The Iron Man tells it like it is!

Sean Fallon as Celtic captain 1952

In one memorable chapter in the excellent George Connelly biography Celtic’s Lost Legend, the great Fifer and his closest pals in the famed Quality Street Gang, Davie Cattenach and Davie Hay, reminisce about their playing days and the characters they met on and off the pitch.

All of them speak in glowing terms about Celtic’s Iron Man – Sean Fallon.  The Sligoman had been instrumental in Celtic picking up many of that exceptionally talented group of youngsters and helped guide their early careers as Jock Stein’s assistant.

Talking in 2007, when Sean was still alive, Davie Cattenach gets the ball rolling – before recalling one of his favourite Fallon stories . . .

 

CATTENACH: Talking about brilliant servants, what about Sean?  Anyone shaking his hand would suffer from broken bones.  What a strength!

HAY: He’s no’ changed that much.

CATTENACH: He looks great.

CONNELLY: He was a good guy to look up to.

HAY:  Sean was for us.

CONNELLY:  He wasn’t coming in there shouting, or trying to unnerve you.  He had a nice away about him.

CATTENACH: We beat Rangers 3-1 in that Glasgow Cup final on a Monday night.  Quinn scored.  Oh, what a goal he scored!  We were all there that night.  Alex Macdonald was playing for Rangers – he could be a dirty so-and-so.  The ball came between us on the halfway line and we were both going for it.

I did him up high, at the top of his neck.  He was carried off on a stretcher.  Stein went ballistic at half-time.  ‘Oh, you f****** bastard! he screamed.

He called me for everything.  I was shattered.

Sean comes up and says quietly: ‘All right Catt? That was one of the finest tackles I’ve ever seen in my life!’

 

Sean changing room

 

Buy the George Connelly book here:  Celtic’s Lost Legend (Amazon)

Buy the wonderful Sean Fallon biography by Stephen Sullivan here: Celtic’s Iron Man (Amazon). One of the best Celtic books ever.

———– ————

 

More Celtic Stories for your enjoyment HERE!

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NineteenSixtyHeaven: Football and Music in Perfect Harmony

In the summer of 1967, San Francisco was the centre of the Summer of Love, a seemingly never-ending hippie festival which promised free love and a peaceful counter-culture revolution of Western society.  The Beatles and their era-defining album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band were at the musical forefront of the Summer of Love

In Scotland, it was a heavenly summer for Celtic fans and many more for a very different reason.  Yet these two cultural happenings were linked and had their origins the summer before … in San Francisco itself. 

 

 Image result for Celtic 1966

On 1st and 8th June 1966, Jock Stein’s Celtic recorded two significant results against Tottenham Hotspur and Bayern Munich in San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium, adjoining the Haight-Ashbury district, which would soon earn fame as the home of hippiedom.  These games were part of a momentous month-long tour of Bermuda and North America, which included 11 games and was later credited by the 17-strong Celtic squad as cementing the famous team spirit which was to lead them all the way to Lisbon.

Bertie Auld recalled: ‘We were close before we stepped on that plane to take off on our great adventure.  We had completely bonded by the time we got home’.

 

1966-06-08: Bayern Munich 1-2 Celtic, USA Tour - Pic

 

The tour also allowed for some important tactical fine-tuning of the newly crowned Scottish champions by manager Jock Stein, as described in the book Dreams And Songs To Sing:  ‘The manager viewed the trip as both a deserved reward and as an opportunity for some sensible experimentation, the establishing of the Murdoch-Auld axis in midfield being the most notable outcome.’

The tour cleared the way for Stein’s men to get season 1966-7 off to a flier.  The season kicked off with a League Cup campaign that saw Celtic go undefeated all the way through to the final where they overcame Rangers 1-0 on 29th October 1966.  The team were also unbeaten in seven league games by the end of October and had made an impressive debut in the European Cup, beating FC Zurich 5-0 on aggregate.

