good.
The aftermathSo how did others see it:
In Buenos Aires not surprisingly: “Racing have recovered the glory days of our football!” (La Racon);
In Uruguay: “Racing win the World War” (El Día); “This was no football, it was a disgrace... The match was a farce and a fraud.”
It was all too much.
On the trip home, Jock Stein is said to have had his head down. What more could he do in these circumstances? It wasn’t football, it was thuggery from the Argentinians.
So what did the Celtic board do? Sympathise and help? Of course not, the players were all fined £250 each which they found out about via the media (nice one!). One of the players not involved in the any of the ramifications, ended up himself in a "heated conversation" with the club chairman (understandably). As for the Racing players? They all got £2000 plus a new car (hope they all broke down quick time).
Simply this match should never have happened. It blackened football but more importantly it shattered the hearts of the good genuine fans from Scotland and Ireland who travelled to Sth America to see another landmark but rather were treated to the disturbing set of violence and Machiavellianism.
AnecdoteA dark day for the beautiful game, but there's one great moment from the whole mess that should be recalled and retold:
In an interview with a Racing player years later, his comments showed a side to then Celtic captain Billy McNeill's character that depicted him as a giant above all other men. The player saw Billy McNeill approach at the final whistle and expected an assault after what had transpired in the previous 90 mins. Instead, Billy McNeill graciously and humbly held out his hand and they shook hands followed by an exchanging of jerseys. The player was so taken by the gesture in the strained circumstances that he grasped McNeill's jersey tight and ran back to the dressing rooms so as to ensure no one could take it from him. He stated that after all that happened he was humbled by Billy McNeill and hoped they might play again in the World Cup 1970 (which Scotland sadly didn't make). It was the mark of the man that he was able to still be a gentleman even in the face of so much tension and havoc.
After everything, this (if nothing else from these games) should make us proud to be Celtic fans.
November 4, 1967
Venue: Montevideo (Uruguay).
Racing Club 1-0 Celtic
Ref: Rodolfo Pérez Osorio (Paraguay)
Racing Club:Agustín Mario Cejas -
Roberto Alfredo Perfumo, Nelson Pedro Chabay -
Oscar Raimundo Martín (c), Juan Carlos Rulli, Alfio Basile -
Norberto Santiago Raffo, João Cardoso, Juan Carlos Cárdenas,
Juan José Rodríguez, Humberto Dionisio Maschio.
Coach: Juan José Pizzuti.
Goal: Juan Carlos "Chango" Cárdenas 56'.
Sent Off: Alfio Basile, Juan Carlos Rulli
Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeil, Clark, Johnstone,
Lennox, Wallace, Auld, Hughes.
Sent off: Lennox, Johnstone, Hughes, Auld (who never left the field of play)
Quotes"It wasn’t a game of football, it was horrible. I must say that I am fed up looking at footage of me in that John L Sullivan pose, boxing. You would have thought there was another clip of me in action, but it seems to me that you guys in the media department like that one! Looking back to that moment, the guy ran away and I never saw him again. In fact, I couldn’t see him for dust!"
John Clark (2009)
"A fairly normal match for us(!).... I remember in the play off in Montevideo. I was given a "pacific" role. I didn't have to hit anybody, just be goalkeeper. But suddenly, Basile really hit the redhead Johnstone with a hell of a foul, one of the most violent I've ever seen. And the referee sent Basile off. I started walking casually out of my goal with my hands behind my back, and made my way slowly towards Johnstone. He was still on the ground when I arrived, so I kicked him as hard as I could for getting my team-mate sent off!"
The charming Augustin Cejas (Racing Goalkeeper) in Soccer Monthly (Dec 1979)
Article by PMFA-no1 of Green Brigade forumA few days later the team followed by the faithful 106 fans flew across the river plate to Montevideo. Thousands of Racing fans made their way across the river plate to Montevideo by every conceivable type of craft. It was a Dunkirk in reverse as homemade rafts, and rowing boats formed in the most amazing flotilla. It was a holiday weekend in Buenos Aires and few services were running to Montevideo in Uruguay but the Racing fans weren’t going to be denied. This time they were in a minority though as the police staged a no nonsense approach. Celtic had won the hearts of the Uruguayans, historic enemies of the Argentineans. It could be likened to that of Scotland and England. The day before the game as Celtic were training the Penarol players who had visited Celtic Park at the beginning of the season began telling Celtic some of the tricks they used against the Argentineans. From what they said it was obvious they had a great hatred of that country’s football.
On the day of the game Celtic players went out and bought the biggest Uruguayan flags they could and paraded them just before kick off, they were baffled at why there was little reaction from the crowd until they found out Racing players did the same thing 10 minutes earlier with an even bigger flag.
25 minutes into the game with a relaxed atmosphere it seemed racing were going to behave themselves until a shocking waste high tackle on Johnstone ended the uneasy truce and yet another weak referee failed to take action. 4 minutes to half time and jinky was sent off for using an elbow to free himself from a jersey pulling opponent, at this point the referee lost all credibility.
