Lisbon’s real and vibrant history


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.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3

  1. Parts 2 and 3 are of my analysis leading to the Player of the Year






    The second season review looks at the creative talents as I count down to my Player of the Year.






    The third season review analyses goal threat. All you need to know over 3 articles to identify a Player of the Year.

  2. I’ve met Bertie. I used to see Tommy G in my local Tesco every week.



    I’m not just luck. I’m blessed.



    Losing another Lion has a personal poignancy for me too. My late Mum was forever going on about how much she liked the Lisbon Lions. Hearing her talk about them as she did was one of the factors that led me to the path to Paradise.



    HH jg

  3. Fine words, Paul.



    Well said.



    I love telling my children about those great days.



    To be fair to them, they (seem to) love to hear them, too ,,,




  4. I would like to see Celtic and/or CFC Supporters Clubs, and maybe thru The Celtic Foundation that prior to, and beyond this Saturdays Match v Kilmarnock, do NOT lay flowers, Scarves etc…Why not take along a Bag/Box of Groceries etc, and leave said items as a tribute to Billy……I can only assume that his family and Billy himself would quickly approve ?



  5. A post left behind at the end of last article




    CELTICFOREVER on 24TH APRIL 2019 12:19 PM


    I will always remember Big Billy from the UEFA Cup final in Seville




    I was at Glasgow airport just after checking in for our flight to Seville at about 4am in the morning and heading up the escalators towards the flight gates when I saw Billy a bit in front of me with heading towards his own flight with his family.



    Now as probably happened to him hundreds of times Billy got caught in conversation with some fellow fans



    while his family made their way ahead to the gates.



    About 15 minutes later all you could hear was Billy getting shouted on from his family in the distance ”Billy are you coming”



    Billy as usual had become so engrossed in talking with fellow fans that he had let his family walk miles into the distance without him



    A man of the people there is no doubt, Mr Celtic there is no doubt

  6. South Of Tunis on

    Official Inter Statement – 23 4 2019



    ” Our thoughts are with Celtic FC and Billy McNeill’s family at this sad time . A great opponent and Captain in the 1967 European Cup Final “

  7. South Of Tunis on

    LA REPUBBLICA — 23 4 19 .



    ” We are sad to report the death of Billy McNeill – Captain of the legendary Celtic who won the European Cup in 1967 “

  8. The last time I saw Billy was at John Kelman’s funeral .



    He was a good friend of Kelman’s and stood very close to the grave during the burial .



    John Clarke stood a few yards behind Billy .



    A friend tapped me on the shoulder and said “It’s a wee while since we’ve seen that , John Clarke covering big Billy’s back” .



    Funny and moving at the same time .

  9. South Of Tunis on

    Corriere Della Sera -23 4 19 .



    ” Iconic Captain of the famous Celtic team which won the European Cup in 1967 ”



    Blog for Inter fans – 23 4 19



    ” Symbolic player and legendary Captain of the Celtic team which beat Herrera’s Inter in Lisbon in 67 ”



  10. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Red Matchday have done this fantastic tribute to Billy McNeill, which sums up the feelings up here in Aberdeen today. Well done to all those involved in this fantastic piece of writing!



    The very sad news that Billy McNeill had passed away late last night (Monday 22nd April 2019) was announced by his family and Celtic FC this morning. The Red Matchday team pay tribute to the former Aberdeen manager Billy McNeill.



    Billy McNeill was one of the most well-known and respected figures in Scottish football history.



    Billy enjoyed a distinguished career as a player and manager and served Scottish football with distinction over many years. A man of immense stature he was a born leader on and off the field.



    During an 18 year spell as a player, he made 790 competitive appearances for Celtic and would return to manage the club.



    Along with his legendary spell as leader of the Lisbon Lions at Celtic, McNeill also had an all but too brief spell as manager at Aberdeen in season 1977/78.



    After finishing his playing career in 1975, McNeill moved into management and cut his teeth with Clyde before Aberdeen made a shock move for him after Ally MacLeod left Aberdeen to take up the Scotland manager’s role. Many observers were surprised that he was the first choice to replace MacLeod as he had yet to prove himself as a manager. While his reputation as a player and captain was unsurpassed, but many believed that taking on a big job like Aberdeen came too early in his coaching career.



    However, Aberdeen took the view that a young emerging manager, keen to establish himself, was the ideal candidate. There would always be an element of risk, but the only real success as a manager at Pittodrie since the Dave Halliday era was a young Eddie Turnbull who had revolutionised the Pittodrie set up in the late 1960s. McNeill ticked all the Aberdeen boxes as a young manager with a burning desire to succeed – as did Alex Ferguson, who followed in his wake.