 

Candlestick Concer poster

In stark contrast to the good vibrations which the Celtic team left San Francisco with that summer, when The Beatles played in the city’s Candlestick Park on 29th August the atmosphere was one of foreboding.  Their third American tour was ending in frustration and dischord. Paul McCartney had to admit defeat to his bandmates who were determined to stop touring. Candlestick Park was to prove The Beatles’ last ever live concert before a paying audience. Worse was to come when, on the plane back to London after the gig, George Harrison announced: ‘Well that’s it, I’m not a Beatle anymore’.

The most popular music group on the planet were at a crossroads.  They had honed their art playing extensive live sets in Hamburg at the start of the Sixties.  Playing before audiences was their great thrill but the experience had been ruined by the very people who adored them, as Ringo Starr explained: ‘We got in a rut, going round the world.  It was a different audience each day, but we were doing the same things.  There was no satisfaction in it.  Nobody could hear . . . It was wrecking our playing . . . The noise of the people just drowned out everything.’

A more sinister element had come to the fore.  The band felt threatened by the crowd reaction after a gig was cancelled due to torrential rain in Cincinatti with 35,000 fans already in the stadium; they had watched at close quarters as police attacked fans using batons in Los Angeles after their limo came under siege post-gig.  In addition there had been demonstrations and death threats in the southern states after John Lennon had declared earlier in 1966 that they ‘were more popular than Jesus’.  It had all got too much and the very existence of the group was now threatened.

 

Beatles at Candlestick Park

 

It was fortunate that there was a clearing in their schedule (due to an abandoned movie project) that allowed The Beatles some much-needed time apart through to November.  Lennon took up an acting role in Richard Lester’s war parody How I Won the War, which was being filmed in Spain (where the villa he rented reminded him of a Salvation Army children’s home back in Liverpool called Strawberry Field).  Harrison went to India to study the sitar with Ravi Shankar and meet Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a transcendental meditation guru, while McCartney had his first experience of the drug LSD with his friend, the Guinness heir, Tara Browne.  Perhaps the most significant thing to happen to the band before their return to the studio in late November was the first ever meeting, on 9th November 1966 at the Indica Gallery in London, of John Lennon and artist Yoko Ono.

That same November and December, Jock Stein’s men continued to progress at home and abroad. In ten league games they scored 32 goals, conceding only 16 in return.  Points were dropped in only three of those ten games as their lead at the top of Scottish Division One over Rangers was stretched.  The tenacity of this squad was illustrated against Dunfermline on 19th November 1966 when they came from 3-1 down to win 5-4 with a last minute penalty from Joe McBride.

 

1967 Nantes v Celtic

 

Eyes were still firmly on the main prize though: the Second Round of the Champions Cup (as it truly was in that era).  Drawn away in the first leg to French champions Nantes, Celtic recorded an impressive 3-1 win – and Jimmy Johnstone’s delightful performance earned him the nickname La Puce Volante (The Flying Flea) from the French press.  At Celtic Park on 7th December the Celts eased their way to another 3-1 victory.  In their four games in this first assault on the European Cup they’d scored 12 goals and lost only 2.  The style of attacking football that Stein advocated was winning Celtic new admirers on the continent.

On Thursday 24th November, producer George Martin assembled The Beatles at Abbey Road for the first recording sessions which would ultimately lead to the Sgt. Pepper album.  Now that touring was no longer a consideration, Martin and the group enjoyed the freedom to spend as much time – and money – as they wanted in the studio.  Incredibly, the first four weeks were taken up with the creation of just one song: but what a song.  Strawberry Fields Forever was a defining moment in psychedelic rock music involving the use of sixteen different instruments and an unprecedented fifty-five hours of studio time to hark back to Lennon’s childhood in Woolton. In between the marathon sessions for Strawberry Fields the band recorded a McCartney song, which he called ‘a parody of Northern life’, inspired by his ageing father.  When I’m Sixty-Four was a simple and sparse song with an endearing sentiment which indicated the diverse approaches the final album would take.

 

Beatles and George Martin in studio

On Friday 30th December, The Beatles had their last studio session of 1966.  Starting at 7pm and going on until 3am, they laid down the foundations of Penny Lane, which was McCartney’s turn to dive into childhood nostalgia revisiting the street where he and his brother went to the barber.  In these early stages the plan for the as yet unnamed album was an autobiographical traipse around the Liverpudlian landmarks of their youth.  This was a band back on track and in harmony.

