Book Review: ‘We’ll Always Have Lisbon’

‘We’ll Always Have Lisbon – Celtic’s Glory Year 1967’ by David Frier & Pat Woods

 

Book cover single We'll Always Have Lisbon

 

A book review in 67 words . . . 

 

One of the most insightful, enjoyable and fascinating Celtic books ever – about Lisbon, and so much more.  That season.  The players.  The trophy.  La Grande Inter.  The city.  Estadio Nacional.  ‘Bola’. Stein v Herrera.  Football v Anti-Football. Hurricane.  Il Mago.  Houdini.  “Cairney! Cairney!” Tschenscher.  Tobering.  Bertie’s maw.  Vainqueur.  Obrigado.  Lisbon’s Lions. 

And . . . ‘Bicycling to the Moon!’

Don’t just buy it – bulk buy it!

 

The Shamrock rating:  9/10 

 

(A fuller review will follow!)

 

To buy ‘We’ll Always Have Lisbon’ click here:   Amazon link

Only £9.99

Also available at the Celtic Superstore.

 

 

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The Greatest Goal!

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They called him ‘The Mighty Atom’.  Standing at a mere 5ft 5 inches and weighing little over 9 stone, Patsy Gallacher was small – but this tiny bundle of energy was near impossible to suppress.  He looked unwieldy and some thought feeble, but Patsy had the physical qualities of a gymnast and a relentless stamina which few opponents could match.

Making his debut in the Celtic first team in 1911, this son of Donegal quickly developed a reputation for skilful forward play the likes of which had never been seen.  Celtic’s first historian, Dr. James Handley, captured the Patsy magic in this dizzying description from ‘The Celtic Story’: “He caught the popular fancy with his unorthodox style, his inexhaustible treasury of tricks, his magical elusiveness expressed in uncatchable wriggles, slips, swerves, hops and famous ‘hesitation’ stops. To see Patsy halt in mid-career, place a foot on the top of the ball and calmly wait for opponents, reluctant to approach and be fooled, to make up their minds, made many a supporter’s afternoon. Physically speaking, he should have been wafted off the field like thistledown.’ 

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This atomic mite was not for wafting away though.  He led Celtic to six League triumphs and had won the Scottish Cup three times during a majestic era for Willie Maley’s team.  Then, in 1925, came the moment that defined a career – and what is still considered by some to be the greatest goal ever scored.

Some thought that the 1925 Scottish Cup Final would be a walkover for Celtic.  Drawn against a then-dominant Rangers team in the semi-final, Maley’s men were not expected to make the final, never mind continue the Ibrox club’s failure to land the cup for over two decades.  The managed to do so in considerable style, running out 5-0 winners with Patsy largely being credited for setting out Celtic’s tactics on the day.

Dundee had only won the Scottish Cup once before (against Clyde in 1910) and were not fancied to overcome the Glasgow team who were aiming to beat the record held jointly with Queen’s Park of ten Scottish Cup final triumphs.   75,157 spectators, 6,000 of them estimated to be fans of the Dark Blues, looked on as Dundee took a hold of the first half and grabbed the all-important breakthrough goal on the half-hour.  It was a former Celt, Davie McLean, who knocked home the rebound of a Gilmour header, which had come off the bar with keeper Shevlin posted missing.  (As the Dundee fans celebrated, the keen-eyed in the Celtic support may have remembered how the 37 year-old McLean had joined Celtic way back in 1907 and had been under-study to the great Jimmy Quinn for a few seasons before moving to England.  His goal for Dundee was one over 500 in a career spanning over a remarkable 25 years.)

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Patsy in action – 10 years earlier

Dundee took to the Hampden pitch in the second half with their lead still intact.  Celtic fans remained confident that their team would soon equalise and be in control of the match but, as the minutes passed, Dundee’s resilience increased.  Although having more possession than in the first half Celtic could not find a way through the Dundee defence – and especially their goalkeeper Jock Britton.  The Dundee Courier waxed lyrical about his performance: ‘Many a joyous roar from the considerable Celtic support was choked down by the Dens Park custodian.  It seemed he could not be beaten.  Two great high-up clearances in half that number of minutes elicited cheers from friend and foe alike.  Britton gave a masterly display, his clutching and anticipation being wonderfully certain and accurate.’

