Listeners to the 9iar chronicles podcasts will know that this week was the final season in the run.  It was another domestic season of dominance, winning a double and reaching both the League Cup and Dryborough Cup finals.  In Europe it was a nearly campaign, getting knocked out in the Semi-finals by Atletico Madrid.  The dominance of the last 9 seasons gave no indcation of the season to follow but the one event that rocked the club was the tie against Atletico.


It was a brutal game, even for the 1970s.  For many it wasn’t even considered a football match and some Celtic fans didn’t even want the club to play the return tie.  The Celtic Wiki sets out the details;


  • European Cup semi-final; first leg of two (second leg link)
  • All ticket game.
  • Ranked by many Celts as the dirtiest football match the club has been involved in, perhaps even worse than the match v Racing Club in South America in 1967.
  • Argentine Atletico manager, Juan Carlos Lorenzo, has a notorious reputation from the past which his side live up to.
  • Atletico have three players sent off and seven booked. Celtic have three booked.

1974 Celtic v Atletico

Review1974-04-10: Celtic 0-0 Athletico Madrid, European Cup - Pic

(from NotTheView: link)
The Game That Died of Shame
Twenty Nine years after Celtic’s last appearance in a European semi-final, Manfred Lurker looks back at the infamous night Atletico – the team that put the ‘mad’ in Madrid – collected together all the muggers they could find from the dark alleyways of the Spanish capital and sent them over to Parkhead to contest a place in the 1974 Champions Cup final.

By the time Celtic embarked on the European Cup campaign if 1973-74 only three of the players who had triumphed in Lisbon six years earlier were still regular members of the team. Billy McNeill was still a stalwart at the heart of the defence while Bobby Lennox and the mercurial Jimmy Johnstone could still hold down a place in the forward line.

Nevertheless, big Jock had once again put together a side which looked as if it was on the verge of European greatness. Danny McGrain, Jim Brogan, Davie Hay and Pat McCluskey had all established themselves in the defence. Not only were they tough and uncompromising, they could use their silky skills to trap, control and pass any winger in the country.

In midfield Jock could call on George Connelly, Steve Murray and a bloke called Dalglish (whatever became of him?) and in attack, to add to the lightning pace of Lennox and dribbling skill of Johnstone, he had the poaching instincts of Harry Hood and the gumsy grin of Dixie Deans.
In the first round of the competition Celtic eased past TPS Turku of Finland, who played like TPS Turkeys and who were gobbled up in a 9:1 aggregate defeat which could easily have ended up 90:1.

Danish champions Vejle BK were made of somewhat sterner stuff and managed to earn themselves a 0:0 draw at Parkhead after Celtic turned in what many described as one of our worst European performances ever. By comparison with what was to come during the 80s and 90s it was probably a class show! It was left to Kenny Dalglish to score in Denmark for a 1:0 aggregate victory.

The quarter-final produced a cracking match against last year’s nemesis, FC Basel. The Swiss won the fist leg in their home stadium by 3:2. They then showed they were no cuckoos by coming back from 0:2 down at Celtic Park to draw level. Tommy Callaghan put Celtic in front again but there were no more goals in a nail-shredding finish. Stevie Murray headed the decisive goal eight minutes into the first period of extra time, which was enough to see the Celts looking forward to their fourth semi-final in eight years.

Bayern Munich were drawn to play Ujpest Dosza and so, as fate would have it, Celtic were drawn against Atletico Madrid.

1974-04-10: Celtic 0-0 Athletico Madrid, European Cup - The Celtic Wiki

At the time not a great deal was known about Atletico. They had been living in the shadow if city rivals Real for years. However, alarm bells started ringing when it was revealed that their coach was the infamous Juan Carlos Lorenzo. He had been in charge of the Argentinian national squad at the 1966 World Cup who had been branded ‘animals’ by Alf Ramsey after their quarter-final match against England at Wembley.

Atletico’s arrival in Glasgow for the first leg of the European Cup tie did little to dispel growing unease that we were in for a similar kind Donnybrook. The Madrid players had been limbering up for the Wednesday night’s game by kicking the seven shades of **** out of each other during a training session. Things got so out of hand that two of their Argentinian contingent had a square go in the middle of the pitch, pictures of which appeared in the Tuesday night’s evening paper.

In front of 70,000 at Parkhead the teams lined up on Wednesday 10th April 1974 as follows:
CELTIC: Connaghan, Hay, Brogan; Murray, McNeill, McCluskey; Johnstone, Hood, Deans, Callaghan, Dalglish.
ATLETICO MADRID: Thug; Psycho, Punch; Spit, Hatchet, Bludgeon; Hammer, Thump, Wallop, Gouge, Axe-Murderer

The unlikely – and downright unlucky – referee chosen to officiate that evening was a hapless Turkish gentleman by the name of Dogan Babacan. He looked a bit like Arthur Lowe’s officious bumbling bank manager character, Mr. Mainwaring, from Dad’s Army. He probably felt greatly honoured being entrusted with such a major football spectacle. Little did he know, he stood as much chance of controlling this game as the last referee at the Rome final of 46 BC, Christians FC versus Lions United.

The first name was in Mr. Babacan’s notebook after only seven minutes following a vicious assault on Johnstone. It set the tone for the rest of the evening’s football extravaganza.

