In Praise of Cesar

Today is a sad day for everyone connected with Celtic Football Club,an emotional day for all of us as we pay due homage to Our Great Leader.

Billy McNeill was known as Cesar to his friends and colleagues,but to the fans,he was Caeser or simply King Billy. He was to the fore of many of our greatest triumphs. But it wasn’t one of those great days which is my earliest memory of him;this was a mundane home fixture,but it was special to me.

23 October 1971. Celtic had already won six successive league titles,and were hot favourites to win their sixth successive Scottish League Cup. My Dad took me to my first ever Cup Final-and I was gonna have my photo taken as Celtic Bhoy in the next edition of The Celtic View!

What a day,I was certainly never going to forget this! And to this day,I never have-Patrick Thistle made sure of that. Football,eh? Bloody hell…

My reward for appearing in The View was two tickets for the main stand for me and my Dad,a tour of the trophy room and the chance to meet my favourite player. I chose Lou Macari,being a local lad and a goal scoring hero. The game chosen for us was against Falkirk,four weeks later.

It wasn’t a great match,but it was a great day! We won 2-0,the second goal coming from Billy himself. I’m sure it was a shot,rather than a trademark header,but aye,I know Billy made my day that day!

I wish it had been the following week,mind-we thrashed those upstarts from Maryhill 5-1. Heyho…

Later that season,he played a major role in our Cup Final trouncing of Hibs. 6-1 and my first winning cup final. Billy nodded in the fifth as he didn’t want to be left out!

We saw the last of Cesar as a player in the corresponding game in 1975 as he rounded off a magnificent career with another winning cup final,this time against Airdrie. He retired from the game with nine championship medals,seven cup medals and six league cup medals.

Oh,and another one,The Big One,won on the day The Lisbon Lions reminded Europe how football should be played. The one where he lifted The European Cup,striking that iconic pose with which we are so familiar.

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Billy still had his love for Celtic,and he answered the call when we needed a new manager. Since our nine-in-a-row days had come to a close,the board had steadfastly refused Jock Stein the opportunity to invest. Replacements were definitely required-we had seen departures and retirements but few new faces. When,in his last season,Jock saw the injury list pile up,the cupboard was bare.

Cesar returned to his throne,but this time it was a managerial chair. New signings such as Davie Provan,Dom Sullivan and Murdo McLeod arrived. Injured players returned. Those whose form had suffered in makeshift sides the previous season were revitalised. Results weren’t immediately impressive,but the ship was stable. A harsh winter saw us return hungry for football-and win bonuses!

They soon piled up,as we played an incredible seventeen league matches from the beginning of March. Going into the final one against Rangers,we had won twelve of them,with one draw and three defeats. But Rangers still had another match to play after that. Should they win it and avoid defeat against us,the league was theirs.

It was all or nothing for us. And at half-time,nothing was what we had,and what we looked like finishing with. But a half-time boost from Billy saw us revitalised,and against the odds-you all know the story of 21-5-79 so I won’t go into detail-we were champions!

Our Great Leader had done it again,and this time as manager!!! The legend grew,until he was forced out by an ungrateful board. That board-somewhat changed in personnel-were to turn to him again in 1987,the beginning of our Centenary Season. We certainly looked to be up against it;the previous year had seen us throw away the league to a big-spending mob from the South of the city,and they were still spending! We had lost Mo Johnson,Brian McClair,Alan McInally and Murdo McLeod. Danny McGrain and Davie Provan hadn’t been adequately replaced. The signings looked decent,but surely nowhere near the quality required. Chris Morris,a reserve right back from Sheffield Wednesday,Andy Walker,a young hopeful from Motherwell. Billy Stark and Mick McCarthy offered more promise and experience,but the signing of Frank McAvennie ignited the support and the team.

Again,you are all familiar with events,the late winners,the never-say-die attitude. How proud we were-how ecstatic!-to win The Double in our Centenary Season.

Billy was Our Great Leader for all of the above. He lifted the trophy to make us the talk of world football. He captained us during the entirety of our Nine In A Row. He dragged us out of the depths to a title against all the odds in his first season as manager.

Not once,but twice!

Above all,he was a marvellous ambassador for his club and for his family. We have grieved with his family this past week,and we will grieve with them again on Friday when he is interred.

