EVAN WILLIAMS was a massive fan of Ronnie Simpson, the legendary Lisbon Lion he had to follow in the Celtic first team.
The keeper, who arrived from Wolves in October 1969, rated the Hoops veteran as “the cleverest goalie there was” and was eager to work with the man who made his Scotland international debut at the age of 36.
Coincidentally, both shotstoppers had spells at the now-defunct Third Lanark at different times and neither could ever have guessed in their time at the Cathkin club they would one day play in a European Cup Final.
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS…Evan Williams holds a low cross as Rangers striker Colin Stein challenges.
Williams’ time at Parkhead was coming to an end after just over four years following Jock Stein’s dealings in the transfer market that saw St Mirren’s Denis Connagan and Kilmarnock’s Ally Hunter join in the quest for the No.1 jersey.
His last game was a disappointing 3-2 loss to Basel in Switzerland in February 1974 and he was on his way to Clyde at the end of the season.
Stein had disapproved of Williams acquiring two pubs and the one-time netminder now admits his manager’s concerns were proved right.
“I’d pop into one of them on a Friday to show face and end up having a couple of pints.,” he recalls. “For a footballer, even a goalie sitting on the subs’ bench, that doesn’t work.”
SO SORRY…Jock Stein apologised to Evan Williams and Ronnie Simpson.
But Williams can also smile at the day the iconic Hoops boss said sorry to him.
He concludes: “After I’d finished with football, I was at a dinner with Ronnie and Jock sat down next to us.
“He wanted to apologise. ‘I didn’t realise how important you were to Celtic until you weren’t there anymore,’ he said. ‘And I didn’t realise that goalkeeper is the hardest position of all’.”
It must be stated Big Jock was not well known for ever admitting he was wrong.
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