CALLUM McGREGOR may have missed out on the Scotland squad, yet again, but the Celtic midfielder, who has scored in both of Celtic’s two most recent league matches against Kilmarnock and St Johnstone, has at least got his own nickname from the Celtic support. It might not, yet have morphed into a song but give the support time and he undoubtedly will get there too.
The Stuart Armstrong and Scotty Sinclair songs are brilliant and both very creative for football chants. And last week manager Brendan Rodgers asked why the supporters didn’t have a song for James Forrest. Everyone seemed to politely avoid that question, so Brendan is none the wiser!
So while having your own song is the ultimate recognition for a Celtic player – Kieran Tierney is greedy as he has two – while you are waiting for that to happen a nickname is the next best thing.
So it’s nice to note, while he is just about the only player up at Lennoxtown keeping Paddy Roberts company, that Callum McGregor is now being called Calmac.
Since the international break is beginning to bite – they seem to be getting earlier every year – we thought we’d relieve the boredom that will be setting in round about now in Timland by looking at some of the great Celtic nicknames of the past…
The Bear – a big and powerful midfielder/defender with a marauding running style that enabled Roy Aitken to carry the ball from one end of the park to the other at pace.
Big Bad John (BBJ) – The signature tune of Welshman John Hartson a prolific centre forward of the Martin O’ Neill era who played alongside Henrik Larsson and Chris Sutton. As the nickname suggests John was powerfully built and not a player to take liberties or mess with.
Bridie – The nickname given to Charlie Gallagher a member of the Lisbon Lions squad – Bridie Gallagher was a famous Irish singer (The Girl From Donegal) of the time and Charlie having the same name inherited the moniker after the singer.
The Brush – John Clark who was possibly the most under-valued of the Lisbon Lions was so called as his role was primarily playing the sweeper role alongside Billy McNeill. John Clark was also sometimes referred to as Luggie.
Buzz Bomb – The blistering and devastating pace of the diminutive Bobby Lennox saw him earn this title. Bobby was also sometimes called “Lemon”, this name came about, apparently, because the fans thought he made defenders look like suckers. However, that’s not true. The actual origins of this nickname are all due to a silly error. In one old match report, the respective journalist/copy-writer somehow mis-wrote Lennox’s name wrong as “Lemon” (God knows how they did that one!). Anyhow, Willie Wallace (a fellow Lisbon Lion) noticed this and it was used to rib Lennox in the dressing room. The nickname has stuck with him ever since and even manager Jock Stein used it.
Cairney – Lisbon Lion Jim Craig was given this nickname as there was an actor John Cairney who starred in a television programme of the time called “This Man Craig”. John Cairney, who grew up in Parkhead, is a well known Celtic fan, writer, actor and painter – he wrote a well-regarded biography of his boyhood hero Jimmy McGrory called ‘Heroes Are Forever’. When Celtic took part in and won the TV programme Quiz Ball in 1969/1970 the Celtic team was made up of Jim Craig, Billy McNeill, Willie Wallace and John Cairney – Cairney being the “celebrity” guest for Celtic. Jim Craig was a qualified Dentist as well as being a professional footballer.
Cesar (Caesar) – The well documented confusions surrounding this nickname for Billy McNeill stems from the assumption that it was born from Billy’s imperious leadership qualities. In fact McNeill earned the label Cesar – not Caesar! – well before he was the established figurehead of Stein’s Bhoys. The name comes from the 1960s Hollywood ‘rat-pack’ thriller Ocean’s Eleven. The young Celtic stars of the era liked to model themselves on the cool stars of the film and, in a reference to Cesar Romero’s role in Ocean’s Eleven, Billy was nicknamed ‘Cesar’ as he was the only one in the Parkhead group to own a car. But as Bertie Auld later explained to CQN Magazine – the title Caesar is much more apt!
Champagne Charlie – Some think that this title bestowed by the press on Charlie Nicholas mainly due to the striker’s fondness of the party lifestyle! However it was actually Alex Gordon’s fault! He created a competition in The Daily Record for the first player in Scotttish football to score 30 goals. The rules prevented them offering a cash prize so Champagne was instead offered to the winner and Charlie duly obliged – thus Champagne Charlie.
Choccy – A sweet sounding nickname for Brian McClair due to the fact his name rhymes with Chocolate Eclair!
Chopper – Bobby Murdoch was tough as teak.
The Croy Express – The nickname given to Jimmy Quinn (who was born, raised and died in the village of Croy) in relation to his muscular power and pace combined with an explosive left foot shot. Jimmy was also known by the nickname The Bison.
Danny Kaye – Lisbon Lion Tommy Gemmell was given this nickname because of a strong resemblance to the famous American comedian/actor.
The Derry Pele – The mercurial skills and wonder goals of fans favourite Paddy McCourt earned this (slightly!) tongue in cheek tribute
Faither – Veteran keeper and Lisbon Lion Ronnie Simpson was the the eldest of Jock Stein’s all conquering Bhoys.
The Golden Crust – Jimmy McGrory, a player so good he was given three nicknames! These names were given to Celtic’s record scorer due to his lethal and athletic heading ability.
Heid – A mostly affectionate nickname for Gary Caldwell, referring to his rather large cranium. Gary’s playing abilities certainly divided the Celtic support – but he was always a big fan of himself!
The Holy Goalie – Polish keeper Artur Boruc’s apparent devotion to his Catholic faith not only wound up the bigots in the Scottish media and the Rangers support it also saw him earn this nickname from the Celtic support.
The Human Torpedo –Jimmy McGrory, a player so good he was given three nicknames! These names were given to Celtic’s record scorer due to his lethal and athletic heading ability.
