Celebrating 130 Years of Celtic Football Club

Celebrating 130 Years of Celtic Football Club

In the same week that Celtic Football Club sets a new British record of 63 consecutive games unbeaten in domestic competition it is also celebrating it’s 130th birthday! The Champions surpassed their own 100 year old record, dating back to 1917 when Willie Maley was manager of the club.

The meeting to formally constitute Celtic Football Club took place on this day in 1887 at St Mary’s Catholic Church in the Calton, East End of Glasgow. The clubs first game took place on May 28th 1888, where the men in white shirts with green collars and a Celtic Cross on the breast competed for the very first time against Rangers Football Club. Neil McCallum was the club’s first ever goal scorer as the Bhoys went on to win the game 5-2.

Over its 130 years the club has won 102 major honours; lead by 18 different managers. The bhoys in green have secured the Scottish League Championship on 48 occasions, the oldest trophy in world football the Scottish Cup on 37 occasions and the Scottish League Cup on 16 occasions.

In 1967, on our 80th birthday, The Celts were crowned ‘Champions of Europe’. The Glasgow side became the first British club to lift the European Cup, beating Inter Milan in Lisbon by 2 goals to 1. A documentary shown by the BBC called ‘Glasgow 1967: The Lisbon Lions’ capturing the story of Glasgow, Jock Stein and Celtic was this week awarded a BAFTA in the single documentary category. Another trophy on the mantelpiece highlighting the nations fascination with one of the greatest sport stories ever told. The tale of the Glasgow District XI; the 11 men who lived within 15 miles of Parkhead, with the exception of Bobby Lennox who lived 30 miles away in Saltcoats, who lifted the European Cup.

Celtic have reached four European Finals; the European Cup in 1967 & 1970, the Intercontinental Cup in 1967 and, most recently, the UEFA Cup in 2003.

Regardless of the massive success the club has achieved over a century of football, the most fulfilling attribute of this proud Glasgow institute is it’s charitable work which stretches far and wide across the globe.

“A football club will be formed for the maintenance of dinner tables for the children and the unemployed.” – Brother Walfrid, November 6th, 1887

Celtic was founded for two reasons. The first was to raise money to provide food for the poor living in the East End of Glasgow. It is important to note that this poor population was, predominantly, made up of Irish immigrants. It is important because the second reason Celtic Football Club was formed was to encourage social integration and to remove the friction between native Glaswegians and the ‘alien’ Irish community. The club’s principal founder, a Marist Brother named Walfrid, envisioned a football club that would bring harmony to the Scottish, Irish, Protestant and Catholic communities living in the city. He believed that such a club could be used to bring these communities together.

This quote, and indeed Brother Walfrid, distinguished Celtic Football Club from every other club in Scotland and, widely, the World. This charitable tradition and the clubs ethos – ‘A club welcome to all’ – both remain of principal importance to the club and its supporters to this day. As a recent example, Celtic’s ultra group ‘the Green Brigade’ host an annual food bank collection keeping with tradition of providing food for the most vulnerable people in our society. This year’s collection took place on 28th October prior to Celtic’s league game against Kilmarnock at Parkhead. In the fight for social inclusion, it has been well documented that Celtic have stood for many anti-racist and anti-sectarian projects over the years. The launch of their Learning Center in 2006 was the basis of Celtic’s promise to provide education in order to develop and maintain relationships based on equality, fairness and mutual respect.

Today Celtic Football Club is celebrating its 130th year. Knowing that the purpose of the club in 1887 is still being fulfilled 130 years on fills myself and many Celtic supporters with great pride. Our ethos is one which is carried around the world, and it has affected my personal life in such a way that I may never have been born. Looking back at Walfrid’s founding principles, remembering that my family came across the Irish Sea to find a new life in Glasgow, and knowing that they were made welcome by the football club that I support 130 years on is bringing tears to my eyes as I type this passage. Significantly though, and looking back at Walfrid’s vision of a football club that would bring harmony to Protestant and Catholic communities in Scotland, there is a story even closer to home which I wish to finish with.

