But of course he was mortal

Stein Herrera half time
Caption this, Stein and Herrera at half time in Lisbon.

“John, you’re immortal”, but of course he was mortal. Bill Shankly’s words from 1967 recorded the moment Jock Stein went from being merely a successful football manager into the greatest icon the Scottish game will ever have, but 30 years ago today, Jock’s mortality came as a shock to the world. A massive heart-attack, while managing Scotland at a World Cup qualifier at Ninian Park, Cardiff, ended the story of Jock Stein, aged 62.

He was 29 before he arrived at Celtic Park as a player after a career with Albion Rovers and Llanelli Town. By all accounts he was a decent central defender and a more than decent leader on the park. He quickly became vice-captain, then captain, and in 1954 led Celtic to their first double in 40 years, and their first league title in 16 years. Injury forced him out of the game as a 33-year-old. Celtic gave him a job coaching the reserve team, where he would work with some future Lisbon Lions.

In 1961, a year after becoming Dunfermline manager, he led them to their first Scottish Cup, beating Celtic in the final. In four years he transformed Dunfermline from the bottom of the table team he inherited, into a team who recorded astonishing victories in European football.

A meritocratic year at Hibernian then followed, at least part of which he spent discussing his future with Celtic chairman, Bob Kelly, before Kelly made one of the most inspired decisions in sport and offered Jock the Celtic manager’s job.

The rest, is literally history. In 13 years he took 10 league titles, winning all of his first nine. In his first five seasons he only lost three of 15 domestic trophies, but most important of all, in May 1967, his Celtic team became the first British club to reach, and then win, a European Cup final.

That European Cup win was enough in itself, but the manner of the win would mean Stein’s legend grew far wider than it otherwise would. Opponents Inter Milan were the most dominant team in the game. They were going for their third European Cup in four years and their fourth Italian title in five.

Celtic blew them away. It was the most comprehensive single goal victory in sport. The Italians were exhausted at the end, having defended 43 attempts at goal, seldom managing to cross the halfway line. The underdogs had triumphed, Celtic were instantly respected and adored across Europe, while Stein was viewed as having almost mystical powers.

So what did he really achieve? The Celtic you know today would be unrecognisable without him. Had he stayed at Hibs, they could be a bigger club than Celtic today. Our decades in the wilderness, which started in the 1920s, would have continued into the 70s and who knows thereafter. His gift to you, is Celtic. That’s why his statue is outside the ground.

It wasn’t all sweetness and light. Stein was a hard authoritarian, consistent with the style of the time. Football also caught up with him. Those first five years at Celtic, five league titles, five League Cups, two Scottish Cups, two European Cup finals, European semi-finalists a remarkable three times, were imperious, but some lights went out after losing to Feyenoord in the 1970 European Cup final.

After a fifth place finish in 1978 Celtic decided to sack Jock, offering him a position on the board, which he initially accepted but only later realised his responsibilities would be limited to Celtic Pools.

Football is a results business and looking back, the decision to sack The Big Man in 1978, should not be regarded as controversial. I certainly remember many Celtic fans of the era questioning his decisions, but the way the termination was handled was shoddy. Stein had lost his mentor, then Sir Robert Kelly, seven years earlier, while the pick of his second team, Hay, Macari and Dalglish, were sold for huge fees which were never invested in the squad. Or the stadium, training facilities or anything else an aspiring football club would invest in.

He grabbed the first offer out of Kerrydale St, but only 44 days later couldn’t wait to leave Leeds United to take up the Scotland job, where he returned to his earlier form. That night in Cardiff, Scotland stood on the verge of qualification for their fourth successive World Cup, two of which were under Stein.

The nation watched him being carried into the Ninian Park tunnel live on television. Even then, no one expected him to die.  We thought Jock was immortal.


Foundation call: Walfrid and Directors’ Box hospitality, thanks to Intelligent Car Leasing, ebay auction here. More on this tomorrow.

SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Apologies for server problems over the last couple of days, I’m on it….

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  1. Wee reminder, Jock Stein tribute special, Peter and Roughie’s football show, tonight at 6:30, STV Glasgow, Virgin Media channel 159.

  2. Greatest compliment I’ve seen attributed to a coach or manager . . . “he can take his and beat yours. And he can take yours and beat his” re: Paul Bryant, legendary American football coach.



    Words that seem appropriate for Mr. Stein. I wish I could have seen him and his teams.

  3. • THE EXILED TIM on 10th September 2015 4:17 pm




    they all called him Mr Stein, a few even called him Sir, which he should have been, but as ever, scotland and Celtic don’t mix.



    * I happened to be on fascist fascist when there was talk of posthumously honoring the Big Mhan with a title. The furor on there was epidemic and the big lie was then conceived.



    I believe at the time that they were advised by the “big hoose” tae back off which they did for a while, but this was the regime that pandered tae the tangerine card so that advice dissipated.

  4. A DRINKER was told to cover up a crucifix if he wanted to be served in his local pub.



    John Doolan had popped into The Doon Inn bar, in Blantyre, following his regular darts practice at another bar on Monday, September 1.



    But the 53-year-old was left horrified after a staff member allegedly said “no colours” when he approached the bar.



    Miffed by the comment, Mr Doolan, claims he then explained that he was wearing a darts shirt and not a football top, only then to be told “No, put the crucifix away.”




    THANKS, Hope Ronny can take some inspiration from the Top Mhan, Jock Stein

  6. FAVOURITE UNCLE on 10th September 2015 4:42 pm has ALLY done a deal.??????



    *aye with 3 months tae go he’s taking a package, probably worth the same 3 months. Effin legned.

  7. glendalystonsils on

    Just listened to Dave King on radio saying how generous Sally had been in agreeing to end his contract!!!






    Even Alan Titchmarsh hasnae earned as much from gardening as the pieman has!




  8. itscalledthemalvinas on

    Lee Anne Dempster rips Dave King (yes,he’s still here) a new one by tell ing him the facts over the Scott Allan transfer.

  9. THE EXILED TIM on 10th September 2015 4:46 pm







    Their hate knows no bounds, but I am not surprised, how can you rationalise with people who are living their lifes over 300 years in the past



    *exactly, they have no concept their history. The battle they celebrate occurred on July 1 until the Gregorian calendar shifted it. The elite Dutch Blue Guards carried a Papal banner intae battle and after the victory for the wee dikeplugger the Holy Father ordered the bells of the Vatican to be rung in celebration.

  10. embramike says "the Huns are Deid" on

    Interesting paragraph frm STV’s blurb about our new No 5 …



    The 21-year old Croatian defender put pen to paper on a deal at Parkhead on transfer deadline day, just hours after Virgil van Dijk moved to Southampton.



    Croatian sources also claim the price tag could rise to €5.5 million if he proves to be an unqualified success in Glasgow.



    So it could rise to 5.5 million EUROS not £ , which is equivalent to £4m and then only if he is an unqualified success.



    Which means that the transfer fee was most likely £3m plus with add ons. This is only about 20% more than the £2.6 m we paid for VvD back in 2013.

  11. It’s already been an emotional day, but in the face of such, such selflessness, I’m almost overwhelmed.



    The Stranglers will have to delete ‘No More Heroes’ now.



    It’s on Daily Rankers webpage


    dont want to post the link to the rag



    Leeanne Dempster: “I took the initial call from Rangers. I can confirm that Mr King’s version of events is not correct.”

  13. weet weet weet(GBWO) on



    Dharma Bam,







    I had a classmate in St Michael’s from Dunbar Street, Vincent McClymont. His great claim to fame to us was that his auntie (Sadie, I think) was in the year below him.



