Tag Archive | Jock Stein

The Glory And The Dream (A Poetic History Of Celtic Football Club )

On the day my club win the treble of Championship , League Cup, and Scottish Cup I take a poetic journey on Celtic through the ages from our formation in a church hall in the Calton, to a treble clinching Scottish Cup Win at Hampden this afternoon. I have given it the title The Glory  And The Dream in tribute to Tom.Campbell and Pat Woods who are the co-authors of the best ever history of our club .I hope you enjoy the read .

The Glory And The Dream

In a church hall in the Calton

a football club was born 

to feed the people of Glasgow’s East End

 who had fled famine and starvation 

inflicted on their nation 

by a cold and callous imperial United Kingdom 

but though founded to assist the Irish catholic poor 

our founders made sure no-one was excluded 

on the grounds of colour, creed,  or religion 

we would make it our mission 

to play up and play the game 

Willie Maley was the first man to claim 

the manager’s chair

moulding  teams with passion and flair 

which would be the Celtic way 

from our earliest days 

we would start as we meant to go on

attacking play to entertain the fans 

on terracing and in the stands 

this would be of paramount importance in our club’s story 

we play not for wealth and riches 

we play for the glory and the dream 

right from the early years 

when Maley built our first all conquering team 

set records not equalled till Stein 

made legends in green and white

Sunny Jim Young, and Jimmy Hay 

had their days in a trophy laden side

Quinn, and Gallagher added their names to the legacy 

that will be forever Celtic 

as did Johnny Thomson the bravest of the brave 

who went to his death to save us from defeat against Rangers 

and James and Willie McStay 

played a part in our story 

and even now when you mention Jimmy McGrory 

fans still know a name which  like so many others 

is immortalised in the songs we sing 

the post war years would bring us difficult times 

trophies like food still rationed in paradise 

as in the period between the wars 

we faced challenges with only occasional success

one off trophies were what we did best 

Exhibition and Coronation Cups 

both decked in green and white 

in the early to mid fifties whilst still  single 

my dad had in his words a team worth cheering 

a double built on that coronation victory 

fashioned by a half back line of Peacock, Evans, and Stein 

and the wing wizardry of Charles Patrick Tully 

who when he scored direct from a corner  

was ordered to take it again 

he did and placed it

 in exactly the same spot of the Falkirk net 

In 1957 and not long married came a memory

the old man would never forget 

when Lambhill’s finest Billy McPhail 

played a part in Hampden glory 

in a game forever etched in our club’s story 

as Rangers were crushed 7-1 in the league cup final that year 

as our fans cheered Hampden success 

we would be tested once more 

and for seven long seasons 

the trophy room would have none of the major honours 

to display to our faithful support 

the turning point came with the appointment of Stein 

a tactical genius who built teams to play in the traditions of the club

the man who had spies in every pub 

built a team capable of winning the European Cup 

and breaking down Inter Millan’s rock solid defence 

relentless attack was the plan 

which would take the team to glory 

on the greatest night in Scotland’s sporting history 

as with pride in the jersey 

and fire their hearts 

bhoys became men 

and lambs became lions 

under the Lisbon sun 

we won everything we entered 

that golden season 

including the second of nine successive titles 

Stein would create three sides during this time 

some of the football sublime to watch 

it was the way the game should played 

as names  like McGrain , Connolly , Hay and Dalglish 

gradually replaced the heroes of Lisbon 

with Atiken , Burns, and McCluskey coming later 

fulfilling potential under Ceaser 

the man who captained our club

 on the greatest night in our history 

now in the gaffer’s chair 

he crafted a team built on guile and imagination 

the inspirational skills of Charlie Nicholas and Paul McStay 

showed that we will always put talent before age 

if your good enough to play the game 

 Celtic Park will be your stage 

as it was for McClair , McGarvey , McAvennie, McGhee 

Provan and McLeod 

in the dark depressing society that was 1980’s 

there free flowing football did the hoops proud 

though rewards were thinner on the ground 

than a team of their talents deserved 

a centenary double was won

with a McAvennie brace at Hampden

 in the sunshine of a may afternoon

the fitting reward for a club in the mood for a party 

