ON May 26 1967, in the midst of the gloriously joyous throng at Abbotsinch Airport, John Lawrence, the Rangers chairman, led a deputation from Ibrox to welcome Celtic back home from Lisbon.
Football’s oldest foes embraced as the Parkhead club’s hierarchy and triumphant Europe-conquering players made their way across the tarmac.
That was a touch of sheer class from Rangers.
Scot Symon, the club’s manager, went on record as saying: “Words just cannot express this achievement after such a wonderful season.”
Once again, take a bow, our rivals from across the city.
Celtic were in Buenos Aires where they were due to play Racing Club in the second leg of the Intercontinental Cup Final on November 1 later that year when Symon was sacked by the Ibrox club, the directors pushing frantically on the panic button in their undisguised terror of being left in the slipstream of their ancient adversaries.
CONGRATULATIONS…Rangers chairman John Lawrence greets his Celtic counterpart Robert Kelly at the airport following the historic European Cup triumph on May 25 1967.
When Jock Stein heard the news, he immediately set about attempting to send a telegram to his disposed opponent. Easier said than done, my friends.
I was chief sports sub-editor of the Daily Record 11 years later when Scotland were playing in Argentina in the World Cup Finals in 1978. Communication from the South American nation was notoriously bad. You had to book a spot practically a day ahead for a phone call and there was no guarantee you would be afforded your allotted time slot or even the duration of the message.
If it was bad in 1978, I shudder to think what telecommunications system was in operation over a decade earlier.
Stein broke off from planning strategies for arguably the most important game in Celtic’s history to make certain a telegram was delivered to the Symon family home in Dumbreck in Glasgow to convey his feelings at the brutal act from a club that would live to regret their hasty decision.
Once again, that was an act of class from the Celtic manager, displaying proper respect for a former touchline nemesis.
It is a sad case of affairs when we compare it with what we have today. Social graces, common courtesy and any iota of decorum parted company with those in power in Govan some time ago.
When blowhards such as David Murray were nauseatingly claiming “for every fiver they spend, we’ll spend a tenner” it made you wonder why the dignity and demeanour that should befit such a high-powered position at a football club had been jettisoned.
It was a crass comment from the-then owner and we knew he would get his comeuppance. That arrived the day he sold Rangers for two quid before vamoosing out of town.
Aye, talk is cheap.
Now we have people involved at the club refusing to even give Celtic their title. It’s all about “them” and “they”. Possibly, there are pronunciation problems with a club name of two syllables.
FINAL SAY…the Celtic shirt for the Viaplay League Cup Final where the name of the opponents is clearly seen on the chest. No such traditional gesture was followed by the Ibrox club.
What can be said about their refusal to even put Celtic’s name of their League Cup Final jersey as their opponents on such an occasion? That veers between pathetic and pitiful.
So, no-one was unduly perturbed at the news there would be no guard of honour for the champions in Govan this afternoon. That was never going to happen.
In any case, I doubt if anyone at Celtic Park gave a jot at the lack of an acknowledgement from across the city. We all know it would have been an empty gesture like so many others from that corner of the city.
Almost a century of propriety, civility, correctness and refinement had been obliterated at a stroke some time ago.
Good manners can often be mistaken as a sign of weakness. That being the case, there appears to be no semblance of frailty among those currently in governance in Govan.
Enjoy the game today, folks.
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