EXACTLY 59 years ago today, Jock Stein took his place in a dug-out as Celtic’s new manager for the first time.

The club’s former centre-half and reserve team coach had arrived as Jimmy McGrory’s successor on the previous day, March 9 1965.

Twenty-four hours later he was on the touchline for the league match against Airdrie at Broomfield, sharing a bench with newly-appointed assistant boss Sean Fallon, trainer Neilly Mochan and physiotherapist Bob Rooney.

It was the perfect start for Stein as the Hoops romped to a 6-0 triumph with the irrepressible Bertie Auld claiming five strikes, two from the penalty spot, after John Hughes had claimed the first goal of the new era against the routed hosts.

Today, in another CQN EXCLUSIVE series, author Alex Gordon looks at the kick-off to a glorious chapter in the club’s history with edited extracts from his tribute book, CELTIC: The Awakening‘, published in 2013.

Please enjoy!

ON JANUARY 30 1965, John Hughes ran amok as he thumped in five goals during a ruthless 8-0 destruction of Aberdeen at Parkhead.

Bertie Auld, Bobby Lennox and Bobby Murdoch claimed the others to send the Hoops fans home happy.

More good news was just around the corner.

Twenty-four hours after Big Yogi’s spectacular one-man show came the announcement that dramatically changed the fortunes of Celtic Football Club – Jock Stein was to become the new manager.

He agreed to succeed Jimmy McGrory, but only after Hibs found his replacement. Bob Shankly, brother of Liverpool legend Bill, got the Easter Road position after leaving Dundee and Stein was officially named the new Celtic boss on March 9.

However, the jungle drums had been beating long before the news broke. It’s not easy to keep secrets in football and Glasgow, it must be said, is a wonderful city of rumour. Stein, a well-known punter, played his cards extremely close to his chest.

He had, after all, only become the Hibs manager in April 1964. However, the pull of Celtic was to prove irresistible.

ON THE BALL…Jock Stein in charge of a training session at Barrowfield.

Stein was originally asked to become joint manager with Sean Fallon. Stein never intended any disrespect towards the Irishman, a former team-mate, but clearly it was going to be his way or no way. Fallon had taken over the duties as manager during the reign of Jimmy McGrory and it had been widely acknowledged within the walls of Parkhead that one day the job would be his.

Stein, though, stuck to his guns. News had somehow been leaked that Wolves, searching for a new manager, were casting a gaze in Stein’s direction. A friend of Stein, Jim Rodger, a Daily Record sports writer, may have been behind the tale. Very probably.

Kelly, as everyone realised, liked to get things his own way. Stein was prepared for a game of bluff and double bluff. He won in the end, as he knew he would. ‘FIRST PROTESTANT MANAGER OF CELTIC‘, blazed the front page of the Scottish Daily Express.

And history had been made at the club 77 years after it had been formed by a Marist priest, Brother Walfrid. Jimmy McGrory was appointed head of Press Relations and Sean Fallon became the official assistant manager.

WELCOME BACK, JOCK…John Hughes, who scored the first goal of the golden era, gives new boss Stein the slip during training.

Stein met his new players only 24 hours before a league match against Airdrie at Broomfield on March 10, but it was obvious the main target for Celtic was the Scottish Cup after reaching the semi-final following a real humdinger of a quarter-final tie in the mud of Parkhead four days beforehand.

Celtic overcame Kilmarnock 3-2 and suddenly there was a belief about the place, heightened with the imminent arrival of Stein.

The new boss had a quickfire message for his players. “You work hard for this club and I will work hard for this club. Together we will achieve something.”

Bertie Auld said: “It was as brief as that. I knew Jock, of course, and many of the Celtic players had been in the reserves when he was coaching the second string. For a couple, though, it would have been the first meeting with Jock that morning.

“I’m sure they didn’t know what to expect. Jock kept it simple.”

*TOMORROW: Don’t miss second thrilling instalment of The Return of Big Jock.

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