International Break best ever 11 – 2nd Central Defender


Our next choice is the second central defender.

Some managers like their no-nonsense centre-halves so much that they have two-or sometimes even three-of them. I think Bob Paisley is the only successful manager with two ball-playing centre-halves in Hansen and Lawrenson. I’m a traditionalist. I like one of each.

Billy McNeill was partnered for a long time by John Clark,probably the most under-rated player in our long history. And it pains me to pass him over,but I can’t leave out George Connelly. This was a man who should have achieved everything that there is to achieve,instead he achieved notoriety. But that came later. Allow me to tell you why he is in this eleven.

George was one of the fabled Quality Street Gang,the successors to The Lisbon Lions,had everything gone to plan. And probably the highest-rated. First to break through in 1968-after his legendary keepie-uppie display-he then thoroughly embarrassed John Greig in the 69 final. Took the ball off him like sweeties off a wean,waltzed it into the net.


This seemed to give George a bit of belief,much needed because for all his talent,he was ridiculously shy. He couldn’t do the dressing room banter,apparently. And some of his colleagues didn’t help either. Two who definitely did help were David Hay and David Cattenach,and you didn’t want to upset them too much. As a result,George was largely left to concentrate on his football.

And his career was getting into a fair swing.

Barely 21,George faced the daunting might of Leeds United at Elland Road. They were a legendary team,supremely skilled,but with a barely hidden seam of outright thuggery. George was picked by many as Man of the Match in the first leg,and scored the winner. He certainly wasn’t one to be intimidated on the pitch,even as his demeanour off it puzzled Jock and others.

Everything on the pitch was rosy for George Connelly. Jock compared him to Frank Beckenbauer-and nobody disagreed! He won title after title,POTY,Scotland caps. He took his preferred role alongside Billy McNeill. Nobody came near him on the field for the quality of his play.

But off field,the storms were brewing. I don’t want to go into that,you can google it. I’ve heard various rumours,but it’s a private tragedy and I’m prepared to leave it at that.

His last full season with us,72-73,he won POTY. Had things not gone spectacularly wrong,he could have won it for the next decade. He was only 24. But he burned bright for those few years.
Honourable mentions in the role would be superfluous. Once you’ve said John Clark and George Connelly,you’ve said it all. But I’m really gutted that I couldn’t find a space for Pat Stanton in this eleven. Jock usually played him in central defence at Hibs,but for the decade afterwards,his managers played him in midfield. Jock got him in a swap for Jackie Mac,Snr,and put him into central defence again. A revelation. He disappointed me in two ways though-one,that crazy career ending toe injury,and two,that we hadn’t signed him earlier. Aye,he really was that good.


Saltires en Seville ,,,,

To partner Big Roy I elected on Johan Mjallby 184 games (1998-2004) x15 goals, instead of

Joos Valgaeren 169 games  (2000-2005) x 10 goals. It was close,  as both make my criteria and I loved Joos for his quiet no complaints and no-nonsense attitude to doing his job. A real stalwart, the kind Napoleon relied on in his Imperial (old) Guard.

Johan makes my team ahead of some great players because he was so reliable for longer. Also, feel his presence helped ensure Henke was settled for longer. Just my hunch. However, he stands the test of time as an enduring favourite in his own right. His performances in the Seville season stand out in my mind and particularly away at Anfield and Boavista where he was rock solid, using all his experience to hold the back line together. Big Dolf is my kind of player. Quietly effective, speaks when he needs to and others pay attention. Not the tallest Central defence but imperious in the air with Roy beside him, (both around 187cm) However, their other qualities and with Boruc coming out to wipe out everything that moved above them,  it would be a partnership that would combine to work well.



The big one from gladiator gets the nod.
Well Bobo certainly coulda played that part and he is probably bigger than the fella and certainly at least as scary .
Big Bobo was a fecking mountain of man and Mon deserves a ton of praise not only for finding him but the way he convinced him and the ( lack of ) fee paid for him at the time . He must be in the top ten Celts for value for money and for penny pinchers that list is quite long , and perhaps will be a future article .
He wasnt a football player you see . He was warchief of a tribe who just like Eddie Murphy in that movie decided to see the West for himself , followed the crowds and decided he could play that position better than the little one who was currently trying in vain . And thus he became a defender for a while .
No wonder the French just cleaned up while they have easy access to such markets we can only dream about .

