International Break best ever 11 – Left Back


On Day Three,we take a look at the left back position. In my opinion,the stand-out is Tommy Gemmell. So good,in fact,that we had to wait about forty years for Izzy to come along before we had a reliable enough replacement for the big fella.

Jock Stein said he was the best left back in the world,and he would probably have been just as good at right back or centre half. He was certainly recognised internationally for his exploits,being mentioned regularly in polls of Europe’s best during his prime. He even famously appeared with Baddiel and Skinner to relive one of his famous right-footed “dunks”!

Tommy broke into the team in 1963,just before his 20th birthday. To become a first-choice at so early an age was unusual then,and he would remain so for the next eight years,playing almost 450 games for us and scoring 69 goals. He was a machine when it came to penalties,with 34/37 success rate.

The goalkeepers dived out of the way when Big Tam blootered the ball their way,and they were well advised to do so.

Jock arrived in 1965. He really pushed Tommy on,recognising the quality of the player. In our all-conquering 1966-67 season,Tommy played every minute of every game-as did John Clark. And famously,it was Tommy who really did for Inter in Lisbon,scoring the equaliser which frankly sealed their fate. He also scored in our losing final in Milan,but his fall-outs with Jock were becoming too frequent,and he was shown the door,leaving most reluctantly for Nottingham Forest in 1971.

He left with six League medals,three Scottish Cups and four League Cups. Oh,and that European Cup medal from Lisbon. He left with regrets,but with our best wishes. Little did we know that only two years later,he would be back-captaining Dundee to League Cup success against us!
A problem position for us since the days of Tommy,as I said. Honourable mentions must go to Jim Brogan-he’d be the first to admit that he wasn’t a left back,but he finally found a regular first team spot in that role. Mark Reid,much-maligned by many,but he was only a kid,and boy,could he take a penalty! Stephane Mahe for his part in stopping the ten,and of course our current options,Izzy and Kieran Tierney,who could be the best of them all. Start practicing the penalties,Kieran!


Saltires en Seville,,

Tommy Gemmell 434 games (1961-1971) x 69 goals!!!

What has not been said in praise of the Big Shot ? ( first football book I read without pictures and still have my late father’s copy)

Quite simply a giant of a player who had stamina and strength; flair and skill. Loved playing and had the ability to make every game centre around him & how he played. So involved. Memories are mainly from 69/70 – 71/72 seasons although I watched him live in ‘68 season and many times after that. I remember the craziness in the family home when he scored that goal in ‘67. Not remembering the actual goal. I remember clearly his other European Cup Final goal in Milan 1970 v Feyenoord. Bertie’s wee lay-off at free-kick. We knew it was going in right there. An absolutely cracking player and we will be blessed if Kieran can get within 10% of his achievements for Celtic.



Again I seen many that were given a shot or shunted into the position but no one that actually grabbed it and said this position is mine eff off everyone else . The names that were thrusted there , most because they could  do it decent enough , are lengthy . Boyd , Laursen , Camara , Mulgrew and many more which I find strange as for a team that likes to attack surely the wing backs are more important than to just shunt somebody in there but apparently not .

No one until  a certain one came along , and I think I can honestly say , he’s one of the most popular foreign characters among the support and dressing room that we have ever have .


PLease Gloria Gaynor the following ,,,

And so he’s back , from outer space , I just logged in one day to find you striding back into the place.

Wherent you the one who dazzled Scotland with your style , straight up that left wing , and cross thats usually wild !!!


Ill stop there , ahem . Yes folks , we thought we had seen our bhoy depart for good but look what the big spending board dragged in .

Izzy is one of us now , and if I see him in his favoured slot I am content with that . Yes KT is a cracker but hes not the bionic man and needed rest sometimes and having such and able deputy helps the decision to rest him sometimes hopefully .

Hes a wee cracker , zippy , all action , not dirty in any way , and seems to love it there if truth be told , well he wouldnt be back if he didnt right ?

And I dont know about you but remember he had the chance for the hattrick those years back when he was given the penalty and it was cruelly saved robbing him of his big moment ? My heart felt for him thats for sure and hopefully yours did too . Like I say hes an easy guy to like , its a cool quality .