I was brought into this world by a Catholic Mother and a Protestant Father. And when I was 8 years old my Father took me to my very first game of football, at Celtic Park. The man is Celtic daft, always regaling stories of King Kenny and the Jungle. He tells me about the seasons he endured as Rangers, our bitter rivals, marched towards 10 in a row and now we both laugh about it. But it will always make me smile knowing that had it not been for one man, the bold Brother Walfrid, telling the native Glaswegians that you have no reason to fear, loathe or agitate the Irish-Catholic and, indeed, that you have every reason to love, cherish, celebrate and support the Irish-Catholic – in a long turn of events, my parents may never have wed. Glasgow was changed on the 6th November 1887. It was changed forever. In the same way that Scots accepted Celtic, my Protestant Father accepted his Catholic wife and in turn they gave birth to me and my brother. You may think I am mad, and I’m reading too much into history but there is no denying that Celtic Football Club nurtured an acceptance for a community that had long perished, and in some nations many Catholics continue to be discriminated against. But not here. Not in Glasgow. Because we are Glasgow Celtic, a club welcome to ALL.

 

IF YOU WISH TO SUPPORT THE FOUNDATION THIS CHRISTMAS

The Celtic FC Foundation’s Christmas Appeal is well underway and former vocalist for Glasgow band Yashin Kevin Miles has released a new track ‘Celtic, My Heart & My Soul’ to raise funds for the appeal. The Foundations Christmas Appeal is being used to help as many as 300 local families facing poverty, and has been doing so since 2006.

The song is available through iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. All proceeds from the sales of the song will be donated to Celtic FC Foundation’s 2017 Christmas Appeal. Get downloading!

 

The King of Kings

The King of Kings

This morning I was greeted by an old friend; scrolling through my Twitter feed it came to light that ‘On this Day’ in 1995, Henrik Larsson (my hero) signed for Celtic football club and the rest, they say, is history.

Yet again he captured my imagination, I remembered with utter dread the feeling I felt that day on 16th May 2004 when he departed the Hoops and left to join FC Barcelona; a move he thoroughly deserved and one that he could, and should, have made many years previously.

I can never forget the goals he scored in the UEFA Cup final, his first equaliser truly was one of the great European cup final goals; scored from a near impossible angle with the glance of a head. Nor will I forget the goal he scored against Boavista in the semi-final which sent six daft Celts in my Auntie Eleanor’s front room into a tizzy and left Boavista goalkeeper Ricardo in tears as he sent the Bhoys in green to their first European Final since 1970. His chip over Stefan Klos, his touch, his brilliance and class is etched in my memory.

The greatest ever Celt; he understood what it meant to wear those colours, he knew the importance of stopping THEM getting ten in a row and more, he was the one who stopped it with a sweet, curling finish from 20 yards; the crowd going mad. This was just the beginning for The King of Kings.

“CHEERIO, 10 IN A ROW”, cried 50,000 Celts.

The day he cut his dreads made front page news. On our way to the UEFA Cup Final he silenced Souness who declared the first-leg, “men against boys”. Men against the King more like!

Men nil Bhoys two.

The Kings parting words certainly rang true: “This will learn them a lesson, never talk until the game is finished.”

In season 1990-2000 Larsson was gunning to be Scotland’s top scorer with 8 league goals in 9 games. Things were going oh so well until his leg-break against Lyon in the UEFA Cup 1999. Broke in two places, career over? No chance.

The King Returned, and had what was arguably his best season under new manager Martin O’Neill. He formed a formidable partnership with the brilliant Chris Sutton, and over the season Larsson bagged 35 goals in 38 games. That year he was presented with the European Golden Boot and was crowned the SPFL top scorer. Not to mention that Celtic won their first domestic treble since Jock Stein’s Lions in 1967 that same year.

Over 60,000 men, women and children wept as the greatest ever Celt played his final game in Paradise. The sun shone, his boy Jordan smiled on as Dad smashed two past Dundee United and then the legend himself cried as he walked onto the famous turf and said goodbye to his beloved Celtic support. I was there, and I buried my head in my Dad’s shoulder wishing it all away.

I was at Hampden Park a week later when Henrik scored a brace to help Celtic lift the Scottish Cup with a 3-1 victory over Dunfermline Athletic. It remains one of my favourite memories of Hampden to this day.

Purchased for £650,000, it was the best money the club has ever been spent.

In 7 years he made 313 appearances, scored 242 goals, won 4 Scottish Premier League titles, 2 Scottish Cups and 2 Scottish League Cups.

Beyond Celtic he has lifted silverware in England, Spain, Holland and Sweden.

