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‘BIG BILLY, WHAT A FIRST IMPRESSION FROM THE NEW BHOY,’ BERTIE AULD

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BERTIE AULD played and scored in Billy McNeill’s debut for Celtic SIXTY years ago today.

The Hoops legend, now 78, made his first appearance in a 2-0 League Cup win over Clyde at Parkhead on August 23 1958.

Auld, a Lisbon Lion along with his big mate, joked: “I had to make it easy for the 18-year-old rookie, so I took it upon myself to score a goal to help him out.

“Mind you, I think Billy repaid me several times over throughout our careers.

“I recall that game and I well remember Billy’s performance. He came into the team that afternoon in place of the injured Bobby Evans.

“Bobby was an experienced Scotland international with almost 50 caps who had been playing in the top side for about 15 years.

“He had been operating in the old inside-right and right-half positions for a lot of his career before switching to the number five position.

“Actually, Bobby wasn’t that tall for a centre-half, I doubt of he was even 6ft tall. But he could use the ball brilliantly from the back and he was perpetual motion.

CUP THAT CHEERS…Billy McNeill is chaired by Bertie Auld and his Celtic team-mates after scoring the winner in the 3-2 Scottish Cup triumph over Dunfermline in 1965.

“Passing was his forte and certainly not his heading ability. However, Billy was introduced to the side that day and we could all see the difference.

“There was this teenage kid climbing yards above friend and foe to clear the ball with his head. His power was such that the ball was ending around the halfway line.

“I was amazed at his aerial ability. I had never seen anything like it at Celtic. Clyde were wasting their time that day when they dropped a ball into our penalty area – that was meat and drink to our fresh-faced debutant.

“All that was required was for the guys up front to do their job and Sammy Wilson headed in early on to give us the advantage and I fired in a low 20-yarder for the second. And that was Big Billy picking up his first win bonus as a Celt.”

Auld, 80, added: “I had played alongside Billy a couple of times in the reserves the previous season and I had a fair idea what he could contribute to the team in that area.

“But playing in front of a handful of fans in the second string and then producing in the first team in front of thousands are two entirely different things.

“As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression and Billy managed it that afternoon 60 years ago today.”

TO celebrate the 60th anniversary of Billy McNeill’s first appearance for Celtic, author Alex Gordon has written a tribute book to the Hoops legend, entitled ‘In Praise of Caesar’ which is published today by Black and White, priced £17.99p. It is packed with wonderful anecdotes from Billy’s many friends in football including a foreword by Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell, a personal thought from manager Brendan Rodgers, Sir Kenny Dalglish, Sir Alex Ferguson, Gordon Strachan, Davie Hay, Roy Aitken, Paul McStay, the Lisbon Lions and so many more of football royalty. You can order your copy here:  

http://blackandwhitepublishing.com/billy-mcneill.html

 
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