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You are a child of the Lisbon Lions

327

As Inter Milan walked onto the Estadio Nacional that Thursday evening in May 1967, they were strong favourites to win their third European Cup in four seasons. They had been denied in 1966 by eventual winners, Real Madrid, in controversial circumstances. Revenge would be extracted in the 1967 semi-final, where Inter beat Real home and away.

That team, immortalised as La Grande Inter, were top of the league and expected to win their fourth Italian title in five seasons, their only loss in that period coming after a play-off.

Real Madrid dominated the European Cup for its first five seasons, but they won only two domestic titles in that period. No team had been such a formidable force at La Grande Inter. Real of the 50s were Continental celebrities, Inter were dominant on a whole new level.  Not only were they feared, they were disliked for their oppressive defensive style of play, known as catenaccio.

Across Europe, no one gave Celtic a chance, but thousands in Scotland knew better. Celtic fans knew theirs was a special team. The previous two years were remarkable. Celtic won only three titles in 40 years. They were a novelty team winning little more than novelty titles.

Jock Stein arrived from Hibernian and the world changed. The league was won, then retained for the first time in 50 years, as the club won their first treble. After a long period of desolation, it seemed anything was possible for Celtic. There were no limits.

Celtic didn’t just win the European Cup, they destroyed Inter, ripping apart their imperious reputation. Catenaccio, the belief that the most effective way to play the game was to defend, was dead. Instead, pure, beautiful, football, played by a team born entirely in the Glasgow urban area, saved the game as a spectator sport.

You and I know our founding story well, but there is another founding story. Modern Celtic, the confident football club, which wins trophies and builds structures for its future, was born on 25 May 1967. Without Jock and the Lisbon Lions, nothing that we currently know about Celtic would have happened.

They inspired you and me. They also inspired Brendan Rodgers, Neil Lennon and Martin O’Neill. Without them, Fergus McCann would not have imagined what the right management could achieve.

Brother Walfrid put food on the table of impoverished children, but the hundreds of thousands helped by the Celtic FC Foundation in recent decades are a direct product of the Lisbon Lions. They laid foundations for a modern football club which can fulfil its mission.

I was lucky enough to meet them all. Their humility is overwhelming. Unlike imposters who have followed them since, they have time for their generations of fans. They understand the importance of representing Celtic, even now.

It wasn’t all humility, though. On the field, they were hard. This was a team who took care of themselves and each other. They were (and are still) also funny, cheeky, guys. Devilment donned the hoops. Their success will be celebrated for as long as football is played.

Your life is better for them and it will remain better until the day you die.  You are a child of the Lisbon Lions.  Thank God for each of them.

 

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  1. BABASONICOS71 on

    Ronnie Simpson 

     

    Jim Craig

     

    Tommy Gemmell 

     

    Billy McNeill

     

    John Clark

     

    Bobby Murdoch 

     

    Bertie Auld

     

    Jimmy Johnstone 

     

    Willie Wallace 

     

    Stevie Chalmers  

     

    Bobby Lennox 

     

     

    Jock Stein 

  2. What is the Stars on

    It was 50 years ago FFS

     

    Get over it. )))))

     

     

    Never won the Ramsden cup or created a world record for 3rd tier attendances !!!!

  3. Paul 67. Your summary of the Lions is absolute. The availability and humanity of all the Lions including Charlie Gallagher, John Fallon, John Hughes, Joe McBride and others always amazed me and gave me so much pride. The current manager epitomises what it is all about and players appreciate it and respond to it. That is why we have a unique and special club and support.

     

    Thank you Paul for CQN.

     

    KTF Cathach

  4. BABASONICOS71 on

    Today is the 50th anniversary of the invention of Total Football* (copyright J.Stein).

     

     

    67

     

     

    *Dutch impostors take note

  5. Starry Plough

     

     

    Read back to your beautiful post. Happy birthday to your daughter – a great day to have a birthday. It’s also my niece’s 3rd birthday today!

  6. minx1888 praying to Wee Oscar on

    Loving all the stories from 50 yrs ago and last night! Just make sure whoever brings the flag home remembers they have it ;-)

     

     

    Get well soon Billy we are all thinking of you!

     

     

    Have a great day everyone!

  7. BABASONICOS71 on

    Just saw the team for tonight.I see Big Jock’s dropped wee Paddy Roberts and replaced him with some bhoy called Jimmy Johnstone.Anybody know if this Johnstone fhella’s any good? ;)

  8. kikinthenakas on

    As a bhoy who had celebrated his 8th brithday weeks earlier the 25th of May was an even better day.

     

     

    Mass was at St Teresa’s Newarthill and lasted all of 20 minutes. Myself and my dad galloped down the hill at Burnside Road, him telling me we would be talking about this game for ever. I knew little of how significant it would be both in my life and my family and friends.