The Iron Man – A name given to both the great Jimmy Quinn and latterly Sean Fallon. Both players had a seemingly super human ability to shrug off knocks and injuries.
Jinky (aka Wee Jinky)– The well known and affectionate nickname for the legendary Jimmy Johnstone. Known more often simply as Jinky, the wee genius acquired the tag due to his amazing dribbling ability.
Jose – The nickname given to Joe McBride another member of the Lisbon Lions Squad.
King of Kings – Henrik Larsson’s immense ability and contribution to the Celtic cause saw the goal-scoring idol given these well deserved – if slightly blasphemous! – nicknames.
King Kenny – The nickname bestowed by the Celtic Faithful on Kenny Dalglish – Undoubtedly one of the greatest ever footballers to have played for Celtic – Kenny truly was the King of Celtic Park and was quite rightly indoctrinated into the “Greatest Ever Celtic Team” as voted for by the fans themselves.
Lemon – The blistering and devasting pace of the diminutive Bobby Lennox saw him earn this title. Bobby was also sometimes called “Lemon”, this name came about, apparently, because the fans thought he made defenders look like suckers. However, that’s not true. The actual origins of this nickname are all due to a silly error. In one old match report, the respective journalist/copy-writer somehow miswrote Lennox’s name wrong as “Lemon” (God knows how they did that one!). Anyhow, Willie Wallace (a fellow Lisbon Lion) noticed this and it was used to rib Lennox in the dressing room. The nickname has stuck with him ever since and even manager Jock Stein used it.
The Little Ant – Bertie Peacock – The Coleraine born Celtic midfielder and Captain of the famous Celtic team which beat Rangers 7-1 in the 1957 League Cup Final was given this nickname due to his tremendous drive, work-rate and never say die attitude when playing for the Celtic cause.
The Maestro – Midfield playmaker Paul McStay was known as this graceful and skillful performances.
The Magician – Lubomir Moravcik – sheeesh!!…. the things he could do! Including the famous ‘arse trap’ seen in front of the South East corner.
The Mermaid – Jimmy McGrory, a player so good he was given three nicknames! These names were given to Celtic’s record scorer due to his lethal and athletic heading ability.
The Mighty Atom – Nickname given to Patsy Gallacher due to his diminutive size and explosive talent
The Prez/President – 1960s Celt Jim Kennedy was called this due to (almost) sharing a name with the doomed US President.
The Quiet Assassin – Davie Hay was given this name as although he was almost the complete footballer he was one of the hardest players ever to wear the Hoops and the nickname came from his silent but deadly ability to peerlessly win the ball and create advantage from winning it.
Rhino – Midfielder Murdo Macleod was given this name due to his strong running displays in the 1980s.
Shuggie – Johannes Edvaldsson, a popular Icelandic International who played for Celtic between 1975 and 1980 and was a member of the famous “Ten Men Won The League” team in May 1979 was also nicknamed “Shuggie” during his time with Celtic.
Shuggie – The nickname given to Celtic’s Polish left back late Dariusz Wdowczyk – the name was bestowed upon him by Tommy Burns as the players could not come up with a nickname for him so Tommy said “We’ll just call you Shuggie”.
Skippy – A popular, if not particularly original, nickname for Australian international striker Scott McDonald. The name of course refers to the famous Kids TV show ‘Skippy – The Bush Kangaroo’.
Smiler – Neil Mochan’s dour appearance saw him sarcastically christened this title.
Squiggles – Frank McGarvey had an unusual gaunt and when on the ball his body in general and legs in particular would be going all ways giving the impression that he was “squiggling” with the ball – Frank later admitted that sometimes even he didn’t know what he was doing with it – because of this Frank was also often referred to as The Rubberman.
Ten -Thirty – The nickname given to Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld by the other Lions as a rhyming play on his name “Bertie”. Sometimes it was shortened and he was just called Ten.
The Wall – Nickname given to giant keeper Fraser Forster by the Catalan press after his heroics in the 2-1 Champions League defeat of Barcelona at Parkhead in November 2012.
The Wee Barra – A reference to the large work-rate and physique of the diminutive but great Bobby Collins. A barra is a Glaswegian colloquial term for a barrow or stall, quite common in older days in warehouse and Cash & Carry’s.
Wispy – Lisbon Lion Willie Wallace was given this moniker due to his quietly spoken nature and because of his initials WSB (William Semple Brown) Wallace.
Yogi – John Hughes, the popular winger of the 1960s, was famously given this nickname due to his resemblence of the picnic stealing cartoon bear! For a winger John Hughes had a very good goalscoring record and is 7th in the list of all time Celtic goalscorers with 188 goals. Celtic supporters would chant ‘Feed the bear!’ to encourage team-mates to pass to Hughes to set up more attacks.
Special thanks to CelticWiki
CQN’s latest Podcast is now available for you to enjoy.
Paul John Dykes recorded Episode 10 of ‘A Celtic State of Mind’ at Andrew Milne’s first ‘Celtic AM’ event of the 2017-18 season.
A Celtic State of Mind offers an insight into the culture of Celtic Football Club, the city of Glasgow, and fans of the reigning invincible Scottish champions.
Each episode includes interviews with ‘Celtic-minded’ figures from the world of sport, music, film, art, broadcasting, literature or politics, and this week’s guests include:
* Aidso Digney from the Éire Go Brách CSC, who discusses his late friend, Kidso Reilly;
* Professional boxer, Gary Murray;
* Centenary hero, Joe Miller;
* Music from Keith Murray.
70,000 Celtic fans can’t be wrong…
Connect with A Celtic State of Mind @PaulDykes and @CQNMagazine.