Today,with great sadness,we will celebrate his life. There won’t be a dry eye in the house.

HAIL,CESAR!!!

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Above article is by BMCUWP. It replaces the usual match preview for obvious reasons. As always,we would like as many of you as possible to review the match for publication on Monday.

Additionally,on this occasion,we would appreciate eye-witness accounts of the celebration of Billy’s life. No matter how much or how little detail,even just an anecdote from the day,we will publish it,attributed to the contributor.

Mail us please on

sentinelcelts@gmail.com

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Fairhill Bhoy

BMCUWP-it will certainly be an emotional day for sure.Work first for me .

big packy

morning everyone, BOBBY, an emotional day beckons, I was also at that final right behind the goal, I seen all four goals close up could not believe what I was seeing, and to make matters worse thistle had four part timers in the team including alan rough the goalie ”In Scotland, it’s League Cup final day at Hampden Park, where Celtic meet Partick Thistle, who have no chance.” Those were Sam Leitch’s closing words on Grandstand’s Football Focus on Saturday, Oct 23, 1971, anyway those going to the game today if you pass billys statue give him a little prayer from me.hail hail ceasar.

A thing of beauty

Just getting ready to leave for paradise. It will surely be an emotional day as we pay tribute to the greatest captain in our club’s history. As I said earlier in the week, it is the centenary double that cements Billy’s Legend for me. I remember him saying there is a fairy tale about our club – how right he was. But it still needed a great leader to drive others to heights they never knew they were capable of. Billy McNeill could do that. Today I will stand with my dad and sister and count myself very lucky to pay my respects to a giant of a man.

Thewildgoose

That was beautiful BMCUWP, heartfelt and lovely to read, thank you. Hail x2

Agreed Thewildgoose, a very nice piece by Bobby.

Henrikschip

Reading the marvelous stories of Big Billy and watching the numerous video clips of his goals with his famous head made me think of the 1969 Scottish Cup Final against the Huns. They were so confident of beating us in the final that they had arranged for a victory parade at the bigotdome and invited the hordes to go there after the match to see the team and the cup. They were so confident for 2 reasons, they had beat Aberdeen 6-1 in the semi-final and we had not beat them in a Scottish Cup Final since 1904. They also had their wonderful Swede Orjan Persson who was going to rip us apart, apparently. (We were without Jinky and big Yogi) but Big Billy put paid to their Hunnish entitlement after only 3 minutes when he put us 1 up from a corner. An attempt by Sir Swallex to mark him failed miserably although he did try to kick and shove Billy throughout the game to no avail. Big Billy had him in his pocket. The master stroke by Big Jock to play a 19 year old George Connelly in midfield confused the Huns, not difficult. The buzz mob put us 2 up just before half-time. We were still going crazy when big George took the ball of Grieg near the 18 yard line rounded the keeper to make it 3. Cue some of the wildest celebrations I have experienced as a supporter, wonderful. Our cans were trampled into the Hamdump mud as the crowd surged forward but we were not too bothered. In the second half Stevie Chalmers ran from the halfway line chased by Rangers defenders before toe poking the ball into the net, 4-0. The Huns did what Huns do and rioted to try and stop the match but they were beaten back. Needless to say their victory parade was cancelled. Big Billy went up to lift another cup but it was one of the sweetest victories.

A poignant day awaits, my heart will be in Paradise with the fans. God bless you Billy, thanks for all the wonderful memories.

bada bing1

Jimthetim- i get pre match stuff live from CP on YouTube on matchday, hopefully it will be on HH

Thanks for the compliments,lads-about time I wrote about the great man!

I’m just off to watch Billy’s successors,suitably attired in black,bar a BOCA10 special bearing the print of Billy lifting The European Cup with CESAR written in bold above it.

HENRIKSCHIP

George was a sad loss,and one of those I mentioned above who wasn’t replaced. Mind,how could he be?

You should have saved that for our Memorable Matches series-but no,today was more appropriate.

Thanks for your contribution and please make a habit of it!

HH

Cheers Bada, I’ll have a look. The wreath laying is at 11am so no doubt it will at least be shown sometime soon after.

The Gombeen Man

Lovely tribute BMCUWPS.

Reading the tributes to Billy over the last week it’s clear that Billy simply loved the people that followed Celtic.

