DEBUT DAYS – TOM MCADAM

10 September 1977 Rangers 3-2 Celtic

In August of 1977 Celtic fans were devastated when their captain and main inspiration, Kenny Dalglish, was transferred to Liverpool. Celtic manager, Jock Stein, was then left with the demanding challenge of having to replace the man who was reckoned to be the finest talent in British football at that time, even if he did have a massive £440,000 fee at his disposal.

A month had passed since Dalglish’s defection to Anfield and on the eve of Celtic’s visit to Ibrox, Stein signed Dundee United striker Tom McAdam for £65,000 and Fulham midfielder, John Dowie, for £25,000. None of them were claimed to be direct replacements for Dalglish (who could replace the great man ?) but both were welcome additions as Celtic were going into their fourth consecutive league game without a win after a hugely disappointing start to the season.

On the day Celtic fielded a surprise side with Dowie starting in midfield and McAdam on the bench with young defender Jim Casey playing at sweeper in place of the injured Pat Stanton. For their part Rangers fielded their three new summer signings, Bobby Russell, from junior football and the expensive duo of Gordon Smith and Davie Cooper.

Celtic also sprung a surprise by playing Johannes Edvaldsson at centre forward and big Shuggie had the Celts 2-0 up by the half hour mark with two fine goals. The first came after the influential Tommy Burns had set him up after playing a clever one-two with Paul Wilson. For the second, Burns had ran down the left flank and crossed for Edvaldsson to score with a powerful header.

At half time the Celtic end of Ibrox was a blend of colour and noise as the Celtic fans loudly hailed their first half heroes, in stark contrast to the mute, motionless Rangers end of the ground.

Rangers’ striker Derek Parlane had suffered a fractured cheek bone in the first period and during the interval manager Jock Wallace brought John Greig on as a substitute in defence and pushed Derek Johnstone, who had been played at centre half, into attack.

This is when Jock Stein made a fatal error. To counteract Johnstone going up front he moved Shuggie Edvaldsson back into defence and reshaped his team around this.  Edvaldsson had been a real handful for the Rangers defence and Celtic now missed his physical presence in their attack.

Rangers now seized the initiative and strongly attacked the Celtic goal. In 53 minutes Gordon Smith brought Rangers back into the game with a well taken goal after Johnstone had set him up. Peter Latchford then made two spectacular saves from Davie Cooper as Rangers frantically attacked, looking for an equaliser.

Latchford had only delayed the inevitable and in 65 minutes Derek Johnstone brought Rangers level with another fine goal. Celtic had now lost their momentum and could find no way of getting back into the match. There were only nine minutes left when a blunder cost Celtic the match. Bobby Russell sent a high lob towards Latchford which the Celtic ‘keeper appeared to have covered on his line. However, he inexplicably allowed the ball to slip from his grasp on to the crossbar with the ball luckily falling to Smith who wasted no time in scoring the winning goal.

It was now the turn of the blue end of Ibrox to make themselves heard with Celtic fans stood soaked in disbelief as the brightness of the first half now gave way to gloom which more than bore comparison to Celtic’s second half performance.

Jock Stein now threw on both his substitutes, Tom McAdam and Bobby Lennox, in a desperate attempt to retrieve the match. Seldom can a Celtic player have made his debut in such desperate circumstances than Tom did on this day at Ibrox. Despite his best efforts Celtic could not find an equaliser and went down 3-2 in the end.

Tom McAdam’s debut may have ended in bitter disappointment but he was to go on to enjoy a fine Celtic career. Ironically he became renowned for scoring a good number of important goals in games against Rangers and is remembered fondly by Celtic supporters to this day for his success in those big Glasgow derby fixtures.

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