     

     

    We arrived at our old prefab breathless from the run home but also the anticipation. My mum was telling us who had arrived, uncles, cousins, aunties, assorted relatives and friends. The men were drinking copious amounts of alcohol in the living room, the women doing likewise in the kitchen..everyone nervously smoking including some of the kids! We congregated out the back. We had a huge back garden and my dad had made goals with nets! We had a kick about in our hoops, T shirts and homemade hoops tops!

     

     

    My mum shouted us in, the game was about to start. The kids ran in sat on the carpet in front of the TV, some of the adults sitting most standing other pacing.

     

     

    I remember the butterflies still but think it was more to do with the adults. The game kicked of to cries of “God bless the Celtic”. I remember us playing well..then penalty! Soft! Then goal! Inter 1up. Half time came. Everyone on a bit of a downer til my dad said “the first team that scored in all the European Cup finals have never won” we had a bit more faith. Second half all I can remember is us playing them of the park with pure beautiful inventive football. Overlap smash goal Tommy! House goes mental chair broke drink spilled kids hugged, everyone hugging kissing singing “hail hail”. It was only a matter of time as we swarmed over them..Stevie Goal! 2-1. Magnificent. Final whistle..house mayhem..men greeting, women greeting, kids kicking the ball about the house..perfecting the goals with drunk adults. Everybody out the back, anybody that didn’t have hoops was inter..adults were allowed to play with slip on shoes and holding drinks.

     

     

    Celebrations went on til the early hours. 8 o’clock the next morning my da came in to wake me up for school. “Canny believe we’ve done it” he was crying tears of unadulterated joy. Hugging n kissing me and my sister. “Give school a miss today”. Many neighbours and friends did the same and they partied hard again as we relived every part of the game out the back and drank beer and read the newspapers.

     

     

    I always wondered if the team that scored first had never won and but I have never wanted to know. You believe every our father tells you at that age. “Celtic Champions of Europe” he said every 5 minutes. That was true..he was my hero with the Lions..still the same.

     

     

    1967 25th May

     

     

    Kikinthenakas

  9. Paul67 et al

     

     

    The way you wore that hat

     

    The way you followed that team

     

    The memory of all that

     

    No, no – they can’t take that away from me….

     

     

    francisalbertcsc

  10. Cosy Corner Bhoy on

    Having a celebration beer with a few haha tims after the Mass

     

    Been fantastic tip so far trip obv!

  11. timmy7_noted on

    For anyone on the Ryan Air flight to Lisbon from Glasgow this afternoon I hope you’re up for a sing song, I certainly am!! The BBC documentary last night brought a tear to my eye and got me even more excited about my trip, if that were possible. Hope to catch up with all the CQN’rs in Pink Street later this evening, my group of reprobates will be there as soon as we can get checked in to the hotel.

     

     

    #Excited aged 53.

  12. What a beautiful service today at the our lady of the martyrs basilica in Lisbon. The service, performed by one of very our CQNr’s was both inspirational and uplifting. I witnessed a few teary eyes, especially during the introductòry speech regarding Bro. Walfrid and the church was in fine voice during the hymns – I struggled with the lyrics of the first hymn ( Sing hosannah to the king of kings) but eventually started to behave myself :-)

     

    Was joined afterwards by Sipsini and we both lit candles to our mothers.

     

    Truly an inspirational day and a wee reminder that we belong to such a special family.

     

    Off now to the Estado National.

     

    HH

     

    Teuchter

  13. iPaddy McCourt on

    Kikinthenakas,

     

     

    Fantastic post, sir! Brought a lump to my throat!

     

     

    God bless the Lisbon Lions

  14. They are still posting away on the previous thread, I’ve told them we are up and running on here!

  15. Earlier today in court (thanks to James Doleman)

     

     

    (Horne is David Murray’s consigliere; Findlay needs no introduction)

     

     

    Horne says a Vladimir Antonov was the next person to approach Murray about buying the club. Offered £5.5m produced a Lithuanian bank letter

     

    Horne says he is interested in football “but not passionately”

     

    Had heard about other Lithuanian owners in Scottish football, thought “oh no”

     

    Horne says reaction of Rangers fans would be “one of horror”

     

    Horne says Mr Antonov provided a report on himself.

     

    Findlay “There are good bits to come”

     

    Says FBI has expressed concern about him re SAAB

     

    Findlay says “there was a dubious incident when a Moldovan businessman found dead, Mr Antonov’s dad shot dead by Chechens”

     

    Adds “Mr Antonov might have went down well in Govan’

  16. “Without fans who pay at the turnstile, football is nothing. Sometimes we are inclined to forget that. The only chance of bringing them into stadiums is if they are entertained by what happens on the football field.”