As a player his biggest flaw was easily ball control as he had little but his physique and natural athleticism helped make up for that massively . Thinking about it now he was basically tailor made for the Scottish game where its not soo much skill but grit . And for a long ball team he was their kryptonite which meant they had to try and play a wee bit and our actual good ball players then killed them . Yep old Martin got good service out of Bobo , Wgs not soo much although when he was brought in from the cold that time ( amongst talk that PL had banned him from the first team due to not moving on and sitting on his big salary ) the big fella did exactly what it says on the tin .
Jose seen his lack of ball skills as a weakness and subsequently had him successfully targeted in Seville which I have read many say cost us the game but I certainly dont subscribe to that theory . There was wave after wave of multiple men attacks taking place with Jose happy to throw men forward knowing the heat and energy already expended would stop quick counterattacks , the only thing which they had to fear at that time .
Perhaps Seville will be blogged about on here one day so I will leave it at that . I will admit that Lovenkrands got some joy out of big Bobo in later years though the system left him exposed then.

I am safe in the knowledge that my picks for central defence when played together could easily intimidate and literally look down upon most of the footballing world .
JUst stop for a moment and imagine Virgil and Bobo together at the back , holy crap .

So yep my second twin tower at the back is Bobo Balde .

Notify of

Well,I made my choices for the central defenders based on the firm knowledge that they are the best I’ve seen. But it doesn’t take long to read of the other candidates and think,we’ve had some right good ones!!!

Awe Naw

The main reason WGS wanted rid of Bobo was wages after he managed to negotiate himself a good deal with our C.E. Our C.E could never let it go. The purchase of Adam Virgo not helping matters. I always thought those two polarised the flaws in our recruitment perfectly.

Has to be Billy Mc Neil and John Clark for me if we are talking partnership. No other Celtic defensive partnership came even close.
The proof is in the pudding as they say


Awe Naw

Btw where do the games and goals stats come from ? Not Celtic wiki

,big packy

for me john clark was one of the most underated defenders in Europe, but not by the celtic support, we all knew what he brought to the celtic team, steady and dependable, used to stand watching him just sweep up everything, think the word sweeper was meant for him.hh.


Heading out shortly. Which stats? I drew mine from various sources,and included,for instance,The Glasgow Cup,which Celticwiki,etc,generally don’t.


Yes,indeed. And like I said,it pained me to leave him out-or to split up the partnership,as AWENAW said.

But I think George shaded it-he should be an all-time great in football,not just for Celtic. It is so sad to reflect on what coulda,shoulda been.

Awe Naw

appearances and gold scored.


Well respect to you guys because there is not much too add to your comments,

majoc, I could not disagree with one word that you said about George Connolly, respect too you for not highlighting or stating any of the rumours about George’s off field issues, that is not for us too speculate. The one thing I can add is that despite everything George loved the Celtic, I still mourn his loss to our beloved club.

John Clark, Great centre-half’s are like two dancers dancing the Tango, intertwined in a sequence of movements and steps, one goes forward, the other covers his back, being able to read the game is a must and that is key to positioning of the two. Billy and John were like that in different ways. Its burned into our memories big Billy lifting the big cup, but who could possibly forget his dancing partner, John Clark. His quiet unassuming demeanour shields a great talent that for some might be forgotten but not by any self respecting Celtic supporter. The thing that frightens me a wee bit is that one day, when he is not around anymore is that thousands of people will wake up and remember him for what he truly was, a real Celtic icon, one who knew the dance inside out and who was one of the greatest Tango partnership’s that ever wore our cherished hoops. “A Hearty Hail Hail” to a great player, John Clark.

All the other players mentioned were excellent Celtic players, but only two centre-halve’s won the big cup and helped take Celtic into the modern era, we will never forget them for what they did for us….

saltires en sevilla

Awe Naw

I took my stats originally from Wiki, but they seem to miss some competitions. I reverted to Celtic Wiki for myy final version. Might have missed a player or two in the round-up.



