The great thing about sport is that even if there’s nothing happening live, you can always look back on vivid memories. Over the next few weeks, Back in the Sporting Day will mark the anniversaries of great Scottish sporting moments, starting with the first half of a memorable double by Celtic over an English ‘superteam’ in April 1970. As ever, I will report the facts which are ‘chiels that winna ding.’

It was 50 years ago today that the biggest welcome home ever accorded to a Scottish football club travelling by rail took place at Glasgow Central station. Thousands of fans crowded into the station and the streets around it as Celtic returned home.

The previous evening they had famously won the first leg of the so-called Battle of Britain in the European Cup which took place at Elland Road in Leeds between the champions of England and Scotland.

Leeds United, then England’s latest sensation, played Celtic in the first leg of the semi-final of the European Cup with a place in the following month’s European Cup Final in Milan at stake.

While it was the first encounter between English and Scottish teams in the European Cup, the premier European tournament now called the Champions League, it was not the first time that a Scottish club had played against an English side in European competition. That honour had gone to Rangers who reached the final of the now defunct European Cup-Winners Cup in the 1960-61 season by defeating Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-1 on aggregate in the semi-final. Rangers lost the subsequent final to Fiorentina of Italy.

Dunfermline Athletic were first Scottish conquerors of an English club in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, forerunner of the modern Europa League, beating Everton on a 2-1 aggregate in the first round of the 1962-63 tournament.

After that initial Dunfermline victory, no Scottish side had beaten English opposition in any of the European tournaments until the Pars repeated the feat by beating West Bromwich Albion in the quarter-final of the Cup-Winners Cup in 1968-69.

England had been in the ascendancy overall, then, but Celtic had become the first British club to win the European Cup in 1967, while Leeds United had won the Fairs Cup in 1968. Both clubs had been the dominant forces in their respective countries in previous seasons, and both were already in their Cup finals that would be played between the two legs of the European tie.

While Leeds could only finish second in the defence of their league title, Celtic had already won the League Cup and Scottish First Division, clinching the championship against Hearts at Tynecastle the previous Saturday. So the scene was set for an historic tie over two legs to earn the right to play Feyenoord of The Netherlands in the final.

To put this in further context, the two clubs were managed by great rivals, giants of their trade who would go on to become club legends. Jock Stein had made Celtic the European Champions while former England internationalist Don Revie had transformed the Yorkshire club into winners – they had never won a trophy before he arrived in 1961. Stein’s Celtic were in the midst of their nine-in-a-row league championships while Revie’s Leeds had beaten Hibs, Rangers and Dundee in their run to the Fairs Cup win 1968.

To reach the semi-final, Leeds had beaten Lyn Oslo, Ferencvaros and Standard Liege, scoring 24 goals and conceding none. Celtic had beaten Basel, Benfica and Fiorentina, only beating Benfica on the toss of a coin after a 3-3 aggregate draw, so rampant Leeds were by far the bookmakers’ favourites for the first leg.

Revie’s sides had a reputation as an overly physical side, with Jack Charlton and Terry Cooper no nonsense characters, but he also had very skilful players such as British transfer record signing Allan Clarke, Johnny Giles and the Scots wingers Peter Lorimer and Eddie Gray. The side was also led by the captain of Scotland, the mercurial and inspirational Billy Bremner, a fan of Celtic since childhood.

Celtic had seven of the Lisbon Lions and the incomers – goalkeeper Evan Williams, David Hay, Jim Brogan and George Connelly - were no slouches.

The previous weekend, Revie played a team of reserves in the league match to rest his men – they lost to Southampton to end their league challenge - and they were missing only Norman Hunter, the legendary toughest man in English football.

Stein was determined to outthink Revie who presumed Celtic would sit in and hope to hit on the break. Instead the Celtic manager selected George Connelly, normally a defender, as an attacking midfielder and Stein’s judgement was proven correct inside the first minute.

In front of a raucous crowd of 45,000 at Elland Road, the first long ball forward was misjudged by the Leeds defence and the ball broke to Connelly whose shot deflected low past goalkeeper Gary Sprake.

Some European sides might have sat on their lead but Celtic poured forward at every opportunity and Connelly had the ball in the net early in the second half only for the ‘goal’ to be ruled offside.

Jimmy Johnstone was unplayable on the right wing that night, and to be fair, the English press applauded Jinky, Bobby Murdoch, and all the other Celts for their play.

After the game Jock Stein said, "They have laughed at our football long enough down here. I'm not talking about Leeds United or Don Revie, they have respect for us. I'm talking about the critics and commentators who have rarely given credit to Scottish football. Maybe tonight's result will stop them laughing."

It did. And to his credit Revie acknowledged that the better side had won. There was still the small matter of the second leg – read all about it in Back in the Sporting Day next week.