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EXCLUSIVE: ‘LOSERS TAG DOESN’T SUIT CELTIC,’ INSISTS HOOPS HERO

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DAVIE HAY is urging Celtic to complete a wretched season by lifting silverware at Hampden on Saturday, May 22.

The Hoops great insists completing a campaign that promised so much back in the summer with absolutely nothing is unthinkable.

Former manager and player Hay, speaking to author and friend Alex Gordon in another fabulous CQN EXCLUSIVE, said: “The Scottish Cup may be seen as many as a consolation prize, but it is important my old club do not fall into the trap of accepting the also-rans tag.

“We went on an awful run of losing Cup Finals in the early seventies, including the European Cup against Feyenoord in Milan in 1970. I still shudder at the recollection of that particular game.

“It’s inexplicable how these things happen, but we were becoming perennial runners-up in silverware showdowns and there was no good reason.

“We were favourites to beat Rangers, Partick Thistle, Hibs and Dundee in successive League Cup Finals and, unbelievably, lost the lot. The fans were asking if we were getting complacent and believing we just had to turn up to be handed the trophy.

“Complacent? With Big Jock Stein about it? No chance! I can look on all four Hampden defeats these days and genuinely believe we should have triumphed all four and give the reasons, but it doesn’t matter now. It’s in the history books that we were losers and that tag does not sit well with Celtic.

ON THE RUN…Davie Hay prepares to challenge Dundee United defender Walter Smith while Kenny Dalglish sits this one out in the 1974 Scottish Cup Final.

“Around that time, we also lost to Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup Final – that was around the time we beat Leeds United home and away in the European Cup semi-final – and if anyone looks at the 90 minutes of that game against the Dons it’s clear to see one of the major factors in that defeat was the refereeing from Bobby Davidson. It’s still one of the worst displays from a match official I have ever seen.

“We lost 3-1, the Dons got a penalty-kick for the ball hitting Bobby Murdoch in the midriff and the whistler ignored visual evidence where the mark was left on my old team-mate’s shirt. Bobby Lennox had a perfectly good goal disallowed and so on. We were not destined to with the silverware that afternoon.

“Once again, though, it is in black and white in the history books and folk in the future will just see the result and never know the story behind that statistic.

“With a miserable sequence like that, the players begin to wonder if there is a jinx on them. It adds to the pressure and the players must show courage. Anyone who signs on at Celtic should be equipped with that much-needed commodity.”

Hay, who won leagues and the Scottish Cup as a player and team boss at Parkhead, continued: “Thankfully, I bowed out of Celtic as a winner.

“I didn’t know it at the time, but my last game for the club was in the Scottish Cup Final against Dundee United in 1974.

HAMPDEN HOORAYS…Davie Hay (fourth from left) joins in the lap of honour with his team-mates after the 3-0 win over Dundee United in 1974. He is joined by Jimmy Johnstone, Harry Hood, Tommy Callaghan, Pat McCluskey, Kenny Dalglish and Denis Connaghan.

“The Tannadice team were a well-drilled outfit and Jim McLean was an astute manager who knew how to set up his team against us. His players were not there to put on a show, that’s for sure.

“They were a frustrating lot and used to sit in, break up our attacks and hit us on the break. Big Jock warned us time and time again about their system of using the ‘third man running’ tactic.

“Basically, the third man was the player who would come in on the blindside to finish off moves. If you did not pick up their runner, you were in trouble,

“However, at the national stadium on the afternoon of May 4, we won 3-0 with goals from Harry Hood, Steve Murray and Dixie Deans. It was a marvellous feeling and I went off to the World Cup Finals in West Germany with Scotland on a high.

“When I came back – and I have to say in all modesty I thought I performed okay in the ties against Brazil, Zaire and Yugoslavia – there were a few clubs impressed with my performances.

“I think it is quite well documented that I did not want to leave Celtic. However, the club rarely turned down big cash offers for their players and Chelsea’s £225,000 bid took me from Parkhead.”

CUP THAT CHEERS…Davie Hay holds the Scottish Cup aloft as manager after the 2-1 victory over Dundee United in 1985.

Hay, 73, added: “Lou Macari had moved to Manchester United for £200,000 and it was only a matter of time before Kenny Dalglish joined us across the border when he switched to Liverpool for £440,000.

“Lou, Kenny and myself had come through the ranks – known as ‘The Quality Street Gang’ – and were all aware of what the club was all about and how crucial it was to be known as a winner.

“If the team do reach this season’s Cup Final, there will be players wearing green-and-white hoops that afternoon who will be kicking their last ball as Celtic players.

“Their personal pride should make them want to go out as winners.

“It’s impossible to rewrite history books and, as I said earlier, the losers tag does not suit Celtic.”

* TOMORROW: Don’t miss another great Davie Hay EXCLUSIVE – only in your champion CQN. 

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