CELTIC legend Davie Hay celebrates his 76th birthday today.
The former player, manager and chief scout has a landslide of wonderful memories to look back on with pride during his many roles at Parkhead.
Hay was the man responsible for getting the bargain £650,000 deal for iconic Swede Henrik Larsson over the line in July 1997. He also targeted the likes of Paolo di Canio and Pierre van Hooijdonk in his position as top talent scout during Tommy Burns’ reign as Hoops gaffer.
The birthday Bhoy said: “Celtic are in pole position as they bid for their 54th title and I’m confident Brendan Rodgers and his players won’t lose sight of what another crown will mean to our great club.
THE WRITE STUFF…Davie Hay with co-author Alex Gordon.
“I am more than happy to have contributed one as a manager. I only wish I had been around a little longer to add a few more.
“I have been inextricably bound with Celtic throughout my professional career, starting as a 17-year-old part-timer and now as a 76-year-old club ambassador. A bit of an understatement to admit it’s been a fairly memorable association over the decades.
“I feel truly honoured to have been involved in a title success and followed in the monumental footsteps as such Celtic legends as Willie Maley, Jimmy McGrory, Jock Stein and Billy McNeill. It’s a genuine privilege to be mentioned in that exalted company.”
Hay spoke to his long-time friend Alex Gordon, who co-authored the Celtic great’s best-selling autobiography, ‘The Quiet Assassin’, and revealed his most treasured memory on his extraordinary journey through football.
In his own words, here is how the proud Celt recalled the cherished reminiscence in an edited chapter of his life story.
I HAVE played in a European Cup Final, performed in World Cup Finals, been engaged in umpteen club and country showpieces and been fortunate enough to have won eight medals as a player with Celtic.
However, I have never enjoyed a more memorable moment in football than a victory in my own backyard of Paisley, not too far from where I was brought up in a tenement in Moncrieff Street. As a kid, I used to kick a ball about with my pals in a schoolyard practically in the shadow of St Mirren’s old ground, Love Street.
Sounds like a cliché, I realise, but never in my wildest dreams could I have envisaged being the Celtic manager who would lead the team to the club’s thirty-fourth championship on that very ground.
A smile is guaranteed when I look back to that extraordinary afternoon of May 3 1986 on my old stomping ground. We won that flag on merit.
WAIT FOR IT…Davie Hay remains laidback as the clock ticks down to Celtic’s amazing title triumph at Love Street, Paisley, on a never-to-be-forgotten May afternoon in 1986 with Danny McGrain about to join in. Bobby Lennox and club physio Jimmy Steele are also in party mode.
Okay, it was goal difference that decided the destination of the silverware, but the statistics merely emphasised we had been the best and most consistent team in Scotland that season.
We had been written off by so many and people really should realise that is not a situation Celtic, as a football club and an institution, ever acknowledged or accepted. On that wondrous day, we refused to roll over and we went onto the pitch simply to win a game of football.
That’s all we could do. We had to concentrate on the 90 minutes that lay ahead and let events elsewhere take care of themselves; they were outwith our control.
It’s history now we beat St Mirren 5-0 and Dundee’s Albert Kidd, a player I had in my squad when I was manager of Motherwell, scored two late goals to defeat Hearts 2-0 at Dens Park. Maybe the stars were aligned that afternoon. Who knows?
The main thing is Celtic won the championship and, just as importantly, we triumphed in the Celtic manner.
* All at CQN, our readers and Celtic fans everywhere will join together in wishing club legend Davie Hay a very happy 76th birthday.