Saves from Connelly, Thomson and McGrory (playing in his first cup final) kept Celtic at bay.  There was now only a quarter of an hour left in the tie, it looked as though Dundee would hold out and take football’s oldest trophy back to Dens Park with them in triumph.

Patsy had other ideas.

At the time of Patsy’s death in June 1953, one of the most fulsome tributes came from his rival and contemporary, the famed Rangers outside-left and Wembley Wizard, Alan Morton.  Known as ‘The Wee Blue Devil’ for his daring wing play, Morton recalled that “in taking the responsibility for getting a goal himself, Patsy was absolutely unsurpassed in my time.”   That pretty much describes what happened in the 76th minute of the 1926 Scottish Cup Final.

The institution that is the Dundee newspaper the Evening Telegraph (known to locals even today merely as ‘the Tully’) put it in very simple terms: ‘For Celtic had got the ball in the net that it put there to catch it. Gallagher it was who did it.  A free kick and a “breenge.” That was all there was to it, and it was level pegging.’ 

The Scotsman was just as succinct: it was a faulty clearance by the same player which allowed Gallagher, in company with a couple of other Celts, to rush the ball into the net.’

A breenge and a rush?  Hardly the stuff of legend and in marked contrast with this comment from the Glasgow Herald: The feature of the contest was Gallagher’s equalising goal, and in a career of much distinction it is questionable if the clever Celt ever accomplished anything quite so sensational and clever.’

More intriguing detail is contained in the Herald’s match report: ‘In 76 minutes Celtic got the goal that always seemed imminent, Gallagher crowning a daring and devious bit of play by throwing himself bodily into the net and carrying the ball with him.

Throwing himself into the net?  Carrying the ball?  What on earth was going on?  The Dundee Advertiser added some more colour: ‘The ‘Mighty Atom’ wriggled and pushed his way through a litter of friends and foes to stagger into the back of the net with the leather.’   

Dundee’s resistance was broken.  There was a certain inevitability that, with three minutes of the game remaining, a header from Jimmy McGrory – who had been shackled the whole game prior to that moment – breached Britton’s goal and won the cup for Celtic for a record-breaking 11th time.  (To commemorate this success in his first cup final, manager Maley presented 20 year-old McGrory with the cup and insisted the Garngad Bhoy sit at the front of the Celtic team’s horse-drawn brake carriage as it made its way from Hampden into Glasgow city centre for the post-match celebration.)

Despite the significance of the occasion for the young McGrory, he always highlighted the remarkable nature of Patsy’s intervention in turning the game in Celtic’s favour.  In his autobiography, ‘A Lifetime In Paradise’, published fifty years later, McGrory said that Dundee’s opener ‘only proved to be the spur for the greatest goal I have ever seen and aptly it came from the greatest player.’  This is his recollection of the equaliser:

Patsy Gallacher took a pass from Peter Wilson and even to this day I can remember vividly what followed.  With that peculiar dragging motion of his he meandered past man after man until the Dundee left back made a desperate effort to stop him.  Patsy fell to the roar of “penalty” from the Celtic crowd but in falling he had craftily kept the ball gripped between his feet and as the keeper came out Patsy somersaulted into the back of the net still with that ball lodged between his feet.  There was absolute pandemonium and thq e Dundee players were absolutely stunned by such brilliant.  That was the move that had beaten them and although it was only 1-1 they knew it was all over.  I had to run into the net to free Patsy but I was so excited I didn’t even congratulate him.  I just got him to his feet and ran straight back to the middle of the park.” 

With no film footage of the cup final or even action photographs available, the best visual accounts of the scenes that greeted Celtic’s equaliser come from contemporary cartoons published in newspapers in the game’s aftermath.  These confirm that Patsy did indeed end up bound in the goal-nets and could only be freed with the intervention of his team-mates:

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Glasgow Observer – 18th April 1925

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The Scotsman – 13th April 1925

Whether it was the greatest goal ever scored is a debate that can never be settled especially as the game of football continues to evolve and becomes a truly global sport.  There is no doubting however the impact that the goal had on those who witnessed it.  Robert Kelly was a 22 year-old when he attended at Hampden that day, the son of Celtic’s first captain, and who would later go on to become a Celtic director for four decades.  He never forgot the ‘almost inhuman brilliance’ displayed by Patsy that day: ‘He must have beaten six opponents as he dribbled and swerved towards goal; several times he must have been very nearly on the ground as opponents made contact with him if not contact with the ball.  His final, almost superhuman effort came barely six feet from the goal-line, when, having tricked the goalkeeper and again almost having been grounded by an attempted tackle, he somersaulted, with the ball wedged between his boots, right in the net, from which his delighted team-mates had to extricate him.

