International Break best ever 11 – right back
We move on to the right-back position. And there can be only one!
No he’s not a Highlander,though he is immortal. He is of course Danny McGrain.
Where do I start with this icon? At the beginning-he joined us a few days before Lisbon,having just turned 17. He stayed with us for twenty years,a one-club man,the only one of The Quality Street Gang to do so. During that time,he won seven titles-he played a few games in another two title-winning seasons,btw-five Scottish Cups and even a couple of League Cups. And to think that he should never have been a Celtic player in the first place!
Famously,Rangers’ sectarian signing policy led them to believe that this staunch Rangers supporter was of Irish Catholic extraction-as soon as they found out he was called Daniel Fergus McGrain,their interest evaporated.
Their loss. And very much our gain. He played over 700 games for us,and it could have been a lot more,for it wasn’t all plain sailing for this man. He had some huge hurdles to overcome. Being diagnosed with diabetes straight after his first World Cup in Germany in 1974 would have floored many a man,but Danny simply took the medical advice on offer,adjusted as needed and carried on. His fractured skull a couple of years earlier had been dealt with in a similar fashion. These are serious problems for anyone to overcome,but Danny dealt with them superbly.
It was a simple ankle injury which caused him the biggest problem,putting him out of the game at a crucial time for Celtic and Jock Stein. Having lost Kenny Dalglish to Liverpool and Pat Stanton to a career-ending toe injury in the first game of the season,losing Danny a few games later was a blow from which the team didn’t recover. The injuries came thick and fast that season,and the board took the chance to brutally dispense with Jock. It would be about 18 months before Danny returned,and the side,now under Billy McNeill,hit the ground running,ending with that epic night on 21st May,1979.
Danny lost a bit of pace with that injury,and he was settling into the veteran stage of his career,but he was still Mr Dependable,the team captain,and an inspiring figure on and off the park. He still had his part to play in the medals too,and who can forget,in particular,our final day of his penultimate season in Paisley?
It was on the international stage though that Danny made his name outwith Scotland,and it was through these games that he became widely respected as probably the best in his position prior to that injury in 77. He famously made the Team of the Tournament for the 1974 World Cup Finals-despite being played at left back to accommodate Sandy Jardine! At a time when Celtic players were only grudgingly awarded Scotland caps-look at how many The Lisbon Lions received!-Danny managed a grand total of 62 appearances,second at the time only to Kenny Dalglish.
Even though Danny made the right back position his own for so many years,there are still some players who deserve a mention for their part. Chris Morris,who succeeded him in our Centenary Season-who can forget the cross to Frankie as we beat the huns? Jackie Macnamara,who could play in so many positions for us,but was at his best at right back,and of course David Hay. Another who could play in various positions,this was one fearsome competitor. I could throw in Hinkel and Lustig too,but none compare to Danny as the best right back I’ve seen in my time as a Celtic supporter.
Saltires en Sevilla…
Danny McGrain 679 games (1970-1987) x11 goals – the only outfield player who doesn’t satisfy my requirement for a good ratio of goals. Quite simply a wonderful player. An absolute all time hero, from boyhood to now reaching retirement age. Brave, fearless, fast, skilful, vision and guts ( coming back from injuries so often) unassuming and an absolute inspiration. Most of all, a humble gentleman. So many memories. Best is a league game at old Somerset Park 4-2 thanks to a brave from Kenny ( supporters bus windscreen smashed by a stone on A77 … late getting to game) Danny was running riot and we were so close to him. Everyone egging him on and he was just loving it, scarpering across a muddy pitch like the wind. A few older lads at the back started a song that took off on that day but I don’t recall it catching on afterwards. ‘Go Danny Go Danny Go Go Go’ from the Stranglers’ Go Buddy Go.
Formative memories and a good part of my Celtic education.
The right back …
Now this one I do find very easy as its automatic for me and anyone that knows me well knows the answer already .
Jackie Mac had everything I could ever ask for in my wing back .
Heart , stamina , control , agile , and to top it all off he was one of us . Im sure the female fans thought they had struck gold also .
When he came from the Pars I realised that could and should be that position tied down for years , although we would not do the same on the opposite flank for quite some time .