After losing the Champions League final to Barcelona in 2006, Thierry Henry stated that one man made the difference and that man was substitute Henrik Larsson. The King came on in the 61st minute, Barcelona were trailing by a goal and within 4 minutes of play he assisted both the equalising goal and the eventual match winner. WORLD CLASS.

On the international stage, Henrik played his part in getting Sweden to the semi-final of the World Cup against Brazil in 1994. He featured in their third-place play-off against Bulgaria and scored a goal in a 4-0 victory for Sweden. This was Sweden’s best finish in a World Cup since finishing second place in 1958.

The King came out of international retirmenr for Euro 2004. He lead his country to the quarter-final of the tournament, scoring 3 goals in 4 matches. They were beaten in the quarters by the Netherlands in a penalty shoot out. We should note that the King won the best goal of the tournament for his diving header against Bulgaria.

In 16 years he scored 36 goals in 106 appearances for his country.

Henrik Larsson is the King of Kings, and don’t you bloody well forget it!

 

09/06/2017 UEFA Champions League Final Special

Real Madrid won the UEFA Champions League AGAIN. Ronaldo made mince meat of Juve, as the Italians were beaten 4-1 in Cardiff. This was Real’s 12th European title. It was the first time any club had won the competition in consecutive seasons.

Ronaldo was presented with the man of the match award with a brace, becoming the first player to ever score in three Champions League finals. However Mario Mandzukic can probably be rewarded with the goal of the game, the goal of the season, the goal of the decade and potentially the best goal ever to be scored in a European final (or any final for that matter). NAILER!!  Alas, the dominant Spaniards reigned supreme; a blow for Gianluigi Buffon, looking to lift old big ears for the first time in his career, and triumph for super human Cristiano Ronaldo who will likely win the Ballon d’Or.

Juan Cuadrado made some history of his own, becoming the first substitute to be sent off in a Champions League final after being booked twice in 17-minutes following some outstanding play acting from Real captain Sergio Ramos. I would have loved to have seen that guy come up against the likes of Roy Keane and Big Bobo Balde. The guys made of chocolate; melts as soon as you breathe on him.

Real Madrid scored in every single match they played this season – an incredible achievement. On their way to Champions League glory Real dropped points only to Legia Warsaw and Borussia Dortmund, accumulating three draws, one loss and winning the rest. They kept a single clean sheet in their first-leg semi-final tie against Atletico at the Bernabeu –  a game they won 3-0. Apart from the three points dropped, and the 2-1 loss to Atletico, everything else was victory for Los Blancos and goals galore as they racked up 36 goals throughout the competition. They conceded 18 goals but it won’t matter to them. The matches were won, the points were racked up and they continue to dominate the European stage.

Where they worthy winners? In the final – YES! But I think we can all agree they were given a helping hand in the quarter-final against Bayern Munich when Ronaldo scored NOT ONE, but TWO controversial offside goals to take his team through against 10-man Bayern with a 4-2 aggregate score. Then again, they did batter city rivals Atletico in the semi-final so credit where credit is due.

Congratulations to European royalty, Real Madrid!

 

ONES TO WATCH

Champions League Final: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOCJdR8yJdw

Ramos embarrassing play acting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2OaitCiMv8

Mandzukic goal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFSulXDTrVo

01/06/2017 Francesco Totti: The One-Club Man Special

01/06/2017 Francesco Totti: The One-Club Man Special

Francesco Totti made his final appearance for Roma on Sunday after 25 years in the capital city. His years of service have been formally recognised by UEFA, who presented the Roman with the UEFA Presidents Award. Totti played in his final game against Genoa coming on as a substitute in a 3-2 victory for Giallorossi. Following his retirement the club announced his induction to the clubs Hall of Fame. After spending a quarter of a century with Roma, he is now considered the most beloved player in the club’s history. For all the money the world could throw at him he never left the city or the clubs side. For 25 years he has been recognised as “the symbol of Rome”.

25 years (28 counting his youth career), 786 appearances and 307 goals. They don’t make them like that anymore.

Here are some of my favourite one-club men, including a list of Scottish and other international one-club men that are worthy of recognition.


