It was with great sadness that we at Greenock Morton Football Club learned of the recent passing of former player Carl Bertelsen aged 81.
A teacher by profession but an established Denmark international, Bertelsen arrived from Esbjerg in July 1964 as part of Hal Stewart’s Danish Invasion and made 41 appearances and scored 18 goals for the club.
The forward is perhaps best known for being denied a hat-trick and last-gasp winner by a controversial refereeing call in a home game against Celtic in which Ton fought back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3.
The Scotsman published a feature on the match in 2015, and the following is an excerpt describing the phantom goal:
With the seconds ticking away, amid an electric atmosphere and an incessant din from the Morton fans, ex-Celt Eric Smith launched a free kick into a packed Celtic penalty area, and Bertelsen looked to have completed his hat-trick and secured a famous win for the Ton when he lashed the ball into the net.
The Morton players and fans’ jubilation was short-lived, however, when it was noticed that the referee was pointing to his watch and waving his arms in the air.
Quickly the bedlam surrounding Morton’s marvellous comeback was replaced by a stunned silence as, amid much confusion, it became apparent that the referee had disallowed the ‘goal’, resulting in a final score of Morton 3, Celtic 3.
Reports eventually surfaced that the referee had blown for time before Bertelsen had made contact with the ball. So great was the noise from the Morton fans in the build up to the ‘goal’ that very few fans and players heard the whistle, and very few people inside the ground could say with any certainty at which point in the action the referee ended the match.
The furore over the disallowed goal briefly threatened to relegate news of Churchill’s death the following day to the inside pages of the local newspapers.
Long before the word paranoia had become an integral part of Scottish football’s lexicon, many Morton fans, suspecting foul play, were keen to point out that the referee hailed from Paisley.
Mr Stewart for his part, if he had been allowed to speak out, would no doubt have asserted that he was merely applying the laws of the game strictly by the book.
Bertelsen was sold to Dundee for £10,000 in August 1965 after a successful season at Cappielow, and then moved to Kilmarnock a year later, before returning to Denmark to play for Odense in 1967.
Everyone at Greenock Morton wishes to extend our sincere condolences to Carl’s family, friends, and former team-mates at this very sad time.
Image (Left to right): Carl Bertelsen, Erik Sorensen, Kai Johansen