At times like these its hard to know what to say and where to look , things just arent right and you , just like everyone else , can sense it.
Its when tragedy strikes that family bonds can be either strengthened or tested , but such is the character of the man that passed that its hard to see past anything but universal respect pouring forth in this case.
Fortunately for us we have each other , and always will have for if theres one slogan that does actually ring true and always will , its You’ll Never Walk Alone.
And please try to take comfort that there are many thousands worldwide feeling the exact same ,, that one of a kind has left us. And what a man he was !
Depending on your age the great man would have meant different things to you ,, he was clearly big Packys hero and many many others also. I envy those who were soo very fortunate to have seen the colossus take to the field , a giant among men. Im just glad all , not just Celtic fans , seem to appreciate just what they witnessed , a true Captain fantastic.
Much too late I came to the scene and he was an elder statesmanlike figure to me ,, but it was the reverence and sincere esteem that he was held in by men I knew who didnt give that kinda thing out lightly that made its lasting imprint on me.
One of my earliest memories was the switch to my own bedroom at I suppose age two or something . The very first thing went on the wall was not the starting 11 Lions but the 14 man squad , for some reason unbeknown to me thats the pic that dad chose.
I was ordered to quickly learn the names of those heroes to recite on demand to become a big boy ,, and the task was jumped at by someone hoping to get a bike sooner rather than later.
However the bedroom in question was also home to two dreaded features, both the bane of a young active mind . The hot water tank closet or hotpress ,, and a large tall dark dresser .
One makes creaks and noises with drips through the night and the other had two doors that would open at any minute to allow the underworldly monsters and their ilk easy access to this young bhoys room as soon as his daddy closed the door.
And thus began a few months of tears and angst with the transition.
However many a night dad kept reassuring me that under Big Billys watch nothing untoward would go down at all .
Why I asked ? Because the monsters are afraid of him !!!
No ordinary man ,, carved not born etc etc and slowly but surely under his watchful eye this young Hoop was able to settle at night as much as any young man could.
The same man in that same pic may very well help my wee one in her transition , it certainly would be fitting .
“ Call me old fashioned but I prefer the manager of Celtic to be Scottish or Irish “ I recall him telling a broadcaster prior to the appointment of Martin , who I think he approved of.
Well he wasnt one to just preach he could also practice what came out of that mouth and how lucky we were for that fact in the centenary year .
If there was ever a perfect case of right man, right place , right time then surely that year and Big Billy must be close to the very top of that pile for that immortal campaign alone.
I recall one of my first ever pints with Beppe asking why Real Madrid and he told me a truly heart warming story of how their famous captain Sanchis in his very last campaign lead his team to the European cup final , and goes on to win that cup in his last ever game.
Leading his team up to lift the big Cup he leads his young son by the hand up with him.
When they reach the cup he gestures and his son is actually the first to lift it , then naturally hands it over to his dad.
It turns out that very son , 25 years later captained the very same team to glory in his own European Cup final . And when he went up to lift the Cup ,, he brought his dad with him and made him hand it over this time !!!
I woulda balled my eyes out watching that and its a reminder that the game can be beautiful even if we do have some world class cynics among us.
Every fan of every team no doubt has their own tales like that above , though maybe less trophy laden , but still that tale of the club actually being more than a club at that very minute ,, of how it seems the hand of fate itself came down and touched that very pitch and interfered in our mortal sport for mere fun.
But Billys tale though ,, local lad and one club man to be the biggest of heroes not once but twice, once on the field and once off it ,, its not the green tinted specs to be saying we have never seen a story like that and never will again ,, its just straight up fact.
It quite simply couldnt be scripted what he gave us , and he would probably say what we and the club gave him.
It was , and always will be ,, OUR FINEST HOURS FULLSTOP !
And make no mistake his actions will echo in eternity.
“ Johnny Doyle was the epitome of the phrase a true Celt “ Billy Mc Neill
Well Big Man that may well be true to you , however to this young man it was to yourself I would grant that finest of accolades that will never be bought but only earned.
Billy , Sir , you had and always will have my utmost respect.
Hail Hail Cesar
We’ll never see his likes again.