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History

Battle of Britain

The champions of England against the champions of Scotland. When Celtic hosted Leeds United in the second leg of their 1969/70 European Cup semi-final, such was the clamour that the crowd at Hampden Park that night set an attendance record that is unlikely to ever be broken. Here, some of the players and fans at the game recall a night like no other

INTERVIEWS Simon Hart, Alex O’Henley & Andrew Whitaker

“Hampden Park rose roaring, chanting and flag-waving to acclaim Scotland’s heroes last night.” Those words are from The Guardian newspaper’s match report after the greatest gathering of spectators in the history of the European Cup. It was the night of 15 April 1970, when Celtic hosted (and defeated) Leeds United in the second leg of a semi-final billed as the Battle of Britain: the competition’s first clash between the champions of England and Scotland.

Such was the interest in the tie that Celtic switched the venue of their home leg to Hampden, the national stadium about 5km from Celtic Park. Davie Hay, Celtic’s then 22-year-old right-back, has not forgotten the excitement. “From the minute the draw was made, the demand for tickets meant the game had to be moved,” he remembers.

“We had Cup finals at Hampden , of course, with crowds of 110-120,000, but the demand for this game was on another level. If you look back at the old photos, you can see the crowds queueing outside Celtic Park for tickets right down the London Road. There was massive interest and anticipation, not just from Celtic fans but from other supporters of other clubs who also wanted to see the game. They say [the attendance] was over 136,000, but it was more than that inside Hampden on the night.”

UEFA’s official attendance was 135,805, though folk memory – as Hay highlights – insists on 136,000 or more. If not quite Hampden’s all-time record of 149,547 – the crowd for a Scotland v England international on 17 April 1937 – it made for a night nobody there would ever forget. At least not those present: fans of the two clubs hoping to listen to the action had to make do with a BBC radio commentary of the Manchester City-Schalke European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final instead, following Celtic’s rejection of the corporation’s request to broadcast the game live.

The two sides had met at the same ground in a friendly in August 1968, with Leeds winning 2-1, but this was an altogether different occasion. Don Revie’s visitors had won the English First Division title for the first time in 1969 while Jock Stein’s Celtic, Britain’s first European Cup winners in 1967, had clinched domestic trebles in 1967 and 1969. Six of the Lisbon Lions side that had won the European Cup were in the Celtic team that kicked off the second leg at Hampden.

Leeds were in pursuit of their own treble but entered the first leg having played five matches in the previous 11 days, and they lost 1-0 as fatigue took its toll. They would lose this second leg too, in front of that roaring, chanting and flag-waving Hampden sea of spectators, and finish the campaign empty-handed.

Here we collect the memories of players and fans who were there on 15 April 1970, to build a picture of a European Cup occasion with a unique place in the record books.

The first leg takes place on 1 April. Leeds enter the game having effectively surrendered their league title after defeats on 28 and 30 March – their first in any competition since 26 December. Their fixture pile-up is the result of a twice-replayed FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United and the Football League’s wish to conclude the domestic season by the end of April to help England’s 1970 World Cup preparations. But there is no sympathy from the authorities as Leeds are fined £5,000 for fielding a weakened team for the 4-1 loss to Derby County 48 hours before facing Celtic. Up in Scotland, Celtic have the morale boost of securing a fifth successive Scottish league title with a 0-0 draw at Hearts on 28 March.

Celtic fan Charlie Parr: “The build-up was like nothing else I’d seen. This was England v Scotland. The ‘auld enemy’. It was all over the papers every day. England had won the World Cup in 1966, Celtic had won the European Cup in ’67. It felt like these were the best two club teams in the world. That Leeds team, what a team – Bremner, Giles, Charlton, Lorimer – but we were Celtic, we had a fantastic team. Incredible players and fearless. They attacked from anywhere.”

Celtic right-back Davie Hay: “We had the greatest respect in the world for their manager and players. Every one was an international. Years later we played in Jack Charlton’s testimonial; he asked for us. But over the piece we were the better side, and we had internationals and top players as well. Without blowing our gums, we were a top side.”

Celtic win at Elland Road through a George Connelly strike after just 40 seconds. It is the first goal Leeds have conceded in the competition following six straight wins to reach the last four. Paul Madeley, deputising in defence for the injured Norman Hunter, fails to deal with Bertie Auld’s ball over the top; Connelly gets in a shot that takes a deflection and bobbles past Gary Sprake, the Leeds goalkeeper.

Leeds defender Jack Charlton*: “It was a very disappointing goal. A simple little ball was played through – and for some reason Paul Madeley missed it, George Connelly got a toe to it, and it went in off the far post. I remember that we pounded away at Celtic for the rest of the game, but it just wouldn’t go in for us. To make matters worse, Everton won that same night to clinch the league title.”

Charlie Parr: “My dad told me and my brother we couldn’t go to the first leg at Leeds unless we had tickets, but we sneaked away. All the supporters’ buses were full, so we hitch-hiked, then we managed to get in at the Leeds end – 15,000 Celtic supporters at one end and about two dozen Celtic fans in the Leeds end. We were probably lucky to survive!”

Four days before the return leg, Leeds draw 2-2 after extra time in the FA Cup final against Chelsea on a mudheap of a Wembley pitch. On the same afternoon, Celtic’s hopes of another domestic treble vanish with a 3-1 loss to Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden.

