Hampden side of 1969 pushed Celtic to the limits
Jim Donaldson knows what it feels like to represent your local club in a League Cup final.
The Methven-based goalkeeper took his place between the posts in the 1969 showpiece against Celtic at a bustling Hampden Park.
He pulled off a terrific save to touch a Stevie Chalmers’ header onto the crossbar but couldn’t stop Bertie Auld from scoring as he followed in.
Only two minutes were on the clock and, despite Saints’ best efforts, it proved to be the only and decisive goal of the game.
“John Lambie was back on the line but couldn’t do anything to stop it,” Donaldson recalled.
“It was the worst possible start for us. We were only two minutes into the game.
“We were nervous before the game, probably a bit overawed if I’m being honest.
“I remember thinking the dressing room was much quieter than usual in the countdown to kick-off.
“We had been relaxing at Allan Water in the build-up to the match and arrived at Hampden on two buses, one for the team and one for the directors and wives.
“I was a bit apprehensive myself before the game got going. Like the other lads, it was my first final.
“The crowd at Hampden was huge, around 75,000, and of course most of them were backing Celtic.
“Our fans made themselves heard but the place erupted with their goal.
“We had to hang on for 20 minutes or so. They were pressing all the time. And remember, half their team were Lisbon Lions.
“But we showed what we were capable of in the second half and John Fallon had to make a few very good saves to stop it going to extra-time, especially one from Benny Rooney late on.”
Donaldson recalls Celtic manager Jock Stein entering the Perth dressing room to congratulate them on their performance.
“I remember Jock Stein coming into our dressing room after the game to say we should be proud of ourselves and that we deserved a draw,” Donaldson said.
“He’d warned his players we were no pushovers after a 2-2 draw at Parkhead. We were in that final on merit.
“We were downhearted but it was a lovely touch from a manager who had won the European Cup two years before. It was quite touching, a nice gesture.
“Looking back now, we can be proud of our performance. Celtic were between European Cup finals at the time, with seasoned internationals in that team.”
It goes without saying that Donaldson, now 73, would love to watch the current crop of Perth stars lift the trophy.
“I’d love to see this Saints team go one better and win it,” he said. “They got rid of a Livingston hoodoo with a win at their place a few weeks ago.
“The club has won the Scottish Cup and now they have a great chance to win the League Cup for the first time in their history. I certainly think this team has a fair chance.”