but just when we thought we were flying  high 

the next nine years reminded us 

that sometimes even great clubs 

have barren years 

hopes were soon replaced by fears

then in 1994 our fans made a stand  

and by their actions saved the club

we love 

we demanded changes

the board had to be replaced 

and a man in a bunnet saved the day 

Fergus believed in the Celtic way 

and slowly but steadily we were back on the road to recovery 

we were playing great football under Tommy Burns

the bhoy from Soho Street 

who when he played was a poet with a ball at his feet 

whose twists and turns had those in the stands

 jumping up from their seats 

and the jungle chanting  his name 

but unfortunately the trophies never came 

and with Rangers equalling our  nine in a row 

we had to make a change 

heartbreaking though it was

It was the right decision 

though when we brought in Wim Jansen 

from Dutch champions Feyenoord 

some of our fans said oh my god 

what have we done 

but cometh the hour cometh the man

and our Dutch master had a plan 

he signed Marc Reiper to shore up our back four

he bought in Burley and Lambert midfield men who could score 

but the best thing he ever did for Celtic 

was sign a bhoy called Henrik 

and with the addition of one or two others

discovered we had a team 

capable of writing an important chapter in our story 

we stopped 10 in a row and I was there to see it done 

when at 4.31 on the 9th May 1998 

Harold Brattback was fated to be the man

 who brought the title home 

and sparked scenes of celebration 

from our fantastic support 

Paradise was a sea of green and white

we were back where we belonged 

champions of Scotland 

then as sometimes  happens

we didn’t build on the progress of that season

Wim was allowed to leave 

and for a couple of years we were underachieving again 

until Martin O’Neill took the reins 

in  his first old first old firm game 

we had a beautiful Sunday which brought a 6-2 victory 

we were_3-0 up in just 11 minutes

personally I thought we let them off lightly 

 like all our fans I was delighted with a treble won in style 

football with a smile has always been 

the way we played the game 

yes we’ve had heartbreaks along the way 

Seville was a hard one to take 

especially as we watched 

our greatest rivals claim the treble 

but it fired our determination to succeed 

and in the main the early years of the new millennium 

have belonged to us 

Sutton , Hartson , and the Hooperman 

provided, goals to savour

and Petrov and Lennon the engine room for our success

Lubo’s artistry was something I was blessed to watch 

in the years since then  players and managers have come and gone 

but the glory and dream lives on

and in this history making season

a team unbeaten, in all domestic competitions

won the treble with flair and ambition

by playing the Celtic way 

now there are new heroes

who in years to come will be named 

when this generation are grandparents 

as they remember Stuart Armstrong, Tom Rogic Moussa Demeble, Craig Gordon, and Scott Sinclair 

they will talk of Kieron Tierney, Leigh Griffiths,  and Scott Brown 

and the 5-1 thrashings handed to Rangers at home and away. 

by the team that Brendan made

they will recall with pride the days we dug deep and ran on  empty 

because we are Celtic and that is what we do to win

for our  ever faithful fans 

it is the spirit of the club 

the beating heart of every Celtic team 

we play up and play the game

and we do it  for the glory and the dream 

© Gayle Smith 2017 


The Night A Nation Cried 

Hey Readers 

It was on this day in 1985  that Scotland lost the man who in my opinion was and remains our greatest ever football manager I refer of course to former Celtic and Scotland boss Jock Stein who died of a heart attack as he guided Scotland on the way to the World  Cup Finals in Mexico the following year.  This to me was my first experience of the death of a sporting hero and Mr Stein’s achievements in the game are the stuff of legends Not only did he guide Celtic to win the European Cup and be the first British and so far only Scottish club ever to do so he also guided them to 9 league titles in a row and 10 in 13 years with numerous Scottish Cups and League Cups to add to his collection. 
On top of this he then led  his country to one World Cup and the brink of another before the tragic events of this night 31 years ago. It is his honour I finally write this poem and give it the only title I can The Night A Nation Cried  and I hope that whether you’re a Celtic fan, a Scotland fan, both , or neither that if you are a real football fan you will enjoy this tribute to the man who in my eyes will always be the epitome of what a real football manager should be. 