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Time can, of course, play tricks with the memory – and details can become embellished in the re-telling.  That was certainly the view of the legendary Celtic playmaker Charlie Tully, a hero of the 1950s with a style not unlike Patsy’s, who began to question the veracity of the tale of the goal he heard many, many times:  ‘According to all the reports I hear from Chairman Bob Kelly and Jimmy McGrory about the number of men Patsy beat, he must have started his run at Melbourne, hopped on a plane to London, jumped a helicopter to Hampden Park, and grabbed a taxi up the left wing to score.  That’s the only possible way he could have passed all those people!

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John Rafferty, an accomplished sportswriter with The Scotsman later referred to it as ‘the weirdest Hampden goal.’  To Celtic historians Pat Woods and Tom Campbell it has proved to be ‘a goal destined to be recalled for decades!  A touch of magic to continue the legend of Celtic’s invincibility in the Cup!’  The game was to become known as ‘The Patsy Gallacher Cup Final’ because, as The Dundee Courier said on the Monday after the match: ‘Gallagher could have been held by no man.  His amazing control of the ball and his elusiveness were a thing for wonderment . . . he wears well, does this slip of a player whom Celtic must rate as much more valuable than his weight in gold.’ 

Uncontrollable and unpredictable.  His burst of energy and trickery bamboozled the Dundee defence and, even when laid low and with yet another obstacle in his way, Patsy introduced the element of surprise – a somersault! – and went over the top.  As he lay on the pitch caught up in the goal-net waiting on his team-mates to rescue him, Dundee’s cup hopes were blown apart.  The classic slopes of Hampden exploded with joy in green and white.  And almost a century on, they talk of his magnificent goal still.

Such was the impact of Celtic’s Mighty Atom.

 

 

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Modern Illustrations of Patsy’s Goal:  

From the excellent graphic novel history of Celtic,  The Celtic Story:  The Will to Win by Patrick, Allan and Tommy Canning (Buy a copy here:  Amazon link )  

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From the David Potter biography ‘The Mighty Atom: The Life and Times of Patsy Gallacher’ – the definitive text on Patsy  (Buy a copy here:  Amazon Link)

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From  Douglas Beattie’s excellent wee guidebook ‘The Pocket Book of Celtic‘ – well recommended, has lots of great Celtic goals illustrated and much more besides, buy a copy here:  Amazon Link

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Celtic Songs: Mark McGhee

 

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It may come as a surprise to younger Celtic supporters, but there was once a time when Mark McGhee’s name rang out in tribute around the terracings at Ye Olde Celtic Park.  Yes, the miserablist Motherwell manager, he of gurny greetin’ face and forked flaming tongue, nowadays best renowned for childish fall outs with Celtic managers and coaches, was once a fans’ favourite  back in the 1980s.

Some players wear the Hoops bursting with pride.  McGhee often looked like he was about to burst through them.  Burly, chunky and big-boned are some of the euphemisms that are applied to the fatties in football these days  but Celtic fans weren’t concerned about McGhee’s not inconsiderable girth.  The former Aberdeen and Hamburg striker was a strong addition to Davie Hay’s squad and this song was sung with only a slight tongue-in-cheek:

 

He’s fat!

He’s round!

He’s worth a million pounds!  

Mark McGhee!

Mark McGhee-eeeeee!

 

No matter that in today’s money he would be worth the equivalent of Moussa Dembele’s big toe, a million was a lot for a player back then.  The man known to his team-mates as ‘Dingus’ served Celtic well in his four seasons at the club when he was usually a spare striker to the likes of McClair, Johnston, Walker and McAvennie – yet still scored 34 goals in 113 appearances.

His tenacity helped beat Hearts in the 1988 Scottish Cup semi-final and keep alive the dream of a Centenary Double and he scored Celtic’s only goal in front of a 100,000 crowd away to Dinamo Kiev in 1986.  His rotundity did not stop  him finding the net when the chance arose and, as a Celtic fan, he played a proud part in that unforgettable Centenary season.

 

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More Celtic songs and chants can be found here – get singing!  

