WELCOME, folks, to a new CQN feature which will appear here every Saturday.

‘ALEX’S ANGLE‘ will go behind the headlines with Alex Gordon, the former Sports Editor of the Sunday Mail and Chief Sports Sub-Editor of the Daily Record when they were the biggest sellers in Scotland. The veteran newsman will reveal some tales from his journey through the inky trade.

Alex has also authored fifteen books on Celtic, the team that has always been closest to his heart, including co-writing the autobiographies of legends such as Bertie Auld, Tommy Gemmell, Davie Hay and John ‘Yogi’ Hughes.

ALEX AND LEGENDS…author Alex Gordon is flanked by Billy McNeill and Davie Hay at the Parkhead launch of his tribute book to the Celtic greats, ‘Caesar and The Assassin’, published by CQN in 2014.

His other Celtic publications include ‘The Lisbon Lions: The 40th Anniversary Celebration’, ‘That Season in Paradise’, ‘Caesar and The Assassin’ and ‘In Praise of Caesar’, his tribute to Billy McNeill.

He kicks off the new and EXCLUSIVE CQN column with this offering.

Please enjoy.

SO, there I am, standing at the bar at The Glasgow Hilton and I’m flanked by a former Rangers captain and a prominent Scottish comedian, a well-known admirer of the Ibrox club.

The Scottish Football Writers’ Association had just made their 2006 Player of the Year award to Hearts keeper Craig Gordon.

We had reached that stage of the evening when we all needed more alcohol like a drowning man requires  a glass of water.

It had been a long day and the major decision for me, the famous ex-player, who had also been a Scotland international performer, and the True Blue comic, who, away from the glare of publicity, counted many Celtic players, past and present, among his good friends.

Shock! Horror! If only the Govan hordes had known. Billy McNeill and Harry Hood were particular mates.

TWO OF THE BEST…Roy Keane and Neil Lennon celebrate a 1-0 win at Ibrox in February 2006.

If I remember the scenario correctly, there had been an invite from James Mortimer for his Victoria’s Nightclub on Sauchiehall Street to continue the celebrations. As if we needed an excuse.

I’m afraid I have to protect the identities of my two drinking buddies that evening, but, please trust me, this little tale is absolutely true. I’ll leave fables to Aesop and the others.

While we replenished our stocks at the bar, a recently-retired high-profile Scottish referee came over to join our company.

It was clear he was chummy with the ex-player and the comedian, but he hadn’t a clue to my identity. In truth, I’ve always enjoyed anonymity and left the bright lights for associates to crave.

The event had been scheduled for the Sunday evening of April 23 2006, coincidentally a few hours after champions Celtic had drawn 0-0 with their Ibrox counterparts at Parkhead, old pals Gordon Strachan and Alex McLeish going head to head again.

Anyway, the one-time match official  opened with: “What about that miss from Wee Burkey [Chris Burke]? I was right out of my seat. I thought it was a goal all the way.”

HIGH HOPES…Celtic keeper Artur Boruc repels this aerial raid from Dado Prso in the 0-0 draw in April 2006.

The former Rangers player, possessor of a mischievous sense of humour, said: “This is Alex Gordon. He’s the Sports Editor of the Sunday Mail.”

Actually, I had left the newspaper role a few years earlier to take over Scotland’s biggest news/sports agency, 7 Day Press, but that’s perhaps another story for another day.

“Alex’s a big Celtic fan,” said the comic.

The former whistler stopped abruptly in his tracks. I’ll always remember what he did next. Without any sort of explanation, he turned on his heel and headed off in the opposite direction. He didn’t even glance over his shoulder.

I always knew he was dodgy.

I’ll give hime credit, though, Chris Burke did squander a great opportunity in that scoreless stalemate. It was the visitors’ best chance of the afternoon in game where Strachan’s champions looked comfortable.

The wee winger, now 39 years old and a coach at Kilmarnock, blazed high over the bar when the ball dropped at his feet about 10 yards out with just Artur Boruc to beat.

FOILED…Celtic’s Polish striker Maciej Zurawski is denied a goal by the Ibrox club’s Dutch keeper Ronald Wattereus.

Celtic had their chances at the other end – I recall Ronald Wattereus making decent saves from John Hartson and Maciej Zurawaski – and the encounter was also memorable as Roy Keane’s last appearance against the Govan club. The legendary Republic of Ireland midfielder played for 61 minutes before being replaced by Shunsuke Nakamura.

The game was refereed by Craig Thomson in front of a crowd of 59,684 and, thankfully, passed without incident.

However, the whistler did see fit to flash a yellow card at a Celt who had gone in a tad too vibrantly in a challenge for a loose ball. It was not the first – nor last – time Neil Lennon would be in the wars against the club’s city neighbours.

* DON’T miss Alex’s Angle every Saturday as the veteran newsman takes you behind the headlines. 

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