He didnt cost a lot either and has been a steal in relative terms . Plus his ego was in check enough to become a number two which is kinda surprising as most pros in their 30’s just wanna play but I see it as a win win all around. I like to think he’s giving Kieran wee snippets of advice and will play a part in his development . Lets watch him while we can and just enjoy it .


So if forced to choose a left back I am happy with ,, gimme Izzy !



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Awe Naw

Not many Celtic defenders have played in World Cup finals. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Edson Braafheid. Played ten games for us and a less than 50% success rate.

Although the omission of Enrico has been noted.



I liked Big Rico. He scared the crap out of opponents like no other Celtic defender I’ve seen,with the possible exception of Bobo. He could play anywhere across the backline.

And he never allowed Laudrup a kick of the ball whenever he played him. Hard as nails,aye,but there was a lot more to his game than that.


Playing catch up

Right back nominations

1. Danny McGrain
2. Davie Hay (I’ll nominate him in midfield too)
3. Dunky McKay
4. Jim Craig
5. Mikel Lustig

Left Back

1. Tommy Gemmell
2. Kieran Tierney
3. er. that’s it

,big packy

okay here goes, first left back I ever saw in the hoops, mr dependable no nonsense jim kennedy, then a certain mr gemmel, also liked mahe sorry mahe not you liked annoni loved izzy .but Kieran is the real deal, alas there can only be one winner I give you mr tam gemmel boy could he hit a ball, hunskelper and Lisbon lion.hh.

Awe Naw

Honorable mentions apart from the usual candidates

Didier Agathe ( oh Yes)
Chris Morris
Jackie Mac
Andy Lynch

and before we converted wingers

Sean Fallon and Mike Haughney .. never saw them play but my big Brars rave about them .. their era not mine
Duncan Mckay
Jim Mallan
Bobby Hogg

Awe Naw

we also over they years have had a much of a muchness about our FB

Mark Reid
Anton Rogan
George Sneddon
Paul Telfer
Lee Naylor
Stephane Mahe
Andreas Hinkel

Awe Naw

Today´s quiz.

Name two players that Celtic have signed directly from an America(USA) club ?

a bonus point if you can tell me how many games they played combined after signing

The Gombeen Man

Gil Heron ?

Awe Naw

1 point.

The Gombeen Man

Joe Kennaway, goalkeeper

Awe Naw

2 points the Gombeen Man.

These quizzes are far too easy for you guys

Tomorrows quiz is going to be a real toughie

Joe Kennaway played 263 times was the successor to John Thomson

One name that does appear though in the next USA game is the remarkable Joe Kennaway, a player already mentioned elsewhere in this website. The then 21 year old goalkeeper in the Canadian team, the 6-2 defeat seems to have done his career prospects no harm. Two months later he moved to The States to join Providence in Rhode Island of the ASL. That franchise moved from Providence to Fall Rivers in Massachusetts. Kennaway was outstanding playing for Fall Rivers against a touring Celtic team in the Summer of 1931. Tragedy then struck Celtic weeks later and their goalkeeper, John Thomson. The 22 year old prodigy already had over 200 Celtic appearances to his name, as well as four for Scotland. In an Old Firm game on 5th September he was in a collision with Rangers forward, Sam English. Thomson was stretchered off with serious skull injuries and died in hospital on the evening of the same day. English was fully exonerated but deeply traumatised by the events. He tried to rebuild his career but after playing for Liverpool, Queen of the South and Hartlepool, he retired from football aged 28.

In a time of obvious high emotion for the Parkhead club, it was to Kennaway to whom they turned to replace the massive goalkeeping void that they had. Kennaway played for Celtic with distinction in the 30s making over 250 league appearances alone and collecting two league and two Scottish Cup winners medals (the 1937 Hampden win against Aberdeen drew the all time world record crowd of 147,365 for a national cup final with 20 000 locked outside). He became a dual internationalist in 1933 when he played for Scotland against Austria in the first visit of a foreign national side to Hampden. He would have played more games for Scotland but the other home nations objected. He did though play four times for the Scottish League. It was also from 1933 that he is already mentioned on this website. He appears in the legends profile of Willie Savage as being the opposing goalkeeper in a historic Queens game. This was the first ever game of QoS top division football, the 3-2 win against Celtic.