    It is ironic that in his one and only season with the Dons, he took Aberdeen so near to success only to be thwarted by his great rivals from Ibrox. It all started so well in the opening game of the season when a new look Rangers came north with big money signing Davie Cooper making his debut. McNeill, mindful of his new role and the passion that went along with any Aberdeen – Rangers game, emerged from the tunnel resplendent in his red shirt as he took a bow in front of the capacity crowd. It was a clever move as it immediately brought widespread satisfaction from the Aberdeen support and raised the noise levels, clearly having an impact on the visitors.



    Despite the hype surrounding the new Rangers side, they were sent packing in an impressive 3-1 win that had Pittodrie warming to their new manager who had got off to the best possible start. It soon became clear that the league would develop into a straight battle between Aberdeen and Rangers as the Glasgow club set the early pace.



    Aberdeen welcomed Rangers back to Pittodrie for the second league meeting on Christmas Eve 1977 and McNeill had encouraged his side to attack Rangers as he was convinced that if his players got to their defence early, they would have a good day.



    He was spot on in that assessment as Aberdeen hammered Rangers 4-0 to close the gap at the top. Aberdeen could have done with a helping hand from elsewhere that season, but Rangers rarely slipped up against any other side and by the time Aberdeen inflicted a 3-0 defeat on Rangers at Ibrox in March, there was still a narrow gap at the top.



    Eventually, Aberdeen lost out in the last game of the season and further disappointment followed when they did not really turn up at Hampden for the Scottish Cup final and Rangers won 2-1. On an extremely hot day at Hampden, tt was bitterly disappointing afternoon for Billy and the Dons and a sad way for his managerial spell at Pittodrie to end.



    McNeill and his players were crestfallen and, not long after that final, his old club Celtic came calling as they were in need of their former captain to revive their fortunes.



    Billy McNeill may only have been in charge at Pittodrie for a season, but he laid the foundations for further success with the signing of Steve Archibald and Gordon Strachan paving the way for Alex Ferguson to take over.



    Archibald came to his attention as a part-time youngster with Clyde and the £20,000 fee paid by Aberdeen to the Shawfield side is one of the best transfer deals ever completed by the club – Craig Brown was the Clyde manager at that time. While Archibald’s signing was welcome, the deal that took Gordon Strachan to Pittodrie even topped that.



    After the Dons were edged out by RWD Molenbeek in the UEFA Cup, McNeill had real concerns as to his team’s lack of creativity. In the domestic game it was less of an issue but on the European stage, it was clear that the Dons needed some guile and craft in the side. McNeill turned to Strachan, a young firebrand and tenacious player who was making his mark with Dundee in Division One. Aberdeen offloaded Jim Shirra along with £40,000 to take Strachan to Pittodrie. It was too late for Europe but it was clear that in the young midfielder Aberdeen had a player of huge potential. On reflection, the signing of Strachan was a significant event in Aberdeen FC history as the ‘wee man’ went on to play a starring role in the successes of the 1980s, both at home and abroad.



    And he also signed a young midfielder by the name Neil Simpson. Neil was given a professional contract and was one of several very promising youngsters who were about to have a major impact on the side.



    McNeill, who stayed in the Stonehaven area, openly admitted that he and his family loved life in the north east and that he regretted having to leave Aberdeen after only one season, but understandably the lure of Celtic was too strong. McNeill and Aberdeen both went on to enjoy future success, the Dons entering their golden era under Alex Ferguson.



    No one should ever forget the contribution Billy made to Aberdeen.



    Billy was an absolute gentleman and one of the nicest guys you could meet in football.



    In 2003 he took part in an event to mark the century of AFC and recalled how much he enjoyed his spell at Pittodrie. In more recent years he would go out of his way to make the Aberdeen staff and directors feel welcome at Parkhead when the Dons faced Celtic in Glasgow.



    He is someone who will always be regarded in the highest esteem at Pittodrie and across Scottish football.

  11. Hunderbirds are Gone on

    Just watched highlights of the last ever Old Firm game there on tv. Hooper’s Exocet for 3-0 was a fitting finale to that series of games. A series of games that, as a player, Big Billy enjoyed more than most.



  12. 54 year ago today a young 25 year old left the dressing room, his team 1-2 down.



    As he did so he turned to his manager of 55 days, who 8 year ago had originally signed him, based on a recommendation from the at that time centre half and captain of his country Bobby Evans, the lhad would eventually be his successor, and uttered foretelling words.



