For me, growing up in the 70s and 80s, there are two periods of Celtic history, Before Lisbon and After Lisbon. We knew about Jimmy McGrory, John Thomson, Charlie Tully and Willie Maley, but that was a dusty old history. Everything post-Lisbon was real and vibrant. We grew up with first-hand accounts of Stein, McNeill, Auld and Johnstone, titans who conquered Europe and lived among us.
Not only did they live among us, the continued to interact with thousands of Celtic fans. They travelled the globe to supporter events, signed autographs, then in later years, stood for photos. They worked the lounges and, in Stevie Chalmers’ case, sold you tickets from the club shop. If you are a Celtic fan, and you have not met Bertie Auld, you must live far away from Glasgow. And even then, you must be very unlucky.
The men from that team, now largely in their 80s, cannot continue to be available to fresh generations. No new Celtic fans will know Billy McNeill, Jinky, Bobby Murdoch, Ronnie Simpson or Tommy Gemmell. 50 years of new Celtic fans did not see the Lions play, but they got to know them personally. That chapter is slowly closing.
Our challenge is to make sure that living history we were gifted survives as long as possible. If you were around in ’67, tell your stories. If you met Bertie or John Clark on the Celtic Way yesterday, talk about that too. Explain what kind of people they are, what you discussed and how they made you feel. Great clubs are built on great stories. Keep telling yours.