If Jackie and Sid combining up that right flank didnt get your heart racing then check your pulse as you must be dead . Together they formed a great duo on that wing and still hang out off the pitch which is nice .
If I was asked to choose a game or games I think he stood out in then it was when we were paired with the Pool around 96 maybe were I thought he was our stand out performer who never shirked being the teams out ball one bit . Shteve Mac Manaman eneded up the difference maker overall and considering he was one of the best in the world at the time that should show the level we hit .
I am admittedly upset at how Jackie was ultimately handled contract wise by the club and I do believe there is some bitterness there . He should never ever have been allowed to run his contract down , that was disrespectful and dowright taking advantage of his good nature I would say . He reportedly earned less than the fella he was playing besides ( and regularly outshining ) tax payment to give you some idea of his substance ( I heard he earned 8k basic while Bobo was earning 45k with tax of a third due on that so that would easliy work out correct imo ) .
You might recall he was in the car a free agent on his way to meet Big Mick at Wolves when Peter apparently phoned and said “ Jackie sorry we havent got to sit down and Ive been very busy but what day shall we hash out your new contract next week ? “ to which he was given both barrels .
THrough a mutual acquaintance Im hoping to do a Q and A session with Jackie for the blog so I dont want to say too much or go into details but Jackie just nips it as my favourite Celt .
I had split up with the bird at the time , the house felt very cold and lonely , and through a fortunate turn of events my best mate split up with his woman also , moved in , we bought a dodgy sky box , and watched every game for a few years getting heavily into the team , and Jackie put the pride back in our hearts . We loved it when he got the ball and wished for the play to move through him.
Infact at his ( my best mate ) wedding in Orvieto central Italy , to roughly 100 Italians and 15 folk from County Cavan , I accepted the open mic and started singing him the Jackie song ,, two Italians immediately came and joined in , they knew the words. My better half was aghast as were many but it happened and I can prove it .
Jackies my bhoy! Full stop !
Sent from my iPad
Great stuff,and clearly from the heart! I confess to loving Jackie to bits in The Hoooops,but Danny is peerless. Of course,you’re just a young whippersnapper and won’t have seen much of him,so I’ll let you off,haha!!!
remember this one ?
the first right back I saw in the hoops was Duncan McKay, then ian young, then jim craig. obviously the ghuy you got to give it too is oor danny the best right back in Europe at the time.hh.
Dunno why Mahe’s offering was in a different font from the others,sorted now.
I was at that game. Ever since we threw away the 10,we hadn’t looked capable of dealing with setbacks. It all changed that day.
Good man,they were before my time,though of course I did see a bit of Jim Craig. Duncan McKay is a name still fondly remembered by many.
Emilio Izzaguirre is enjoying his second permanent spell with Celtic FC
Name 8 other players that have returned to Celtic FC
The winner will be the person to have named the maximum number of players within one post.
That was a quick quiz
Bobby Lennox is technically not correct
Okay apart from
Bobby Lennox *
Name two other players that have came back for a second spell. (Loans do not count)
A flying visit, I don’t suppose Youth Players count ?
Wasn’t Jack Hendry with until he was about 16, before being let go?
Not technically a Permanent Player I guess?
No youth players no loannees
One of our best ever
Dany initiating a move with the Maestro, perfected originally with Kenny.
Was working in the Highlands that day and relying on updates on radio.
What a goal, performance, night…
http://www.valeofleven.org.uk/famousfolk/neilmccallum.html … debatable
Peter Dowds correct
Name two other players that have came back for a second spell either this century or last but not the century before. (Loans do not count)
Daniel Fergus McGrain, the best ever Celtic right back. You judge any player by what his opponents say about him and the 50 capped Welsh winger Leighton James, said this about Danny. ” Danny was the best British full back that I ever played against”. For me his courage was an unseen badge that sat on his hooped shirt, he was always strong in the tackle but never a dirty player, he never left opponents lying in a heap or with a broken leg or ankle, he always played the game fairly and honestly. He came back after diabetes and after leg breaks, that is his badge of courage, the most unassuming man, quiet and dignified, today the EPL would be clamouring for him to play for the top English clubs. I met him once in a short visit to paradise. I came up when the players were coming back from training, he was a coach at the time, I remember the players looking at me as I scurried past them all and made a beeline for my hero Danny. His autograph is in my old diary where it sits in pride of place in my bookcase. Danny McGrain, one of the first wing backs in the modern game, often copied but never bettered.