Celtic Charity Christmas Cards – 2016

The Shamrock is pleased to announce that we are repeating the successful Celtic charity cards venture of recent years, featuring the popular Brother Walfrid-inspired design, with The Kano Foundation being the beneficiaries for 2016.

 

 

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The Kano Foundation is an inspiring supporter-led initiative which since season 2009-10 has taken over 5,000 children from all backgrounds to matches at Celtic Park for free.  The Foundation is dependent upon fundraising from other Celtic fans and has opened up the experience of supporting Celtic to a whole new generation of young people.

More information on the Foundation can be found here:

http://www.thekanofoundation.com/

 

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The cards are A5 size with a colour cover and plain text inside with a Brother Walfrid quote and the Celtic cross design from the club’s first jersey. The cards have been designed at no charge by our wonderful friends at Kinghorn Creative (https://kinghorncreative.wordpress.com).

 

The cards cost £1 each plus P&P and are available in batches of 5 and 10. As with last year £1 from the sale of each card will go direct to the nominated charity.

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Payments can be made via PayPal to theshamrock@outlook.com.  Please insert ‘Charity Christmas Card’ in the instructions section and please let us know your name and address for sending. Please also select the “I’m sending money to family or friends option NOT “I’m paying for goods or services” to avoid fees being deducted and maximise the donation to the Foundation.

 

The costs for batches of 5 or 10 cards are:

 5 cards – £6.50 including P&P*

 10 cards – £12.00 including P&P*

 * These postage prices apply to Scotland, the Six Counties of Ireland, Wales and England.  For the Republic of Ireland or further afield please email us for a quote.

 

If you have any queries please contact us by email on theshamrock@outlook.com

 

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Thank you once again for your tremendous support.

 

Hail  Hail!  

Review: ‘Kenny of the Celtic’

Book review:  ‘Kenny of the Celtic’ by Stephen Murray 

 

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The story of how Kenny Dalglish rose through the ranks at Celtic and became the best British forward of his generation is one that has long been overshadowed by his outstanding success at Liverpool.  Yet it is also how the story of how Celtic, on the cusp of creating a second side to equal the achievements of the Lisbon Lions, managed to throw it all away.   The pain of that lost opportunity – and the departure of a truly great and iconic player – is still keenly felt, as Stephen Murray’s book expertly illustrates.

This is a forensic and fascinating account of the rise to fame of a gifted footballer whose hallmark was a dedication to his which craft outshone most of his peers.  Little surprise that on arriving at Celtic Park he soon became close friends with the equally committed Danny McGrain.  Both joined the club in May 1967 and it was they who spearheaded the group of young players garnered by Sean Fallon who became known as the Quality Street Gang, including fellow future internationalists Davie Hay, Lou Macari and George Connelly.  Those five formed the backbone of what could – and should – have become a Celtic team par excellence.  The departure of Dalglish after ten years at Celtic Park was the death knell of those ambitions.

 

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By that time Kenny was no longer a talent but a talisman also.  Captain of Jock Stein’s team, they enjoyed a close relationship forged in the heat of battle.  Season by season this book tracks Kenny’s rise from callow midfielder to supreme striker.  The goals flowed and Stein’s stream of silverware continued while the Lions were gradually replaced without Celtic losing their stranglehold on the League title – and maintaining their position as a major force in European football.  These truly were glory days.

The way that the author approaches the story is what makes this read so rewarding.  Each of the Dalglish seasons is embroidered with tales and snippets culled from fan memories, newspapers and contemporary Celtic Views.   This is football from the fan’s perspective, a similar approach to that adopted in the author’s impressive debut Ten Men Won The League.  On different forums and social media Celtic supporters were invited to contribute their favourite Kenny memories and stories.  The author also set up a Twitter account – @KennyofCeltic, well worth a visit itself – to promote the idea of the book and encourage people to share their favourite Dalglish moments, photos etc.

All of these efforts combine to give the book a genuine flavour of following Celtic in the ’70s, capturing the sights and sounds of the terraces, from an age where football was not overwhelmed by wall-to-wall media coverage.  Most importantly, the involvement of individual Celtic fans reveals the sheer devotion there was for Dalglish at the time – and the desperate heartache when he left for Merseyside.