    I stayed in Dunbar street,same close as vinny


    Small world ;)



  14. Glib and shameless liar



    “the initial approach came from Hibs”




    Official Hibs statement



    “I can confirm that Mr King’s version of events is not correct.”



    who to believe,,,!?!?!

  15. Jungle Jim Hot Smoked on



    Jock our greatest ever manager to DEILA the Dud. God help us”



    The Best Fans In the World to Lennon`s Passion. God help us.






  16. thomthethim for Oscar OK on

    If Hibs were trying to punt Allan to anyone, why did the boy have to submit a transfer request?

  17. Thanks Paul for such a timely reminder of the Big Man’s greatness and the debt that every CFC fan still owes him.


    Being a child of the late 1950s – 1958 to be precise – growing up a CFC fan was just an absolute joy!


    We won things every year and grew up expecting to win the Big Cup again, I was 17 before I saw a season that we didn’t win the league!


    To me Mr Stein appeared a huge permanent presence – at first even the car crash seemed as if it was just further proof of how indestructible he was!


    I have been surprised at how emotional I have felt reading all the tributes and comments today as I thought that after 30 years the shock and pain would have disappeared but of course they never do when you lose someone special to you – you just find a way to get on with things!


    I would just like to add my thanks to those of all those CFC fans who have expressed their gratitude to Mr Stein for all that he did for us!


    As daft wee bhoys we would sometimes chant


    ” A million Catholics every day


    Pick up their rosary beads and say


    Stein, Stein, Stein!”




  18. lennon's passion on




    Home and away Fae 1988 if more on here went to half the games I’ve been to.Celtic would be a lot better off. I’ve more than paid my dues to comment on DEILA the Dud. I will be there on Saturday supporting the players on the park. Where will you be super fan.

  19. Dave King admits to helping police with their enquiries. That’s very good of him.



    Meanwhile Hibs suggests he’s a liar. How very dare they!

  20. the glorious balance sheet on

    Ah glibsy isn’t putting the £20 million quid that he said he would into Sevco anymore because they “don’t need it.”



    I wouldn’t say he looks shifty but when he talks it looks like one eye is going to the shops and the other is coming back with the change.



    Glib and shameless is probably an understatement. You can tell he is lying because his lips are moving.

  21. embramike says "the Huns are Deid" on

    Ah – my favourite shitcom – just one hilarious episode after another …



    A COMPANY previously linked to former Rangers owner Craig Whyte has taken a claim for the whole of the £18 million creditors payout pot of the liquidated club plc to court, it has been confirmed.



    Law Financial Ltd has lodged a defence at the Court of Session over its claim that it is owed up to £25 million, saying it holds a security over the assets of Rangers oldco RFC 2012 plc.

  22. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    As RS bumps their Jock Stein tribute down the running order so we can hear some glib and shameless lies…..

  23. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Glibster saying they will keep on loaning players in. I thought they only wanted players who wanted to play for “Rangers”?

  24. glendalystonsils on

    Moreover, the glib and shameless fantasist reckons we did Sevco a favour by Signing Allan because Hibs were never going to sell him to Sevco anyway, and it weakens Hibs’ challenge to them winning the league.



    All we need now is for Liam Henderson ,Dylan McGeouch and wee Feruz to GIRUT.

  25. THOMTHETHIM FOR OSCAR OK on 10TH SEPTEMBER 2015 6:14 PMIf Hibs were trying to punt Allan to anyone, why did the boy have to submit a transfer request?



    Nail on head,and you won’t be reading that in the rags

  26. The BBC Scotland news article remembering Jock Stein.



    Narrated (put together?) by Lamont, noted Zombie acolyte.



    Report notable for the following line over ’67 footage – ‘(Stein) transformed that team into European Cup finalists’.



    Couldn’t bring themselves to state European CHAMPIONS. Pathertic hurtin’ Hun scum.



    Then we goty a comedy article with shifty Dave claiming the Huns will challenge us next season. Where do they find these roasters?

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