     

    Jock Stein

  17. Hearts new signing C. Berra:

     

     

    “We know it’s difficult, Celtic have far [more] money than everybody else, but we want to be challenging Aberdeen, Rangers and getting back up where we belong, qualifying for Europe.”

     

     

    Did professional footballers always mention the disparity in comparative wealth when discussing their hopes for their own teams for the upcoming season?

     

    Maybe I suffer from the famous Celtic paranoia but I don`t recall financial advantage being mentioned before we became the dominant force in Scottish Football.

     

     

    JJ

  18. VFR800 is now a Monster 821 on

    One Day in Lisbon – a story from BRTH

     

     

     

     

     

    I come out of the Baixa Chiado Hotel and walk the few short steps to the metro station of the same name. Descending deep below the city streets I know I only have to travel one stop on the Green line to reach the train station at Cais do Sodre where i can get the train out to the Estadio Nacional.

     

     

    When I reach the train station, I pause for a moment to look around and see which platform I should be on, but before I can make my mind up I am approached by a station employee and rapidly fires out a sentence in Portuguese which the expression on my face clearly states I have not understood.

     

     

    So he starts again and speaks very slowly in broken English.

     

     

    “Estadio Nacional?” He asks and I nod and say “Si” in reply.

     

     

    “Linha numero 2″ he says and adds ” stazione number 5 — Cruz Quebrada” and at that just walks away.

     

     

    Maybe it was the green and white jumper that alerted him to my destination,

     

     

    At platform two the train sits silently with the doors open. I climb into a carriage and take a seat without realising that the couple sitting opposite me are from England. They are headed out to Cascais for the day from what I can gather, and to pass the time they start to talk politics and essentially “Brexit”.

     

     

    They are in mid conversation when, without warning, they are interrupted by a wealthy looking Portuguese man who I would guess at being in his 60’s. He wears an expensive looking sailing jumper and his head is magnificently crowned with a leather cowboy hat.

     

     

    “Forgive me for interrupting, “he says in excellent if accented English “But a donkey will never be a horse!”

     

     

    For a moment the couple simply look at him as they are perplexed by this sentence and so he quickly continues and explains what he means.

     

     

    “A donkey is a donkey. A simple beast that has four legs, two ears and a tail like a horse but it is not, and never will be, a horse. This being so, you should never put a donkey into a race or a situation where you, in fact, need a horse!”

     

     

    The English couple, and myself for that matter, have still no idea what he is talking about until he adds:

     

     

    ” ……. and Boris Johnson is a donkey. A really stupid donkey at that!”

     

     

    This brings a smile to the faces of the English couple and an involuntary snort of laughter from me.

     

     

    There follows an exchange of views between the English couple and the ageing Portuguese Cowboy about the state of UK politics, the asinine qualities of Mr Johnson and ineffectiveness of Theresa May.

     

     

     

    The English man opines that the UK will lose out culturally and financially as a result of choosing to leave the EEC and bemoans the fact that British Government in particular is dominated by a select few who look after their own and have no time for the wishes or best interests of the ordinary man in the street. He is clearly not a Theresa fan.

     

     

    Then the Portuguese man tells his story:

     

     

    ” I am here to buy a property. I have lived in the UK for the last 32 years and I have always been treated well. I have never before been looked upon as different or felt any antagonism towards me until a few months ago when a young man walked by me and bumped me with his shoulder. When I complained I was told to “go back to wherever I came from” and that shocked me a bit.

     

     

    ” I do not like the UK politics. There is a nasty current to it and so I have decided to “come home” as the young man suggested, not because I am afraid or anything like that, but because I object to having to apply and beg to stay anywhere, any country, any city, or wherever which I have considered as home for over 30 years. In those 30 years I have done well, made money, paid my tax and made many friends, but the law of the land is about to say I am a “foreigner” and as such I need special permission to stay. I don’t like that. It is oppressive and reminds me of Portugal before the revolution. And so I have decided to retire to Portugal ……. just like so many other “British” people!” ………. and with that he laughs.

     

     

    The English couple shake their head and sympathise with him, although the chap concerned seemed pretty happy and not the least bit sad to me.

     

     

    Thus far, I had said nothing but as we had passed the tower of Belam and were nearing the park which hosts the Estadio Nacional I decided to pipe up.

     

     

    ” It could be worse!” I announced ” You could be Scottish. Most of us don’t want to leave Europe and we are being dragged out of it by an electorate who think completely differently to the majority in Scotland. While I am no fervent nationalist for the sake of nationalism, many people in Scotland feel that they have more in common with the inclusiveness and mutuality of Europe than with the perceived exclusiveness and desire for isolation which seems to be favoured by the rest of the UK. At least you can retire to Portugal which will be in Europe — I don’t have that choice!”

