My transmission is acting funny.
Maybe it should try out for Saturday Night Live.
I know, I'm hysterical...NOT! Everybody at works tells me my jokes are lame too.
Seriously, the hydraulic clutches on these cars are one of the weakest systems in my opinion, especially as the car ages and if it sets for a prolonged period. The system consists of a master cylinder under the dash connected to the pedal, a slave cylinder on the clutch bell housing, a fluid reservoir feeding the master cyinder, and a line connecting the master and slave cylinders. When you push the clutch pedal, it pushes the piston in the master cylinder, which closed the reservoir inlet port and forces fluid to the slave cylinder to push the slave cylinder piston and release the clutch. When the pedal is released, a spring on the slave cylinder (along with the clutch pressure plate) retracts the slave cylinder, forcing the fluid back to the master cylinder, and raising the pedal and opening the reservoir inlet port when the pedal is fully raised.
What happens is a little air can get in the system, and since the pedal needs to go over center at the top of the pedal stroke, the rod in the master cylinder is not pushed quite far enough to get the pedal over center. Also, if enough air is in the system, the clutch will not release completely, causing grinding when trying to shift.
There are several things to look at. First check for fluid leaks at the master and slave cylinders. Any leaks can cause air to enter the system and will likely require a new cylinder or a rebuild kit. Check to make sure the clutch is adjusted correctly at the slave cylinder, adjusted so there is just enough stroke to keep the release bearing off of the pressure plate when the slave cylinder is fully retracted. Also check to make sure the external pull-back spring is still attached between the clutch fork and slave cylinder. And check to make sure there is not excessive travel between the pedal and master cylinder before the piston is pushed in the master cylinder by the connecting rod, but that the piston fully raises (an eccentric bolt at the pedal end of the linkage corrects this). There needs to be a slight amount of looseness in this link with the pedal fully raised to make sure the piston is fully raised. One other problem that can happen is the rubber piston cup in the master cylinder can swell so that the reservoir port is never is fully exposed with the pedal up. If the hole is not exposed and you have a leak in the slave cylinder, the fluid can leak out and gravity cannot replenish fluild from the reservoir, leaving an air pocket. Air is not your friend in a hydraulic system.
Another slight possibility is you could have a faulty rubber hose between the master and slave cylinder that plugs up and does not allow fluid to return to the master cylinder. I have seen this happen to front caliper brakes before.
One trick that you make need to use to get the air out is to use a Mity-Vac or similar tool to pump fluid through the slave cylinder brake bleeder and backwards through the system to purge the air. Make sure the pedal is fully raised and it doesn't hurt to remove the reservoir cap. There is also a bleeder screw on the master cylinder that can be loosened to let air escape. Be careful with the fluid, as it can peel paint and soften rubber.
Another area to check is to make sure the plastic bushings on the transmission shift linkages are still intact. They tend to deteriate and fall out due to age (cheap to replace). While you're at it, check the bushing in the column shift lever ball.
The stiff shifter in neutral just sounds like the column shift components are gummed up and need WD-40 and lubrication.
Hope this helps. I've been through this problem more than once.