Celtic manager Jock Stein celebrates his side’s return to the final (above) The ball hits the back of the net after a “sweet, clean strike” from Bobby Murdoch (second Celtic player from the right) (top right), Gary Sprake comes out to block as John Hughes closes in on goal (right)

Davie Hay: “It shows you how strong we were as a team because it didn’t affect us a few days later. As normal, we were down at Seamill on the Ayrshire coast, our favourite preparation hotel. We went down on the Monday to prepare for the game on Wednesday. We were fit enough, so we didn’t go full tilt in training. We had plenty of walks in the fresh air, plenty of rest as well. Part of it was you were away from the hype. In those days you didn’t have intense scrutiny. You didn’t have mobile phones, so there were no distractions. We were cocooned in our own wee bubble. Then the day before, around midday, [Stein] announced the team. They were the games where he’d go into more detail – the tactics board would be out. We roughly knew their team and we were reminded what was required of us, individually and collectively. After working his way through that and with the way he spoke, he made you feel ten-foot tall going into the game, so we felt confident we could go on and win it, which proved to be the case.”

With the growing feeling that Leeds’ season is collapsing, only 4,500 fans make the trip to Scotland. Several thousand tickets are returned, but owing to a mix-up they don’t reach Glasgow until the night before the game. Desperate Celtic fans surround the bemused Leeds contingent as they arrive at Glasgow Central station amid rumours they have spare tickets. Meanwhile, there are three-mile queues of traffic in Glasgow’s south side on the afternoon of the match. Among the tens of thousands who make their way to Hampden is Frank Gray, the 15-year-old brother of Leeds winger Eddie, who was outstanding in the draw with Chelsea in the FA Cup final. A future Leeds and Scotland full-back, Frank is there to support Celtic.

Celtic fan Frank Gray: “I’d just signed for Leeds not long before that semi-final but was still a Celtic supporter then. I managed to get a ticket because before signing for Leeds I was a ball boy for Celtic and they were interested in signing me so I had a few contacts. Eddie was playing but I was there cheering Celtic on. I had my home-made Celtic flag, and my scarf and hat on – I went as a fully dressed fan. I was hoping Eddie would have a decent game but I didn’t want Leeds to win. I think if I’d have been playing for Leeds, he’d have felt the same way because he was a Celtic fan as well. I was in the Celtic end, on the big uncovered terracing behind the goal. It was heaving, there was no room to move. It was the best atmosphere I’ve ever known in a football ground.”

Charlie Parr: “I was 17 at the time, nearly 18, but it could have been yesterday. I can still feel the atmosphere, the noise, the sound. Deafening, electric. I’d been in huge crowds for Celtic-Rangers games before, but that was with the support split evenly – this was just Celtic everywhere. And everyone knew there were more than 135,000 there. I didn’t have a ticket and thousands more got in over the turnstiles like me – it was just the way it was then.”

Leeds fan Bernard Priceman: “My father knew Manny Cussins, who was on the board, and he said, ‘I’ve got you a ticket to sit down, if you want to go.’ I said, ‘Count me in.’ The seating was for around 15,000 people and was high up, looking down on the whole game. What a sight it was, all of these people swaying backwards and forwards. There was a warning from my dad not to wear anything from Leeds United and not to say a word during the game that would give anyone a clue that I was a Leeds supporter. I don’t remember seeing or hearing any other Leeds supporters near me, and so I was ashamedly shtum the whole time. It was rather difficult when Billy Bremner scored first…”

The tie pits two of Britain’s great managers of the day against each other in Stein and Revie. Stein’s Celtic are in the middle of a run of nine straight titles. Leeds are enjoying the greatest period in their history under Revie, and won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup two years earlier. The pair have a friendly rivalry that provides a fascinating sub-plot to the semi-final. Revie switches wingers Peter Lorimer and Gray to counter the threat from Celtic’s full-backs – but says Hay, Stein was unimpressed by the move.

Davie Hay: “I was playing right-back against Eddie Gray initially and Tommy [Gemmell] was against Peter Lorimer. So Tommy, who was standside, asked Jock, ‘Do we switch also?’ He said no. In our side you had myself, Jimmy [Johnstone] and Bobby [Murdoch] down the right-hand side and Tommy marauding down the left, so this was maybe a ploy by Revie to upset our defence, but Jock was far too cute for those kinds of games. He didn’t see the need for us to change our shape or natural flow.”

After 14 minutes, Billy Bremner, Leeds’ Scottish midfielder, levels the aggregate score when he strides forwards and drives a fabulous shot in off the far post from outside the box.

Jack Charlton: “I was stood right behind Billy at the edge of the box when the ball was laid back for him, and he hit a thundering shot which flew into the corner. Then they came back at us with a vengeance, and it felt as if we were under siege.”

Davie Hay: “It was the most silent I’d seen a football crowd in my whole career. It was like a deathly silence fell over Hampden, but then they got behind us again and we didn’t let it affect us. The constant chants of ‘Celtic, Celtic,’ were like a huge wave swelling and pushing us on. We went on to dominate that game more than we did the first leg. The crowd took us to another level. There was a constant noise and encouragement from the crowd and that drove us forward at every opportunity. It’s like a boxer who’s on top of an opponent and it’s a case of when’s the knockout punch going to come, whether it’s the fifth round, the tenth round or the 15th – but you know, eventually, it’s going to come.”

Bernard Priceman: “Celtic blew us away after that. My impression was ‘Leeds United were doomed’ – we know what that’s like at Elland Road, and this was four times the size.”

Celtic quickly turn the game around with two goals in the first six minutes of the second half. First, from Hay’s short corner, John Hughes gets ahead of Charlton to head a cross from Auld into the far corner of the net. Then Johnstone cuts in from the right, steps past Hunter and lays the ball back for Murdoch to fire in a low shot.
David Harvey, the substitute goalkeeper who has just come on for the injured Sprake, gets a hand to the ball in vain.

I can still feel the atmosphere, the noise, the sound. It was deafening, electric.

