ROY AITKEN, Danny McGrain and Tom Boyd will be in Glasgow for a special evening on Saturday March 18.

It will be a night of pure nostalgia as the former Celtic captains take a walk down the Hoops’ memory lane to chat about their many successes as the onfield leaders of the Parkhead club.

CQN has already chronicled the vast contributions of these three gifted, entusiastic and bold individuals over the years.

One of our favourite tales concerns a powerfully-built teenager who was creating quite a stir in the mid-seventies.

Here we repeat the feature. Please enjoy.

CROWNING GLORY…Danny McGrain is hoisted onto the shoulders of Roy Aitken and Peter Latchford after the unforgettable 4-2 win over Rangers that earned Celtic the 1978/79 title.

THE great Jock Stein had told the Celtic fans there was a “special talent” emerging through the youths at Parkhead – a monumental prospect by the name of Roy Aitken.

The versatile Irvine-born performer made his debut against Stenhousemuir in the League Cup on September 10 1975 at the age of 16 – and there was no looking back after that for the player christened ‘The Bear’ by his adoring legions of Hoops followers.

Aitken, of course, played his part alongside Danny in Celtic’s outstanding championship success four years after his introduction to the first team.

It was arguably Big Roy’s finest 90 minutes for the club – the unforgettable evening of May 21 1979 when a 10-man Celtic team, managed by club icon Billy McNeill in his first season, overcame Rangers 4-2 to win the title, the the 31st of the current 52 in the club’s glorious history.

Roy, at the age of 20, thumped in the team’s first goal, stormed through a Man-of-the-Match performance and was a club legend from that night on.

DOUBLE TAKE…two proud Celts, Billy McNeill and Roy Aitken.

Author Alex Gordon, who has had fifteen books pubished on the club, remembered it likes this:

RANGERS had been relentless in their pursuit. The situation for Billy McNeill’s team was clear cut; a triumph would take the Premier League championship to Parkhead.

A win or a draw would suit Rangers who still had two more games to play against Partick Thistle and Hibs. That being the case, Celtic, in McNeill’s return, would have to settle for second best. McNeill was never comfortable with that mantle.

The manager recalled: “I talked to the players as a team unit before the game. I didn’t pick out individuals as I didn’t think that would be fair. Jock, of course, did that every now and again, particularly with Jinky, but, then, he was exceptional, world class and could handle anything thrown at him.

“On this occasion, I just wanted to remind the players what we had all been through to get the club into this position. We were ninety minutes away from winning the league. I reminded them: ‘And listen to that crowd. That’s your fans out there. They’re worth a goal of a start’. I sensed a very determined mood in the camp.”

CRASH…Roy Aitken (half-hidden by Derek Johnstone) thumps Celtic’s first goal past Rangers keeper Peter McCloy on a memorable evening in the east end of Glasgow.

CHEERS…Roy Aitken races away in delight and is about to be joined by George McCluskey. Derek Johnstone and Peter McCloy have that sinking feeling.

The hottest ticket in town was for Parkhead on the Monday evening of May 21 when football’s greatest and most ancient foes would lock horns. The scramble had been more frantic than ever with a union strike keeping TV cameras away from Parkhead.

If you wanted to see this one, you had to be there. Only flickering images shot by a fan from the terracing still exist. A thriller of epic proportions was, sadly, never witnessed by millions.

As kick-off time approached, Celtic Park throbbed and pulsated, the old ground’s foundations heaving and rocking, as a capacity 52,000 frenzied fans, engulfed in wild emotion, prepared to watch a spectacle that would unfold in the most dramatic of circumstances. It was a night for the strong of heart.

In the ninth minute, a deadly hush swept over the Celtic end. Rangers were a goal to the good after Alex MacDonald had knocked one wide of Peter Latchford. That goal was to trigger off a remarkable series of events as Celtic desperately tried to respond. There was no change in the scoreline, though, by the time the interval arrived.

OH GEE…Rangers central defender Colin Jackson diverts the ball past grounded keeper Peter McCloy for an own goal to put Celtic 3-2 ahead.

Ten minutes after the turnaround, McNeill winced as he saw his side go down to ten men. Johnny Doyle was involved in a scuffle with MacDonald, both fiery characters, and the referee dismissed the Celt for retaliation.

The Celt sobbed uncontrollably as he raced off the pitch. The game restarted at a punishing pace during this rawest and most rumbustious Old Firm confrontation, a rollicking rollercoaster, one of the most nerve-shredding in memory.

Breathtakingly, Celtic drew level midway through the half as Roy Aitken surged forward to belt one past Peter McCloy. In the 74th minute the roar that went up from the east end of Glasgow must have registered on the Richter Scale; Celtic were ahead.

George McCluskey, wily and skilful, got through on the blindside to thump the ball low into the net. Two minutes later, it was 2-2 with Bobby Russell scrambling one past Latchford from close range.

This pulverising confrontation was going all the way to the wire. Rangers sat in, obviously more than satisfied to take a point. Celtic, driven on by McNeill from the touchline, had other ideas. Six minutes were left when McCluskey fired in a dangerous low effort from the wing. It was an awkward one for McCloy to deal with.

MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU…Murdo MacLeod celebrates making it 4-2 for the 10-man Celts with team-mates Andy Lynch and Davie Provan in ecstasy.

The towering keeper got down to parry the ball up and away where it struck the inrushing Colin Jackson. The defender could only look on in horror as the clearance bounced off him into the net.

Cue bedlam on the terracings. Parkhead became a rhapsody in green and white. Could there possibly be anything left to witness in this no-holds barred, shuddering conflict?

“I remember picking the ball up in midfield,” said Murdo MacLeod. “I knew it was late in the game, but I didn’t know how late. There was a pass on to either side of me with team-mates breaking forward. I just kept going.

“In an instant, I knew I was going to shoot, there was no chance of me passing. I thought to myself: ‘Hit this as hard as you can and, even if you miss, the ball will go away into the Celtic end and it will waste time’.

“But I struck the shot really well and it went high and dipped over the keeper’s right hand into the top corner. I still had no idea how long there was to go. We all geared up to go again when the referee blew for time-up seconds after Rangers had kicked off. I must have been the last Celtic player to touch the ball that evening.

“It was my best-ever night in football. I had a few memorable ones, but nothing ever touched that. No team could have stopped us even when we were down to ten men.”

* Roy Aitken, Danny McGrain and Tom Boyd will be at Captains’ Night on March 18. Please see below for more details.

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