Tango? Dancing? Never mind all that,your post was poetry.

Get yourself an article prepared,any topic,send it to Mahe. You can have the floor for the day.

Although the site is booked through till next Thursday,of course!

saltires en sevilla


Lovely tribute.

My personal memories of watching both Cesar and Luggy in action as a wee boy reflect my view ‘then’ that they were there simply to keep others from scoring .. generally, there wasn’t much of that in those days and my attention was mainly ( almost completely) focused on the forward players and the guys that prompted them. The centre backs didn’t merit close inspection and were doing a fairly dull jib in my opinion of the time. I would feel like a fraud to include them and why I decided to focus only in the players i watched and kinda understood about their contribution and the anticipation and excitement they stirred in me.

The colour pictures in the Citizen after the games were full of the forwards and the new ‘Quality Street’ players. That was my generation really, although I saw Billy regularly from 68/69 season until ’75 (when I was 13.) he didn’t capture my heart until much later and just being honest about that. My bedroom wall space was limited and Jinky, Lemon and all the Q.S. players were my heroes.

The main exception was Boaby, as my dad always encouraged me to understand why our wingers and inside forwards were getting so much of the ball. There was a great foto kept until I moved away from my parent’s house of him celebrating that goal v Leeds. My younger brother kept a foto of him in Middlesbro’ strip… he also got that strip for his Christmas. Dad was still influencing his boays…

It was much later that I began to appreciate the essential job, and skills required, to create the platform for attacking to have the freedom to operate. The Lisbon cnetre backs are certainly the best I’ve seen. Sadly I just didn’t appreciate it at the time.

Thanks for sharing your memories. First hand recollections are the best.



I can’t recall the scoring in the poll for Greatest Ever Celt. There were many worthy contenders,and JINKY was an emotional as well as a deserving winner.

But,hell,Bobby couldn’t have been far behind,certainly in the eyes of those who saw him play.

But you know what seriously gets me about our greats?

Their modesty!

Seriously,not a big I am amongst them,though maybe some sailed close to that abyss before getting slapped back into line!!!!


Hi bhoys
To partner Virgil I have chosen big Bobo.Couldn’t add anymore to mahe’s fine assessment.


Stoap pretending yer still in yer thirties!

I must admit,I loved Bobo. He scared the living shit out of me,and I was on his side-and only spectating!

I genuinely believe he would occasionally mess up and allow a forward a break of the ball. So that said forward would see the goal getting nearer,hear Bobo getting nearer and wonder which came first-the wild shot,the crushing clearing tackle,or the embarrassing explanation about his jockstrap.

I’ll betcha Cousin wouldn’t have done to Bobo what he did to McManus. Nor Lafferty. Nor anyone without a death wish.

The way his career at Celtic ended reflected very badly on things inside Celtic Park. Bobo held his head high throughout it all. Others grubbed around in the gutter,leaking confidential information to organisations which can hardly be called our friends. I won’t even waste my breath wondering why.

Bobo,how many sons do you have,and can we have a couple?!


Troonbhoy, you’re off to a good start here my man . I see you know your football also ! Would loved to see Bobo take a penalty, poor keeper would shat it. I look forward to the rest of your team to see if we stay aligned. But like I said, when we feed all the teams into the computer I’m confident my bhoys emerge the cream of the crop.
Happy Friday all on what is paint the deck weekend here, bi annual pain I’m the ass that has had 3 days of prep already and needs more.
The mother in law stays for weekend to “help out ” more like stress me out but her intentions are good .
Been a great series so far and I’m learning reading the memories of all. Cheers.

saltires en sevilla


Their background was surely a factor. Also, I’m sure anyone with a big baws attitude wouldn’t have got past Sean Fallon or Neilly Mochan nevermind Jock Stein.

Also, they earned very little for their efforts – someone mentioned Jim Kennedy worked in another job to supplement his income. Played in front of 100,000 plus crowds European semi-finals etc.

Did someone say Tommy Gemmell was on £8 a week in the 60’s?.