Davie Hay: “At half-time Stein was totally positive and he said, ‘Pick up the pace a bit, keep going at them and it will come.’ And he was right because we scored two quick goals in the second half. I was involved in the first with a long run up the right, which led to a corner. Bertie swung it in and big Yogi [Hughes] scored with a powerful header. A couple of minutes later the ball was cut back to Bobby and he made no mistake. It was a sweet, clean strike – so typical of Bobby.”

Frank Gray: “Everybody’s favourite player was Jimmy Johnstone and he gave Terry Cooper, who was England left-back at the time, a bit of a torrid time over both games. I spoke to Terry and Norman Hunter afterwards and they said over those two games he was almost unplayable.”

Jack Charlton: “The equaliser came two minutes after half-time. Gary was carried off after a collision with big John Hughes and then Bobby Murdoch scored the winner. Poor David Harvey, our substitute keeper, didn’t have a touch of the ball before he had to pick it out of the back of the net.”

Charlie Parr: “When the goals went in there were so many people jumping up and down on the concrete terracing, it was like a dust bowl. We were covered in this kind of red dust.”

Davie Hay: “Not only was it 2-1 on the night but 3-1 on aggregate and you felt that was it. Without being arrogant, we knew that it was pretty much all over at that point. With the way we were playing and the crowd behind us, we knew that no one was going to beat us that night.”

The final whistle confirms Celtic’s 3-1 aggregate triumph and a place in the final against Feyenoord in Milan.

Davie Hay: “No one left the stadium on the final whistle. There was no running for the last bus or train. We did a lap of honour, which was a fantastic experience. I swapped jerseys with Billy [Bremner]. One of the first photos you see is of me and George [Connolly], two of the Quality Street Kids [the name of the crop of young players who followed the 1967 Lisbon Lions], helping Celtic get to a European Cup final and we just enjoyed the accolades from the crowd.”

Frank Gray: “‘We shall not be moved’ was the favourite chant at the time for Celtic fans and that was sung long and loud that night. I remember the fans being in the ground a long time afterwards. With such a big crowd it took a long time to empty the ground and the streets were packed with a lot of happy people. They were filled with Celtic fans everywhere. We met up with Eddie the next day to see him and commiserate.”

A fortnight later, on 29 April, there is more heartache for Leeds as they lose their FA Cup final replay against Chelsea, taking the lead in the first half but losing 2-1 after extra time. Celtic go on to suffer an identical fate in the European Cup final against Feyenoord on 6 May.

Davie Hay: “We probably thought we were the favourites for the final. What compounds it was we didn’t play to our capabilities against Feyenoord. Losing is the worst thing, but knowing we were three minutes away from a replay… To this day I’m convinced that had there been another game you’d have seen a different Celtic and we’d have won it.”

Frank Gray: “I also went to the final with my mates and they should have won that game. In most people’s opinion, they were the best team in Europe at that time.”

Davie Hay: “I think we all, Jock [Stein] included, underestimated Feyenoord. The tragedy was we never took the form and performance from the semi-final at Hampden to the final. It’s probably the biggest regret of my football career.”

*Jack Charlton’s quotes are from Jack Charlton: The Autobiography

Semi-Final
Celtic 2 Leeds 1

European Cup semi-final second leg, 15 April 1970.
Celtic win 3-1 on aggregate

Goals:

Bremner 14 (0-1);
Hughes 47 (1-1);
Murdoch 51 (2-1)

Celtic

1 Evan Williams
2
Davie Hay
3 Tommy Gemmell
4 Bobby Murdoch
5 Billy McNeill
6 Jim Brogan
7 Jimmy Johnstone
8 George Connelly
9 John Hughes
10 Bertie Auld
11 Bobby Lennox

Leeds

1 Gary Sprake (David Harvey 48)
2
Paul Madeley
3 Terry Cooper
4
Billy Bremner
5
Jack Charlton
6
Norman Hunter
7
Peter Lorimer (Mick Bates 70)
8
Allan Clarke
9
Mick Jones
10 Johnny Giles
11
Eddie Gray

“Hampden Park rose roaring, chanting and flag-waving to acclaim Scotland’s heroes last night.” Those words are from The Guardian newspaper’s match report after the greatest gathering of spectators in the history of the European Cup. It was the night of 15 April 1970, when Celtic hosted (and defeated) Leeds United in the second leg of a semi-final billed as the Battle of Britain: the competition’s first clash between the champions of England and Scotland.

Such was the interest in the tie that Celtic switched the venue of their home leg to Hampden, the national stadium about 5km from Celtic Park. Davie Hay, Celtic’s then 22-year-old right-back, has not forgotten the excitement. “From the minute the draw was made, the demand for tickets meant the game had to be moved,” he remembers.

“We had Cup finals at Hampden , of course, with crowds of 110-120,000, but the demand for this game was on another level. If you look back at the old photos, you can see the crowds queueing outside Celtic Park for tickets right down the London Road. There was massive interest and anticipation, not just from Celtic fans but from other supporters of other clubs who also wanted to see the game. They say [the attendance] was over 136,000, but it was more than that inside Hampden on the night.”

UEFA’s official attendance was 135,805, though folk memory – as Hay highlights – insists on 136,000 or more. If not quite Hampden’s all-time record of 149,547 – the crowd for a Scotland v England international on 17 April 1937 – it made for a night nobody there would ever forget. At least not those present: fans of the two clubs hoping to listen to the action had to make do with a BBC radio commentary of the Manchester City-Schalke European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final instead, following Celtic’s rejection of the corporation’s request to broadcast the game live.

