BERTIE AULD celebrates his 83rd birthday today with a heartfelt wish for all Celtic fans: Keep supporting the club we all love!
The Lisbon Lion urged the suporters to unite, stand tall and encourage the team at a time when the players need them most following a massively disappointing season.
The sprightly Hoops legend told author and long-time friend Alex Gordon in another CQN EXCLUSIVE: “This is a time for all real Celtic men to rally to the cause.
“It’s easy to follow the team when we are winning everything in sight. This is the hard part.
“I am right there with you. We are all disappointed with the way things have turned out. We all had such high hopes in the summer.
“Could you imagine how I thought I would be celebrating 10 in a row? I was primed and ready to go.
“It was great to play a part in the first nine successive titles in Jock Stein’s time. That was so special being part of the team that won the crown on a sunny afternoon at Motherwell on May 7 1966. That was the club’s first title since 1954. That’s a long time in between championships. Far too long.
THAT’S OUR BHOY…Bertie Auld is held aloft by Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Billy McNeill at the end of his final game for Celtic in May 1971.
“So let’s hope we only have a year to wait this time around.”
Auld, who won five titles among his 13 honours with the Parkhead club, continued: “I’ve always insisted Celtic fans are the best supporters in the world.
“Listen, there were occasions when I was playing at Celtic Park and I wanted to jump into the Jungle and join in with the singing.
“I knew my dad Joe was in there with his friends. I was aware of the exact spot where he stood every match day. I offered him complimentary tickets for the stand. He wasn’t interested.
HAMPDEN HOORAYS…Bertie Auld cheers on Celtic to their 2-0 win over Motherwell in the 2018 Scottish Cup Final.
“He used to look at me and say: ‘They don’t have any singing and dancing in there, son. I’ll stay where I am if you don’t mind.’
“And that’s exactly what he did. He was a supporter and he believed his voice would be better heard coming from the Jungle when he joined in with the vocal backing.
“So no-one needs to tell me how special it is to be a fan of Celtic. We can’t win everything, nice thought though it may be. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work out like that.”
Auld, who will spend a quiet day with his wife Liz, added: “I’ll toast my birthday and I’ll toast Celtic Football Club. They have been such an immense and important part of my life. It has been an unforgettable experience playing in those green-and-white hoops. I have been privileged to play along such wonderful team-mates and all-round good guys.
“I may have left Celtic, but Celtic never left me.
“And if you can find a better choir belting out ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone,’ will you let me know, please? I’ve been around for a wee while and I’ve never heard any support do it better.
HAMPDEN HAT-TRICK…Bertie Auld and some natty headgear after the 2-1 European Cup semi-final triumph over Leeds United in 1970.
“So, let’s stand together in these times when things haven’t quite gone to plan. Let’s rejoice in the superb feat of a second nine in a row and a phenomenal quadruple treble. That is an achievement that will never happen again.
“It’s been an honour to be play for Celtic and it’s been a genuine source of pride to perform for such a loyal set of fans.
“Equally, I still enjoy the warmth and camaraderie of being in your company, something I first encountered in April 1955 when I joined the famous Glasgow Celtic.
“I was seventeen at the time and my dad came along with me to Celtic Park to meet a lovely chap by the name of Jimmy McGrory who just happened to be a club legend, the highest-ever goalscorer and the manager.
“I signed for twenty quid. I should have paid Celtic the money for what they gave me. What a rollercoaster ride it has been.
“I might just give ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ a stirring rendition at some point today before I summon up the puff to blow out the candles on my birthday cake.
“I only hope Liz has remembered to get the locsl fire brigade on stand-by.
“Remember, fellow-Celtic fans, this is a time to really support our team. We deserve each other.”