When researching Celtic goals for this series, I try to pick out significant memorable moments from a match – a touch of genius or a collector’s item, like a European goal from Bertie Auld, or a strike from Tom Boyd. For this goal, I’ve looked at it from more of an era-defining moment, or end-of-era moment.
Almost 10 years after the club’s greatest triumph when we defeated Inter Milan in Lisbon, Jock Stein was looking to secure his 25th major honour as Celtic boss. Just three weeks earlier, his 24th had been wrapped up when the league title was won with a 1-0 victory at Easter Road.
To win the league and Scottish Cup double, Celtic would have to overcome the then holders of the trophy, Rangers. The 1975/76 season had seen Rangers complete a clean sweep of domestic honours, now the ’77 cup final was their last hope of any silverware for the season.
A smaller than expected crowd of around 55,000 made their way through the turnstiles to watch the match. A combination of miserable weather and live coverage on TV meant 15,000 ticket holders decided to stay away from the showpiece final.
In a typically tight derby, the match never really got going, with stoppages for free-kicks and treatment to players making up most of the opening exchanges.
Still within the opening 20 minutes, Celtic won a corner which Alfie Conn crossed right-footed into the box. Roddie MacDonald met the cross to head the ball towards Stewart Kennedy’s goal. Jóhannes Eðvaldsson then challenged the Rangers’ keeper a yard out and the ball bounced towards the net, where it was stopped on the line by the hands of Derek Johnstone. The referee had no hesitation in awarding the penalty, ignoring the protestations of the Rangers players, and, with 20 minutes gone, Celtic had an opportunity to take the lead.
Regular penalty taker Kenny Dalglish passed up the opportunity to take it, perhaps thinking about the few penalties he had missed in previous matches that season, so the ball was given to Andy Lynch.
Andy Lynch wasn’t a prolific goalscorer in his time with Celtic, but a ratio of roughly a goal every eight games is a fabulous return for a player who eventually played at left-back.
Jock Stein signed Andy from Hearts where he played as a winger. After a number if setbacks due to injury, the boss converted him into a left-back, where he used his pace to turn defence into attack in the mould of so many great overlapping wing-backs for Celtic.
Without too much fuss, Andy Lynch placed the ball on the spot, started his run up from the edge of the box, and fired a low drive towards the keeper’s left-hand post. Kennedy guessed the right way, but the pace and accuracy of the penalty beat him as the ball passed him into the bottom corner to give Celtic the lead.
The Celtic fans, soaked in the afternoon rain, celebrated the goal on the slopes of Hampden, and the Celtic players joined in the jubilation of Andy’s perfect penalty.
Celtic would create more chances in the second-half, but could not score the goal that would provide breathing space. In the closing moment, Celtic and Peter Latchford had the crossbar to thank for keeping them in the lead, as a powerful shot from Rangers’ substitute, Chris Robertson, crashed off the frame of the goal.
As the final whilst blew, Celtic players, staff and supporters celebrated the league and cup double. Andy Lynch’s goal from his first-ever penalty kick for Celtic had given Jock Stein his 25th and final major honour as manager.
Martin DonaldsonListen to the award-winning A Celtic State of Mind podcast