For Celtic, 1966 was to end on a bum note.  Later that day, and despite goals from Lennox and Wallace, they lost 3-2 at Tannadice, their first League defeat of the season – and an undefeated record of 49 matches was gone.  They remained at the top of the league – four points clear of Rangers who had a game in hand.  Hopes remained high – but no-one could have predicted the dizzy heights the club would reach as 1967 dawned over Celtic Park.

In EMI Studios No.2 at Abbey Road, The Beatles and George Martin got the new year off to a slow start, spending the early part of January finishing Penny Lane before creating the fourteen minute free-form Carnival of Light, which still hasn’t been heard outside The Beatles’ inner circle. Towards the end of the month the band would start work on what was to become the most influential song of the Sgt. Pepper album, A Day in the Life.  Lennon had started writing the lyrics earlier that week, taking his cue from Daily Mail reports on the inquest into Tara Browne’s death – McCartney’s friend had died in a high-speed London car crash the month before – and the number of pot-holes in the roads in Blackburn, Lancashire.  The LSD-influence on the song was crystallised by McCartney who contributed the memorable line ‘I’d love to turn you on’.  This was the basis on which the BBC banned the song from the airwaves for five years due to the lyrics encouraging ‘a permissive attitude to drug-taking’.  The impact of the absurd ban was minimal. A Day In The Life remains, in the words of Beatles scholar Ian MacDonald, ‘among the most penetrating and innovative artistic reflections of its era’.

 

Session pic

 

Celtic’s start to 1967 was anything but sluggish.  The goals flowed throughout January and February in the League (five each against Dundee, Clyde and Ayr) after the all-important Ne’erday Derby at Ibrox had been postponed due to rain.  The first two rounds of the Scottish Cup saw Arbroath and Elgin City despatched for 11 goals without reply.  The well-oiled machine was getting set to move up a gear.  A friendly against Dinamo Zagreb at Celtic Park on 7th February was lost by a single goal but the purpose was to familiarise the players with how Eastern European teams set themselves up: Celtic were due to go behind the Iron Curtain in the European Cup Quarter Final.

On 1st March 1967, Celtic travelled to Novi Sad in northern Yugoslavia to play Vojvodina, conquerors of Atletico Madrid in the previous round.  The Slavs were considered one of the best teams in the tournament and Stein’s men struggled to assert themselves.  A defensive error let in left winger, Stanic to claim the winner twenty minutes from the end.  A one-goal deficit was not considered a great handicap to this Celtic team but come half-time in the home leg the Yugoslavian lead was still intact and impressive keeper, Pantelic had helped silence the 70,000-strong crowd.  Stein’s orders were to maintain the high-speed attacks to expose cracks in the Vojvodina defence.

With just over an hour gone, a Tommy Gemmell cross troubled Pantelic and Stevie Chalmers pounced to knock the ball home.  Breakthrough. The momentum had shifted in Celtic’s favour. The attacks were now relentless, with Johnstone and Hughes on either flank bringing pressure to bear: ‘The Vojvodina defence suddenly found itself like a nut between the crackers’, wrote The Times match correspondent.  But this was a nut that, over the next half-hour, refused to crack and a play-off in Rotterdam for a semi-final place loomed ominously.  Then, in the dying seconds, Celtic were awarded a corner.  Charlie Gallagher swept the ball over and Billy McNeill rose from a ruck of players to head over Pantelic and under the bar.  The whistle blew as soon as the Slavs re-started the game.  Celtic, in their first European Cup campaign, were now only two games away from the final.

