DAVIE HAY was the sort of player the so-called hard men in the opposition kept well away from when the sleeves got rolled up and the tackles went in.
There was no bravado to the Celtic legend who earned the respect of everyone, team-mates and rivals alike, by putting in a determined, no-holds-barred shift that was within the laws of the game.
However, it wasn’t just those in the other side who felt the weight of the committed club legend who also managed the team.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE, the current Parkhead ambassador reveals all to his friend and author Alex Gordon who co-wrote the Celtic icon’s autobiography, ‘The Quiet Assassin‘, published in 2009.
Here is an edited extract from a chapter from the best-selling tome.
JOHN GORDON didn’t know who or what had hit him. It was me.
He was lying face down in the mud at Parkhead, arms and legs akimbo, a fairly undignified sight as he slumped in a heap following my rather vigorous shoulder charge.
I could have been in big trouble because John Gordon was, in fact, the referee. To give him his full title, he was JPR Gordon, of Newport-on-Tay, and, frankly, I had had enough of his ropey decisions that particular day.
It’s not something I would recommend to any budding footballers out there and, as we all know, we should never attempt to take the law into our own hands. There are occasions, though, when the little red devil on your left shoulder possesses a lot more persuasive powers than the little white angel on the right.
HEADING FOR A FALL…referee John Gordon took a tumble courtesy of Davie Hay.
The wee guy with the trident won the argument on this occasion. I was running past the match official when I saw my opportunity. I sort of lost my footing, careered to the right and caught Gordon totally unawares.
He collapsed like a sack of spuds. I’ll never forget the look on his face as he turned around after hitting the deck with an almighty thud. He was clearly puzzled. Had I taken leave of my senses?
‘Sorry, ref,’ I said. ‘I slipped.’
He couldn’t do a thing. How could he prove it wasn’t an accident? And, as I recall, the ground conditions that day were dodgy.
He got up, wiped some mud off his kit, glowered for a moment and then got on with the game. Of course, he would have had his suspicions, but he had no proof.
These were the days when there were only one or two television cameras at the game unlike today where there seems to be one attached to every blade of grass.
FALL GUY…Rangers winger Willie Henderson hits the deck while Davie Hay pleads innocence. Willie Wallace races ahead with referee Tiny Wharton left with a decision to make.
THE QUIET ASSASSIN AND THE AUTHOR…Davie Hay discusses a matter with Alex Gordon.
The TV people had, of course, been following play, so no-one, apart from a few supporters in the ground perhaps, saw my impromptu act of retribution. I was very careful with the rest of my challenges during that match.
Somehow I got the impression that JPR would have been only too delighted to get my name in his little black book for any reason.
Yes, I have had my ups and downs with referees over the years. As a player and a manager I have always been passionate about my sport. I always wanted to be a winner and I make no apology for that.
As you will no doubt have discovered by now, my laidback public image isn’t quite 100 per cent accurate. The ninety minutes on matchday were the most important in life to me. But only for ninety minutes.
Those could be anxiety-provoking minutes where emotions wouldn’t be so much running high as heading for orbit at the pace of a blur. You had prepared all week for the game and had gone into every detail with minute precision.
When the referee blew for the kick-off the next ninety minutes were the sole focus of your attention; the most important minutes in life. But, I repeat, only for ninety minutes. At the final whistle, you could be transformed back to a normal and rational human being again.
Well, most of us!
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