I would have got Gil Heron,because I’m a huge fan of his son’s music. My Dad explained that story when he saw me listening to Reflections in my teens.

I thought he was winding me up,till I remembered he doesn’t joke about Celtic.

Wouldn’t have got Joe Kennaway in a month of Sundays. Though I was considering Brad Friedel as an answer.


You could have left out the last sentence!!!


Hi bhoys
Left back position goes to
Had a few good l/bs in the.past
Tam Boyd
Mark Reid

Awe Naw

Gil Heron played one game for Celtic and was bought from Detroit Corinthians in 1951. A club that is so defunct I can´t even find anything on google. Who did Celtic sell him too ?

That Tommy Gemmell boot up the arse in full…


Thunderbolt and lightning is very, very frightening to seeee.. Tommy Gemmell legend, voted by Celtic supporters in 2002 as the best ever left back and no arguments from me. A wee mention to Juus Valharan (spelling) and to the big Hibs left back who did his best for blessed Martin, even he could not sort that problem position. Enough about them and back to the future with big Tam, everybody that claims to be a Celtic supporter will know big Tam’s story, so a wee bit of his story as a young lad. Born in Motherwell a clever lad who was Dux of his primary school passed his eleven plus and attended Wishaw junior secondary. At just eight years old he played for the school team, his talents as a player were obvious even then. Later he played for an amateur side Meadow thistle, where he played on the right wing. One day the left back failed to turn up and the 6ft.2″ Tam played that position and the rest is history. Playing junior football he was spotted by Celtic scout Eddie McArdle. He signed for Celtic on the same day as his great pal, “Jimmy, Jimmy Johnstone, Jimmy Johnstone on the wing” image that eh, two Lisbon Lions sign for Celtic on the very same day… Flippin flip. The wages paid by Celtic was £8.00 pounds per week, so he had to continue working as a sparky in Ravenscraig.

My personnel memories of big Tam was later much later than Lisbon, like many great players he wasn’t stand offish and we passed by each other weekly in the aisles of Asda in Stirling, me doing the hands down in adulation and him with his customary big grin, if I missed the shop my misses would be my stand in and she would receive the big grin. I loved that big man. Time is a bastard though and I got a shock when I saw him a few years before his passing, I felt awful when I read on CQN of his circumstances, I wish I had done more. The memories that man left, his thunderbolt shot, his carrying on with Jinky especially when he took over the hotel in Errol, catching Jinky when the barman phoned him as the Dundee manager and him rushing to get Jinky out the pub, man that would be funny to witness. The kick up the backside that he gave to the German defender when playing for Scotland, beating Celtic while the Dundee manager. “twas written in the stars”. Like many others I went to Celtic park to send him on his way, another reason he meant so much to me.

Rest easy big Tam, you gave us so much pleasure and your memories will last my life time, if only I had given you a wee bit more back. Tommy Gemmell the finest left back I ever saw, “Thunderbolt and Lightning”.

Motherwell,I think. And I’m sure he played more than one game for us. Have you checked Celticwiki?

Awe Naw

No. Not motherwell. Yes just the on egame

Awe Naw

He was sold to Third Lanark.

Ok name another player (and last I think) that Celtic signed from an American club ?

Will be easy peasy for you geniuses


HAHAHA Funny that was, the moral of the story is “Don’t mess with me”.


I’m sure he played more than that,but not many. Seems our support and dressing room weren’t as eclectic and ecumenical as one would like to think back then.


Fortunately for Gil,the women of this world weren’t quite so prejudiced!

Btw,we definitely re-signed Bobby Lennox from Houston Hurricanes,so there’s one answer to two questions on different days-there’s even a supporters club over there in his honour!


That was superb. He was a VERY good friend of my much missed pal,Franny. He used to post on CQN as THEBARCAMOLE,sadly interred on the 50th Anniversay of Lisbon 67.

Even Franny didnae think as much of Big Tam as you did!

Only kidding,they were right close,even though Franny was mainly in The Philippines. You wrote Tam’s eulogy for him,mate.

