BERTIE AULD, CELTIC LEGEND AND LISBON LION
David W Potter, Keep The Faith's resident historian and author, waxes lyrical about the Celtic Legend and Lisbon Lion, Bertie Auld
There is something quintessentially Celtic about Bertie Auld
.The gallus Glaswegian boy with a tendency to self-destruct now and again, but with an almost superhuman ability on occasion, Bertie
was the Bhoy that the fans would identify with, the one who seemed to sum up everything about Celtic
.How good it is that he
is mentioned in the Willie Maley Song, "Murdoch, Tully, Johnstone, Auld and Hay"!He
is certainly a Celt through and through. He could of course have played for Rangers for his religious credentials would have suited, but once he joined Parkhead in 1955, there was no doubt that Celtic was his team.He was a talented left winger.
In fact he
might have played in the 7-1 game of 1957, for he
played in the Quarter Finals and the Semi Final, but the nod was given to Neil Mochan instead.Bertie
may have been disappointed, but his
great moments were yet to come.
It did not look like that in the next few years, however.Auld
played in that dysfunctional forward line which was changed whimsically by Chairman Bob Kelly from week to week.
For reasons of his poor disciplinary record and his general insubordination to the autocratic regime, Bertie
incurred repeatedly the displeasure of Bob Kelly, and thus when Celtic
reached the Final of the Scottish Cup in 1961, there was no Bertie Auld.
A matter of days after that disastrous night, Bertie
was on his
way to Birmingham City for £15,000.
Thus ended a painful time for Bertie
, but for Celtic
and their fans the agony intensified for the next four years.Meanwhile Bertie
played in a Fairs Cities Cup final for Birmingham and won a medal in the League Cup, ironically enough in 1963, the year of Celtic
's greatest catastrophe, the 0-3 defeat in the Scottish Cup Final Replay.Birmingham fans loved him and tolerated his
eccentricities.But like Tommy McInally of old, Bertie
was pining for home.
returned to Paradise in mid-January 1965 when Celtic
were undergoing another crisis.
Jock then made the crucial decision to play Auld
inside and to allow Bobby Lennox to play on the left wing.
organized the rescue for Celtic
in the Scottish Cup Semi Final against Motherwell when the team were 1-0 and then 2-1 down, then in that glorious Final against Dunfermline, he
scored both equalizing goals.The first one remains vividly in the memory when a shot from Charlie Gallagher hit the bar and rebounded up in the air and Bertie
was there waiting for it.
And then after McNeill's Cup Final winner, as we all awaited Deliverance (and expected it to be cruelly snatched away from us), it was Bertie
who, before he
took a corner kick, insisted in removing police coats to waste time, and it was Bertie
who raised both arms to the exultant Celtic
End at full time.
An old timer would enthuse about Bertie Auld
over the next five years occasionally in a Freudian slip calling him Tommy McInally.
Lisbon was of course the greatest day of all, but it might not have happened but for Bertie Auld
started the singing of "Sure, it's a grand old team" in the tunnel to terrify the slick, urbane Italians, and by full time, all Italy knew that it was indeed a grand old team.
Great games were commonplace for Bertie
.One could single out the League Cup Final of 1968-9 against Hibs
, the one the following year when he
scored the only goal against St.Johnstone and the Scottish Cup Final 4-0 defeat of Rangers.But my own favourite was a virtuoso performance against Dundee at Dens Park in January 1971, when he
was almost on the way out of Celtic
Park.But what a glorious sunset as he
to beat a strong Dundee side, 8-1! He
had been involved in the sad events of Milan in 1970 and must take his
share of the blame in the same way that he
share of the credit for beating Leeds United in the European Cup Semi Final.But it was America in summer 1970 that was the catalyst for Bertie's departure from Celtic
and Tommy Gemmell were sent home by acting Manager Sean Fallon for indiscipline - whether it was for making advances to waitresses, urinating on a bus or getting drunk (believe what you want!), it was another McInally-type facet of his
character, as if he
couldn't be good all the time! But this was a Celtic undergoing reconstruction after the Milan fiasco against Feyenoord, and it was clear in Stein's rebuilding that there was no long-term room for Bertie Auld, and in 1971 he joined Hibs on a free transfer.He
came on as a substitute for Hibs
in the Dixie Deans Cup Final of 1972 to a tremendous cheer from the Celtic
fans, who still loved him.He
later managed Partick Thistle (twice), Hibs
and Dumbarton, but it is with Celtic
will be forever associated. He
was as good as anyone else in the Lisbon Lions team - and that is some compliment!For the position of left sided midfield in the Greatest Celtic
XI of all time, there would be few better.He
was quite simply a superb player and a superb Celt.Bertie
is now a flamboyant dresser, usually in green, and a fine after dinner speaker at supporters' functions.Bertie Auld certainly qualifies as a Celtic Legend.
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