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DAVIE HAY, HEARTS-BREAKER ALBERT KIDD ON ECSTASY AT LOVE STREET

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CELTIC were a mere seven minutes away from completing their Premier League programme for season 1985/86. They were pummeling shattered St Mirren 5-0 following a power surge that took them to a four-goal advantage at half-time. Alas, it looked like being a glorious failure after completing the run-in to the campaign without a defeat in their last sixteen games while racking up eight successive victories. They desperately needed Hearts to lose against Dundee and, at that stage, it was goalless at Dens Park.

Davie Hay recalled the moment vividly in CQN’s best selling book Caesar & The Assassin. ‘We were coasting at Love Street to what might have been an impressive, but ultimately meaningless, win. Then something quite amazing happened. I remember their goalkeeper, Jim Stewart, had the ball in his hands and was about to launch it downfield when a huge roar came up from the terracings. He looked startled for a moment. Our fans were going doolally. The transistor radios had imparted a gem of news and we all knew what had happened – Dundee had scored. I knew there were two players named Kidd on the pitch that afternoon, Hearts’ Walter and Dundee’s Albert. I was told Kidd had scored and, judging by the reactions of our support, I didn’t have to enquire which one.

UNCONFINED JOY

‘There was unconfined joy as the fans danced jigs everywhere and then there was another massive cheer. Dundee had scored again. The title was ours! Albert Kidd, a player I had at Motherwell during my days as manager, had netted a second. Love Street was bouncing, the entire place was heaving. Then came the final whistle from referee Andrew Waddell and suddenly fans were on the pitch, scarves were being thrown at me and the players and it was just one big happy carnival. I allowed myself a moment. I was just so proud of what my players had achieved. I admired their spirit, their courage, their belief, their fortitude. Oh, call it what you like. They just refused to be beaten and they merited the accolades. The fans, too, deserved to join in the party. They had been our twelfth man and so many never gave up hope. On a personal level, I massively appreciated that.’

And yet, with seven minutes remaining, the Premier League championship was on its way to Tynecastle. It was as close as that. ‘There are defining moments in football and in life when you realise the gods are smiling on you,’ added Hay. ‘This was undoubtedly such an occasion. I had watched a sports programme on TV the night before and I was left with the impression that the silverware was as good as already in the Hearts trophy cabinet. Celtic were being written off by just about everyone. Believe me, that can raise the hackles. The following morning I picked up all the daily newspapers. Sure enough, they followed the same route. It appeared we were wasting our time bothering to fulfill our remaining fixture, the trophy was already bedecked in maroon colours. Oh, really?

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE

‘All the way to this deciding day I had been optimistic about winning the title. I’m not being smart after the event because I was quoted at the time. People may have thought I was trying to get a psychological advantage over the Edinburgh team. Maybe subconsciously I was. But the fact of the matter remained that I genuinely felt we could achieve what a lot of folk were tagging “Mission Impossible.” Really, a lot of them should have known better. We had won seven consecutive games – four away from home – to set up the big finale. To simply dismiss us was as insulting as it was stupid.

‘My reasoning was simple. In the run-in, I believed Hearts would slip up somewhere along the line. I had witnessed it countless times before and I had to believe that they might not get the bounce of the ball in at least one game. To be absolutely fair to them, they kept on going. But I still persisted with the thought that we would get a break. Obviously, to a certain extent, it wasn’t in our hands. All we could do was keep on winning and hope the pressure would get to them.

‘THAT’S NOT CELTIC’S STYLE’

‘I could detect they were creaking a little bit during the run-in. On that fateful day, I gave one of the shortest team talks I have ever given any team. I asked one of the backroom staff to cut out all the articles from the newspapers relating to ourselves and Hearts. The cuttings were pinned to the walls in the Love Street dressing room. When we arrived, I simply said to the players, “Go and read those notices.” I could see the steam coming out of some ears. They got the drift okay. Apparently, they were to be no more than bit-part players in Hearts’ day of celebration. That’s not Celtic’s style.

‘Once the players had settled down and, just minutes before they took the short walk down the tunnel at Love Street, I merely said, “It can be done. We can win this title.” I looked around the dressing room and all I could see were determined expressions. I had never any doubts whatsoever that we would beat St Mirren in this game. I had said so often enough after our win the previous Wednesday at Motherwell. Now I knew we would not only win, but win well. In fact, win in the Celtic manner.’

The players went at St Mirren in whirlwind fashion, snapping into tackles, spraying passes hither and yon, sweeping around the playing surface at full pelt, attacking through the middle and on the flanks and only too eager to keep Saints keeper Jim Stewart from wearying. Brian McClair knocked in the opener in the sixth minute and Mo Johnston added two within a minute while Paul McStay almost took the net away with a first-time effort from the edge of the box.

MESMERISING

‘I was standing on the touchline in awe of my own team,’ said Hay. ‘Everyone remembers Brazil’s fourth goal against Italy in the mesmerising World Cup Final in Mexico in 1970. I’m talking about the one where it seems every Brazilian gets at least three touches of the ball before Pele nonchalantly rolls a pass across to the right where the rampaging Carlos Alberto comes thundering in to first-time an almighty effort low past the bewildered and beaten Enrico Albertosi, the Italian goalkeeper. It was a fitting end to a glorious and memorable World Cup.

