Celtic have been synonymous with great goal scorers throughout their history, but only McGrory, Lennox, Larsson and Quinn scored more than Stevie Chalmers, who died this morning, aged 83. But, unlike all the other greats in our history, Stevie scored the winning goal in a European Cup Final. If he did nothing else in his entire time as a footballer, this would be enough to ensure a vaulted place in the history books, but Stevie did much more.
In a portent of what lay ahead, Celtic were without a league title for 12 years when Stevie scored a hat-trick against Rangers in January 1966. That feat boomed across the land: Celtic were in command. The next nine league titles would go to Parkhead. Goals galore followed for Stevie, who rejoiced in his role as Celtic centre forward.
Stevie’s journey to the top was unconventional. Serious illness blighted his early adulthood and he was 23 before he joined Celtic, his first senior club. He played through the difficult early 60s until the return of Jock Stein, whose magic sparked the most remarkable run of success known in British sport.
Like his great captain Billy McNeill, Stevie suffered dementia in recent years. Both lived the lives of Celtic supporters before becoming players and legends. Like all of that great team, Stevie remained accessible to fans throughout his life. They were magnificent on the field and magnificently normal human beings off the field. It was as though Stevie would never allow himself to believe the full impact of what he did.
April 2019 has taken its toll on our greatest team ever. Rest in Peace, Stevie.
We also lost one of our most respected CQN’ers yesterday, MurdochauldandHay. Rest in Peace, Stephen.