IMO,we took forty years to replace him. That alone tells you how good he was.

PS-we only replaced him as a left-back. Still waiting for one wi that ‘dunk’!

Awe Naw

Seen its you I´ll give you it.

The answer I was looking for was Freddy Ljungberg

Awe Naw

Maybe he was just shit

I thought he was deid! Sure played that way…

Do you reckon we were paying him more than we were allowed to pay Henrik?

The Exiled Tim

Has to be Tommy G
Have to go in town much to do before the shop I need closes for siesta



Thanks for that, I have heard of “The Barcamole” really sorry about his passing, I never knew that he was gone. But your hero’s never die, they live in the recess of your mind, memory’s that you bring out from time to time and you appreciate what they gave to you.

Big Tam did that for me, along with many other Celtic players, how I wish that we had a few more players that would stand up for their team-mates, when I saw that wee Naisy shouting down at Johnny Hayes and none of Hayes’s team-mates stood up for him, it made me very angry. Celtic players should always stand shoulder to shoulder for their mates, we rely so much on each other when so many are eager to destroy us.

Next time I have a wee sip, I will think of Franny and Big Tam and toast there togetherness, for being the great Celtic men they were…


With you on the Naismith stuff,I was beelin’ watching that. With you also on the Tam and Franny bit,though they’ll have drunk heaven dry by now.

Not much else to do up there,apparently!


Picking a “best” for LB is easier than for most positions, since there are so few outstanding candidates. Others have mentioned players that performed well in the position but would not be rated internationally. To that list I would add Jim Kennedy who was solid, despite being part time for some of his career. However, there are two candidates that can be rated, and have been, internationally. These are Tommy Gemmell and Kieran Tierney. Tierney still has a lot to achieve in the future, barring injury, but Gemmell’s body of work is fully available for critique. Others have listed Tommy’s achievements so I shall not repeat them, but I shall add one dimension to this list. Along with Gia Facchetti, ironically of Inter Milan, Tommy pioneered the emerging role of the wing back. Jock Stein was a great admirer of Facchetti and schooled Gemmell to mold his attacking game on Facchetti. He proved to be a very able student. It would have been a crime to confine a player with such a powerful shot to being purely a defender.
Gemmell’s career also illustrates the institutional bias that existed and still exists today towards selecting Celtic players for the national team. Only 18 caps for a player of Gemmell’s stature in a position that had few outstanding candidates, was yet another disgrace for the authorities that “run’ the game. So, in the round, it is Gemmell for the LB position.




Hats off to your summary. Let me add a wee personal note. I remember the day that the centre of Glasgow stopped for Tommy’s wedding. I think the reception was in an Italian restaurant, Vesuvio(?), near George Square. I was in the crowd struggling to catch a glimpse of big Tommy….funny how it is usually the bride that is the main interest in weddings!

Dux of his primary school…..who knew!




Thanks for that, as you know my first Celtic game was in 1960, the cup final between big Jock’s Pars and the Celtic, I never really cottoned on to who the manager was then, but it must have been Jimmy McGrorey, can you imagine that, not remembering the greatest ever goal scorer 522 goals in 501 games in Celtic’s history. Yes, big Tam was an awful lot cleverer than most knew.

Memories are made of this, the small snippets of a personnel nature, those are what you remember forever…


Agree with choices – but what about Jim Kennedy? He and Jim Brogan always gave us everything.

The Gombeen Man

I’d to ‘phone a friend’ for Joe Kennaway.
Gil Scot Heron wrote a few poems too I think.

It’s good to have a brain teaser in the mornings.

The Gombeen Man

Not too easy at all…See answer below to majoc 🙂



We must have been in the same crowd(s)! Those were the Eddie Connachan games. Yesterday I described the crowd conditions to my wife and she was appalled. Jam packed like that, it was a disaster waiting to happen, but didn’t.


