Our enormous thanks to John Hughes for spending time on the blog this morning. He was at Celtic throughout a very special time, making his anecdotes and stories all the more valuable.
Here’s an extract from his book, Yogi Bare, which is due out soon:
“Jock Stein and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye. I recall receiving a ferocious verbal volley after a game against Hibs at Easter Road in January 1968. My offence? I went to offer my condolences to their right-back Bobby Duncan in their dressing room.
Unfortunately, Bobby had suffered a broken leg when I slid it to try to block the ball. His ankle got caught up in my outstretched leg and he collapsed to the turf in obvious pain. It was a complete accident, I hasten to add. The conditions were slippy that afternoon and we just collided with neither of us able to pull out.
Unhappily, the defender had to be stretchered off and I felt sick. I never went out to injure an opponent; not once. Frankly, I wouldn’t have known how to, but I did know some players who were well versed in the black arts. No names. No pack drills. No lawyer’s letters! It just wasn’t the right-back’s day because he had also sliced a clearance into his net to give us a second minute lead.
Bobby Lennox added a second shortly afterwards and it was game over. But Bobby Duncan’s game, unfortunately, didn’t last until the ninetieth minute and I headed for the home dressing room as soon as the referee blew for time-up. I was concerned for the player who, although he was a gritty campaigner, was never dirty.
I mixed with the Hibs players and told Bobby I genuinely hoped he would make a fast recovery. He accepted my good wishes and I thought that was the end of it.
Suddenly, though, Colin Stein, who would later join Rangers, barged through his team-mates to have a go at me. He accused me of deliberately trying to injure Bobby. I wasn’t having any of that and told him to get lost. I didn’t stop to think I was actually in the Hibs dressing room.
The usual pushing and shoving ensued before I was thrown out into the corridor. Jock wanted to know what all the commotion was about. I gave him my version of events and he blew up.
‘What do you want to do that for?’ he bellowed. ‘It’s bad enough the boy’s got a broken leg, but you’ve got to go and make it worse!’ I protested my innocence, by which time he was in full flow. ‘What a daft thing to do.’ And so on.
I thought it had been a meaningful gesture from one professional to another, but Jock, clearly, disagreed. Sometimes you couldn’t win with that man.
Please don’t get me wrong. This is not a Big Yogi versus Big Jock chapter in my life story. I just want the supporters to be aware of the facts. For a start, I think he did me an enormous favour by pushing me out from centre-forward to the left wing.
I was happy enough in the central role, but Jock thought I could be more effective when I was taking passes on the half-turn. I would be off and running within seconds of the pass arriving at my feet. In the main striker’s role, though, I would often have my back to goal. Controlling the ball in those circumstances would add vital seconds onto the manoeuvre. A centre-half could be breathing down my neck, forcing me to push the ball back for a midfielder. At outside-left, though, I could skin a right-back if he got too close. And once I was away, there was no stopping me.”
You can order a signed copy of the book by clicking on the graphic to the right of the page.