 

SANTIAGO BERNABEU YESTE

Club: Real Madrid

Years of Service: 1911 – 1978 (67 years of service)

Playing: 1911 – 1927 (16 years)

Director of Football and Coach: 1927 – 1933 (6 years)

Assistant Manager: 1933 – 1936 (3 years)

Manager: 1936 – 1941 (7 years)

President: 1943 – 1978 (35 years)

Yes, the man whose name is known the world over, because it is the name given to the stadium of most successful team in European Football. The Santiago Bernabeu is the home of 11 times European Champions, Real Madrird. It must take something very special to be bequeath such an honour. Mr Bernabeu joined Los Blancos as a 14 year old in 1911 and made 689 appearances until his retirement in 1927. His contributions beyond playing included roles as the director of football, coach and President; a role which he served for 35 years. Under his Presidency, Bernabeu Yeste overseen the construction of the clubs magnifficent stadium. He is also responsible for bringing legendary forward Alfredo Di Stefano to the Spanish capital. His total years of service amasses to 67 years.

 

BILL NICHOLSON

Club: Tottenham Hotspurs

Years of Service: 1936 – 1997 (55 years of service)

Playing: 1936 – 1954 (18 years)

Managing: 1958 – 1974 (16 years)

Consultant, Scout and President: 1976 – 1997 (21 years)

Nicholson joined Spurs as a 16 year old boy in 1936. Despite the interruption of his football career, caused by the war, Mr Nicholson still managed to appear in 341 matches for the London outfit between 1938 – 1954. Pedants may wish to point out that Nicholson turned out as a guest player for Darlington and Newcastle United, on 19 occasions no less. But we won’t be allowing technicalities to disqualify the magnificent Nicholson. It was his career as the Spurs manager, a post he held for 16 years, which highlights Nicholson and Spurs glory days. A success Pochettino’s XI will wish to emulate in due course. Nicholson was at the helm, in his first season, when Spurs completed the first double of the twentieth century; winning the League and FA Cup in 1961. Throughout his career he lifted three FA Cups, two League Cups, three FA Charity Shields, a UEFA Cup and a European Cup winners cup. Bill arrived at White Hart Lane in 1936, taken on as a ground-staff boy being paid £2 a week, and served as a player, coach and manger for 38 years. Nicholson returned in 1976 as a consultant and chief scout, following a spell on the scouting staff at West Ham United. During his time as manager Bill established a club culture, by signing some of the best players to ever pull on the white jersey. Players like Dave Mackay, Alan Gilzean, Jimmy Greaves, Alan Mullery, John White, Steve Perryman, Pat Jennings, Martin Chivers and Martin Peters. Nicholson’s connection to Spurs continued until his retirement in 1997. In 1991 Nicholson was given the honour of being appointed the President of the club he served for over 50 years.

 

 

LEV YASHIN

Club: Dynamo Moscow

Years of Service: 1950 – 1990 (40 years)

Playing: 1950 – 1970 (20 years)

Managing: 1970 – 1990 (20 years)

The Black Spider played football for Dynamo Moscow for 20 years between 1950 – 1970. Yashin’s Dynamo career did not get off to the best start. In a friendly match in 1950, the big goalie conceded a soft goal straight from the opposing goalkeeper clearance. Not to matter, Yashin continued on and finally got his first team break in 1953 after three years at the reserves. He is considered to be the greatest goalkeeper of all-time. According to FIFA records, Yashin saved over 150 penalties and kept over 270 clean sheets. With these statistics in mind its no surprise that he became the only goalkeeper to receive the Ballon d’Or, an award he picked up in 1963.  After retiring from playing, Yashin spent another 20 years at Dynamo Moscow as a youth-team coach and in various administrative positions. A bronze statue of Lev Yashin was erected at the Dynamo Stadium in Moscow in honour of a terrific career and a tremendous service to the football club.

 

 

SAIT ALTINORDU

 

Club: Altinordu

Years of Service: 1926 – 1953 (27 years)

Playing: 1926 – 1953 (27 consecutive playing seasons)

Altinordu made his debut for the Izmir outfit as a 14 year old in 1926, and continued to make appearances for the club until he was 41 years of age. He amassed a record-breaking 27 consecutive playing seasons. Altinordu derived his surname from the team he played for following President Mustafa Kemal’s new law passed in 1934 which demanded that all Turks must have a surname (for clarity, most Muslims didn’t have one). Despite starting most games at centre-back in 1936-37 he was the club and division top scorer. The big boys of Fenerbache and Galatasaray came in for the brilliant Altinordu but the one-club player made the decision to stay in his beloved Izmir, and for his loyalty the city erected not one but two statues of him in his honour.