The two sides had met at the same ground in a friendly in August 1968, with Leeds winning 2-1, but this was an altogether different occasion. Don Revie’s visitors had won the English First Division title for the first time in 1969 while Jock Stein’s Celtic, Britain’s first European Cup winners in 1967, had clinched domestic trebles in 1967 and 1969. Six of the Lisbon Lions side that had won the European Cup were in the Celtic team that kicked off the second leg at Hampden.

Leeds were in pursuit of their own treble but entered the first leg having played five matches in the previous 11 days, and they lost 1-0 as fatigue took its toll. They would lose this second leg too, in front of that roaring, chanting and flag-waving Hampden sea of spectators, and finish the campaign empty-handed.

Here we collect the memories of players and fans who were there on 15 April 1970, to build a picture of a European Cup occasion with a unique place in the record books.

The first leg takes place on 1 April. Leeds enter the game having effectively surrendered their league title after defeats on 28 and 30 March – their first in any competition since 26 December. Their fixture pile-up is the result of a twice-replayed FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United and the Football League’s wish to conclude the domestic season by the end of April to help England’s 1970 World Cup preparations. But there is no sympathy from the authorities as Leeds are fined £5,000 for fielding a weakened team for the 4-1 loss to Derby County 48 hours before facing Celtic. Up in Scotland, Celtic have the morale boost of securing a fifth successive Scottish league title with a 0-0 draw at Hearts on 28 March.

Celtic fan Charlie Parr: “The build-up was like nothing else I’d seen. This was England v Scotland. The ‘auld enemy’. It was all over the papers every day. England had won the World Cup in 1966, Celtic had won the European Cup in ’67. It felt like these were the best two club teams in the world. That Leeds team, what a team – Bremner, Giles, Charlton, Lorimer – but we were Celtic, we had a fantastic team. Incredible players and fearless. They attacked from anywhere.”

Celtic right-back Davie Hay: “We had the greatest respect in the world for their manager and players. Every one was an international. Years later we played in Jack Charlton’s testimonial; he asked for us. But over the piece we were the better side, and we had internationals and top players as well. Without blowing our gums, we were a top side.”

Celtic win at Elland Road through a George Connelly strike after just 40 seconds. It is the first goal Leeds have conceded in the competition following six straight wins to reach the last four. Paul Madeley, deputising in defence for the injured Norman Hunter, fails to deal with Bertie Auld’s ball over the top; Connelly gets in a shot that takes a deflection and bobbles past Gary Sprake, the Leeds goalkeeper.

Leeds defender Jack Charlton*: “It was a very disappointing goal. A simple little ball was played through – and for some reason Paul Madeley missed it, George Connelly got a toe to it, and it went in off the far post. I remember that we pounded away at Celtic for the rest of the game, but it just wouldn’t go in for us. To make matters worse, Everton won that same night to clinch the league title.”

Charlie Parr: “My dad told me and my brother we couldn’t go to the first leg at Leeds unless we had tickets, but we sneaked away. All the supporters’ buses were full, so we hitch-hiked, then we managed to get in at the Leeds end – 15,000 Celtic supporters at one end and about two dozen Celtic fans in the Leeds end. We were probably lucky to survive!”

Four days before the return leg, Leeds draw 2-2 after extra time in the FA Cup final against Chelsea on a mudheap of a Wembley pitch. On the same afternoon, Celtic’s hopes of another domestic treble vanish with a 3-1 loss to Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden.

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Celtic manager Jock Stein celebrates his side’s return to the final (above) The ball hits the back of the net after a “sweet, clean strike” from Bobby Murdoch (second Celtic player from the right) (top right), Gary Sprake comes out to block as John Hughes closes in on goal (right)

Davie Hay: “It shows you how strong we were as a team because it didn’t affect us a few days later. As normal, we were down at Seamill on the Ayrshire coast, our favourite preparation hotel. We went down on the Monday to prepare for the game on Wednesday. We were fit enough, so we didn’t go full tilt in training. We had plenty of walks in the fresh air, plenty of rest as well. Part of it was you were away from the hype. In those days you didn’t have intense scrutiny. You didn’t have mobile phones, so there were no distractions. We were cocooned in our own wee bubble. Then the day before, around midday, [Stein] announced the team. They were the games where he’d go into more detail – the tactics board would be out. We roughly knew their team and we were reminded what was required of us, individually and collectively. After working his way through that and with the way he spoke, he made you feel ten-foot tall going into the game, so we felt confident we could go on and win it, which proved to be the case.”

With the growing feeling that Leeds’ season is collapsing, only 4,500 fans make the trip to Scotland. Several thousand tickets are returned, but owing to a mix-up they don’t reach Glasgow until the night before the game. Desperate Celtic fans surround the bemused Leeds contingent as they arrive at Glasgow Central station amid rumours they have spare tickets. Meanwhile, there are three-mile queues of traffic in Glasgow’s south side on the afternoon of the match. Among the tens of thousands who make their way to Hampden is Frank Gray, the 15-year-old brother of Leeds winger Eddie, who was outstanding in the draw with Chelsea in the FA Cup final. A future Leeds and Scotland full-back, Frank is there to support Celtic.

Celtic fan Frank Gray: “I’d just signed for Leeds not long before that semi-final but was still a Celtic supporter then. I managed to get a ticket because before signing for Leeds I was a ball boy for Celtic and they were interested in signing me so I had a few contacts. Eddie was playing but I was there cheering Celtic on. I had my home-made Celtic flag, and my scarf and hat on – I went as a fully dressed fan. I was hoping Eddie would have a decent game but I didn’t want Leeds to win. I think if I’d have been playing for Leeds, he’d have felt the same way because he was a Celtic fan as well. I was in the Celtic end, on the big uncovered terracing behind the goal. It was heaving, there was no room to move. It was the best atmosphere I’ve ever known in a football ground.”