     

     

    This announcement brought both favour and disdain from the English couple. They had sympathy for the European argument, but while expressing great fondness for Scotland they had clearly no sympathy for the idea of an independent Scotland though their reasoning for this was unclear, and to me at least, made no great sense.

     

     

    Portugal’s answer to The Sundance Kid, however, had said nothing but was looking at me with new found interest. Eventually, he decided to speak.

     

     

    “Where are you from?” He asked

     

     

    ” Glasgow”

     

     

    ” Ah, I thought so. I suspect that where you come from, if the majority of the people don’t like something in politics they will take to the streets to protest if the Government will not listen. No?”

     

     

    “Maybe” I said “Long ago, Glasgow had a reputation for protest and I get the sense that some of that is returning but with our own Parliament to speak for us through democratic channels, mass protests on the street will not be immediate. Though the very existence of President Trump may change that.”

     

     

    All of them laughed at the reference to Trump before the Portuguese continued.

     

     

    “Well, while I sympathise with the democratic voice as expressed by the people of Scotland the fact is that as part of the UK you had a vote and the vote went the other way — not that I would have voted that way you understand. If you don’t like it, ten you can either accept it or protest against it at the ballot box on the first possible occasion. Alternatively, you can take to the streets.

     

     

    ” I learned long ago that when people take to the streets en masse you create a massive problem for the existing Government especially in this age of instant news via the net. Many years ago, no one dared to take to the streets in Portugal. We were ruled by dictator and had been for many years. The country was poor and there were was military rule with curfews, no freedom of expression, and physical consequences if you protested. Journalists were banned, people were imprisoned and there was no chance to go tom the ballot box. The very idea of crowds protesting on the street was only a dream.

     

     

    “But then, for some people, all of that changed one day without anyone really realising it. Something happened that no one anticpated and the effect of what happened was not really seen by everyone until much later …….. in fact years later. Only the undercurrent of political agitators really saw and understood the significance of the events concerned.”

     

     

    By this time the English couple were somewhat entranced by the cowboy’s story as he was good at painting a picture and expanding an argument.

     

     

    I was equally interested, but felt that I knew where this lesson was going because I had heard a similar story years before (1982 to be precise).

     

     

    The Portuguese man looked directly at me and asked simply:

     

     

    “Do you know when this change took place, almost by accident?”

     

     

    I couldn’t help but break into a huge grin.

     

     

    ” 25th May 1967!” I said confidently as the train just about pulled into my station.

     

     

    ” Ha!” said the cowboy ” Viva Celtic! Viva Portugal! Viva The Revolution!”

     

     

    The English couple simply looked on astonished.

     

     

    The train pulled into Cruz de Quebrada station, and I knew that from there the Estadio Nacional was about 15 minutes walk away.

     

     

    In truth, the station at Cruz Quebrada is nothing to write home about.

     

     

    When the train drew in all I could see was graffiti on the wall and lots of it.

     

     

    Loads of colourful swirls and words on a grey concrete wall which demonstrated both boredom and a certain lack of imagination on the part of the graffiti artists.

     

     

     

    As an introduction to the hallowed Estadio Nacional the station was a disappointment, and looked as if it belonged on a clapped out industrial estate.

     

     

    Yet this is where you get off the train and start the walk to where Celtic lifted the greatest prize in European Football some 50 years ago.

     

     

    When you get off the train, you turn right and walk down the platform and after the train has passed you walk across the lines towards the motorway on the other side.

     

     

    I was so focused on getting to the stadium that I hadn’t noticed that the Portuguese Cowboy and part time philosopher had also decided to get off the train as well.

     

     

    However, I had barely placed my feet on the platform when the voice I had listened to on the train accosted my ears with a question: ” Mr Celtic! Do you mind if I walk with you?”

     

     

    I turned to find the cowboy hatted political commentator striding up the platform towards me.

     

     

    “Do you mind if I walk with you a little? My car is parked in the park where The Jamor is situated”.

     

     

    Some Portuguese refer to the Estadio Nacional as “The Jamor” because it is part of the sports complex called “Centro desportivo do Jamor”

     

     

    It would have been rude to say no, but, in truth, I was intrigued to learn more about this man with the leather cowboy hat and so I readily said that I would be happy to have the company.

     

     

    “Not at all” I replied to my new companion “Provided you tell me your story of the Celtic fans in 1967.”

     

     

    And so began no more than 10 minutes in the company of Luis. I never got to know his second name but I quickly discovered that he had lived in England for many years, that he was 67 years old, was a retired engineer, widowed, and was in the course of purchasing a flat in the park area close to the Estadio Nacional.