The Night A Nation Cried 

It was in the chill of an early autumn evening

the manager picked his team 

for a game our country couldn’t afford to lose 

we needed to avoid defeat against Wales 

to have a chance of going to Mexico 

dreams of glory spurred us on 

but the Welsh scored early that night 

and try as we might we couldn’t break them down 

this was a good side we were playing 

this dragon breathed fire 

and would not be slain easily 

this was going to be tough 

a draw would be enough 

but it didn’t look like coming 

then the boss decided to bring Cooper on 

the winger had has critics 

some said he’s inconsistent 

my Rangers supporting relatives amongst them

but Stein knew this night would need 

that special something and Cooper had it 

when the opportunity came he grabbed it 

scoring the penelty that levelled the game 

as Stein jumped up to celebrate 

fate played a cruel hand 

as he collapsed falling to ground in distress 

we held our collective breath as the manager lay on the ground 

the game was played out but the result now rendered meaningless 

in shock we heard the news 

our national team manager had died 

this was the night a nation cried 

fans of different teams united in grief 

divisions put aside to allow time to mourn

as a Celtic fan I broke when I heard you’ll never walk alone 

the song played before every home game 

somehow I knew that night things could never be the same 

this was a man respected by all sides in the game 

he transcended team colours 

in a way few have managed before or since 

to him it wasn’t just the winning 

it was about how you played 

his teams were built on flair and imagination .

to him this was the only way that made any sense 

his philosophy that attack was the best form of defence 

may have come as a shock to some 

but this was how he viewed the game

you had to win and entertain the crowd 

in a way that made your supporters 

proud of the colours they wore 

he took lambs to Lisbon 

and made them roar with pride 

the side some claimed had no hope  came home as lions and champions of Europe 

he outfoxed the pride of Italy 

with a display of attacking ability 

never seen before or since 

It was this tacticial genius 

which lead him to manage Celtic to nine league titles in a row 

and eventually get the call for his country 

winning ugly was never his way 

his teams played in a certain style 

to bring smiles to the faces of the fans 

It was the mark of the man 

his signitute if you will 

that skill had to be combined with work ethic 

and you had to represent your team on and off the field 

a principled man he never yielded 

to the lure the false god 

that money can often be

I gave free flow to the tears that came

to hold back would have been pointless 

like trying to stop the rain or stem the tide

It would have been wrong and on hearing the song

I knew my eyes would run like rivers 

on the night a nation cried together 

@ Gayle Smith 2016 

Pride Of Lions

Hey Readers Sometimes you may see a comment on Facebook or a newspaper or magazine a feature entitled on this day in history. Well as a football fan and more importantly as a Celtic girl I know only too well the significance of the 25th of  May. You see it  was on this day in 1967 that my club won the European Cup and became not only the first British club to win the big cup but also the first team from Northern Europe to claim the trophy. Now flattering as these descriptions may be I prefer another one which is that we are so far at least the Only Scottish Club ever to win to claim the world’s most prestigious club trophy. So I’ve finally written a poem,  (I’ve been meaning to do it for years), to commemorate my club’s and Scottish Football’s greatest ever achievement I’ve titled Pride Of Lions and if you’re a Celtic fan I’m sure you’ll enjoy the read. 