At a time when local lads played neighbourhood challenge games for a ‘Dollar’ or the equivalent of 5 (five shillings) – i suppose that was before the Gold Standard changes when £1 = 4 (four) Dollars US.

Tommy was rattling in goals in 2x European Finals playing in games with crowds over 100,000 … 130,000+ in Leeds SF game 1970 FFS!

(I was earning £6 weekly wages as a schoolboy, delivering milk in 1977 plus about £13 tips.)

Inflation was doing strange things in those days – but Jeezo!

No wonder the players were tempted South. No wonder the guys that stayed remained humble.

Wonder if any of the bhoys on here can shed any light on the ratio of average working man to Celtic players over the years.

The ‘income or receipts’ from a 11,000 Scottish cup -tie in 1982 – Paul McStay’s debut v Queen of the South was c£13,000.
I’m willing to bet Paul wasn’t earning £100 per week by then ( maybe after bonuses?)

Where did the QOS money go? ?


Saltires en Sevilla,

Great post and thank you for sharing your Celtic memories, Like many of my generation we neglected our studies and lived and breathed football. Times were difficult in the late forties as mothers and fathers worked hard to provide for their families. Although our families roots lay in Ireland, my dad was not interested in football and so my brothers and I found our sport of choice, spending most of our time playing football till dark.

You develop a passion for the game and that passion was enlarged when I found a life time of love for the Celtic, it felt marvellous going to the games, meeting fellow supporters, sharing our love for this great club. I must be honest though because through a lot of my younger years I preferred to play rather than watch, but of course with one ear on the wireless or your eyes transfixed to the T.V. These are the hidden things that great players do for you, they focus your attention on the game as you try to learn what they are doing and try to copy them. Try being the operative word.

It will be nigh impossible for our club to emulate what it achieved in the late 60/70s but as your name suggests, you can never say never, those memories of Sevilla will last with me and my sons forever even though we lost the final, the sheer joy of the previous games, the quarters and semi’s, joyful times indeed. So we look to the future with hope and expectation, better to believe is it not than not to believe. H.H.

saltires en sevilla


Bobo is a great shout.

Fearsome in the tackle. Loved the big guy.

Despite some unhappy memories of a December night in Lyon. When he was clearly conned.


‘Mr Lawwell, you may be the Chief Executive of Celtic… but I am the Chief Executive of Bobo Balde’

There’s yer dinner …???

Bobo was no-one’s mug!



I had a ridiculously lucrative paper round when we played Real Madrid. Sixteen and daft,one of those descriptions has changed. I’d just picked up part of the takings on the Saturday morning-did most of it on Sunday afternoon-and went off to see us play,I think,,Dundee.

We would be allocated two tickets for Real as we passed through the turnstile.

Fella asked how many tickets I wanted. I thought you could only get two,can I have twelve?

Sold them on for a MASSIVE profit-you have to remember that this is REAL MADRID,when will we see their likes again!

Aye,didafuck. Sold at face value,to people who couldn’t be there at the time. Twelve tickets,£24.

Blinkin’ flip,

saltires en sevilla


You must have seen Charlie Tully play?

My dad raved about him and he was his favourite player..more than any of the Lions.

I’m wondering if we all stay ‘loyal’ ( is that even allowed for Tims? ? ) to our heroes from our formative years? Despite what we see latterly…

I would say the same about music… generally.

saltires en sevilla


You almost had a stinger on the profiteering…

Do I really know this guy?

You had me then ..?

Real Madrid 1980 – Gross income £100k declared …at least!!

Makes ye wonder .. it really rips my knitting ?

saltires en sevilla

Err..apart from with that Lyon player in 2003 … ?


If I had a penny for everytime I heard about the Falkirk corner



I’m not certain that I did see Charlie, but I seem to remember hearing about a goal he scored direct from a corner at Falkirk, not once but twice, when the ref. told him to retake it. 😉

saltires en sevilla

Aye…the TWO corners ??

How many Celtic fans were there that day.. and all crammed into the corner area..?