The Exiled Tim

I see that the info re tickets for Murrayfield v hartz have the tickets costing £30, while the tickets at Hampden for the huns v sheep game are costing £25, now if this is true, ach wtf, it won’t matter, the clamour for tickets will be just the same as it always was, every ticket bought supports the corruption, what really gets me is the folk who support and prop up the cheating then complain about being cheated, these in the main are intelligent Celtic supporters, the mind boggles so it does.

saltires en sevilla


The sad truth, if not the Absoute Truth, is that you are only one…

I agree with you, absolutely.. but we are only two (2)

30,000 Celtic fans will pile into Murrayfield …

It’s a sectional/lost cause!


The Gombeen Man

‘People who offer simple solutions to complex problems usually have a huge knowledge gap.’

I read this statement elsewhere today and it’s indicative of the arrogant self righteousness, that exists at the executive level at Celtic.

Surely the simple solution is some honesty ?

The complex problem is that with their primary objective is to ‘monetise’ their business and thereby ignore the reality that the Scottish game is corrupt to the core. The solution, to date, has been a licence for the Dave King’s of this world to continue to cheat.

They (the PLC) have ignored the fact that Sevco and their cohorts, have now shoehorned their way to challenge for ‘their’ 55th Title and no-one has had the gumption to cry foul.

A human tragedy was narrowly avoided at Celtic Park at the last Sevco game and they now face the prospect of trying to get 800 Celtic Supporters out of Ibrox safely.

Putting money and institutional investors (and hoping for the best) before the welfare of Celtic and our supporters is the ‘solution’ for our wealthy professionals in the PLC.

saltires en sevilla

The Gombeen Man

I’ll go further …800 are at risk trying to ‘get in’

The model will still ‘ pay out ‘ and any investment is protected.

A few ‘slapped about’ tims is merely collateral damage.

I should sign-off for a while …?

The Gombeen Man


The trouble is that it is ‘too complex for us to understand’…according to those who know.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.”

Maybe it’s just that simple ?

The Exiled Tim

I also read today that UEFA have allowed the huns to slash the ticket allocation to away supporters for their europa games, this is on the advice of the police as the games are classed as HIGH RISK, Spartak have complained to UEFA no avail, they have said there is nothing they can do cos the police have said their bit.
No mention in the smsm, no mention of how safe our 800 are gonna be, this is after the police has said that it’s easier to police 8000 as opposed to 800, it’s scotland where we are not wanted, end of.

,big packy

the exiled tim, my old man god rest him ,said to me once, if you got 11 chimpanzees and put celtic shirts on them some celtic fans would applaud them, they just don’t get the big picture unfortunately, that’s why a boycott would not work they just want to applaud the hoops no matter what.. p.s. did you get the clippers you were after.hh.

The Exiled Tim

In a perverted sort of way I can understand what you Da was saying, no that I agree with it, a boycott worked back in the early mid 90s, the landscape was a bit different back then, people today have imo been brainwashed to accept our lot, look we are in the black, we have money in the bank unlike thems, thems who don’t actually need money in the bank, look at what they have managed to do, dump 100s of £ millions of debt and still retain everything they had before, no bad, they will be taking baubles off us soon enough, aye, who are the mugs.

The Exiled Tim

The wife’s friend in Ireland is sending a set over to us, she has a spare set, thanks again to Joan.

The Gombeen Man

King and Co are chances and would have shaken a few hands and got a bit of advice from pals at UEFA 😉

If it was reversed we wouldn’t have been backed by the Cops…The PLC probably wouldn’t have said anything and the Media would have had a field day.

Was the Ajax game High Risk? There’d been bother before.


Come on lads wakey wakey.

The Ibrox Safety certificate has been given since 2009 on a handshake.

Public knowledge was one of Phil’s leads before he dropped it. Was FOI request which had GCC and the HSE squirming.

So UEFA are now fully up to speed with the SPFL stance which has been dressed up as a Hun and Polis decision.

Mitigating risk.

Was more deplorable when 10.000 went there.

So you can take it to the bank that UEFA are fully informed with regards to operation save Old Firm.


The Exiled Tim

I suppose, it makes sense, what other team under the uefa banner have done what the hun has and gotten away with it, short answer is none.
The tenticals are far reaching so they are.



UEFA can only act so if Celtic are onside


The Gombeen Man

Surely Hugh Dallas will let them know that there are problems at Ibrox ? Or maybe big Pete is well in there ?

🙂 🙂