    Prior to signing him the club reserve coach was told by the young high school lhad’s mother she would only let him sign if he promised to “look after her big loddie”.



    Rather than farm him out to the traditional Junior clubs like Blantyre Celtic (wee Jinky), Duntocher Hibs (Paddy Crerand, Jim Kennedy and Alec Boden), or Maryhill Harp (Dunky McKay and Bertie Auld) he asked one of the other rival clubs, who played in deidco’s colours, officials George Stein who was affiliated with them too look after this youngster.



    As he said later on his family were not bitter but staunch and after signing for Celtic his mother never wished him luck prior to any of his games and yet big George was more than willing to help his son out in nurturing the fledgling career of a bhoy who would put his favourite club to the task, as his son would also do, many a time.



    So here we were almost 8 years later and as he led his team back onto the pitch on that glorious April afternoon he allegedly turned to his mentor and said “when we come back in here we’ll be bringing the Cup”.



    36 minutes later 108,800 would witness “Billy’s Bumper” and the football world would never be the same again.

  13. boondock saint on

    Sitting last night and put together a wee poem for the great man.



    Cesar is gone, but the empire is still here


    We mourn a great man’s passing with joyous and sorrowful tears.


    We all have our memories of this favorite Celtic son


    Was it Lisbon 67, or another Hampden filled with fun.


    Centenary 88, fairytale, a club like no other


    Now the gaffer is up in heaven with the lion’s, with his brothers.


    Gemmil, Murdoch, wee jimmy on the wing


    Angels belting You’ll never walk alone with passion they all sing


    Faither’s in the goal, smiling now for a fact,


    He’s got big Billy in front of him, to keep heaven intact.


    Mr. Stein is on the side, with God standing there in awe,


    As he has the greatest lion to repel every cross and ball,


    Shankly wanders over and gives King Billy a hearty chortle,


    You may be with us Cesar, but to the fans you are immortal


    Farewell to the King, and thank you for the memories you have given


    Enjoy the adulation from all the tims up there in heaven



    God Bless.



  14. Rock Tree Bhoy on

    There’s Only One King Billy…..



    I met the Big Man just the once, was at a golf tournament in Carnoustie, mid to late 90’s, had been walking the course all morning and as we got near to lunch time we retired to our tent for a drink, the combination of wind and sand, was absolutely choking for a drink. Once in the tent couldn’t believe it, free ‘champagne cocktails’, great host, always did like this company! Downed about 3 or 4 of these rapid and just as I thought maybe I’m overdoing it here – got a clap on the shoulder with the loud comment ‘that’s some shirt your wearing – did you make that yirsell?”



    Spun round to see who this cheeky person was and nearly fell over – Big Billy! – I am overdoing it – I’m hallucinating! Jumped up off my chair pushed out my hand and said ‘Billy – what on earth are you doing here?’ He was working for the tournament sponsor think it was. All of the other guys with me were non Brits and they had no idea who this guy was, they assumed he was a relative of mine – and that’s the impression Billy unintentionally gave them – he chatted away to me one on one as if he’d known me all my days.



    He’s the only ‘hero’ of mine I’ve ever actually met in person, all these stories you hear about how great a guy he was, there all true, he actually was a great guy. RIP Billy, you’ll be sorely missed.

  15. I’m truly moved by all the tributes paid to our Special Captain, it is so obvious he really was a very special person and loved by so many people other than us at Celtic, great to see.


    Maybe mooted already, but I would like the club to arrange a testimonial in his name against one of the clubs he managed, Man City or Aston Villa with the proceeds split between his family an Mary’s Wheels, Big Billy would love that.




  16. I know pre-season friendlies are in the main insignificant , and purposely an exercise in achieving fitness.



    However, wouldn’t it be special to approach Inter Milan, and have a game in memory of Cesar.

  17. prestonpans bhoys on

    Have you noticed the recent increase in the SMSM about how close the deadly bears are to us; games now close; no more hammerings; going to win league next year.



    Are they having problems selling their ST’s me wonders…………….