     

     

    As we walked he told me his story and gave me a history lesson with virtually no interruption from me.

     

     

    In 1982, when visiting the town of Ericeira, some 50 miles north on the Lisbon coast, I was told a story by a former Lisbon resident about how in 1967 the visiting Celtic fans had had a far reaching effect on Lisbon and Portugal itself. The man concerned said that he had always been a Celtic fan ever since the events of May 1967 and, while he heaped praise on Celtic and their football when beating Inter Milan, he spoke most passionately about the way the fans conducted themselves in Lisbon and how the Portuguese authorities had reacted to the unexpected arrival of thousands of Scottish people who only wanted to smile, sing, party and laugh on the streets of Lisbon when supporting a football team.

     

     

    It was a story I had repeated often in the intervening years, but one which I took with a little pinch of salt as it was hard to believe.

     

     

    To my delight, within the next ten minutes, Luis was to virtually repeat what I had been told over 30 years before and what the man had to say was measured, delivered without either false praise or any great drama and was absolutely fascinating.

     

     

    “ I was 17 years old when your club and their fans came to Lisbon, and for some their very presence and attitude became hugely significant.

     

     

    However, to others, I will be honest, and say they were just a one or two day wonder who came and disappeared again. I personally saw very little of them because I lived on the outskirts of Lisbon and so did not see the city centre and so much of what I am about to say was told to me later and it is important that you understand that.

     

     

    The story I am about to tell was told to me by my father, who worked in the city centre, and then later by others whom I met at University a few years later. Some, perhaps the more political people, saw the Celtic fans as very significant politically.”

     

     

    “Why?” I asked.

     

     

    At this point, my far larger companion stopped and looked down on me with a huge smile.

     

     

    “Because the sang; They smiled; They laughed – In short my father told me that what was so obvious that these crazy football fans were just not afraid. And that made them stand out! That made them different – very different.

     

     

    “You have to understand what Portugal and Lisbon was like in 1967.

     

     

    Antonio Salazar had ruled as a fascist right wing dictator since the early 1930’s. Prior to that, Portugal had suffered two decades of misrule by a hopeless and out of date republic which had replaced an even more hopeless monarchy.

     

     

    At first Salazar’s promise of stability and order was attractive to some sections of society, and so there was support for his policies, especially among landowners, colonialists and some sections of the middle classes.

     

     

    However, the ordinary people had to pay a price for this “order”. That price was a growing gap between the ordinary people and the very wealthy with those in power tightening their grip on all political and business appointments with a clear policy of keeping all wealth to themselves. While some got very rich, Portugal itself became poorer and poorer.

     

     

    By 1967 Portugal was a ‘corporate republic’ with a handful of rich families controlling the financial and industrial conglomerates and virtually the whole population was beholding to them in one way or another.

     

     

    Worse still was the fact that the Acção Nacional Popular (ANP), the state fascist party, was the only political organisation permitted, alongside its youth wing, and anyone who dissented from their policies was in danger of not only losing their job but likely to be imprisoned.

     

     

    There were open paramilitary groups who terrorised anyone who was thought of as left-wing or who expressed what could be called socialist points of view. Independent trade unions and the right to strike were illegal.

     

     

    The state police, The PIDE (Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado) was backed up by a massive network of secret agents and part-time informers, and so it was common to hear of people being arrested and imprisoned without trial. Ordinary people were often taken away and tortured.

     

     

    No, in 1967, Lisbon was not a happy place. It was not a holiday destination and it was not a place where the ordinary citizens were used to seeing singing and dancing in the street. The people were afraid, even terrified of the police, the state and even their neighbours. It was a place governed and ruled by fear.

     

     

    And then came your Celtic fans.

     

     

    In truth they were unexpected. So unexpected that the airport staff risked going on strike as they had to handle far more work than they were used to or being paid for.

     

     

    Until the arrival of the Celtic fans, My father told me that most people in Portugal would have supported Inter. They were one of the class teams in Europe. They had won the cup before, had players who were well known, at least to some, and were a proper football team.

     

     

    As for Celtic? Well, who were they? Some funny wee team from Scotland or Britain? No one knew who they were. We didn’t know their players or anything about them – and we certainly didn’t know anything about their fans.

     

     

    Yet here they came in their thousands.

     

     

    They piled into Lisbon and cared nothing about the secret police or the authorities. Apparently, they came in from the airport, went to mass, came out of mass and simply sang, drank, laughed and joked throughout the centre of Lisbon without a care in the world.

     

     

    For the people from Lisbon, this was something they had not expected at all and had never seen before. But the way it was told to me, many people could see that the police, the army, the armed guards and the secret police had absolutely no idea what to do with these people.

