LIAM BRADY was named as Billy McNeill’s successor as Celtic manager in June 1991.
The charismatic Irishman arrived with a dream for the club, but his vision had become blurred by the time he departed in early October 1993.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE series, author Alex Gordon opens his book files to look back at an intriguing and compelling chapter in the club’s history.
Here is another edited extract from Alex’s tribute book, ‘The Winds of Change‘, published by CQN in 2015.
LIAM BRADY would have been an outstanding poker player, so I was aware nothing about the Pat McGinlay move would emanate from his corner.
However, the main thing was the transfer was in motion; slow motion, maybe, but the wheels were turning. Celtic already had the exquisitely-gifted double-act of Paul McStay and John Collins supplying the guile in midfield and Brady had made up his mind that McGinlay would be his ideal ‘box-to-box player’.
He was being forced to wait until the end of the season before signing the midfielder. Then it would be the responsibility of an independent tribunal to set a precise transfer fee. It was obvious McGinlay wasn’t going to move elsewhere, but nerves can be a little stretched and situations can become fraught with anxiety when these possible transfers become sagas.
Brady was in ‘disguise’ again when, unannounced and unnoticed, he slipped in and out of Easter Road at the beginning of March to witness Hibs losing 2-1 to Aberdeen. McGinlay, scorer of his side’s goal, again impressed with his energy and endeavour against opponents who were a notch above those at Partick Thistle the last time the Celtic boss had watched the player.
THAT’S MY BHOYS…Celtic boss Liam Brady with the talented twosome of John Collins and Paul McStay.
There were no transfer window restrictions in place at the time, of course, but it was clear to all Brady had no money of any consequence to spend on strengthening his squad. The tired, old ‘biscuit tin’ jibes were still in full flow, to the dismay of some and to the delight of others.
There is little doubt, though, Brady, if the cash had been available, would have signed McGinlay long before the end of the season.
And so the drama rumbled on in the background with only a handful of individuals aware of what was developing. In fact, McGinlay and his wife Mags were sitting on the sofa in my front room one evening while Brady and Celtic were in Italy as they attempted to get rid of the close season rust.
The player, with two young daughters to support, had been informed by Hibs they would stop paying his wages, but he would still remain their property. Extraordinarily, this was legal procedure back then. The tension must have been unbearable for the McGinlays.
I told them they had to remain strong and that Brady had things in hand. Easy for me to say as my future wasn’t on the line.
We had dinner at the local eatery and came back to my place simply to shoot the breeze. The player couldn’t take it any more.
‘You’ve got to speak to Liam Brady,’ he said.
‘When?’ I asked.
‘Now!’ replied a clearly exasperated McGinlay.
‘He’s in Italy,’ I protested.
‘Have you got his hotel phone number?’ enquired McGinlay.
‘As a matter of fact I have,’ I answered.
‘Please phone him. Now!’
‘Pat, it’s almost eleven o’clock in Bergamo and the game against Atalanta is tomorrow. He might not welcome a phone call.’
This went on for about 10 minutes and I could see the strain on the player and his wife. I had the full Celtic touring itinerary so I located the number, got through to the hotel switchboard and asked for Mr Brady, of Celtic Football Club. I was informed he was in the foyer with a couple of club officials.
Very helpfully, the receptionist hooked me up with the manager. He wasn’t one bit fazed by the phone call or, I hasten to add, surprised. I explained the situation developing in my front room.
He informed me the club would be back in four days’ time after the third game against Napoli and things would begin moving at pace.
He reminded me, ‘We need to get cash in, but I think I’ve got that covered.’
I relayed the information to McGinlay. He still looked more than just a tad concerned. In all honesty, I couldn’t blame him. A crucial piece of the jigsaw was still missing; money.
* TOMORROW: Don’t miss the next riveting instalment of the Liam Brady story – only in your champion CQN.