CELTIC legend John ‘Yogi’ Hughes played his last game for the club 52 years ago.

The club’s eighth-highest goalscorer with 189 strikes had his last hurrah at Parkhead when he played in the 3-0 European Cup victory over BK 1903 Copenhagen to help the team through to the next round on a 4-2 aggregate scoreline.

Hughes was devastated to realise he was no longer wanted by Jock Stein and the dream was over.

In Part Two of another CQN EXCLUSIVE, former fans’ favourite Yogi, who passed away on August 1 2022 at the age of 79, revealed all to author and friend Alex Gordon in his best-selling autobiography, ‘YOGI BARE: The Life and Times of a Celtic Legend‘.

JOCK STEIN had made up his mind and there was no point in arguing the case. I was left with the distinct feeling that I would be sitting in the stand every matchday if I didn’t sign for Crystal Palace.

Without win bonuses and appearance money, that would hit me hard financially. I was made well aware I wouldn’t kick a ball in the first team again.

What can you do in a situation like that? It was time to go and I’ll never forget the day I walked through those front doors at Parkhead realising I wouldn’t be back.

I scored against Falkirk in a league game at our place in a 4-0 win on March 27 1971. There wasn’t anything special about it, but obviously I had no idea it was the last goal I would claim in front of my own fans at the place I truly believed was Paradise. My final goal for the club came in a League Cup-tie against Ayr United at Somerset Park on August 21 when we won 3-0.

And, of course, my final farewell was the 3-0 triumph over BK Copenhagen. At least, I went out as a winner although I admit that is scant consolation.

SAN SIRO SETBACK…John Hughes and Feyenoord’s Wim Jansen, who would later manage Celtic.

Please don’t run away with the idea it was all grunting and growling when Jock and I were sharing the same postcode. We could actually be in the same dressing room without an angry exchange.

In fact, there is a lot I have to thank him for and I realise those words may surprise or even shock you.

Back at the start of 1965, I genuinely thought my career might be elsewhere. I admit the possibility of asking for a transfer often occupied my thoughts. I couldn’t help but wonder if a move might prove to be beneficial. There are always transfer rumours in football and I figured in more than a few.

By the time the chimes for 1965 were still fresh and another year had been welcomed, I had been playing first team football since the start of season 1960/61. I netted seventeen goals in my first campaign and followed that up with thirty-one. Then I hit a slump and claimed only twenty-two! I got eighteen the year after that bringing it to a total of eighty-eight goals in four campaigns.

Not bad shooting for a rookie, even if I do say so myself.

READ ALL ABOUT IT…John Hughes with his revealing autobiography, ‘YOGI BARE: The Life and Times of a Celtic Legend’.

And yet I wasn’t guaranteed a first team place in a side that often struggled. Why? Sean Fallon simply didn’t fancy me. Jimmy McGrory may have had the title of manager, but he didn’t pick the team and we all knew it. Chairman Bob Kelly would take on that chore and he had the ear of Sean.

We all realised, too, that Sean was Kelly’s man. He fed him all the information and gossip from the dressing room. And, clearly, I didn’t appear to be his idea of a footballer.

It didn’t matter that I was scoring goals every other game, my face didn’t fit. He never bothered to tell me where he thought I was going wrong. I was left out of the team and I was too naive to ask for a reason. I doubt if I would have been given an explanation, anyway. I would probably have been shooed away into a corner like some errant schoolboy.

HEADS UP…John Hughes challenges Rangers keeper Billy Ritchie to a high ball.

Frustrated? That would have been a massive understatement. Without warning, I would be chucked into the cauldron of an Old Firm confrontation and the next I was dropped and back in the reserves.

I’m not exaggerating and facts will back me up. Look at season 1961/62, for instance. I scored seventeen goals in a sequence of twenty-five games. I was reasonably happy with that sort of form and, please remember, I was still a teenager.

Then I hit two successive blanks and, you’ve guessed, was axed with Bobby Carroll taking my place for the next game against Raith Rovers which Celtic lost 1-0 at Parkhead. That was the way of things at the club pre-Stein.

*TOMORROW: Don’t miss the sensational Paradise Lost: When Big Yogi Left Celtic (Part Three).


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