Ahead of our visit to Tynecastle on Sunday I’m going to share this story with you. It was written by a Celtic fan, Arthur. Arthur wasn’t always a Celtic fan. In fact, he travelled with his grandfather to Rugby Park on the final day of the 1964-65 season with his fellow Hearts fans to see the title decider.
For Arthur, it wasn’t all about Hearts, though, his favourite player was their stop striker, Willie Wallace. When Willie left for Celtic Park in 1966, Arthur’s allegiance followed him. Neither of them would look back.
Williie was back from Australia a few years ago, when we did his autobiography. I was with him at a signing session at Waterstones in Stirling when this guy walked in with a carrier bag from the Celtic Superstore. Willie was busy holding court so I made my way towards the new visitor, Arthur, who told me his unique introduction to Celtic.
What a great moment seeing Arthur and Willie meet.
Some of us are born into Celtic but an increasing number of us make our own way to Celtic Park. Arthur’s story was brilliant. He chose Celtic, chose the Lisbon Lions, six months before they would become so, and almost half a century on the fire burns as brightly.
I love hearing stories of how people come to Celtic. One for another day, is the son of an African father and Scottish mother, who received copies of the Sunday Post in the mail, courtesy of his non-football affiliated Scottish grandfather.
The intention of sending the ‘Post was no doubt to inform a Scottish ex-pat of what was going on back home, but the lasting result was to spark excitement in an African man for Jock Stein’s Celtic, one which still burns in his son today.
That’s maybe a story for another day, but Arthur sat at his keyboard to recall a great Celtic league win, as well as a memorable family moment, here’s his story:
“My Dad. He was my best pal, a warm, likeable man with a great sense of humour. We shared a love of football in spite of me becoming a Celtic fan when Willie Wallace transferred to us. He’d shout for us on TV against Rangers or in European Cup games.
“But he was always a Hearts man, although not so much as years past. After seeing them lose the league title in 1965 on goal average, then the cup at Hampden in 1968 to Dunfermline, he used to think he was ‘a jinx’.
“Fast forward to the third of May 1986. Me, my wife and three kids, and my mum and dad head from Edinburgh to Loch Eck near Dunoon for a weekend in a caravan. My youngest daughter just two months old, made my Dad as happy as his other grandchildren.
“We listened as best we could to on the car radio to the Celtic game, but reception up round the Rest and Be Thankful was patchy! Eventually we reached the caravan, unpacked a few things, brewed a cup of tea, and got the telly on.
“By now late afternoon, Celtic had done all they could to snatch the title from Hearts, but it looked like it was heading to Tynecastle. In my heart a wee bit of me was happy for my Dad.
Then, to quote Archie McPherson, ‘WOOOSHH’! Albert Kidd scores for Dundee late in the game. ‘WOOOSH’ ! The wee man does it again. An ‘Archie Gemmill’ type goal, scored by Bobby Ball’s lookalike.
“As it does, the adrenalin hit me. Up I jumped, dancing round the wee caravan, tea cups getting bumped, alarmed kids wondering what’s up with me. My mum cheering as she was happy for me.
Then I looked at my Dad. Hadn’t seen him like that often. Thirty years on I don’t remember his exact words but by his expression, a bit like gathering thunder, I could see he was less than pleased.
“Embarrassed silence engulfed the caravan.
“Finally my mum broke the silence. ‘ I’ll put the kettle on’. I think I mumbled an apology to my Dad, like a wee boy. And you know what? He gave me one of his bear hugs and forgave me.
“Never forgave Albert Kidd though.”
Here we go………..
Many thanks to everyone who entered the raffle for tickets for Sunday, we raised £1298.73, which is already with Mary’s Meals. The winner has been informed, but has not responded to his email yet, so check! Thanks again to the guys at Intelligent Car Leasing.
It’s seven weeks until the cyclists set off from Celtic Park on The Road to Lisbon. This is an incredible Celtic fan project, read the update here and make sure you keep an eye on progress.