Previously unseen footage of our pre-season friendly against Celtic at Oriel Park in the summer of 1975 has surfaced!
The footage was sent to the club by Donal MacManus, the son of former Dundalk captain Jackie MacManus, who skippered Jim McLaughlin’s side in the game.
“My mum was clearing out the attic at home and discovered an old box with undeveloped reels of film,” explained Donal. “She thought they were too old to develop but she brought them to a local company that did an amazing job converting them. We think it was my Granda who filmed the game but he passed away a few years ago, so it’s a bit of a mystery!”
Jackie, who went on to lift the league title at the end of the 75/76 season – and the FAI Cup in 1977 – had the unenviable task of marking a certain Kenny Dalglish on the day.
“At one point he stood me up on the edge of the box and feinted to nutmeg me so I closed my legs and he instantly curled it around me into the top corner! He was an incredible player,” said Jackie.
“Bobby Lennox, the famous Lisbon Lion, captained Celtic,” he added. “To shake his hand at the coin toss was a real thrill and an abiding memory. Many years later I met him at Celtic Park and he remembered the Dundalk game. It was a special day!”
Described by the Democrat as the ‘biggest off-season attraction at Oriel Park for many years’, it was only the third time that Celtic, who became the first British club to win the European Cup eight years earlier, had arrived in Dundalk for a game.
The first meeting between the clubs was at the Athletic Grounds in 1932 when Dundalk won 2-1 thanks to goals from John Smith and the great Joey Donnelly.
Thirty-one years later, in 1963, the Hoops were back in Dundalk, beating a Dundalk side who had won the league title two months earlier 4-3 in a thriller. Three up inside the first 15 minutes, with the third goal coming from Bobby Murdoch, Celtic were coasting and five minutes after the interval they made it 4-0.
However, inspired by Dermot Cross, who helped himself to a brace, Dundalk fought back and with 15 minutes left they had reduced the deficit to 4-3 – Jimmy Hasty getting the other goal – but could not find a famous equaliser.
McLaughlin’s squad for the friendly in the summer of 1975 included a couple of new faces who were recruited during the off-season, notably two Derry men, Seamus ’Shakes’ McDowell, who arrived from Sligo Rovers, and Sean McLoughlin, who came from Finn Harps. McLoughlin sadly passed away a year later. He was just 21 years of age.
Less than three weeks earlier, Celtic manager Jock Stein was involved in a car crash in Scotland which meant that Sean Fallon was in charge of the Hoops when they made the trip to Ireland for a three-game tour that also saw them play Sligo Rovers and Finn Harps.
After the Armagh Boys Accordion Band did their stuff before kickoff, the game got underway with Northern Ireland International and Middlesbrough goalkeeper Jim Platt between the posts for the home side.
In front of an estimated 5,000 people, Dundalk held Celtic at bay for 20 minutes but they were undone when Harry Hood scored with a well-hit strike and Danny McGrain, who captained Celtic in the European Cup tie between the teams four years later, set Ronnie Glavin up for the second.
Dalglish, who rocked Celtic by asking for a transfer before the Tour of Ireland kicked off, escaped the clutches of MacManus to make it 3-0 with the aforementioned goal of the game and Lennox made it 4-0 just after the break before Johannes Edvaldsson and Paul Wilson completed the scoring.
Few at Oriel Park would have predicted that the season would end with Dundalk crowned as league champions.
After taking the reins from John Smith in November 1974, McLaughlin guided the Lilywhites to a more than credible fifth-placed finish but his first full season in the hot seat ended in glory.
The sides, of course, met again at Oriel Park in 1979 but this time the stakes were much higher with a place in the quarter-finals of the European Cup up for grabs.
Five of the Celtic team that played in the friendly in ’75 – Peter Latchford, Roddie MacDonald, Johannes Edvaldsson, Bobby Lennox and Danny McGrain – also played in ’79 with the latter named as captain as Celtic arrived with a 3-2 lead from the first leg at Parkhead.
Only two of the Dundalk starting XI featured in the 0-0 draw four years later, Jimmy Dainty and the legendary Tommy McConville, who was a toe poke away from sending McLaughlin’s men through to a last-eight showdown with Real Madrid.
DUNDALK FC: Jim Platt (Middlesbrough), Tommy McConville, Ray McGuigan (Drogheda United), Jackie MacManus, Jim McLaughlin, Seamus McDowell, Sean McLaughlin, Jimmy Dainty, Jim ‘Chang’ Smith (Coleraine), Paul Connellan, Joe Nicholl. Subs: Synan Braddish, Joe Larkin, Mickey Clarke, Brian McConville,
CELTIC: Peter Latchford, Danny McGrain, Andy Lynch, Pat McCluskey, Roddie MacDonald, Johannes Edvaldsson, Hood, Ronnie Glavin, Kenny Dalglish, Paul Wilson, Bobby Lennox. Subs: David Hannah, Ally Hunter, Jackie McNamara Sr, Andy Ritchie, Tommy Callaghan.
REFEREE: D Bourne (Dublin).