Did I tell you my brother played for Falkirk? Aye he did. 😉

cosy corner bhoy

Now that the wee best X1 article is well underway I thought I’d start on mine!
It will however be in the rb,lh il format as when I started watching formation was something done by dancers on the telly-that’s if you had a television.
GK: We have been blessed with some fine ‘goalies’ since the arrival of Artur Boruc and even before then Ronnie Simpson did well !,though funnily enough I thought John Fallon was better but no’ very lucky,but for me step forward Willie Miller.
Willie played with some mince sides and even in 3 and 4 goal defeats he was the star man!
These were hard times to be a Tim hence so many aged happy-clappers:).
‘Miller left the field and there was not a bit of his body you could lay a thupenny bit on and not touch a bruise’ to paraphrase a reporter of the time,BTW don’t think he won even one medal.
RB: well Bobby Hogg must get a mention as anEmpire ExhibitionTrophywinner,and Dunky McKay was an attacking,ball-playing full back before we even knew what that was…but…
Sean Fallon is my man.Hard as nails and absolutely fair in the tackle.He could also sort out those who roughed-up any of our more slender players.
The ability to play centre forward was also helpful when Sir Bob was picking the team usually in the more important ones!
LB. Jimmy Mallan deserves a mention but it is a one-horse race.
Big Tommy G!! How that lad could smell a ball defied physical science and scared the shit out of keepers at penalties.Absolutely loved him.
Well that’s me till I submit my half-back line-up.Sorry if any younger ones don’t know what I am talking about?

saltires en sevilla

That is interesting – did he ever get to play v Hoops?

Did some work with lad from Falkirk a few years back – he lived near Windsor- decent guy and I admired his attitude to the game and supporting a small club.

saltires en sevilla

Cosy Corner Bhoy

Looking forward to reading more of this stuff- brilliant!

cosy corner bhoy

Big TG could ‘skelp’ a ball . Bloody predictive text always guesses wrong!


CCB, great stuff and keep em coming.
We younger ones need knowledge like that. Hope all well. Hail Hail

,big packy

cosy corner bhoy, that’s a better selection of players than that majoc



No, although a scout came to my parents house from another club. I remember him playing against St. Johnstone and up against a friend of his, Falkirk had a corner and as he prepared to jump for the ball, his pal pulled down his shorts and his weak tackle was exposed. His face was ridder than the sheep.s jerseys.

But you are right the locals love their football and they support Falkirk really well.



Meant to say that my P.E. coach was Davie McParland who was for a short time big Jock’s assistant, after big Jock got injured in the car crash that nearly killed him. Davie was a brilliant fella and he was good to me. He encouraged me to apply for the school county trials. I couldn’t go because I was the oldest and had to work on a Saturday to help the family. But I will always have fond memories of Davie. RIP.

saltires en sevilla

Hear good things about Davie as a decent guy.


saltires en sevilla

Mahe/Majoc et al

Just a general thought on the layout of blog.

Love the speed and how easy to use etc. Don’t have to log in or turn off my ‘whatevers’ to avoid intrusive adverts and sundry nonsense. Also, can play music on radio app or from my files and doesn’t cut out every time I turn a page. Doesn’t ‘refresh’ all the time and leave me stranded.

Very enjoyable experience and well done to the guys that make this happen. Thank You!

In terms of wee tweaks that might help – Isee I’ve missed a few responses from the guys as they are ‘hidden’ under original comments farther up the page….. not sure if new replies to earlier comments are intended to flow to the bottom of the thread? Would mean each new visit we know where we left off and start catching up by scrolling only one way.

Not a huge deal, but wouldn’t want anyone to feel they are being ignored… unintentionally.

Keep up the great work.



Thanks SES and I’m glad you mention majoc as this isn’t just mine thats for sure.
As for your tech query I personally don’t know how to fix it but perhaps someone will. I will give the keys and let them sort it. Anyone know if we could fix this? Perhaps it’s just standard.
Have a great weekend and keep writing .
Hail Hail

Evening Bhoys, still very warm in the hun free mountain valley.
As a partnership it has to be John Clark, I picked Billy so it follows.
Can’t decide between Bobo and VvD, Paul Elliot after his first season was sensational, won player of the year in his second season I think and Marc Reiper had he not broke his toe, George Connelly all I can say is wow.
I agree with SeS, the lay out is seriously confusing at times, I know I have missed replies, it’s no a complaint, far from it, the site is superb, just needs tweaked as said 🙂