 

PAOLO MALDINI

Club: AC Milan

Years of Service: 1985 – 2009 (24 years)

Playing: 1985 – 2009 (24 years)

“The only club in the world where I could have found the same ambition as Real Madrid, but they never contacted me.” Maldini was the Maestro at the back; he could play anywhere across the back four; he could play with his left foot; he could play with his right; he seamlessly morphed from the Rossoneri youth system into one of the greatest club sides ever assembled. Maldini spent 25 seasons at the San Siro before retiring at the age of 41. During that time he won seven Serie A titles, five European cups, one Coppa Italia, five Suppercoppe Italiane, five European Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup. The Magnificent Maldini.


 

ONE MAN CLUB  

SCOTTISH LIST

Joe Wark – Motherwell – 20 years

Bobby Walker – Hearts – 18 years

Frank Beattie – Kilmarnock – 18 years

Jackie Campbell – Partick Thistle – 19 years

Ross Caven – Queens Park – 20 years

Eddie Gray – Leeds United – 19 years

John Greig – Rangers – 17 years

Billy Liddell – Liverpool – 22 years

Maurice Malpas – Dundee United – 21 years

Doug Smith – Dundee United – 18 years

Billy McNeil – Celtic – 17 years

Bob McKinley – Nottingham Forrest – 20 years

David Meiklejohn – Rangers – 17 years

Willie Miller – Aberdeen – 18 years

 

ACTIVE SCOTTISH PLAYERS 

Andrew Considine – Aberdeen – 14 years

Lewis Stevenson – Hibernian – 11 years

Steven Anderson – St Johnstone – 12 years

 

INTERNATIONAL LIST

Rogerio Ceni – Sao Paolo – 20 years

Tony Adams – Arsenal – 18 years

Paul Scholes – Manchester United – 20 years

Ricardo Bochini – Independiente – 25 years

John Trollope – Swindon Town – 33 years

Ryan Giggs – Manchester United – 24 years

 

 

 

26/06/2017 Europa League Special

Ajax 0 v 2 Manchester United @ Friendly Arena, Stockholm

It was fitting to host the UEFA Europa League Final in, what the locals call, the Friends Arena in Stockholm following the tragic terrorist attack which took place in Manchester on Monday evening. The game was symbolic of a united Manchester who set out not only to win a piece of silverware, which appeared insignificant at this moment, but to display a spirited and unbroken Manchester in the face of terror.

The attacks in Manchester lead to the death of 22 concert-goers when an explosion was set off following the end of Ariana Grande’s set at the MEN Arena in Greater Manchester. Young children, adults, staff members and parents fled the scene attempting to escape the panicked arena. There were many fatalities, and a number of disturbing and stomach churning stories were told, read and listened to over the course of the week as Britain woke up to yet another terrorist attack.

Prior to kick off the teams stood on the centre circle to lead the minute’s silence. As the player’s stood in silence, wearing black armbands, the crowd had other ideas and made the decision to remember the lives lost with a minute’s applause rather than a minute of silence. It was a touching moment.

United delivered for their proud city, winning the final 2-0. Paul Pogba kicked off the proceedings after his deflected effort went past Ajax stopper Andre Onana and hit the back of the net. United doubled their lead in the second half when Henrikh Mkhitaryan got on the end of Smalling’s glancing header.

Free-scoring Ajax were unable to break down Manchester’s disciplined defense. The Dutch side had a poor game overall and there were plenty of nerves resulting in miss-placed passes. It was very unlike the confident, energetic and attacking Ajax side that booked the place in the final.

Wayne Rooney featured as a late substitute, in what is likely to be his last appearance for the club. The captain joined in the celebrations, and was seen to enjoy his side’s first Europa League trophy.

It was a special occasion for Paul Pogba, whose father Fassou Anoine had died just over a week prior to the final. Following his goal, the Frenchman pointed to the sky in what I’m sure was a salute not only to his father but to the 22 people in Manchester who died following the terror attack.

The victory means that Manchester qualify for next season’s Champions League.