And that is why I like the ex. Celt, Stephen O’Donnell who plays for Killie, a strong, robust right back who plays the game with skill strength and honesty, he would be a welcome addition in our future right back position. He might not have the foreign name that some clamour for, but to me that doesn’t matter, its what’s in the heart and soul that counts, I hope we bring him in in January.
Lovely tribute by Leighton James buddy.
For a moment didn’t realise your quotes had closed and your full post was from Leighton…
I could have believed that…says it all really.
Looks the part. He really does.
…i thought…your full post etc.,
Saltires, Thanks for your reply my friend, personally I think that most Celtic supporters appreciate a wee bit of humility from the players, you don’t need the noise to make a judgement on a player, we all have our favourites of course and for different reasons, but that quiet, unassuming strength that you need to be a top player, it defines the person and I know that it appeals to me. Quiet strength and confidence, dignity personified. Leighton said a lot more, but that first line from him said it all.
Thoroghly enjoying your site
Fav goalie artur
Fav rb fanny
Ffs Danny not fanny lol
Brilliant Troonbhoy, wait till I change ma keks. 😉
A memorable start to your time on here,if I may say so!
Welcome aboard,from a Kilwinning lad
How? Dum,dumdum dum,dum dum dum dum,dum dum du-u-u-u-mb…
Superb debut buddy.?
Welcome and keep posting!
Thought you were saying I was your favourite fanny there.
Yes Shaun Maloney.
I agree that it has to be Danny McGrain, although I would mention The footballer turned dentist, Jim Craig. He had the right attitude…….a penalty called against him early in EC final, and he then turns in a great performance, both in attack and defence. McNamara was what used to be called a utility player……perhaps his game suffered from that. However, he was the ideal player for away ties in Europe…..he could act as a spoiler on the opposition’s best attacker. McGrain has it tho, IMHO.
You are correct about Killie’s O’Donnell….he would do nicely if we are splashing serious cash elsewhere in January. The lad, Patterson that you pushed while he was at Hearts should have been bought….a good defender but not strong in attack. Piccinini of Valencia now seems to have had a poor start……a bullet dodged? If you look at his change in value, it seems to have risen too quickly over a short space of time…..very odd for a FB.
Troonbhoy, welcome aboard and thanks for stopping by. Some start ! 😉
Used to live in Beith. I have some pen and inks of the historical ruins in Kilwinning. There is an opening line for you!
It is going to be interesting to see which position is presented tomorrow. LB or CB….depending on the formation of the team. Bring back the 2 fbs, 3 mids including the CB, and the 5 forwards in a W formation.
Things went Heck when the 4-2-4 arrived!
Us Ayrshire Tims either had a hard time,or an easy time because we were so outnumbered!
I remember my P3 teacher,1970,would bet me 2p on Beith beating the Buffs. She used to tell me that was a week’s wages. Her husband played for Beith at the time,and an excellent team they were. Winger,name of Reid.
Maybe before your time,but there was a kids TV magazine-type programme on ITV way back,and that was the theme tune,to an American Indian drum.
It might still be on t’net,I’ll have a look.
Here you go…
Not sure how Mahe is gonna present it,but at the moment he has my thoughts on the backline.
I’ve still got some work to do on the mid,and I haven’t even finalised my front men!
I can tell you,if you promise not to tell,that it’s 4-2-4. If it’s good enough for Jock…
Thanks for the welcome bhoys
Thinking that the back 4 will be straightforward enough but from mid to front going to take some serious thought.
Rebus ,,,Ive went 442 myself and have left back lined up for tomorrow . Hail Hail
OK. For me, there are two candidates….but, really only one.