Babacan got a chance to practice more Spanish a minute later. Jinky’s bruises from the game against Racing in Montivideo seven years before had just cleared up the previous week when a lump nut by the name of Ruben Diaz – who had actually played in that match – decided to renew his acquaintance with the Celtic winger. It was merely the first of his many assaults that night.

With the crowd already worked up into a frenzy at the sight of the atrocities being committed by the Atletico players, Celtic had a goal disallowed after ten minutes. It did little to dampen an atmosphere which had taken a decided turn towards the volatile.

Neither did the antics of Atletico Madrid. It became clear very quickly that the remaining eighty minutes of the match was simply going to be replay of the first ten. Name followed name into the ref’s notebook, which he was forced to swap at half-time for a 200 page ring-binder.

Eventually, having flashed the yellow ten times, he sent off the first Atletico player midway through the second half. By this time Dixie Deans had been substituted and was soaking his bruises in the bath. Hearing the roar of the crowd which greeted the dismissal of the Spanish player and thinking it might be a goal, he decided to get out of the bath to investigate. Wearing nothing but a towel he was met in the corridor by an irate Argentinian – who proceeded to give him a kick on the way past!

Meanwhile, back on the pitch things were degenerating quickly. Jinky was being kicked around like a discarded lager can as well as being treated by his opponents like a red-haired punchbag. Dalglish and Hay were also being singled out for special attention. It was all too much for poor Mr. Babacan who must have wished he was somewhere on the Russian Front rather than at Parkhead.

By the end of the game Madrid had been reduced to eight players, five of whom, including the ‘keeper, had been booked.

They had achieved their 0:0 draw but they weren’t finished yet. On the way up the tunnel Jimmy Johnstone was brutally assaulted yet again. It was the final provocation for the Celtic players. A punch-up ensued which had to be sorted out by Strathclyde’s Finest.

Next morning a picture appeared on the back pages of the papers. It featured Jimmy Johnstone semi-naked showing off his bruises. He looked as if he’d been battered for a fortnight with a hammer then given a good rub down with sandpaper.

Although the first leg had been shown live on Spanish TV, Atletico quickly got to work after the match with their propaganda campaign. They claimed that they were the victims of a concerted and orchestrated campaign of abuse at the hands of Celtic, the referee and, of all people, the Glasgow Police. They alleged that the Feds had come into their dressing room and beat up their players. It was preposterous, as anyone who has ever had any contact with the Glasgow Police will know. As was the assertion that Celtic had bribed the referee. If only the Spanish people had realised how difficult it was to prize open Desmond White’s Biscuit Tin to pay our own players never mind find extra money to give backhanders to the ref.

Despite public clamour for Celtic not to play the second leg, the spineless board decided in their infinite wisdom that they risked retribution from FIFA should they fail to fulfil the fixture, so they travelled to Madrid to play out the remainder of the farce.

Training for the players in the Spanish capital was carried out under the watchful gaze of heavily armed police, while a death threat to Jimmy Johnstone added to the friendly reception. It was the ideal preparation for such an important match.

On April 24th 1974 the Celtic team which took the field for the second leg was: Connaghan; McGrain, Brogan; Hay, McNeill, McCluskey; Johnstone, Murray, Dalglish, Hood, Lennox
Celtic duly lost two late goals and the Atletico team, which bore little resemblance to the one which played in Glasgow – due to the fact that the hatchet men had all been restored to their shebeens in the back streets of Marseille – went through to the final in Brussels.

What was to be done? Rangers had been banned from Europe a mere two years previous to this following the performance of their lunatic fringe in Barcelona when they won the Cup Winners Cup, events over which the club itself had no control. Atletico had actually sanctioned the atrocities which they passed off in the name of football which themselves could have started a riot.

Surely UEFA would have to take drastic action? Not a bit of it. Atletico were fined £14,000 – little more than the average bribe for a match official in those days – and six of their cloggers were banned for a couple of games. Only if Babacan had been forced to abandon the match at Parkhead by sending off another of their players, and God knows he wasn’t short of candidates, could the football authorities have been expected to take stronger action.

An article in World Soccer provided as good a summary of events as any: What a shame it is a team from Madrid who have to leave the fans with such cruel feelings and agonising memories.

Up until the Parkhead first leg fiasco Madrid had always thrown up visions of the legendary Real with di Stefano gliding through the centre, Gento sweeping magnificently down the wing, Puskas and his lethal shooting power, the towering defensive work of Santamaria. One giant, ugly, clumsy foot has trodden these cherished memories well and truly into the dirt.

Atletico went to Brussels to play Bayern and for a while it looked as if they were going to win the trophy. 0:0 at the end of 90 minutes, the Spaniards scored with six minutes of extra time to play. But, mercifully, the Germans scored in the final minute to take the game to a replay, which Bayern won by 4:0. Ten years after the Parkhead fiasco we eventually got our chance for revenge against Atletico, this time in the Cup Winners Cup. However, thanks to another shower of cheating bastards – in this case Rapid Vienna – the match was ordered to be played behind closed doors. We’ll have to nurse our wrath for a few more years yet.


ConnaghanHayBrogan, MurrayMcNeillMcCluskeyJohnstone HoodDeans (Wilson 70), CallaghanDalglish. Sub:HunterMcGrain, Lennox.

Athetico Madrid:
Reina, Melo, Diaz, Benegas, Overjero, Eusebio, Ayala, Adelardo, Garate (Quique), Irureta (Albert), Heredia

Referee: Dogan Babacan (Turkey)
Attendance: 70,000