Charlie Parr: “I was 17 at the time, nearly 18, but it could have been yesterday. I can still feel the atmosphere, the noise, the sound. Deafening, electric. I’d been in huge crowds for Celtic-Rangers games before, but that was with the support split evenly – this was just Celtic everywhere. And everyone knew there were more than 135,000 there. I didn’t have a ticket and thousands more got in over the turnstiles like me – it was just the way it was then.”

Leeds fan Bernard Priceman: “My father knew Manny Cussins, who was on the board, and he said, ‘I’ve got you a ticket to sit down, if you want to go.’ I said, ‘Count me in.’ The seating was for around 15,000 people and was high up, looking down on the whole game. What a sight it was, all of these people swaying backwards and forwards. There was a warning from my dad not to wear anything from Leeds United and not to say a word during the game that would give anyone a clue that I was a Leeds supporter. I don’t remember seeing or hearing any other Leeds supporters near me, and so I was ashamedly shtum the whole time. It was rather difficult when Billy Bremner scored first…”

The tie pits two of Britain’s great managers of the day against each other in Stein and Revie. Stein’s Celtic are in the middle of a run of nine straight titles. Leeds are enjoying the greatest period in their history under Revie, and won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup two years earlier. The pair have a friendly rivalry that provides a fascinating sub-plot to the semi-final. Revie switches wingers Peter Lorimer and Gray to counter the threat from Celtic’s full-backs – but says Hay, Stein was unimpressed by the move.

Davie Hay: “I was playing right-back against Eddie Gray initially and Tommy [Gemmell] was against Peter Lorimer. So Tommy, who was standside, asked Jock, ‘Do we switch also?’ He said no. In our side you had myself, Jimmy [Johnstone] and Bobby [Murdoch] down the right-hand side and Tommy marauding down the left, so this was maybe a ploy by Revie to upset our defence, but Jock was far too cute for those kinds of games. He didn’t see the need for us to change our shape or natural flow.”

After 14 minutes, Billy Bremner, Leeds’ Scottish midfielder, levels the aggregate score when he strides forwards and drives a fabulous shot in off the far post from outside the box.

Jack Charlton: “I was stood right behind Billy at the edge of the box when the ball was laid back for him, and he hit a thundering shot which flew into the corner. Then they came back at us with a vengeance, and it felt as if we were under siege.”

Davie Hay: “It was the most silent I’d seen a football crowd in my whole career. It was like a deathly silence fell over Hampden, but then they got behind us again and we didn’t let it affect us. The constant chants of ‘Celtic, Celtic,’ were like a huge wave swelling and pushing us on. We went on to dominate that game more than we did the first leg. The crowd took us to another level. There was a constant noise and encouragement from the crowd and that drove us forward at every opportunity. It’s like a boxer who’s on top of an opponent and it’s a case of when’s the knockout punch going to come, whether it’s the fifth round, the tenth round or the 15th – but you know, eventually, it’s going to come.”

Bernard Priceman: “Celtic blew us away after that. My impression was ‘Leeds United were doomed’ – we know what that’s like at Elland Road, and this was four times the size.”

Celtic quickly turn the game around with two goals in the first six minutes of the second half. First, from Hay’s short corner, John Hughes gets ahead of Charlton to head a cross from Auld into the far corner of the net. Then Johnstone cuts in from the right, steps past Hunter and lays the ball back for Murdoch to fire in a low shot.
David Harvey, the substitute goalkeeper who has just come on for the injured Sprake, gets a hand to the ball in vain.

I can still feel the atmosphere, the noise, the sound. It was deafening, electric.

Davie Hay: “At half-time Stein was totally positive and he said, ‘Pick up the pace a bit, keep going at them and it will come.’ And he was right because we scored two quick goals in the second half. I was involved in the first with a long run up the right, which led to a corner. Bertie swung it in and big Yogi [Hughes] scored with a powerful header. A couple of minutes later the ball was cut back to Bobby and he made no mistake. It was a sweet, clean strike – so typical of Bobby.”

Frank Gray: “Everybody’s favourite player was Jimmy Johnstone and he gave Terry Cooper, who was England left-back at the time, a bit of a torrid time over both games. I spoke to Terry and Norman Hunter afterwards and they said over those two games he was almost unplayable.”

Jack Charlton: “The equaliser came two minutes after half-time. Gary was carried off after a collision with big John Hughes and then Bobby Murdoch scored the winner. Poor David Harvey, our substitute keeper, didn’t have a touch of the ball before he had to pick it out of the back of the net.”

Charlie Parr: “When the goals went in there were so many people jumping up and down on the concrete terracing, it was like a dust bowl. We were covered in this kind of red dust.”

Davie Hay: “Not only was it 2-1 on the night but 3-1 on aggregate and you felt that was it. Without being arrogant, we knew that it was pretty much all over at that point. With the way we were playing and the crowd behind us, we knew that no one was going to beat us that night.”

The final whistle confirms Celtic’s 3-1 aggregate triumph and a place in the final against Feyenoord in Milan.

Davie Hay: “No one left the stadium on the final whistle. There was no running for the last bus or train. We did a lap of honour, which was a fantastic experience. I swapped jerseys with Billy [Bremner]. One of the first photos you see is of me and George [Connolly], two of the Quality Street Kids [the name of the crop of young players who followed the 1967 Lisbon Lions], helping Celtic get to a European Cup final and we just enjoyed the accolades from the crowd.”