The Celtic players had taken everything the Racing players could throw at them and yet it was the referee who finally cracked them when he sent off Bobby Lennox, one of the game’s greatest sportsmen. He was 40 yards away from Murdoch and a Racing player yet when he sorted things out he sent off Lennox. John Hughes was next to go, leaving Celtic with only 8 men. Bertie Auld who missed the Buenos Aires game due to injury and according to the refs report was also sent off yet he played the entire 90 minutes. The most publicised event of the game which coincidently was missed by the ref was when Tommy Gemmell went after a racing player and kicked him up the arse; Which BBC cameras caught and showed great delight in broadcasting it over the next few days. In 56 minutes Cardenas scored the only goal that ensured they won the trophy they wanted so much. They managed to do to a Celtic team which no other side had ever managed to do – rob them of their self respect.
One could not condone the action of the Celtic players yet it is difficult to blame them in the face of such provocation.
Bertie Auld later recalled “At one stage in the game I was jogging back towards goal after an attacking move when I got a vicious punch on the back of the head. I turned round and one of their players was just 2 feet away from me grinning in my face, no-one had seen it as the ball was at the other end of the field; he was hoping I would hit him back and get caught by the ref. That is what we were up against.
Celtic also received support from Miroir du Football, which was the only non-british publiction to send a staff correspondent. Under the banner headline 'Racing of Buenos Aires, Champions of the world of violence, treachery and theatricals' he reported 'the Johnstone sending off was disgraceful and that he was the victim of the man who was supposed to protect footballers from butchers and actors.'
Mr Willie Allan - Secretary of the SFA's produced an excellent 3 match report which he sen't to FIFA, The European Football Union and the SFA. I have an entire copy of his 3rd match report. If anyone would like to see it, you'll need to wait till i get a scanner because im not typing it all out.
After a subdued journey home a long a weary board meting at Celtic park was held, resulting in Bob Kelly stating he would like to see all the players fined for their actions, He felt this would go some way in restoring the clubs battered image. An announcement was made to the press that every meber of the team was to be fined £250 including goalkeeper John Fallon, It was by reading these papers that the players found out about their fines. The fines were deducted from bonus money that season, in addition to that The SFA decided to fine Bertie Auld and John Hughes £50 each for their part in the Montevideo affair.
Jimmy Johnstone had created a litlle bit of history by having his suspension lifted allowing him to play in South America, was severly censured.The procedure at that time was that suspension in domestic competition also ruled a player out of european and international matches. In view that it was a world championship the SFA allowed him to go. He must have been the first player ever to be sent off while under suspension! Bobby Lennox whose case was of mistaken identity was exonerated.
I would urge all fans who have read this far to have a good look at what a director of Celtic football club said regarding the whole matter of all the sending offs in Montevideo "WE SYMPATHISE WITH THEM BUT THEY HAD LET THE CLUB DOWN AND LET THEMSELVES DOWN. WE HAVE TO CONSTANTLY REMIND OUR PLAYERS ABOUT DISCIPLINE BECAUSE A CELTIC PLAYER GOING FOR JUSTICE USUALLY FACES A DIFFERENT SET OF RULES THAN OTHERS. IT IS A POINT THAT HAS BEEN PROVED OVER AND OVER THROUGH THE YEARS. CELTIC PLAYERS CAN NEVER AFFORD TO RELAX THEIR DISCIPLINE."
However there was at least one funny story that i came across whilst researching these games. Celtic secretary and treasurer Desmond White was carrying a huge old battered suitcase through customs at prestwick airport on the return home. Unknown to everyone except the directors it contained 12 million Uruguayan Pesos. Celtics share of the 3rd games gate money. Due to inflation the Uruagyuan FA could not give Mr White a cheque so instaed the UFA Treasurer told him to go get a big suitcase and meet him at a bank in town later. When he reached the bank it was out of hours but had opened specially. To Mr White's horror the bank staff began loading money into the case. and both he and the UFA'S treasurer had to sit on the case to get it shut. He was then advised to get a taxi, and he readily agreed fearing for his life back to the hotel, he then sneaked into the hotel and headed straight to the room containing the clubs hamper, he removed strips and training gear and put the casse in before covering it again, locked the hamper and the outside door and went for a well earned meal.
During dinner he and his fellow directors discussed ways to get the money into Scotland, purchasing precious stones was one suggestion. Mr White decided to take the bold gamble and go for it, clutching the case, approached customs and firmly said he had nothing to declare, before boarding the plane and making the 7,000 mile journey back home.
The relief he must have felt to get home, but wait theres more trouble He took the battered case to the bank in Glasgow, who did not want to know about Uruguayan pesos, the money still in its batterd suitcase was shipped to London where the answer was the same. It had to be sent to New York and by the time Celtic had received their cheque it had cost them £3,000 in inflation.
The last little story had me close too tears, and i could not help but think of dermot desmond and Peter lawell doing the whole James Bond type thing and both them sitting on the suitcase moaning at each other because they couldnt get it closed.
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Keyword tags: 1967 Argentina celtic celtic fc celtic football celtic football club celtic game celtic games celtic matches intercontinental club cup intercontinental cup kerrydale kerrydale street racing club Uruguay World Champions World Club Championships
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