ONES TO WATCH

Ajax 0 v 2 Manchester United: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NeGP3MsyF8

Jake Humphries on BT Sport: https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FOfficialFootballTimeline%2Fvideos%2F1693820317302417%2F&show_text=0&width=560

Silence, followed by a minute’s applause: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/40004559

Paul Pogba interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReU2EX1l0LE

 

In the Heat of Lisbon.

In the Heat of Lisbon.

Simpson, Craig, McNeil, Clark, Gemmell, Murdoch, Auld, Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace and Chalmers.

These were the first Scottish men to lift the European Cup. Every player in that Lisbon Lion side came from within a 30 mile radius of Glasgow City centre.

John Fallon was an unused sub. John Hughes, Joe McBride, Willie O’Neill, Charlie Gallagher (Ireland) and Jim Brogan never made the squad. At the time Celtic did not wear shirt numbers, in fact they were sewn onto their small shorts. A second goalkeeper was the only substitute you were allowed at the time. Players didn’t listen to music through their headphones. They didn’t take selfies on their phone. They didn’t communicate via whatsapp, snapchat, or facebook messenger. They told jokes, and sang songs. The pulled practical jokes and lived a stone’s throw away from their supporters who laid awake in anticipation over the road from the team hotel the Palacio in Estoril.

Celtic flew to Lisbon as clear underdogs. The European Cup was the preserve of Latin clubs, such as Real Madrid, Benfica and of course Inter Milan and AC Milan, who had both lifted the trophy prior to 67’.

That night in Lisbon on the 25th May 1967, Celtic annihilated Inter Milan by a single goal. They did it playing football, “pure, beautiful, inventive football”. This is what Jock Stein had to say about his Bhoys after the famous victory. Prior to the game Scotland’s greatest ever manager played game’s with Helenio Herrera, who was considered to be the greatest leader in the game at the time. Two days prior to the final Jock named his team. He brought the press in, laid his cards on the table and shared what would be his European Cup winning team. The big man said, “I am now going to tell him how Celtic will be the first team to bring the European Cup back to Britain, but it will not help him in any manner, shape or form: we are going to attack as we have never attacked before,”. And attack them they did.

The Italians were cocky. They altered their training time so they could sit and watch the Glasgow bhoys. In an interview in 2007 captain Billy McNeil, Stevie Chalmers and Bobby Lennox all stated the advantage and boost that gave the players. It made them more determined, as the Italians laughed and mocked the green and white. Big Jock was aware they were watching and told his team to “muck about”. Bobby Lennox recalled that Jock had them “playing in different positions”. Lennox played left-back, Gemmell was up top and McNeil was put on the side-lines. Jock was cunning, and the cat and mouse tactics had begun. The big man played on Inters’ over-confident.

Jock didn’t allow the players to use the hotel pool, insisting that his players stay out of the sun. They were to wear clothing at all times, as to avoid getting sunburn. And Jock made sure that this time around the players would keep themselves to themselves; they wouldn’t mingle with fans, as they usually did, and they weren’t given the freedom to do as they pleased. Not this time. Nonetheless the players were happy with their preparations, and felt very relaxed.

The night before the game the Bhoys were invited for dinner at the house of Brodie Lennox. The players watched England play Spain on the telly and later that night they walked back to their hotel. John Clark remembers Celtic trainer Neil Mochan leading the team astray, insisting he knew a short cut. But it ended with the players climbing over a fence as they reached a dead-end. Could you imagine Real Madrid or Juventus players doing that in two weeks time the night before their big-game in Cardiff? I don’t think so.

The day of the game just happened to be a Holy Day of Obligation, so the players and the fans made their way to mass on the morning of the final. Jock Stein himself asked Father Bertie O’Reagan to lead the mass for his players, it was important to them. I can imagine the droves of Celtic supporters saying their prayers and dropping some extra money in the charity boxes, in the hope it would help their team succeed. The locals enjoyed the travelling supports religious ways, with many fans saying it won the locals over.

Jock lead the team talk back at the Hotel before they left for the Estadio Nacional. He told his players, “they had the chance to make history.” On the way to the stadium Bobby Lennox was sure the driver got a little bit lost, but noted that the Bhoys couldn’t give a jot as they continued singing songs at the back of the bus.

Billy McNeil recalls seeing the “magnificent” Inter Milan team in the tunnel in their “inspiring” blue and black kit. Jimmy Johnstone did the same, turning to his pal Bertie Auld he said “Look at them, wee man, they’re like film stars!” to which Bertie replied “Aye, but can they play?” Their admiration lasted only seconds when out of nowhere Bertie Auld began to sing “The Celtic Song”.