Frank Gray: “‘We shall not be moved’ was the favourite chant at the time for Celtic fans and that was sung long and loud that night. I remember the fans being in the ground a long time afterwards. With such a big crowd it took a long time to empty the ground and the streets were packed with a lot of happy people. They were filled with Celtic fans everywhere. We met up with Eddie the next day to see him and commiserate.”

A fortnight later, on 29 April, there is more heartache for Leeds as they lose their FA Cup final replay against Chelsea, taking the lead in the first half but losing 2-1 after extra time. Celtic go on to suffer an identical fate in the European Cup final against Feyenoord on 6 May.

Davie Hay: “We probably thought we were the favourites for the final. What compounds it was we didn’t play to our capabilities against Feyenoord. Losing is the worst thing, but knowing we were three minutes away from a replay… To this day I’m convinced that had there been another game you’d have seen a different Celtic and we’d have won it.”

Frank Gray: “I also went to the final with my mates and they should have won that game. In most people’s opinion, they were the best team in Europe at that time.”

Davie Hay: “I think we all, Jock [Stein] included, underestimated Feyenoord. The tragedy was we never took the form and performance from the semi-final at Hampden to the final. It’s probably the biggest regret of my football career.”

*Jack Charlton’s quotes are from Jack Charlton: The Autobiography

Semi-Final
Celtic 2 Leeds 1

European Cup semi-final second leg, 15 April 1970.
Celtic win 3-1 on aggregate

Goals:

Bremner 14 (0-1);
Hughes 47 (1-1);
Murdoch 51 (2-1)

Celtic

1 Evan Williams
2
Davie Hay
3 Tommy Gemmell
4 Bobby Murdoch
5 Billy McNeill
6 Jim Brogan
7 Jimmy Johnstone
8 George Connelly
9 John Hughes
10 Bertie Auld
11 Bobby Lennox

Leeds

1 Gary Sprake (David Harvey 48)
2
Paul Madeley
3 Terry Cooper
4
Billy Bremner
5
Jack Charlton
6
Norman Hunter
7
Peter Lorimer (Mick Bates 70)
8
Allan Clarke
9
Mick Jones
10 Johnny Giles
11
Eddie Gray

“Hampden Park rose roaring, chanting and flag-waving to acclaim Scotland’s heroes last night.” Those words are from The Guardian newspaper’s match report after the greatest gathering of spectators in the history of the European Cup. It was the night of 15 April 1970, when Celtic hosted (and defeated) Leeds United in the second leg of a semi-final billed as the Battle of Britain: the competition’s first clash between the champions of England and Scotland.

Such was the interest in the tie that Celtic switched the venue of their home leg to Hampden, the national stadium about 5km from Celtic Park. Davie Hay, Celtic’s then 22-year-old right-back, has not forgotten the excitement. “From the minute the draw was made, the demand for tickets meant the game had to be moved,” he remembers.

“We had Cup finals at Hampden , of course, with crowds of 110-120,000, but the demand for this game was on another level. If you look back at the old photos, you can see the crowds queueing outside Celtic Park for tickets right down the London Road. There was massive interest and anticipation, not just from Celtic fans but from other supporters of other clubs who also wanted to see the game. They say [the attendance] was over 136,000, but it was more than that inside Hampden on the night.”

UEFA’s official attendance was 135,805, though folk memory – as Hay highlights – insists on 136,000 or more. If not quite Hampden’s all-time record of 149,547 – the crowd for a Scotland v England international on 17 April 1937 – it made for a night nobody there would ever forget. At least not those present: fans of the two clubs hoping to listen to the action had to make do with a BBC radio commentary of the Manchester City-Schalke European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final instead, following Celtic’s rejection of the corporation’s request to broadcast the game live.

The two sides had met at the same ground in a friendly in August 1968, with Leeds winning 2-1, but this was an altogether different occasion. Don Revie’s visitors had won the English First Division title for the first time in 1969 while Jock Stein’s Celtic, Britain’s first European Cup winners in 1967, had clinched domestic trebles in 1967 and 1969. Six of the Lisbon Lions side that had won the European Cup were in the Celtic team that kicked off the second leg at Hampden.

Leeds were in pursuit of their own treble but entered the first leg having played five matches in the previous 11 days, and they lost 1-0 as fatigue took its toll. They would lose this second leg too, in front of that roaring, chanting and flag-waving Hampden sea of spectators, and finish the campaign empty-handed.

Here we collect the memories of players and fans who were there on 15 April 1970, to build a picture of a European Cup occasion with a unique place in the record books.

The first leg takes place on 1 April. Leeds enter the game having effectively surrendered their league title after defeats on 28 and 30 March – their first in any competition since 26 December. Their fixture pile-up is the result of a twice-replayed FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United and the Football League’s wish to conclude the domestic season by the end of April to help England’s 1970 World Cup preparations. But there is no sympathy from the authorities as Leeds are fined £5,000 for fielding a weakened team for the 4-1 loss to Derby County 48 hours before facing Celtic. Up in Scotland, Celtic have the morale boost of securing a fifth successive Scottish league title with a 0-0 draw at Hearts on 28 March.

Celtic fan Charlie Parr: “The build-up was like nothing else I’d seen. This was England v Scotland. The ‘auld enemy’. It was all over the papers every day. England had won the World Cup in 1966, Celtic had won the European Cup in ’67. It felt like these were the best two club teams in the world. That Leeds team, what a team – Bremner, Giles, Charlton, Lorimer – but we were Celtic, we had a fantastic team. Incredible players and fearless. They attacked from anywhere.”

Celtic right-back Davie Hay: “We had the greatest respect in the world for their manager and players. Every one was an international. Years later we played in Jack Charlton’s testimonial; he asked for us. But over the piece we were the better side, and we had internationals and top players as well. Without blowing our gums, we were a top side.”