‘Take it from me, Celtic scored a goal against St Mirren that was every bit as good and it was just a pity the planet wasn’t tuned in to witness it. Danny McGrain, a truly world-class right-back, started it on the edge of his own penalty area. He moved the ball to Murdo MacLeod who gave it back to Danny  as we were swiftly building a move down our right-hand side. Danny shifted it inside to Paul McStay who switched it to Roy Aitken and once again the ball landed at Danny’s feet. He touched it on to Brian McClair and he flashed a ball across the face of the Saints goal. Mo Johnston, lurking in the danger zone as usual, came sliding in at the back post to nudge the ball into the net. It was all done at bewildering speed and it is right up there with any goal I have ever seen scored by any side. It was good enough to win the title on its own.’

CHAMPIONS BUT NO CHAMPAGNE!unspecified-7

Eighty-three minutes were on the clock with Davie Hay, arms crossed, standing on the touchline and admiring his team’s flawless performance. No-one could have blamed him for just a momentary thought that possibly the TV and newspapers had got it right; Hearts were going to win the league, after all. And then came the unforgettable moment when the fans raised the roof at Love Street and Hay knew the championship was coming home to Paradise. In three years as Celtic manager, he had delivered the Premier League title and the Scottish Cup.

‘We had no champagne to toast the triumph because no-one had pre-empted anything,’ added Hay. ‘Imagine that? We’ve just won the title and there was no bubbly to celebrate with. Well, actually, that’s not quite true. Someone produced a solitary bottle of champagne from somewhere – I think it might have emerged from the magic bag of masseur Jimmy Steele – and I got a wee taste. I made up for it later that evening.’

*From Caesar & The Assassin from CQN Books available for only £13.99 HERE.

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ECSTASY IN PAISLEY

For his two goals that afternoon, and the second was perhaps every bit as good as the one Celtic scored that Davie Hay describes above, Albert Kidd is unquestionably the most-loved footballer among the Celtic support who never actually wore the green and white Hoops. Conversely the scorer of Celtic’s wonder goal that day is definitely the most hated player ever to have worn the hoops. It’s a funny old game!

Celtic had win by at least three clear goals and hope that Hearts lost. Celtic did got their part of the job finished early, racing into a 5-0 lead after just 54 minutes. The game at Love Street was over and all ears were pressed to the transistor radios reporting on proceedings at Dens Park – these were the days before smartphones and the internet!

On 61 minutes Dundee replaced Tosh McKinlay with Albert Kidd and on 83 minutes the substitute but when the substitute reacted quickest from a knock down from a corner to fire his shot from close range high into the Hearts net. This was a goal that provoked a myriad of emotions – joy amongst the Dundee support, despair from the Hearts fans and pure undiluted ecstasy at  in Paisley.

Then on 87 minutes Albert Kidd scored his wonder goal to break Hearts and the wild celebrations at Love Street got underway. Celtic were the Champions!

ALBERT KIDD – GUEST OF HONOUR

Celtic FC Foundation are staging a special dinner to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Celtic’s 1986 title triumph and the among the guests of honour none will be more special than Albert Kidd. The Celtic heroes of Love Street – with an obvious exception – will be there and Albert Kidd will be joined by some of his Dundee teammates from that wonderful day. unspecified-8

Speaking about his invitation Albert, who moved to Australia when his football career was over, said: ‘It’s nice to be remembered, especially being a Celtic supporter. To score the goals on that day was great. I was jumping through hoops – it was a good day for me and even more so because Celtic won the league.

‘I played in the Kenny Dalglish pro-am at Cathkin Braes the following Monday and I remember Roy Aitken and Danny McGrain sprinting towards me over one of the practice putting greens while I was getting ready to tee off, and jumping on me and thanking me for what I’d done.

‘I had knocked on the manager’s door on the Friday and said to him that I had a good track record against Hearts, and that I should be considered for the game,’ Kidd recalled. ‘That’s what led him to put me on the bench, otherwise I never would have been playing because I had a poor season, for many reasons.

‘So when I got the call, it was just a case of it’s the last game of the season. I knew Celtic were going to beat St Mirren and I had one eye on that, but I didn’t even think I was going to get on and all of a sudden, I got the chance.

‘I think Tosh took a wee knock so he had to come off and the manager put me on with about half-an-hour to go, and the rest is history… It was a good day.

DELIGHTED FOR DAVIE 

‘I had a high regard for Davie Hay, too, who was my assistant manager when I was at Motherwell. So I was really delighted for Davie to win the league.’

Over the years, despite living most of that time in Australia, Albert Kidd is aware of the significance of his goals in Celtic’s history. He is a supporter, after all, and his fellow Hoops fans are always delighted to remind him of his goalscoring exploits and thank him for what he did.

‘Even now, 30 years later, I’ll be sitting in the pub and some guy will come across and say, ‘God bless you, wee man,’ and put a pint down for me. Both my sons ask me, ‘What’s that all about, Dad?’, and I say to them, ‘It’s a long story.

“It was a huge thing, and the people I’ve met over the years who want to talk about it, is incredible. It’s nice and humbling.

“I come back to Scotland every year, but it will be nice to be back for this celebration, and it’s great that it will also be a night for charity too.”

You can celebrate the ‘Heroes of ‘86’ at a special event in the Kerrydale Suite at Celtic Park on Sunday, May 1 in the company of some of the men who won the title for the Hoops that season, including Albert Kidd and some of his Dundee team-mates.

Tickets for ‘The Heroes of ‘86’ are priced at £400 for a table of 10 or £40pp and are available now from Celtic FC Foundation on tel: 0141 551 4373 or email: cfcfoundation@celticfc.co.uk

 

 
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