     

     

    I was told that some people expected them to be rounded up and taken away to jail, but instead the police just stood there and let them get on with it. It was as if the police were no longer in charge and that these ordinary people were dictating the mood with their parties and their singing.

     

     

    I am told that there was one song, in particular, which they sang which caught the imagination of some local students in Lisbon. They sang a version of a song by The Seekers pop group called “We shall not be moved” and I am told that the sight of all these football fans in the street singing that song and those words was inspirational because they were not moved, the police did nothing.

     

     

    Had local Portuguese people taken to the streets like that then the tanks and armoured cars would have come out and people would have been shot and arrested.

     

     

    I have since seen TV footage of Celtic fans running on to the pitch at the Estadio Nacional after Celtic had won. If you speak to any of the Celtic fans who were there they should remember that they ran passed armed soldiers. I will tell you now that a Portuguese crowd would not have been allowed to do that. Only the Celtic fans could have done that as they were there in numbers and were in a party mood. Had Inter won there would have been no such pitch invasion.

     

     

    Years later I was at university and much the same story was told to me by others who lived in the city with some saying “Do you remember when the Celtic fans came and how the police did nothing?”

     

     

    In 1968 Salazar had a stroke and was replaced by Marcello Caetano who at first introduced some reforms and what appeared to be greater democracy but in truth it was all a sham.

     

     

    1968 saw the start of more and more social unrest with students and others becoming braver and going on strike and taking to the streets only to be met with fierce resistance from the police and more and more informers.

     

     

    Portugal was at war in the colonies, Mozambique etc, and more and more young men were drafted into the army and sent away to fight in wars they could not win. By the time of the revolution in 1974, many like me who had been 16 or 17 in 1967 were in their twenties and they wanted none of it. They wanted change.

     

     

    “Have you heard of singer called Zeca Afonso?” he asked

     

     

    “ No” I replied.

     

     

    “ Well he was a folk musician and an agitator. A radical.

     

     

    Many of his songs were banned by the state because they were protest songs.

     

     

    In March 1974 Zeca Afonso appeared in concert and sang a song called Grandola Vila Morena. It is a song which, on the face of it, is about the strength of the town and the people of Grandola which is in the Alentejo region of Portugal. Do you know about Alentejo?”

     

     

    “ No” I replied

     

     

    “In Portuguese, “Alen” means beyond and “Tejo” is the river Tagus. The Alentejo is that area beyond the Tagus. It is a large historical and cultural area of Portugal but for years it and its people were ignored. It is known as “The Breadbasket” of Portugal and it is here you will find our best wines, bread and olives. But it is a poor area and the people lived and still live like farm peasants in many respects. There is a high level of illiteracy even today. In the times of the dictatorship these people were treated dreadfully. They were poor and they were kept poor.

     

     

    Anyway, Afonso wrote this song called Grandola Vila Morena and it used the Alentejo style of singing. The Alentejo historically sang while they worked. They have a unique Polyphonic singing style which makes every song sound like being sung by a choir with one voice.

     

     

    At this concert in 1974, Zeco Afonso sang the song and suddenly the audience cheerfully burst into song with him and they all sang Grândola Vila Morena together, symbolising the unification of the people.

     

     

    Very quickly, the song became a symbol of togetherness, a song for the people, a song that, if you like, said “we shall not be moved”.

     

     

    This is important because on Thursday, 25 April 1974 at 12.25am the signal was given and the rebel song, Grandola Vila Morena, by Zeca Afonso, was unexpectedly played on Rádio Renascença – the state radio station.

     

     

    This was the signal for the start of what became known as the Carnation Revolution which brought decades of Fascist dictatorship in Portugal to an end.

     

     

    Captain Salgueira da Maia and other young members of the army left Santarém (50 miles north-east of Lisbon) with eight armoured cars and ten trucks, and moved on the capital. Other divisions under the command of the Movimento das Forças Armadas (MFA – the Armed Forces Movement, radicalised mid-rank officers, typically young captains in their 20’s, were mobilised.

     

     

    The 5th Infantry Regiment took control of Rádio Clube Português, another state radio station, transmitting the first MFA communiqué at 5.30.

     

     

    It appealed to police and ordinary troops to stay in barracks.

     

     

    By the time the rebellious solduers reached the centre of Lisbon there was some opposition from other parts of the army and there was a very tense stand off. The radio instructed people to stay indoors in this time of crisis, but what happened next was remarkable.

     

     

    The vast majority of Lisbon took to the streets and simply stood there. They blocked the streets, climbed trees and brought the whole city to a standstill. It was as if they were all saying “we shall not be moved!”

