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Without Nicholas, Celtic’s decline continued

13 January 2022

Charlie Nicholas, June 1983.

A man of rare talent, freely compared to Pele and even Patsy Gallacher (and that is saying something) by my father. This immature young man was prevailed upon by cynical newspaper journalists and grasping agents to sell his birth right and to go to England.

A talent that had rarely been seen was then ruined by the method football and the brutal defenders in England. Whereas what we had seen at Celtic Park, for all too brief a period was something exceptional.

In April 1983 he did not turn out for Celtic in a Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen (and yes, yes, we all knew where he was – he was “detained” somewhere secure, they told me!) and predictably Celtic lost, and then proceeded to blow up in the League as well when we had seemed to have had it won.

It was a very sad time of Celtic’s history, and a few weeks after Nicholas left, so too did Manager Billy McNeill. There was no apparent connection between the two departures, we were told, but it was difficult to believe.

Without Nicholas, Celtic’s decline continued as we won nothing the following season, the year 1984 being a particular collector’s item of Celtic horror stories.