Celtic players celebrate victory over Vojvodina 1967

 

Back at Abbey Road, George Martin encouraged The Beatles to pick up the pace and they responded positively in terms of workload and creativity throughout February.  McCartney’s idea of an alter ego band to hide behind, first cultivated on the American tour, began to take shape.  The song Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was started in early February and tied up a month later.  The album now had its identity and starting point: a fictional band playing an imaginary concert. As McCartney later explained: ‘It liberated you – you could do anything when you got to the mic or on your guitar, because it wasn’t you’.  Lennon’s rollicking Good Morning Good Morning was started on 8th February and McCartney’s wistful Fixing A Hole the day after.  Later in the week, George Harrison’s discordant Only A Northern Song was recorded but didn’t make the album’s final cut.  It lacked the music hall appeal of Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, which fitted perfectly into the Sgt. Pepper concept, taking inspiration from a Victorian circus poster that Lennon had picked up in a Kent antique shop only a few weeks earlier.  Three days on and it was the turn of Lovely Rita to take shape in the studio, depicting McCartney’s memorable encounter with a female traffic warden.

Mr Kite poster

 

The month of March saw The Beatles hit top gear in production terms with the pieces of the Sgt. Pepper jigsaw starting to fall into place.   Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, inspired by a painting by Lennon’s 4-year-old son, Julian was done and dusted in just two days.  McCartney and Lennon worked closely on Getting Better, using language from the hippy culture (‘Man I was mean but I’m changing my scene’) and the slight Indian-tinge to the sound of that song was then developed in the sitar-infused Within You Without You, Harrison’s gentle assault of Eastern spiritualism on the prevailing materialism which was to be placed at the half-way mark in the final album: ‘A vital mediation break in the middle of the jubilant indulgence’, according to Rolling Stone magazine. The poignant and classic She’s Leaving Home was completed in just two studio sessions, the idea again borrowed from a contemporary news story highlighting the generation gap of the era.

The last few days of March saw the final song to make it from the sessions on to Sgt. Pepper take shape.  Ringo Starr was the surprise lead vocalist in With A Little Help From My Friend, assuming the guise of Billy Shears, the band leader of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  It was one of the last true Lennon-McCartney collaborations and a genuine team effort from the band.  Starr had to be cajoled to stay on until after daybreak to complete his vocal, the other three standing around him at the microphone lending moral support. A few hours later that day they re-assembled at artist Peter Blake’s studio on the King’s Road for the photo session that formed the centrepiece of Blake’s ground-breaking cover art for the album.  Labelled ‘a countercultural totem’ by Ian MacDonald, the song became indelibly associated with the 60s after being performed by Joe Cocker at the famous Woodstock festival two years after Sgt. Pepper’s release.  The hard work was done, all that was required now was some fine-tuning.

 

Cover photo session

 

March and April had also proven a purple patch for Celtic and their various bids for domestic and European glory.  As the pressure increased the squad responded magnificently to the challenge.  They continued their unbeaten run in the league, started back in January, subjecting opponents to a torrent of goals.  They advanced to the final of the Scottish Cup by beating Glasgow rivals Queen’s Park and Clyde before the Czechoslovakian champions, Dukla Prague arrived at Celtic Park on 12th April for the first leg of the semi-final.  The cool evening saw 75,000 fans crammed into the old park and they were raising the rafters when Jimmy Johnstone, lobbing himself and the ball over the keeper, gave Celtic the lead mid-way through the first half.  But the tactically shrewd Czechs, led by the masterful 36-year-old midfield maestro, Josef Masopust, were not overawed.  They remained focused on securing the crucial away goal and Celtic Park fell silent when they equalised just before half-time, Strunc taking advantage of defensive errors.  The lure of Lisbon, where the final was to be held, wasn’t just being felt by the Scottish players.

A six-minute spell in the second half ultimately settled the tie.  Willie Wallace was making his debut in the competition that night. On the hour mark he latched on to a huge clearance from Gemmell to slip through the Dukla defence and clip the ball past keeper Victor with his right foot.  The ‘impossible dream’ referred to by captain Billy McNeill was alive again.  Celtic attacked relentlessly.  Foul after foul was conceded by the Czechs in ever more dangerous positions.  It was from one such foul, in the 65th minute, that Bertie Auld deceived the defensive wall, side-footing the ball to his right instead of his left where, after just two short steps, Wallace slammed it into the net from almost 30 yards out with the keeper left bewildered.  He was denied his hat-trick by the woodwork on the 80th minute but Celtic had a two goal lead to take to Prague to help secure their passage to the final.