 

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It took the Celtic support a long time to forgive Kenny his decision to leave, even though it was recognised that his chances of establishing himself on the European and world stages would improve by moving south – as he proved immediately, winning two European Cups in successive seasons in the red jersey of Liverpool.  The book suggests that the desire of the Celtic board, led by Desmond White, to cash in on Dalglish outweighed their ambition for the club.  His move to England, following Macari and Hay, as well as the loss of Connelly, meant the end of hope for those Celtic fans who had seen their team reach the apex of European football and thought the might do so again.  What this book confirms though is it was a great time while it lasted – and is well worth remembering, in gratitude.  The sight of Kenny of the Celtic, in full flow, celebrating yet another goal with a smile as wide as the Clyde, will always remain.

If you want to make Christmas special for that someone in your life with an affection for Celtic, get them this book.

And if you love them, buy them the author’s 4-2 book as well!

 

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The Shamrock rating:  7/10 

 

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To buy ‘Kenny of the Celtic’ click here:   http://cqnbookstore.co.uk/shop.php?p=75

 

To buy ‘Ten Men Won The League’ click here:   https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ten-Men-League-Stephen-Murray/dp/1503109747

 

Follow the author’s writings on the Celtic Underground site:  http://celticunderground.net/

 


 

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The Final Hurdle

CELTIC’S ROLLERCOASTER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LEAGUE CUP

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Celtic’s relationship with the League Cup has never been an easy one.  From awkward first liaisons to moments of sheer bliss (Hampden In The Sun) and a period of sustained love and harmony, it has ultimately proved a bitter and painful coupling – with only occasional moments of satisfaction in recent times.  Could all that be about to change this weekend?

It took Celtic ten years after the League Cup’s introduction in 1946 to reach a final.  This was one of the club’s most barren periods and it took a replay in that first final – against Partick Thistle – for it to sit proudly on the old Celtic Park sideboard, where the Scottish Cup and the old League trophy had been regular residents.  That Celtic team, managed by Jimmy McGrory, liked it so much they went right back out and won it the following season, in the most amazing circumstances:  7-1 against Rangers, a record British senior cup final score to this day.

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United Irishmen:  Captain Bertie Peacock and Charlie Tully celebrate the 7-1

Yet, seven years would pass before we made it into another League Cup final, losing 2-1 to Rangers in front of 91,423 fans in 1964.  This was the first of an incredible run of FOURTEEN straight appearances in the competition’s Final tie, from season 1964-5 through to 1977-8.  After that initial disappointment, Jock Stein’s team won it five years in succession.  Rangers were defeated the first two years of the five, 2-1 (Hughes 2) and 1-0 (Lennox) respectively.  This was followed by an extraordinary final against Dundee in 1967 where the teams shared eight goals, Celtic running out 5-3 winners (with five goals being scored in the last 17 minutes!).

A feast of goals was repeated the next year when Hibs were beaten 6-2 with Bobby Lennox grabbing a hat-trick. A more straightforward 1-0 victory over St Johnstone in October 1969 thanks to a Bertie Auld goal meant it was five League Cups in a row for Celtic – a feat that has not been equalled in the competition – and the club were developing a strong attachment to the trophy, as were the support.

Cheers soon turned to jeers though.  Despite reaching the final in the following eight years, Celtic would only record a single victory – the memorable 6-3 thrashing of Hibs in 1974 when Dixie Deans scored three.  The lamentable stretch either side of that final included three defeats to Rangers, a shock 1-0 loss to Dundee who had Celtic favourite Tommy Gemmell in their side – as well as the barely believable (even after more than 40 years!) 4-1 hammering from Partick Thistle, with the Jags having scored the four goals without reply by the 37th minute.

From the mid-70s onwards the League Cup was as popular with the Celtic support as a fart in an elevator.  The Celtic players became disenchanted too with four years elapsing before another final appearance, leading this time a rare victory:  2-1 against Rangers in December 1982, thanks to Nicholas and McLeod.  Was Celtic’s luck in the competition beginning to change?

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Sombrero-sporting Tommy Burns and Davie Provan celebrate in ’82

Not a bit of it.  The competition was now in the midst of a myriad of name-changes thanks to sponsors ranging from Skol Lager to Coca-Cola and Bell’s Whisky to CIS Insurance, and underwent various changes in formats and times to make it more popular with fans and to work around ever-increasing European commitments.  (It is now sponsored by what sounds like a bookie’s stall in the Barras).