     

     

     

    They placed carnations in the barrels of the army guns and ensured that there would be no fighting. The army soldiers who were originally against the revolution were won over and the whole crowd began to sing in the street – a bit like the partying Celtic fans 7 years before.

     

     

    This then spread throughout Portugal.

     

     

    Caetano was ousted and went into exile and within a year Portugal had elections.

     

     

    And that, my friend is my story, and how some people say that Celtic and their fans played a little part in the story of Portugal.”

     

     

    “ That is very interesting” I said “But surely it is stretching things too far to say that football fans – Celtic fans—played a significant part in the Carnation Revolution?”

     

     

    Luis turned before heading to his car. He adjusted the cowboy hat and said:

     

     

    “Well, Celtic fans come to this city and this stadium year in and year out. I know they are automatically given directions and all the help they need by the people of Lisbon, especially by the older generations.

     

     

    So ask yourself this: Why are they treated so well? Because they won a football match 50 years ago? Loads of teams have played football in Lisbon and their fans don’t get the same reception. Why is that?

     

     

    Portuguese people are very friendly in the main but Celtic fans are given a special welcome in this city by some – just ask yourself why that is?

     

     

    “Further, I told you that in 1967 the people of Lisbon knew nothing about Celtic and their team. Well, I for one can now tell you that the manager was Jock Stein and that the goals that day were scored by Gemmell and Chalmers. When Jock Stein died it was front page news in Portugal.

     

     

    Why is that?

     

     

    I knew nothing of Celtic the football team before 1967, but my father told me the story of the Celtic fans in Lisbon and I later saw the video of the game against Inter who were the favourites. I made it my business to know and learn about this Celtic club and their crazy fans. That was not because of their football, although that was great, but it was because their fans came as one and won over a city and, for some, they played a part in showing what could happen if people stood and partied together. They rendered fear and oppression useless.

     

     

    Perhaps that is hard to understand when you have always had democracy but here in Portugal the revolution is still very much celebrated.”

     

     

    And with that, Luis shook my hand and bade his farewell as he turned right towards his car while I went left towards the Estadio Nacional.

     

     

    But after only twenty yards or so he turned and shouted:

     

     

    “Oh and another thing: Throughout my time in England I always looked out for Celtic and would tell anyone and everyone that I am a Sporting fan first but a Celtic fan second or even equal first – and we should have won in Seville! I don’t like Mourinho or Porto!!”

     

     

    With those words from a Portuguese stranger ringing in my ears, I started to climb the hill towards one of the most famous stadiums in the history of Celtic Football Club and all the way up the hill I simply thought:

     

     

    “Bloody hell!”

     

     

    The Estadio Nacional lies in parkland and the entire complex and area has the feel of a University facility.

     

     

     

    As I start to climb the hill I can’t help but think of Luis and his talk of revolution, oppression and dictatorship. On this February morning, there is the smell of cut grass, birds are singing in the trees and the sun is shining in the sky. There are few cars and little noise and so it is hard to imagine a population living in fear and abject poverty.

     

     

    As I walk, I think of how my surroundings are not dissimilar to the entrance to Stirling University with its grassy campus, lake and general peace …….. except Stirling doesn’t have a space ship in its midst!

     

     

    Nor, to be honest, does the Centro Desportivo Nacional do Jamor have a space ship, but the site in front of me somehow makes me think of one.

     

     

    What I am looking at is a parkland, trees and some strange looking things that stick up into the sky like a spaceship’s legs, as if the craft had landed on its back with the legs sticking straight up.

     

     

    Of course, I recognise them instantly. What I am looking at are the unique floodlights of the Estadio do Jamor, or The Estadio de Honra (The stadium of Honour) as it is sometimes called, however to us it will always be The Estadio Nacional.

     

     

    The Jamor sports complex is the largest sports complex in Portugal and it features an international class running track, Olympic swimming pool, golf training centre, Faculty of Human Kinetics, full sports training centre, tennis centre where ATP events are held and, officially, the Stadium of Honour for football and athletics. There is also a canoe trail, open plan grassy areas and general parkland where several sports can be practiced.

     

     

    This is a place where anyone can come to walk, run and just participate in sport.

     

     

    Work started on the stadium itself in 1939 and it was officially opened on “Portugal Day” (10th June) 1944 by the then Council president, and the now despised, António Oliveira Salazar.

     

     

    I have covered thousands of miles in my lifetime watching Celtic at home and abroad, and that journey has taken me to many foreign shores, but in over 50 years on the planet this would be the first time that I have visited the stadium where we lifted the big prize and changed football significantly.

     

     

    Coming from Glasgow’s West End, I have frequently passed by The West of Scotland Cricket Club in Hamilton Crescent where the first ever International Match was played and, there, I always feel a wee sense of history about the place.

