BERTIE AULD admits he will never forget the first time he played alongside fellow-Lisbon Lion Bobby Lennox.
“How could I?” laughed the former midfield mastermind. “The opposition scored three goals in six minutes!”
Auld, who dovetailed alongside Bobby Murdoch in Jock Stein’s all-conquering team in season 1966/67, will be in Saltcoats this afternoon for the unveiling of a statue dedicated to the lightning-swift attacker who was known as ‘The Buzzbomb’ in his playing days.
The Hoops great, 80, said: “This will be a fitting tribute to an old team-mate who was one of the most unselfish players it was my pleasure to perform beside.
“Bobby had the most amazing engine and his appetite for hard work was simply awesome.
“Of course, we had some remarkable times at Celtic, unparalleled success which was treasured by the players, the fans and everyone connected with the club.
MEMORIES…Bertie Auld, with the Billy McNeill tribute book, ‘In Praise of Caesar’, stands in front of the historic image of Celtic players celebrating the 1965 Scotttish Cup Final success against Dunfermline – the first piece of silverware he won alongside his great friend Bobby Lennox.
“I left Celtic in 1961 for Birmingham City, but, thankfully, I returned just after the tun of the year in 1965 – two months before Jock Stein also came back to Parkhead – and my second debut was hardly memorable, a 2-1 home defeat from Hearts on a freezing Saturday afternoon on January 16.
“However, a week later, Bobby and I lined up alongside each other for the first time against Morton at Cappielow.
“It looked as though we would celebrate the occasion with a win bonus. Just after the hour mark, we were coasting 3-0 up after Wee Bobby and Big Yogi, John Hughes, had scored in the first-half and Tommy Gemmell fired in one of his specials for a third.
“With 13 minutes to go, the points were as good as in the bag – or so we thought. They had a big Danish centre-forward by the name of Carl Bertelsen and he pulled one back.
“With eight minutes to go, Hugh Strachan scored another for the Greenock side. Before we had a chance to draw our breath, they had equalised with Bertelsen again on target.
“We ended up hanging on for a draw.”
GOAL MACHINE…Bobby Lennox celebrates another strike against Rangers as Jimmy Johnstone prepares to join in.
Auld remembered: “I checked out our team that afternoon at Cappielow on January 23, 1965 and would you believe seven of that line-up won a European Cup medal in Lisbon exactly two years, four months and two days later?
“There was me and Bobby, of course, Big TG, Bobby Murdoch, Billy McNeill, John Clark and Jimmy Johnstone.
“Typical Celtic – we threw away a three-goal lead and struggled to get a draw against Morton and could go on and beat the acclaimed Inter Milan and pick up the biggest prize in European football!”
Saltcoats-born Lennox, 75, who joined the Parkhead club from Ayrshire Junior side Ardeer Recreation in September 1961, scored 301 goals for the Hoops and is second only in the all-time scoring list to Jimmy McGrory who claimed 502 goals.
The 10 times-capped forward won 11 leagues, eight Scottish Cups and five League Cups as well as a European Cup medal.
Lennox’s total of 25 honours is even more than Celtic’s Greatest-Ever Captain and former manager Billy McNeill who had to settle for 23.
The statue will be unveiled at 12.15pm today at a site across from Saltcoats Station and the ceremony is expected to last around 15 minutes.