Celtic win at Elland Road through a George Connelly strike after just 40 seconds. It is the first goal Leeds have conceded in the competition following six straight wins to reach the last four. Paul Madeley, deputising in defence for the injured Norman Hunter, fails to deal with Bertie Auld’s ball over the top; Connelly gets in a shot that takes a deflection and bobbles past Gary Sprake, the Leeds goalkeeper.

Leeds defender Jack Charlton*: “It was a very disappointing goal. A simple little ball was played through – and for some reason Paul Madeley missed it, George Connelly got a toe to it, and it went in off the far post. I remember that we pounded away at Celtic for the rest of the game, but it just wouldn’t go in for us. To make matters worse, Everton won that same night to clinch the league title.”

Charlie Parr: “My dad told me and my brother we couldn’t go to the first leg at Leeds unless we had tickets, but we sneaked away. All the supporters’ buses were full, so we hitch-hiked, then we managed to get in at the Leeds end – 15,000 Celtic supporters at one end and about two dozen Celtic fans in the Leeds end. We were probably lucky to survive!”

Four days before the return leg, Leeds draw 2-2 after extra time in the FA Cup final against Chelsea on a mudheap of a Wembley pitch. On the same afternoon, Celtic’s hopes of another domestic treble vanish with a 3-1 loss to Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden.

Celtic manager Jock Stein celebrates his side’s return to the final (above) The ball hits the back of the net after a “sweet, clean strike” from Bobby Murdoch (second Celtic player from the right) (top right), Gary Sprake comes out to block as John Hughes closes in on goal (right)

Davie Hay: “It shows you how strong we were as a team because it didn’t affect us a few days later. As normal, we were down at Seamill on the Ayrshire coast, our favourite preparation hotel. We went down on the Monday to prepare for the game on Wednesday. We were fit enough, so we didn’t go full tilt in training. We had plenty of walks in the fresh air, plenty of rest as well. Part of it was you were away from the hype. In those days you didn’t have intense scrutiny. You didn’t have mobile phones, so there were no distractions. We were cocooned in our own wee bubble. Then the day before, around midday, [Stein] announced the team. They were the games where he’d go into more detail – the tactics board would be out. We roughly knew their team and we were reminded what was required of us, individually and collectively. After working his way through that and with the way he spoke, he made you feel ten-foot tall going into the game, so we felt confident we could go on and win it, which proved to be the case.”

With the growing feeling that Leeds’ season is collapsing, only 4,500 fans make the trip to Scotland. Several thousand tickets are returned, but owing to a mix-up they don’t reach Glasgow until the night before the game. Desperate Celtic fans surround the bemused Leeds contingent as they arrive at Glasgow Central station amid rumours they have spare tickets. Meanwhile, there are three-mile queues of traffic in Glasgow’s south side on the afternoon of the match. Among the tens of thousands who make their way to Hampden is Frank Gray, the 15-year-old brother of Leeds winger Eddie, who was outstanding in the draw with Chelsea in the FA Cup final. A future Leeds and Scotland full-back, Frank is there to support Celtic.

Celtic fan Frank Gray: “I’d just signed for Leeds not long before that semi-final but was still a Celtic supporter then. I managed to get a ticket because before signing for Leeds I was a ball boy for Celtic and they were interested in signing me so I had a few contacts. Eddie was playing but I was there cheering Celtic on. I had my home-made Celtic flag, and my scarf and hat on – I went as a fully dressed fan. I was hoping Eddie would have a decent game but I didn’t want Leeds to win. I think if I’d have been playing for Leeds, he’d have felt the same way because he was a Celtic fan as well. I was in the Celtic end, on the big uncovered terracing behind the goal. It was heaving, there was no room to move. It was the best atmosphere I’ve ever known in a football ground.”

Charlie Parr: “I was 17 at the time, nearly 18, but it could have been yesterday. I can still feel the atmosphere, the noise, the sound. Deafening, electric. I’d been in huge crowds for Celtic-Rangers games before, but that was with the support split evenly – this was just Celtic everywhere. And everyone knew there were more than 135,000 there. I didn’t have a ticket and thousands more got in over the turnstiles like me – it was just the way it was then.”

Leeds fan Bernard Priceman: “My father knew Manny Cussins, who was on the board, and he said, ‘I’ve got you a ticket to sit down, if you want to go.’ I said, ‘Count me in.’ The seating was for around 15,000 people and was high up, looking down on the whole game. What a sight it was, all of these people swaying backwards and forwards. There was a warning from my dad not to wear anything from Leeds United and not to say a word during the game that would give anyone a clue that I was a Leeds supporter. I don’t remember seeing or hearing any other Leeds supporters near me, and so I was ashamedly shtum the whole time. It was rather difficult when Billy Bremner scored first…”

The tie pits two of Britain’s great managers of the day against each other in Stein and Revie. Stein’s Celtic are in the middle of a run of nine straight titles. Leeds are enjoying the greatest period in their history under Revie, and won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup two years earlier. The pair have a friendly rivalry that provides a fascinating sub-plot to the semi-final. Revie switches wingers Peter Lorimer and Gray to counter the threat from Celtic’s full-backs – but says Hay, Stein was unimpressed by the move.

Davie Hay: “I was playing right-back against Eddie Gray initially and Tommy [Gemmell] was against Peter Lorimer. So Tommy, who was standside, asked Jock, ‘Do we switch also?’ He said no. In our side you had myself, Jimmy [Johnstone] and Bobby [Murdoch] down the right-hand side and Tommy marauding down the left, so this was maybe a ploy by Revie to upset our defence, but Jock was far too cute for those kinds of games. He didn’t see the need for us to change our shape or natural flow.”