     

     

    Celtic park has a sense of history all of its own, as do places like The Bernabeu, The Camp Nou, Wembley and other great stadia.

     

     

    However, on this walk up the hill I am suddenly gripped with a real sense of history and emotion. I feel it coursing through me and I have thoughts of my dad, my grandfather Joe, my uncle Jim, Aunt Agnes, Charlie Tully, John Quinn and many others who are all gone now yet who were here, on this spot, in May 1967.

     

     

    And then, suddenly, there it is.

     

     

    There is the stadium, and the pitch, and the dais where big Billy lifted the trophy, and the track around the field of play, and the goal posts ……… and I can see in my mind’s eye the guy with the kilt, the guy with the handmade Jock Stein shirt, and the line of endless green and white buses which took thousands and thousands of ordinary Celtic fans up this hill to this exact spot all those years ago.

     

     

    And, now, here am I. Staring through a gate at an empty football stadium, feeling all emotional and for some reason extremely proud, happy but with an uncontrollable tear running down my face.

     

     

    And at that point I have a simple set of questions running through my head:

     

     

    Why?

     

     

    Who comes to visit an empty football stadium with no museum, coffee shop or other kind of attraction?

     

     

    Who, in their right mind, does such a thing?

     

     

    Exactly why are you here?

     

     

    Deep inside, I know why.

     

     

    After a moment or two of just staring through the gate, I walk on towards the administration block beyond the stadium where I hope someone has arranged access for me to actually go inside this holy place.

     

     

    I know that the stadium manager cannot see me today as he is busy elsewhere, and so when I enter the administration block I am faced with a security guard.

     

     

     

    The man concerned immediately reminds me of an extra in an early Clint Eastwood movie.

     

     

    He is thin, has a receding hairline, pencil moustache, a weather beaten Latino complexion, and a significant gap between his two front teeth.

     

     

    I try to explain the reason for my visit and that I had arranged to come here through the stadium manager.

     

     

     

    The guard seems to speak no English but he just smiles and says “Si …. Si” and then “Entrada….. entrada” and waves me back outside and points me towards a small path.

     

     

    He stays in the doorway of the administration block and I begin to make my way through what looks like a small garden towards another block of buildings with cars parked outside.

     

     

    I am almost beyond them when I realise these are the dressing rooms, and behind the grilled shutter I am standing next to is the tunnel leading to the pitch itself.

     

     

    I carry on up the path and almost without warning I find myself standing inside the Estadio Nacional.

     

     

    I climb the stairs immediately to my right and head up to that tallest vantage point and I can see why this stadium is barely used for major matches. Time has stood still here. The toilet blocks and the concourse have not been modernised and the whole place would not meet modern Uefa standards but by God that gives the place a unique charm and quaintness.

     

     

    The sense of history is touchable and is all around me now.

     

     

    I spend ages taking some photos and just wandering around making my way round to the dais area.

     

     

     

    When I get there, I find that you can’t get into that area because it is glassed off and no doors are open to allow access.

     

     

    So, here I am on this alter, this pantheon of history and football, and I can’t get to that final spot where Billy lifted the big cup.

     

     

    I have a small rucksack on my back and have my fingers looped into the straps as I walk about trying to figure out if there is a door or something that I have missed that would let me on to the platform.

     

     

    Then, I hear voices. I am not alone up here. Someone is in the area where I want to get to. I climb down a few steps away from the building that houses the platform , and can now see through the glass partitions.

     

     

    There, in full view, are five figures ………. And every one of them is wearing a Celtic strip!!

     

     

    A young guy spots me, sees my green and white jumper, saunters over and stands above me on the other side of the glass partition and says:

     

     

    “Do you want a hand climbing over this fence, old yin?”

     

     

    To be continued …………………..

  19. PS…. and I do accept that the mind-boggling sums floating about in English football has made finance more of a topic but I am far from certain that that is the reason why it is so often mentioned in the MSSM.

     

     

    JJ

  20. BABASONICOS71 on

    Famous birthdays on 25t hMay;

     

    Paul Weller

     

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

     

    Padre Pio

     

    also

     

    Austin Powers (Mike Myers)

     

    Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and

     

    Gandalf (Ian McKellen)

     

     

    67

  21. Couldn’t make the Lisbon trip due to work commitments. Looked at the money I would have spent in Portugal and instead bought 2 VIP tickets for the Hydro tonight. Going with HB junior. A pal of mine did the same for him and his bhoy. Can’t wait.

     

     

    Hope everyone has a great Lisbon Lion day.

     

     

    HH

  22. BABASONICOS71 on

    “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

     

     

    A quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that fits beautifully with our Lions.

     

     

    67

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