The 9iar Chronicles – Season 1965-66
This current period we are hoping to achieve the magical 10+ in a row and eclipse the 9 in a row done by another Glasgow team through the 1990s. Of course they were not the first club to achieve that level of success. The first Scottish team to win 9iar were the magical Glasgow Celtic, managed by the incredible Jock Stein and the first season in that run was 1965-66.
Celtic has been in the wilderness of the Scottish game prior to the return of Jock as manager in the spring of 1965 and this season marked his first full season back at the club as manager and the first season which saw major successes finally come Celtic’s way.
The clear difference in the performance of Celtic prior to this season and here afterwards was the role of Jock Stein as manager. He drove the club and the players to new heights. It was not so much that the players were different before and after his arrival (discussed in the previous season review). It was more that the training and direction given by a peerless manager and tactician of great skill inspired better performance and a team sense that meant the difference between losing games and toughing them out; between drawing and getting the odd goal in a win; between fighting back when under the hammer. Stein was a supreme preparer for games and a master tactician with a plan for every game and the ability to read a game and where things needed to be changed. Furthermore he believed that the team should prepare properly. Every player knew what was required of him. Every player knew how to play and every player was aware of the importance of his team mates and where they would be. Practise and fitness were all part and parcel of delivering that performance and as Jock Stein was very much a track suit manager, he believed that he AND the trainer trained the team – not just the trainer. Having emphatically enforced that he and he alone picked the team to the Board, he made sure that the team were prepared and that the team that he picked was the right one. Furthermore players were now meant to be practised professionals. Full backs were encouraged to overlap; forward lines were to be seen as fluid and interchangeable; outside forwards were meant to get forward and cross and wing halfs controlled the game’s flow.
There is no doubt that Jock Stein’s presence turned the club around. Many might argue that it was the players that did this – but of this season’s players, only Joe McBride was directly acquired by him. All of the others were already at the club when he arrived. That alone marks the importance of Jock Stein to Celtic. The players were there – all they needed was pulling together and direction to become what would go on next season to become the Lisbon Lions.
The League title was a nip and tuck affair right from the off and was not decided fully till the last game of the League. It saw Celtic taake the flag from Rangers by 2 points only dropping one point at home and losing four games away. But it was not so much the numbers that added up but the performances throughout the season in the League. This was a team that did not take losing lying down – and that was a BIG change. There were still occasions when they could miss the target and have shot after shot sail past the goal, but these were rare and noteable when they occurred. All the commentators from the time said not only how strong the team were but also how fit and keen they were to win.
This season was the first that this team had really and truly played together inspired by a great manager. Next season would be something else!
Thanks to The Celtic Wiki for the preview text – enjoy the podcast.
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