After 14 minutes, Billy Bremner, Leeds’ Scottish midfielder, levels the aggregate score when he strides forwards and drives a fabulous shot in off the far post from outside the box.

Jack Charlton: “I was stood right behind Billy at the edge of the box when the ball was laid back for him, and he hit a thundering shot which flew into the corner. Then they came back at us with a vengeance, and it felt as if we were under siege.”

Davie Hay: “It was the most silent I’d seen a football crowd in my whole career. It was like a deathly silence fell over Hampden, but then they got behind us again and we didn’t let it affect us. The constant chants of ‘Celtic, Celtic,’ were like a huge wave swelling and pushing us on. We went on to dominate that game more than we did the first leg. The crowd took us to another level. There was a constant noise and encouragement from the crowd and that drove us forward at every opportunity. It’s like a boxer who’s on top of an opponent and it’s a case of when’s the knockout punch going to come, whether it’s the fifth round, the tenth round or the 15th – but you know, eventually, it’s going to come.”

Bernard Priceman: “Celtic blew us away after that. My impression was ‘Leeds United were doomed’ – we know what that’s like at Elland Road, and this was four times the size.”

Celtic quickly turn the game around with two goals in the first six minutes of the second half. First, from Hay’s short corner, John Hughes gets ahead of Charlton to head a cross from Auld into the far corner of the net. Then Johnstone cuts in from the right, steps past Hunter and lays the ball back for Murdoch to fire in a low shot.
David Harvey, the substitute goalkeeper who has just come on for the injured Sprake, gets a hand to the ball in vain.

I can still feel the atmosphere, the noise, the sound. It was deafening, electric.

Davie Hay: “At half-time Stein was totally positive and he said, ‘Pick up the pace a bit, keep going at them and it will come.’ And he was right because we scored two quick goals in the second half. I was involved in the first with a long run up the right, which led to a corner. Bertie swung it in and big Yogi [Hughes] scored with a powerful header. A couple of minutes later the ball was cut back to Bobby and he made no mistake. It was a sweet, clean strike – so typical of Bobby.”

Frank Gray: “Everybody’s favourite player was Jimmy Johnstone and he gave Terry Cooper, who was England left-back at the time, a bit of a torrid time over both games. I spoke to Terry and Norman Hunter afterwards and they said over those two games he was almost unplayable.”

Jack Charlton: “The equaliser came two minutes after half-time. Gary was carried off after a collision with big John Hughes and then Bobby Murdoch scored the winner. Poor David Harvey, our substitute keeper, didn’t have a touch of the ball before he had to pick it out of the back of the net.”

Charlie Parr: “When the goals went in there were so many people jumping up and down on the concrete terracing, it was like a dust bowl. We were covered in this kind of red dust.”

Davie Hay: “Not only was it 2-1 on the night but 3-1 on aggregate and you felt that was it. Without being arrogant, we knew that it was pretty much all over at that point. With the way we were playing and the crowd behind us, we knew that no one was going to beat us that night.”

The final whistle confirms Celtic’s 3-1 aggregate triumph and a place in the final against Feyenoord in Milan.

Davie Hay: “No one left the stadium on the final whistle. There was no running for the last bus or train. We did a lap of honour, which was a fantastic experience. I swapped jerseys with Billy [Bremner]. One of the first photos you see is of me and George [Connolly], two of the Quality Street Kids [the name of the crop of young players who followed the 1967 Lisbon Lions], helping Celtic get to a European Cup final and we just enjoyed the accolades from the crowd.”

Frank Gray: “‘We shall not be moved’ was the favourite chant at the time for Celtic fans and that was sung long and loud that night. I remember the fans being in the ground a long time afterwards. With such a big crowd it took a long time to empty the ground and the streets were packed with a lot of happy people. They were filled with Celtic fans everywhere. We met up with Eddie the next day to see him and commiserate.”

A fortnight later, on 29 April, there is more heartache for Leeds as they lose their FA Cup final replay against Chelsea, taking the lead in the first half but losing 2-1 after extra time. Celtic go on to suffer an identical fate in the European Cup final against Feyenoord on 6 May.

Davie Hay: “We probably thought we were the favourites for the final. What compounds it was we didn’t play to our capabilities against Feyenoord. Losing is the worst thing, but knowing we were three minutes away from a replay… To this day I’m convinced that had there been another game you’d have seen a different Celtic and we’d have won it.”

Frank Gray: “I also went to the final with my mates and they should have won that game. In most people’s opinion, they were the best team in Europe at that time.”

Davie Hay: “I think we all, Jock [Stein] included, underestimated Feyenoord. The tragedy was we never took the form and performance from the semi-final at Hampden to the final. It’s probably the biggest regret of my football career.”

*Jack Charlton’s quotes are from Jack Charlton: The Autobiography

Semi-Final
Celtic 2 Leeds 1

European Cup semi-final second leg, 15 April 1970.
Celtic win 3-1 on aggregate

Goals:

Bremner 14 (0-1);
Hughes 47 (1-1);
Murdoch 51 (2-1)

Celtic

1 Evan Williams
2
Davie Hay
3 Tommy Gemmell
4 Bobby Murdoch
5 Billy McNeill
6 Jim Brogan
7 Jimmy Johnstone
8 George Connelly
9 John Hughes
10 Bertie Auld
11 Bobby Lennox

Leeds

1 Gary Sprake (David Harvey 48)
2
Paul Madeley
3 Terry Cooper
4
Billy Bremner
5
Jack Charlton
6
Norman Hunter
7
Peter Lorimer (Mick Bates 70)
8
Allan Clarke
9
Mick Jones
10 Johnny Giles
11
Eddie Gray

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