Garry Duncan

My central defender to partner Cesar is Roy Aitken. Saw his debut and majority of games for Celtic. I always felt safe with big Roy in a Celtic team. He is a few years older than me, and I always admired how tough and intelligent a leader he was on the pitch. Like Danny McGrain, his longevity at the club during a period I followed Celtic home and away, swings it for me. Roy also was more skilful and clever a player than he got credit for.
My defence choice
1 Artur Boruc
2 Danny McGrain
3 Dariusz Wdowczyk
4 Roy Aitken
5 Billy McNeill

The Gombeen Man

I was undecided as to my second Centre Half but after reading Mike’s post I have to go with John Clarke…

Great reading on the Blog today, I love the personal inputs and reminiscences from posters. Cosy Corner Bhoy has a fine post here today today

My favourite Centre Half moment was big John Hughes’ later equaliser against the now defunct Rangers at Ibrox on Paddy’s Day 1996. I’ll always remember that goal at our end and Paul McStay’s delight.

We’ve had a number of other notable CH’s over the years but for the quiet way John Hughes represented the qualities of our Club and for what he achieved, I’ll go with John.




Is that the McParland that played left wing for the Maryhill Magyers? Very good player and sportsman, if it was.



I also love the blog but I feel I suffer from the 5 hour time difference between Ontario and the UK/Eire. By the time that I post most of the points have been said. When you folks are having your lunch at 12, I am still snoring in my scratcher!

Any chance you could post the agenda, i.e the other positions?


PS here are other teams that I like either because I lived there, or a relative supported them.

Yoker Athletic, Beith, Raith Rovers, Luton Town, and the Ottawa Fury.


A thing of beauty

Great read back as usual. An education (which I get regularly) to read the musings of cosy corner boy but I’m sticking with players I’ve seen. Methuselah himself probably never saw willie miller!!
To partner big Roy I’m going for Virgil van dyke. From the first moment we saw this guy you could tell he was a player. I never expected him to go on to be the worlds most expensive defender but early on you felt he could play for the likes of Barca (in their pomp at that time) without any problem. He never seems to run, just glides across the turf to snuff out any danger. Great in the air and very comfortable bringing the ball out. The epitome of the modern day defender. I was going to say flawless but that wouldn’t be true. The only failing I ever saw in Virgil was his propensity to immediately point the finger at efe when the fault lay clearly with himself. Not the sign of a team man and his refusal to play against Dundee adds weight to the theory. But even with the faults I can’t see past Virgil in my first 11. We won’t see his likes for a long time



Yes it was, Davie’s first love was P.T. a very good and an honest player, I remember him well, a modest and a nicer bloke you couldn’t meet. I was really chuffed for him when he became big Jock’s assistant, if I remember he looked as if he might have been prepared to take over from big Jock, not sure what happened that he didn’t.


Davie was manager of the opposing team when I first saw Celtic lose a game. Four years I’d been going by then. Patrick Thistle 4…



Tomorrow and Sunday sees the two midfielders from me.

And then I really must write up the forward line and send them to Mahe. I’m still undecided,which is ludicrous!

Why don’t you put your long experience to the benefit of the site,and compose an article? Post it to Mahe at

You can have the jump on us all then!

Btw,Mahe is eight hours behind most of us-you’re lucky!




Yes I remember that game, a bit of a surprise as I recall, it illustrates that a wee bit of complacency and an opposing team highly motivated equals a big surprise. P.T. played really well that day. I still see his face today, he had an intelligent look to him. A great guy..


Hi bhoys
Very interesting discussion regarding our best 11.Though I have been supporting Celtic since 66,been unfortunate to have seen the lions in their day apart from tales from uncles/ aunts and my Celtic daft gran by God she was Celtic daft.
Ya cheeky oap,I’m only 52,started following the bhoys in 78. here, there,every fkin where. What a upbringing singing songs that you were brought up with as our young ones do today
God Bless them.
Love all the selections although wish I was old enough to see all our players
Methuselah csc.