CELTIC has a proud record of ‘firsts’ – the first non-Latin team to win the European cup, the first Scottish team to win six titles in a row, then the first team to win nine titles in a row.
One strange ‘first’ that we can claim is that 51 years ago this week, Celtic were the first team ever to protest to the authorities after WINNING a tie, and in doing so, were the catalyst for a change in European football that has sparked controversy and debate ever since.
In short, the story is simple: Celtic faced Benfica of Lisbon in the second round of the 1969/70 European Cup campaign. Celtic won 3-0 at home, were beaten 3-0 in Lisbon after extra-time and the tie was decided in Celtic’s favour by the spin of a coin.
In the home tie on November 12, a classic performance from the Celts produced many highlights but goals by Tommy Gemmell, Willie Wallace and Harry Hood were the main fruits of the Hoops’ labour that night.
A fortnight later, it was back to the Stadium of Light in Lisbon. Many travelling Celtic fans had taken the opportunity to visit what had even by then become a Celtic overseas shrine – the Estadio Nacional, scene of the club’s greatest achievement just three seasons earler. The welcome was friendly, but when the match started, the Portuguese were not in the mood to defer to the visitors.
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