Pride Of Lions

Written off
told they had no chance of glory
11 local bhoys wrote their chapter of the Celtic story
on the night that changed our history
with courage , dignity , passion and pride
this side Stein had moulded
had won a domestic treble
of League Cup, Scottish Cup, and Championship Title
but this was overlooked by the press and media
who claimed the Celtic way
was not the way to win
against Inter Millan and Herrera’s iron defence
all out attack made no sense
and we know the press are always right
but this team would not be cowered by the night or the occasion
with the hopes of a nation
they took the field
refusing to yield
to the pre prepared script
Stein knew the strengths of his players
he believed in the attacking flair
of the team
to him it was about the glory and the dream
which will be forever Celtic
the atmosphere was electric
in the Lisbon sun
but we were soon 1-0 down
as an Inter player was fouled in the box
needless to say they scored from the spot
now the rot would set in and we would fall apart
according to the press
no doubt the British know best brigade
were salivating at the prospect
so we were sorry to disappoint them
but we kept on keeping on
playing the game in the Celtic tradition
the fact we were still a goal down at the break was irrelevant
we hadn’t come to Lisbon
for the hell of it
we had come to win
claim the glory
play our part in the Celtic story
make history in the right and proper way
this would be our day
and we would be crowned  winners
champions of Europe
Stein knew the strength of his players
he knew attacking flair would break defensive resistance
even a wall as sound as Inter’s
would crumble in the end
if we could only get an equaliser
the game would be ours for the taking
as our opponents would have to attack
this would leave them exposed at the back
and winner would eventually be scored
It is hard to ignore the logic of his thoughts
as the second half started the way the first had ended
with Celtic in the ascendency
there were a few near misses
some trickery from Jinky
and smooth silky passes
we were giving the world
a master class on how to play the game
then it came and our fans sensed it was on
as Tommy Gemmell sent a scorcher to the Inter net
we had the goal that changed the script
we were no longer bit part players
or members of the supporting cast
glory could be ours
then at last it arrived
with only five minutes to go
Stevie Chalmers scored what proved to be the winner
Celtic had won the European cup
now for those who try to claim
it was down to luck
let’s see, in the 90 minutes of play
we had 45 shots to our opponents 3
we forced them to defend 10 corners whilst conceding none
so I think the facts tell the story
of a team who played for the glory and dream
a team who fought with all they had for the success they gained
we may never see their likes again
though we live in hope that we discover
players of the calibre of those
who wore the hoops that night
when a club like no other won
club football’s most glittering prize  when the lambs who had taken the field
roared with the pride of lions 

@ Gayle Smith 2016

NB This poem is dedicated to the Lisbon Lions whose names will be forever immortal they are

Ronnie Simpson
Jim Craig
Tommy Gemmell
Bobby Murdoch
Billy McNeill (Captain)
John Clark
Jimmy Johnstone
Willie Wallace
Stevie Chalmers
Bertie Auld
Bobby Lennox

Manager Jock Stein

Ranting Reviewing And Sometimes Reflecting As I Look At A Mixed Bag Of Stories

Hey everyone. As Yesterday was the last Sunday of 2013 I thought I would take a look back on the year which is about to slip in to history as the clock chimes in the new year on Wednesday morning.

There is no doubt that speaking from a personal perspective this has been a year of high’s and lows for me as I’m sure it has for everyone but I have to say that more than any other year I have felt the pain of death in 2013 as more than one friend or hero has made the journey to the pearly gates in the past 12 months.

In the world of poetry we lost a giant of the craft in August when one of my favourite poets Seamus Heaney was laid to rest at the age of 74. A man who influenced many, it was he alongside the late Edwin Morgan and the brilliant Liz Lochhead who got me in to poetry. Thanks Seamus I owe you a debt for that, a debt I can only repay by pledging to work harder at the craft as every poet must in order to fulfil our potential and leave our footprint on the world.

Closer to home that doyen of many a spoken word my good friend Frank Mullen was finally taken from us in early summer aged 89. A man of wit and wisdom Frank is greatly missed by the writing communities of Glasgow and East Renfrewshire amongst whose members he was greatly admired and respected for ability to entertain as well as his devotion to the craft .

