CELTIC legend John ‘Yogi’ Hughes played his final game 52 years ago.

The club’s eighth-highest goalscorer with 189 strikes had his last hurrah at Parkhead when he played in the 3-0 European Cup victory over BK 1903 Copenhagen to help the team through to the next round on a 4-2 aggregate scoreline.

Hughes was devastated to realise he was no longer wanted by Jock Stein and the dream was over.

In the third and final part of another CQN EXCLUSIVE, former fans’ favourite Yogi, who passed away on August 1 2022 at the age of 79, revealed all to author and friend Alex Gordon in his best-selling autobiography, ‘YOGI BARE: The Life and Times of a Celtic Legend’.

SEAN FALLON had a lot of power in team matters and would even lock Jimmy McGrory out of the dressing on some occasions. Yes, I know that sounds absolutely ludicrous, but, believe me, it happened on a regular basis.

Before Big Jock walked back through that door in March 1965, I genuinely believed my future lay elsewhere. I wasn’t alone. There were grumblings in the dressing room and we all knew Spurs wanted Billy McNeill. There were stories about Bobby Murdoch thinking about emigrating with his family to Australia.

Falkirk were said to have taken a liking to Bobby Lennox and there was even speculation that Jimmy Johnstone was so fed up with his treatment that he was thinking of going back to the Juniors. Anyone who ever met Jinky will know that rumour may have not been too outrageous.

BY THE RIGHT…John Hughes puts pressure on Kilmarnock defender Jim Whyte.

Jock was aware of my situation even while he was manager of Hibs. I bumped into him purely by coincidence at a midweek international at Hampden. Quietly, he took me aside.

He whispered, ‘I hear you’re thinking about asking for a transfer. Is that right?’

I nodded and said, ‘I’m thinking about it.’

He replied, ‘Don’t do anything.’

I was a little puzzled. ‘What do you mean?’ I asked.

‘Just what I say. Hold your decision for awhile. I want you to stay at Celtic. I know you can do a good job for the club. Give me time to get things sorted.’

It was the first time I realised the rumour factory had got it absolutely right; Jock Stein was about to return to Celtic. I may have been astonished at the time, but it didn’t take me long to discover that Jock had spies everywhere. He would have known as much of what was going on in the Celtic Park dressing room as the one at Easter Road.

To this day, I still have no idea who would have alerted to him to the fact I had grown a little disenchanted with my situation regarding being in and out of the first team at Celtic, but, of course, his information was spot on.

UNDER SCRUTINY…Jock Stein keeps a watch on John ‘Yogi’ Hughes in training.

I’ll always recall Big Billy coming into the dressing room one morning and beaming with delight. ‘Big Jock’s coming back!’ He stopped short at shouting ‘Hallelujah!’, but we could see our captain was more than overjoyed. ‘Let’s see what happens now.’

I smiled because I had already been aware of the impending return of Jock, but had been sworn to secrecy. I believe Jock agreed to come back in January, but the move wasn’t put in motion until March.

That was in 1965. I was just as excited as Billy because, after years of uncertainty and a total lack of coaching or guidance from Sean Fallon or his other backroom staff, I knew there was a someone coming into the manager’s job who appreciated me.

Six years later, though, he had a change of mind and it was a case of ‘Adios – and close the door behind you.’


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