“For it’s a grand old team to play for. For it’s a grand old team to see.”

Everyone in green and white standing in the tunnel at the Estadio Nacional joined in. The expression on the Inter players’ faces was a right picture.

The Italians were very defensive. They’re man marking was exquisite but they didn’t account for Jock’s Lions who kept them busy all game. Tommy Gemmell, Celtic’s left-back had six or seven shots early on. The forwards were taking their defenders into silly areas making it possible for Gemmell and Craig to burst forward and attack. The game plan certainly had Inter on the ropes, but what Celtic didn’t want was to lose an early goal considering the Italians catenaccio style of play. The Hoops went a goal down when Jim Craig fouled Cappellini in the box and Mazzola converted the penalty just six-minutes into the game. Inter didn’t make much of an attempt to double their lead, they truly thought that one goal would be enough. This allowed Celtic to continue their siege on Giuliano Sarti’s goal. Auld hit the woodwork, Johnstone’s header was saved, Gemmell hit the woodwork, his free-kick saved by Sarti and the Hoops were even denied a penalty.

Ironically, the keeper Sarti was marked by Stein as Inter’s weak link. But the guy was having a blinder. He had to right enough, because Inter couldn’t get out of their own box. It was 9-men behind the ball, the bus was parked and Celtic was probing.

The second half begun; the two Celtic full-backs, Gemmell and Craig, had got up the park at the same time, this should never have happened. Craig passed to Tommy and like a bullet being fired from a gun the ball was in the back of the net. The equaliser was scored and everyone knew Celtic were going to become European Champions. The belief was there, the hunger was evident. Inter had no chance. A thunderous strike from 25 yards out; it was unstoppable. The Estadio Nacional erupted!

Sarti was helpless, there were five minutes left to play when Chalmers poked in Murdoch’s drive. It was 2-1, and Celtic were about to become the first British European Champions. Stevie Chalmers notes that this is a move Stein made him practice at least three times a week. Lennox concurred stating: “Stevie must have done that a thousand times in training – the ball came through and he pushed it in the corner of the net.”

CELTIC WERE CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE.

After the final whistle supporters flooded the field. They ripped grass from the pitch, took players boots and jerseys, the claw marks on Billy McNeil’s neck was one of the most unsavoury souvenir’s the captain received. The pitch invasion meant that the European Champions could not be presented with the trophy on the pitch. Instead, captain Billy McNeil was ushered around the stadium, protected by armed guards, to received the trophy on top of a podium in the stand. It remains to this day to be one of the most iconic images in sport. In fact I am looking at it right now as it hangs from my wall in work.

This incredible feat, this extraordinary journey was courageously done by local Glasgow men. When you consider the magnitude of it, it really is enough to bring a tear to your eye. Look at the squad and you’ll know it almost certainly should not have happened. Jock Stein was fortune enough to be asked back to Celtic Park in 1965, following a dismissal from his job as Celtic youth and reserve coach. Stein was dismissed on the grounds that he was a Protestant and therefore would not go further in his position at the club. Imagine? The match winner, Stevie Chalmers, almost died in his early 20s. He was given three weeks to live following his tuberculosis-meningitis diagnosis. Bobby Lennox may never have become a footballer, at all, had he not got over his shyness as a child. As a young man he was embarrassed to play in front of his peers.

The team were back in Glasgow the following day. Supporters turned up at the airport to celebrate their European triumph. The Hoops sang “Hail, Hail” with the supporters as they left Glasgow airport. Over 65,000 supporters greeted their heroes on the stands and terraces at Celtic Park. The team were taken around Glasgow on the back of a lorry and were waved, cheered and celebrated by the people of Glasgow. The city belonged to Celtic.

They were the greatest team in Europe. Jock Stein’s Celtic entered five competitions that season, and won all five. Two weeks after the final Celtic were invited to play against Real Madrid for Di Stefano’s testimonial. Real had won the European Cup in 1966, and were bumping their gums about how they were the still the best team in Europe. So for good measure we beat them as well. Bobby Lennox scored the goal in front of 135,000 at the Santiago Bernabeu. After that, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Glasgow Celtic was the best team in Europe.

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