The world of politics has also been touched by death this year. On the global stage we lost Margaret Thatcher who whatever you think of her politics certainly left her mark on the world. I have to say that it was she who inspired me to get involved in politics though maybe not in the way she would have liked. You see far from joining her beloved Conservative Party which wanted us all to believe we were part of one nation her contempt for Scotland drove me in to the waiting arms of the Scottish National Party. Why them and not Labour I hear you ask? Well it’s like this I think any party leadership that lets someone like her butcher Scotland in which they had a clear mandate to govern rather than declaring an immediate state of UDI are a bunch of chancers, charlatans, and idiots that I wouldn’t let head the queue for a bus let alone a country. You see if there is one thing I learned from Margaret Thatcher it is the fact that Labour are irreverent and will only ever get elected if they ape Tory rhetoric and policies and please the man from the Daily Mail and that is why I will be voting Yes in next year’s independence referendum and confidently expect that when the time comes Scotland will do the same.

The other big political beast to go to their final rest this year was former South African President Nelson Mandela. Unlike Thatcher Mandela was someone I respected for the right reasons. A principled man Mandela fought for a cause he believed to be right and was eventually rewarded by becoming the first black president of a multi-racial South Africa and was fiercely proud of the rainbow nation he helped to build. However his success came at a price and that price was 27 years in prison for the crime of believing in equality and a fairer land for his people.

Whilst the deaths of Thatcher and Mandela made headlines around the world it was deaths closer to home which had a greater impact on me. As I lost two political friends whom I had known since my party’s stunning by-election which will forever be known as Govan 88. This was the by-election which changed Scotland for good as after Jim Sillars victory in which he overturned a 19,000 Labour majority to win by a majority of 3,554 Labour did more on devolution in 9 hours than they had in the previous 9 years. However though Jim Sillars will get most of the credit for winning the seat and his place in history is assured, anyone with a fully functioning brain cell will realise no candidate no matter how talented they are can win a victory of that magnitude without a formidable back up team and in Alison Hunter and Steve Butler Jim certainly had that. Therefore to have both of them taken from the Independence family in last year before our referendum they had worked all their political lives to achieve is a particularly cruel blow for the yes campaign and a reminder if any were needed of the debt all parties and causes owe to our activists.

However though death featured prominently in the past 12 months there were also moments of hope which restored both my optimism and my faith in humanity. There was good news for my friend Sharlene with the birth of her second child as Harper-Rose joined big sister Darcy to bring much needed happiness in to the world and give Sharlene and Ryan a good few sleepless nights. There was also a second child for my friend and fellow nationalist Alison Thewliss as she and husband Joe were blessed by the birth of a baby daughter Kirsty who joins her son Alexander as part of Thewliss-Wright dynasty.

As for matters cultural I have to report a good year for spoken word as I attended many fantastic evenings in both Glasgow and Edinburgh throughout a busy year making many new friends as I did so whilst remembering to nourish existing ones. It was during a busy Edinburgh fringe that I met poets who have since became friends such as Jim Higo and Sophia Blackwell and cemented friendships made earlier in the year with younger writers such as Agnes Torok and the man who has Sammy’s his home the brilliant Craig Scott.

On the subject of Sammy’s this was the year when Pamela decided to retire and left me to take over the reins. Following in the footsteps of such a brilliant organiser was not easy but fortunately I have a great team round about me to help plan for the future of our club, a team which was boosted by the return to the family fold of Audrey Marshall and John McGlade.

Aside from my poetry commitments this has also been a year where my faith has played an increasingly important part in my life and the friendship, fellowship and teaching I have gained my local parish Baillieston St Andrew’s known locally as the kirk on the corner has been an invaluable source of comfort during difficult and challenging times. Still on faith I am lucky to have found a friend in my local area who is a constant source of strength and I really can’t imagine what my world would be like now without Leanne McKay.

Another friend who has been a great support particularly in the area of blogging has been Caron Lindsay who has been almost like a mentor with her support and encouragement featuring several of my posts in the Scottish Round-up and even giving the chance to sit in the editors chair. This was a significant boost to my confidence as though a seasoned poet, performer and political activist I am conscious that I am still reasonably new to this game where you reveal a lot more about yourself and your values in one or two posts than any poet ever could in a five or ten minute set.

Indeed this point is validated by a comment from my long standing friend Andy Fleming a poet and musician of some excellence has said to me on more than one occasion that he feels he knows even better now as a regular reader of my blog than he did even after 17 years of friendship and I was flattered rather than offended when he said he prefers my blog to my poetry on the grounds that I can put more of myself in to it. This is a real compliment as I know that Andy enjoys my poetry.

