No-one typified Celtic in the Lisbon era more than Bertie Auld. It was he who started singing “Sure it’s a grand old team to play for” in the tunnel at Lisbon to the wonder, horror and amazement of the Italian superstars, but that was just what Bertie was – very Glasgow and very Gallus, almost naïve in his belief that Celtic were going to do well. And it was he who made sure that they would do well. He was the midfield general. He was the man who made them tick.
He first signed for the club in 1955, and he was clearly a young man of some ability but his character was such that he was not well liked by Mr Kelly and he was transferred to Birmingham City in 1961. The supporters were not happy, but what could they do about it? With Birmingham he won a League Cup winners medal and played in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup final.
But he was a homesick Glaswegian at heart, and as early as December 1964 when Celtic were on their knees, a few contacts started talking. Bertie insists that he knew Jock Stein was returning to Celtic, and the return of both men was no coincidence. Basically Bertie wanted Jock, and Jock wanted Bertie, and the two of them brought back the Scottish Cup in 1965 as a stepping stone to a period of virtually unbelievable success, including of course the European Cup.
Bertie had changed position. He had been a left winger in his early days but he now teamed up very well with Bobby Lennox, and soon Bertie dominated the left side of the midfield. With Bobby Murdoch on the right, it was a mighty combination, indeed an unbeatable one. He was part of everything that happened from 1965 to 69. By 1970 he was struggling to keep his place but his Celtic career had a glorious sunset one day in January 1971 at Dens Park when Celtic beat Dundee 8-1 and it was all orchestrated by Bertie Auld who seldom left the centre circle! His passing was superb.
He won 5 Scottish League medals, 3 Scottish Cup medals and 4 Scottish League Cup medals, in some ways, he symbolised Celtic. Like Gemmell and Johnstone, there was a wild side to him but there was always a basic respect for Jock Stein. The trust was mutual. He had his moments with referees and with officialdom and was once sent home in disgrace for misbehaviour on an American tour, but then again, he was simply that kind of guy.
He played briefly for Hibs, and was Manager of Partick Thistle, Hibs and Hamilton Academical, but his heart was never very far away from Celtic Park. He was a well known figure around Celtic Park, he spoke to all the punters “just like an ordinary man”, especially, and was always willing to attend supporters’ functions where he was charming, entertaining and good fun.
He was a mighty player and a great entertainer on and off the field. He was one of the true Celtic characters. He will be much missed. And sadly, there are now only four of the eleven Lions that started in Lisbon left – Jim Craig, John Clark, Willie Wallace and Bobby Lennox. RIP Bertie Auld.
Born in 1948, David Potter first saw Celtic at Dens Park, Dundee in March 29. It was a 3-5 defeat, which equipped him admirably for the horrors of the early 1960’s. He had “followed” Celtic for a few years before that and recalls having been called upon to impersonate Jock Stein and receive the family silver teapot which had to do for the Scottish Cup as it was presented on April 24 1954, after he and his father had spent a nerve wracking afternoon listening to the radio! Since then, he has “followed” every Celtic game with bated breath, and has written extensively about the club in magazines and books. His favorite team was that of 1969 (which he rates marginally better than 1967) and his favorite player was Henrik Larsson.
His ambition for Celtic is for them to keep on winning silver in Scotland and to be something in Europe once again. His other interests are cricket and drama. A retired teacher of Classical Languages, married with three children and five grandchildren. He now travels on the Joseph Rafferty bus from Kirkcaldy. He also loves Forfar Athletic.
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