  18. IMO there’s a penchant among some in the meeja to wedge in a comment about ….”transcending the great divide” in Glasgow at times like these….I take it that’s the way they’d prefer to refer to the Scotland-wide, anti-celtic, anti-catholic bigotry that befalls our community… to me it’s a way of manufacturing some sort of O&& F&&& relevance where little or none exists. It suggests we are both cheeks of the same erse. Dangerous for us and cosily convenient for the huns – a sleekit way of transferring their horrible reputation onto us and ours. The ither thing that , to me , it does is support a spurious comparison between us and thems………all prolonging the wans a good / bad as the ither guff……



    Ourselves Alone CSC




  19. A good article by Tom English on BBC website. It includes this paragraph:


    ‘There will never be another McNeill’


    McNeill belonged to a simpler footballing age, a time when it was a whole lot easier to identify the real giants of the game. Celtic became European champions not because of the size of their wallet but because of the scale of their talent and the brilliance of their management. In McNeill’s day that was all that counted. A match to determine the best was left to 11 v 11. The Russian oligarchs, the Emirati royals, the Chinese billionaires and the Qatari state had no say back then.







    Like many people on here, I met Billy a few times. He was friendliness personified. Always polite and engaging and so easy to talk to. I remember eating in the Ho Wong one night when he came to our table to greet my host who is a more famous Celtic fan in Glasgow that I am. Billy made sure that he spoke to everyone at the table such was his openness and ability to put everyone at ease.



    We are told that “what you sow, so shall you reap”. Well, Billy sowed a lot in his private and professional lives and he certainly reaped the rewards, not so much in monetary terms but in he achievements and love that his close family, friends, the Celtic family and the Scottish and international communities have for him. Rewards which are above money.



    Last night I was emotional rather than just sad. I just reflected that it has been my privilege to have grown up with Billy as a role model not just as a sportsman who was summed up by Alex Ferguson as “the fairest of players and a truly good man”. That’s a good enough role model for me.

  20. Leaders Norwich have three players in the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Championship team of 2018-19.



    Helped by 28 goals from Championship top-scorer Pukki, Norwich are on the verge of being promoted to the Premier League despite four successive draws.



    *thought he was a dud.

  21. For this weekends game vs Killie, Lenny has one or two issue’s to resolve.



    Personally I’d like to see Hayes operate at left back. Ahead of him I’d like to see Weah operate wide left. He can of course rotate in and out with Edouard.

  22. For this weekends game vs Killie, Lenny has one or two issue’s to resolve.



    Personally I’d like to see Hayes operate at left back. Ahead of him I’d like to see Weah operate wide left. He can of course rotate in and out with Edouard.



  23. With McGregor and Brown pulling the strings, I think it is important we re-establish the link between midfield and Edouard up top. And as such should see Rogic back playing in No.10 role.



    Ntcham back on the bench.

  24. I believe the Celtic support, from a multitude of backgrounds, see Celtic from a number of different perspectives producing different ideas of what Celtic means to them.



    However to me personally Billy McNeill probably personifies more than any Celt in living memory my ideal of Celtic.



    A man of many qualities: a warp and weft of integrity, honesty, character, strength, warmth, bravery, intelligence, empathy, humour and determination to form a cloak of honour.



    An honourable man who reflects the spirit of Celtic in a materialistic world where such spiritual qualities are badly needed.



    Winning 10iar is an admirable objective, but for me pales into insignificance compared to leaving the world in a better state than we entered.



    Billy McNeill left many individual worlds in a better state, hence the outpouring of thanks giving as well as sorrow at his passing.



    Lose sight of Billy’s honourable life message and the fairy tale that he believed existed around the club and my, and possibly others, ideal of Celtic ends.



    Billy McNeill was, and will continue to be, a reminder of who I/we want Celtic to be.

  25. !!Bada Bing!! on

    I hope with the blessing of the family, the service can be played on the screens at CP next week

  26. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Prior to the kick-off, at 11am, the Celtic first-team will lay a wreath on the Celtic Way in honour of the Hoops legend, a footballing giant who devoted his life to his beloved Celtic.



    Members of Billy’s family have been invited to the match and before kick-off there will also be special video tributes within the stadium to the great man, for supporters to enjoy and remember Cesar.



    The Celtic first team will wear a special black armband in memory of Billy on Saturday, bearing the Number 5 to recognise Billy’s iconic number that he always wore with pride. 



    At the request of the McNeill family, a minute’s applause will then take place just prior to the 12.30pm kick-off. The McNeill Family said: “We do not believe football stadiums were ever built to be to be silent. Our father would not have wanted that. They should be places of noise, passion and enjoyment.



    “Football was his life and Celtic Park was a very large part of that. So please celebrate his life with a moment of cheers, songs and applause because that would make him feel at home again.”



    Billy will also be honoured and celebrated further at Celtic’s last fixture of the season, the Scottish Cup final against Hearts, which takes place at Hampden on the poignant date of Saturday, May 25. All the Celtic first team will wear Billy’s famous Number 5 on the Celtic shorts in tribute to a man who gave so much to Celtic and to Scottish football. 

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3