On the afternoon of 25th April, Jock Stein’s instructions to the Celtic players in the Stadion Juliska were out of the ordinary: the emphasis was on defending the two goal lead.  Only Chalmers would be played as an out-an-out striker, Willie Wallace was an extra right-back and it was left to the Celtic defence to demonstrate their worth.  Three crucial saves by Ronnie Simpson from Strunc in the first half and commanding centre-half performances from McNeill and Clark kept Dukla at bay.  Celtic harried and stood up to the Czechs at every opportunity, the home team ran out of ideas and a draw was secured without Simpson’s goal being breached.  Stein’s instructions had been followed to the letter and the reward for the team’s discipline and dig was a trip to Lisbon four weeks later.

 

1967-04-25: Dukla Prague 0-0 Celtic, European Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg - Pictures - Kerrydale Street

 

First things first though – the Scottish Cup Final against Aberdeen awaited the team’s return from Czechoslovakia.  Normal attacking business was resumed as two goals again from Willie Wallace – either side of half-time – saw the majority of the 126,102 crowd celebrate Celtic’s 19th success in the grand old competition.  It was a momentous week for Celtic.  Four days after the cup final, Dundee United were the visitors to Celtic Park in the league.  Only a point was needed to clinch the Championship.  But despite leading twice, Stein’s team suffered a 3-2 defeat.  United were the only Scottish team to beat Celtic that season and they did it twice, home and away.

Celtic now had to go to Ibrox to secure the flag against a Rangers team who had just beaten Slavia Sofia to reach the final of the Cup Winners Cup.  On 6th May, before a crowd of 78,000, which included Inter manager, Helenio Herrera, Celtic supporters witnessed one of the best and most important goals in the club’s history.  Having already equalised Sandy Jardine’s opener, Jimmy Johnstone received a throw-in from Stevie Chalmers with no danger imminent.  The Sunday Mail report described what happened next:

The wee man didn’t hesitate.  He swerved to the right with the ball glued to his toe-cap and raced straight for the Rangers goal.  Johnstone made a slight detour across the front of the 18 yard box, and then unleased a tremendous left-foot drive.  Martin would have needed telescopic arms to reach the ball as it flew into the top-right hand corner of the net.  A brilliant goal from the smartest player on the field.

Despite a late equaliser, Jinky’s wonder strike secured the Treble for Celtic the first time ever.  At Ibrox.  This was already a season like no other.

 

Jinky celebrates at Ibrox 1967 title win

 

A domestic clean-sweep having been achieved, Stein and his players could now focus exclusively on Portugal and the challenge of the formidable La Grande Inter, European Champions in two of the previous three years.

On that glorious, unforgettable late afternoon in Lisbon, Jock Stein’s Celtic team struck down the negative system of catennacio with an incredible display of attacking play that heralded a new age in football.  The leading French newspaper L’Équipe proclaimed: ‘A glowing tribute must be paid to Celtic.  The Scottish club has reasserted the basic values of moral and physical fitness, of spirit de corps, of adventurousness and of the sheer pleasure in playing the game.  They have injected a breath of fresh air into our game.’  Jock Stein himself summed it up best of all: ‘We did it by playing football. Pure, beautiful, inventive football.’

 

Cesar Lisbon Big Cup taken below b and w

 

The day after the triumph at Lisbon’s Estadio Nacional, on 26th May 1967, The Beatles’ ground-breaking album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was rush-released into UK record stores to meet unprecedented demand.  For Celtic fans waking up from their hangovers or returning on planes from Portugal, the party was only just beginning.

Writing in The Times renowned critic Kenneth Tynan referred to it as: ‘A decisive moment in Western civilisation’.  It is not known whether he was in Lisbon itself or watched the game on the telly.

 

Pepper drum cover

 

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© The Shamrock 2017

 


 

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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!

 patsy-cartoon-stuck-in-the-net-detail-green

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.’ 

patsy-gallacher-pinnace-cig-card

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.)

patsy-gallacher-action-pic-1915

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:

patsy-1925-sc-final-cartoon-from-the-observer-18th-april-1925-detail

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

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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/

 


 

Read more Celtic book, film and other reviews here: https://theshamrockglasgow.wordpress.com/celticreviews/

 


 

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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