The fine trophy lost a bit of its lustre along the way and remained a stranger at Celtic Park.  From the 1982 success Celtic did not win it again until 1997, fifteen ridiculously long years.  In that time another three miserable finals were lost to Rangers but the 1994 loss on penalties to First Division Raith Rovers was much, much more painful to endure (you may have heard of it – it’s on virtual auto-replay on the BBC Sport Scotland website and their radio and TV platforms).  It took goals from Rieper, Larsson and Burley beat Dundee United 3-0 at Ibrox in November 1997 to finally end the miserable sequence, allowing Wim Jansen to claim the trophy in what was to prove a momentous season for Celtic.

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AwNawThere’sAnnoniOanAnawNoo – Rico enjoys the moment in 1997

It was next won two years in succession in very different circumstances.  A 2-0 win over Ebbe Skovdahl’s Aberdeen (Riseth, Johnson) in March 2000 was scant consolation for a club and support still reeling from a home Scottish Cup KO by Inverness Caley Thistle and the resulting departure of manager John Barnes.  Things were so, so different a year later though when a Henrik Larsson hat-trick against Kilmarnock secured Celtic’s first Treble since 1968-9 (only the 3rd in the club’s history) in Martin O’Neill’s first season in charge.

That was as much joy as the Blessed Martin had in the competition.  Gordon Strachan’s team were the next Celts to win the cup in 2006, beating Dunfermline 3-0 (Zurawski, Maloney and Dublin) and it was the current Scotland manager who struck silver again three years later, beating Rangers 2-0 after extra time with goals from Irishmen O’Dea and McGeady making it a memorable St Patrick’s celebration.

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Big Mick McManus captains Celtic to victory over Walter Smiths’ Rangers in 2008

Only once has the League Cup been in Celtic hands since – in March last year when Kris Commons and James Forrest delivered a 2-0 Hampden win over Dundee United.  Ronny Delia was to be denied a Treble in both his seasons in charge but there is real optimism abounding that Brendan Rodgers will be able to go one better.

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To do so he has to tip the weight of League Cup Finals in Celtic’s favour:  at present we’ve reached the final thirty times but won only fifteen of them.  It is truly a lamentable record and one that needs to improve.  If Celtic are to ever fall in love with the competition again, a sustained run of success is needed.  Reverting to an early season competition with a final before Christmas might just help, especially if this season’s form can be repeated in the years ahead.

While Celtic are unbeaten domestically, Aberdeen will prove tough opponents on Sunday.  Their form has improved of late and they have a decent strike-force to select from.  It should be a memorable encounter.  It is hard to escape the feeling though that Celtic have rarely been better placed to win this trickiest of trophies than right here, right now.  If anyone can deliver that fine old piece of silverware – and perhaps lead us on to a much sought-after and historic Treble – the man from Carnlough can.

Amen.

 

 

EDIT:   Job done!  16-15

 

Aberdeen v Celtic - Scottish League Cup Final

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Read more Celtic retro pieces in our magazine:  The Shamrock  Issue 3 out now

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On sale at Celtic Park on matchdays and at Calton Books on the London Road (at the Barras)

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Book Review: ‘Hoops, Stars & Stripes’

Hoops, Stars & Stripes: The Andy Lynch Story     Andy Lynch with Paul John Dykes

 

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Andy Lynch has more than a few claims to fame.  Yet there can be few people out there who can boast of the fact that they were given their nickname – in his case ‘Kipper’– by none other than the legendary Jock Stein himself.

The story of how this Govan bhoy earned his moniker is one of many excellent tales told here which combine to give a tremendous flavour of what life was like as a Celt in the great man’s latter years in charge at Celtic Park.  Andy Lynch was a bystander and regular participant in the events which saw Celtic’s fortunes mirror those of a rollercoaster.  It was in February 1973 that he joined a record-breaking Celtic team which had just won 7 League titles in a row.  He would go on to experience the loss of Jock Stein while he recovered from a near-fatal accident, the Double-winning success of 1976-7, the sacking of Celtic’s greatest manager a year later quickly followed by the last day 4-2 League winning sensation of 1979.  Fortunately, Andy didn’t go to Celtic looking for a quiet life.

