Football Memories Celtic’s first ever European tie

Celtic’s first-ever European tie in 1962 was always going to be an occasion to remember for all the players involved.

For Charlie Gallagher, however, it isn’t a moment from the match that still looms large.

Instead, it’s the scenes the night before their Inter-Cities Fairs Cup tie away to Valencia which the Parkhead legend can still recall.

As Celtic prepare to fly to Spain this week for their Champions League encounter with Barcelona, it’s fair to say their preparations will be completely different to what it was like for Gallagher and Co. over 50 years ago.

“For some reason, we were staying in what I can only describe as beach huts or cabins down next to the beach,” recalls Gallagher.

“The night before the game, there was quite a bad storm and the entire place was flooded.

“I don’t know why we were staying where we were, but we were effectively evacuated in the middle of the night.

“We had to change accommodation and, to this day, I don’t actually know if it was a bit of gamesmanship from the locals or not.

“Put it this way, the weather conditions must have been forecast so why we were based there I just don’t know.

“I’d say I probably remember all of that more than the game itself.”

Celtic found themselves two goals behind against Valencia after just 26 minutes, and although they improved thereafter, they still found themselves going down 4-2 on the night.

Bobby Carroll netted Celtic’s two goals but the intimidating atmosphere made it a difficult 90 minutes for the Parkhead players.

“It was a big, round stadium, like a bullring actually,” said Gallagher. “And we were the bulls being taunted by the matadors. It was a really intimidating venue.

“In fairness, we weren’t used to it. It was obviously our first European tie and we really didn’t know what to expect. It was like an adventure for us.”

In the return at Celtic Park four weeks later, John Clark missed a penalty before a Verdu own goal three minutes into the second half gave the Hoops hope.

But Valencia hit back twice and Pat Crerand got Celtic’s equaliser for the tie to finish 6-4 on aggregate to the visitors.

“Valencia went on to win the competition that year, so it wasn’t that bad to lose to the team that went all the way,” Charlie points out.

“And it was nice to go into the history books as part of the team that played Celtic’s first-ever European tie.”

Gallagher spent 11 years at Celtic Park between 1959 and 1970, helping the club win five League titles, five League Cups, three Scottish Cups and the European Cup in 1967.

He finished his career at Dumbarton before returning to Celtic as a scout and Charlie remains a regular at matches and club functions.

“We still talk about the games we were involved in from our playing days, and Bobby Carroll has a great memory for the matches,” says Charlie.

“He scored our two goals in that first-ever European tie, but he also recalls us going out for a walk along a country lane the day before the game.

“That was obviously before the storm and the evacuation!”