That is an excellent summery, I thought about Jim Craig and yes we sometimes unwittingly forget about Jim because of that penalty, but big Jock knew his players and he had complete faith in him. McNamara was a good player for Celtic, but for me lacked that robustness that I personally like to see in defenders. For me Danny McGrain was the complete full back, miles ahead of his time. I agree about Paterson and of course O’Donnell, both are brave and skilful, Paterson also had an eye for goal, while IMO O’Donnell is the better defender. Is it not strange how sometimes players in our development teams have to leave Celtic before their talents are appreciated. I never really looked at Piccinni, so will take a peek now that you have raised him.
I look forward to reading your take on it. For what it’s worth I am confident that when the three teams are fed into the computer game to predict winners, mine will emerge victorious. In fact I have no doubt. 😉
I remember How… loved it after a hard day (ITV answer to Blue Peter on Tues & Thursdays?) after skool.
We do need to work on your drumming technique tho’ …?
PS as you will have sussed by now, every day was hard for me at skool.
Had to phone my uncle (his answer)
Here’s some Lunchtime scribbles…
For me as with many, it has to be Danny M McGrain, I still remember him playing in the World Cup of 1974. That was my first World Cup, I fondly remember watching it with my Dad. That was the time I was captivated by the skills of Johan Cruyff too. Football seemed a beautiful game I was hooked and Celtic had a guy who could compete at the very top level.
More than that Danny was a very decent, fair play who I don’t think anyone has a bad word to say about. His background spans the religious divisions but nobody cares and epitomises everything that is good about the game. The Celtic shirt was made for men like Danny.
I seem to remember him growing a beard too. Was that after Big Jock left? I think I remember hearing that Big Jock didn’t approve of beards…or maybe I dreamt that?
Another memory is sitting in the stand watching Danny training and spending time with Amido Balde .Danny would seem to spend every Half Time patiently and painstakingly slowly passing the ball to the big man. Amido would painfully try and manoeuvre his feet to try and roll the ball back. What must Danny of thought of this, I’ll never know. I shouldn’t think it happened in Barrowfield with the Quality Street Gang.
As I type I seem to remember Danny had a cousin that played at Clyde?
Maybe I dreamt that too? He might have been called Danny McGrain too.
Jim Craig has to be mentioned, Jim’s explanation of how Jock Stein stamped his authority on the team always makes me smile. As a young player Cairney brought a tee shirt into the Dressing Room to wear under the Hoops in the cold weather, he describes what happened next…
‘My answer was a tee-shirt under the strip, which not only kept me warm initially but seemed to ‘even-out’ the body heat generated during the match. Without realising it, I was imitating the players on mainland Europe, many of whom wear an under-shirt, even in the warmest of weather.Anyway, on this particular night, I was pulling on the tee-shirt when I heard a voice behind me say “hey, hey, hey”. I turned round; it was Jock Stein. “What’s that”, he said. “A tee-shirt”, I replied. “Aye, but what are you going to do with it?”, he asked. “Wear it under my strip”. His answer was unequivocal : “Not in this damn team you won’t.’
I don’t know if he got to wear a tee shirt or not but he didn’t do too bad…
Honours with Celtic
Scottish League Titles
1965-66, 1966-67, 1967-68, 1968-69, 1969-70
1967, 1969, 1971, 1972
Scottish League Cup
1966-67, 1967-68, 1968-69, 1969-70
Has to be Daniel Fergus, it says it all when the best right back in the land get played at left back to accommodate a hun at right back, he was still the best full back in the land at whatever position he played, something like that would never happen today would it.
The other was Wullie Fernie.
Technically there are two more but they were loan signings
Well done lhads I thought that would take all day.
Bobby Lennox did leave but was so homesick for his Mammy that he came back before the season ended possibly before Christmas. Leaving the statisticians in a quandary.
Wish he was in the team today. Imagine what he would do today? It’s unimaginable after Wee Jamsies performance at the weekend.
See Charlie Nic giving lady in the Daily Star – he couldn’t even run a pub – drowned in debt. He, like many on here and other forums who traduce the reputations of DD, PL and the board, couldn’t run a whelk-stall – but they love to pontificate.
There is only one choice for the right back position in my mind. My favourite ever Celtic player. Drumchapel’s greatest son Daniel Fergus McGrain. Would give an acknowledgement to Alan Sneddon, saw just about every game he played with Danny at left back. Alan was a 100% trier.
Like others, I would like us to sign Stephen O’Donnell back in January.