Talking of things technical this was the year I set up facebook pages for Words and Music at Sammy’s and Just For The Girls a page where my female friends can give me advice on my transition or ask the questions they want to but can’t get round to in public.

I also set up groups for those of all political persuasion’s who love Scotland but want a break from the constant referendum chat (Our Scotland) those who are part of the culture and entertainment scene or who have in interest in any aspect of it, (Culturally Speaking) and (Bards In The Park) which is for those of us who attend and have attended this monthly event at Tollcross Park and I am delighted to say that though they have been slow burners they are beginning to attract interest.

As for other topics which have made the news this year. There was the tragedy of the horrific helicopter crash at the Clutha Vaults, Andy Murray finally becoming at least according to chattering classes the first British man to win to Wimbledon men’s singles title since Fred Perry though the press still call the area where his fans gather Henman Hill as it was or so they tell us Tim Henman who was responsible for the great British tennis revival. Aye right I’ll bet they were gutted that it took a Scot to win it for them

There was also the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson from the manager’s job at Manchester United and the fawning little sycophants in the English press told him he was the greatest football manager in the history of the game. It is obvious these clowns have never heard of Jock Stein the man who guided Celtic to the European Cup in Lisbon in 1967 at his first attempt. Now don’t get me wrong Ferguson was a very talented manager but I don’t buy this idea that it’s tougher these days just because there four teams from the so called bigger nations allowed in this corporate football event. You see what this really means is that real champions from real countries get excluded from this feast of the greedy. This If anything actually devalues the achievement of the winners in my eyes

It is my belief that this greed is killing the game and that many footballers are paid way too much money and have salaries which vastly outweigh their mediocre to at best moderate talent. The fact that Liverpool have recently signed Luis Sureaz on a four year contract reputed to be worth £230,000 a week shows that the so-called beautiful game is spinning out of control.

As my flatmate Janette says we could work our whole lives and never see that amount of money. So when there are tales of such avarice it is I think heartwarming to hear and I say this as a Celtic fan that Rangers forward Jon Daley gave 150 tickets for his club’s home game against Stranraer to be distributed amongst the city’s homeless and former Rangers captain Ally Dawson who works for a homeless charity was delighted to accept the gift. It appears that at least with some footballers tis not the season to be jolly but the season to be generous and remember to show the real spirit of Christmas.

As for personal highlights well Pride is always a great day and Glasgow 2013 was no exception. It was a brilliant occasion and I had one of those days I’ll remember for a very long time. I have to say however that this year will be remembered more than anything else for one very special Saturday in September when the independence movement gathered on Carlton Hill and 30,000 of our citizens said we will be a nation again. Not only that, we will be the kind of nation according to our First Minister Alex Salmond which puts bairns before bombs an independent Scotland. Now I don’t know about you my dear readers but that is the kind of Scotland I can’t wait to be a part of.

However if the March and Rally for Independence was the best day of the year and one of the best of my life I have no doubt as to the saddest and angriest days of this year. The saddest day was when I attended the funeral of a man eight years younger than I am. A good man who was the long term partner of a woman I love like a sister. As for the angriest don’t even get me started. I hate thieving scum especially when they steal photographic equipment and rob a business it has taken two very talented young women time and money to build. However Katie Walker and Kirsty Hughes are intelligent and resourceful as well as talented and that is why despite the worst and most disgusting attempts of these low life vermin KK Snaps is back and will be brighter bolder and better than ever.

In other matters there was also a new Doctor Who is actually Scottish Oh and before I forget a couple of posh rich kids had a baby and live in a palace. Now William and Kate seem like a nice couple, but despite what the British press and politicians would like you to think the arrival on the arrival of their son this was not the second coming. I mean the baby’s name is George not Jesus so that should give you a bit of a clue to where I stand on this issue. Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed my review of the year where I’ve ranted reviewed and reflected on a what I think I can say has been a mixed bag of stories.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X