He was a Celtic fan from his earliest days, even though it was outside Ibrox that he collected money looking after cars on match days.  His time as a ball boy at Hampden gave him a unique view of cup finals and international fixtures.  His early promise saw him sharing dressing rooms with a youthful Kenny Dalglish and Vic Davidson who would form part of Celtic’s ‘Quality Street Gang’ but his beloved team didn’t come calling and he struggled to make an impression early on.  His determination was there to see as he didn’t give up on the dream, joined Queen’s Park and then entered the junior ranks before he finally got picked up Hearts – and was a first team player in Scotland’s top league within a matter of months.

 

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Andy Lynch – as a youngster at Tynecastle

 

Andy came across more than his fair share of characters on the road to Celtic Park and beyond.  The first team coach at Hearts in the late 1960s was future Rangers’ manager Jock Wallace, renowned for his no-nonsense approach to training and . . . well, everything, really.  It didn’t come as a great surprise to the young Lynch to find his coach urging the Hearts players to “get into these Fenian bastards the day!” before an encounter at Celtic Park.  What was less expected was the coach’s cry of “Let’s sort out these Orange bastards!” before the Edinburgh team took on Rangers.  He had his battle fever on permanently, it seems. Other supporting roles in the Andy Lynch story go to Flax Flaherty, a one-eyed paper seller at Queen Street station who used to tap up players on behalf of Jock Stein; the unforgettable Johnny Doyle as both friend and foe; Brian Clough who promoted ‘the art of the deal’ before Donald Trump was ever heard of; and the great Franz Beckenbauer of the mighty New York Cosmos in the hey-day of the North American Soccer League, which Andy enjoyed as both player and coach.

It was funny to read of the start of Andy’s professional career as an accomplished left-winger when it was at left-back he would be best remembered as a Celt. That followed a tactical decision made by Jock Stein at a time when Andy had been struggling to find form after successive injury problems hampered the start of his Celtic career (and came close to killing it off) and the team couldn’t achieve any kind of consistency in the left side of the defence.  It was to prove a great solution for both player and club.

 

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Andy takes on Harry Hood at Celtic Park – they would soon be team-mates in the Hoops

In due course ‘Kipper’ became a Celtic skipper when Danny McGrain fell victim to serious injury and he still got among the goals, even from the left back berth.  He was joint top scorer (with Tom McAdam) in the 1978-9 season, hitting 13 goals with 10 coming from the penalty spot.  It was, of course, the 1977 Scottish Cup Final against Rangers when Andy’s spot kick wrote his name in the Celtic history books for ever.  The chapter dedicated to that incredible experience is one of the book’s best as Andy’s memories of the game are intercut with television commentary from the match.  It’s a novel technique that works really well here.  Andy’s advice generally on the art of the penalty kick and the attendant pressures (having Dundee United players throwing mud at you in the run-up won’t feature in many coaching manuals) is also genuinely insightful.  Another fine feature of the book that made an impression is the detailed recall of Andy getting into the dressing room at Celtic Park before everyone else (having made his way across the city by public transport in a Hearts blazer and tie) and setting foot on the hallowed turf for the first time, viewing the old Jungle and terraces from the opposite perspective to that he was used to.

 

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Andy in his prime and loving life as a Celt

 

The striking quality of the cover design (with Andy in classic ‘70s hoops with the club crest in the centre) reflects the writing inside.  This is the third Celtic book that Paul John Dykes has written and yet again he comes up trumps, telling the story of Andy Lynch in a fresh, absorbing and entertaining way with lots of great insights into Celtic and the professional game, both here and in the States, from the ‘70s and ‘80s.  Andy hasn’t exactly been a shy and retiring figure since – he once phoned up Celtic Chairman Desmond White and offered his own services as Manager to his old club!  His role in the attempt of an Arab Sheikh to buy Liverpool FC from Gillett and Hicks six years ago was a million metaphorical miles from the sands at Gullane where Jock Wallace worked him until he was sick.  It is one of the most bizarre stories in a book brimming with tales.

This is one Lynch mob well worth joining.

 

The Shamrock rating:  7/10 

 

Hoops, Stars & Stripes: The Andy Lynch Story by Andy Lynch with Paul John Dykes

Pub:  CQN Books

£14.99

Buy direct from CQN books HERE

 

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Issues 1 -3 of The Shamrock – Celtic Retro fanzine on sale on line here:  https://theshamrockglasgow.wordpress.com/subscriptions/

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Covers of Issue 1and 2 together small

 

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