In his life he grew up with us. He knew success he experienced the pain of defeat but he never lost that ability to connect with the ordinary supporter.

Even when the club should have treated him better he appreciated the gift that Glasgow Celtic is. That’s why he’ll forever live in our hearts.

Boards come and boards go. The SFA will try and manipulate the game. Cheats will have an empty moment in a fool’s paradise but what Billy had never dies. It can’t be bought or copied. It can’t be quantified on a balance sheet.

It’s priceless, honest and eternal.

Billy showed us how to live a good life. How to laugh. How to win, how to lose.How to live life the Celtic Way.

Living the Celtic Way isn’t the easy way. It doesn’t deflect or blame others. It can be painful, it doesn’t take short cuts and it’s a path that’s open to all.

It’s a great comfort to know that Billy will be the first image I’ll see on my trips home to Celtic Park at the Head of the Celtic Way.

HH

Dubaibhoy

On this day in 2014 (whilst defending the cause), plucky young Englishmsn Steven Wilberforce Gerrard slipped letting Demba Ba through for a title defining goal. The rest as they say is history. Stevie is considered to be one of the best players ever to never have won a league title. Interestingly, he has never won a league title as a manager, and there is a very satisfying symmetry about that…

DUBAIBHOY

PMSL!!!

rebus67

A very emotional day which is perhaps affecting the players. So far, Killie’s rope a dope is working. Tactically, Celtic are at a disadvantage, playing with one striker, and he is a withdrawn striker. We see the ludicrous sight of Forrest in the middle jumping for a high ball before no one else is there! Playing from the wings will be very difficult as Killie are organised to deal with that. A block of three players guards against crosses or cut-ins. Two players approach the wing man with one additional behind them to block any play between the defenders. If the Killie central defence is weakened by suspensions, it does not show here. Edouard is having an off day and Sinclair is too powder puff to threaten in the middle.

Killie have been impressive so far, playing as a continental team, with quick breaks up the park, attacking the slow moving Celtic flanks. Clark should be proud of his team and anything can happen.

Question: why is Weah not on the bench? Changes? Who knows, Burke or Johnson for Sinclair? Celtic need a piece of luck, or a change of tactics.

Rebus

Written in the stars

rebus67

Big Billy still helping the team as #5 heads in the go ahead goal! Was it the 67th minute?

Rebus

Christina

Goal scored in the 67th minute by our current no.5!!? A last helping hand (desperately needed) from our dearly departed Cesar surely? My fingers are actually trembling typing this wee quick note- only at Celtic would you see such magic! All hail Cesar watching over us from above x

The Gombeen Man

Phew.

Prayers answered.

Thanks Billy.

HH

Mike in Toronto

David Moyes at the game today?

rebus67

All credit to Killie who gave us a game. What Clark has done for that club is remarkable. They are a very well organised unit that played to its strengths. Clark is quite a manager!

However, Celtic take the points and, probably, the title.

Best of the Celts: Jozo, Bain(as needed), CalMac, and Brown for his leadership.

Rebus

Couldn’t get a link so listened to it on radio. Nerve shattering! That was spooky, No. 5 shirt in the 67th minute! 🙂

Henrikschip

After the pre-game emotion the high expectation turned largely to nervousness and frustration but our no 5 helped by the no 5 up above secured the points. It was far from convincing or fluent but get it over the line and regroup for the Cup Final. I hope that the managerial position is still open as we need to have a thorough evaluation of who is the right man to take us forward. (Not David Moyes-for me at least)

mahe

Bobby,,well written indeed Sir!
We shall never forget him, ever.
It’s more than fitting his number scored the winner. I’m sure there were a few tears today, he wouldn’t want them but he earned them.
And that’s an impressive collection of medals no matter how big a name you where.
Any player would be over the moon with such a haul.

HenriksChip ,, thanks for that lovely comment and hope you stick around on the blog. Watched that chip live with beppe beside me 😉
Take care and Hail Hail

Auldheid

Rebus

I was very impressed with how Kille played today and Steve Clarke should be in the running for Celtic job.

Their players were quick to close down and calm under pressure.

Overall though I’m grateful we overcame a well marshalled team, much better than when Motherwell took the title from a tired Celtic team under MoN.

Given we have beaten Kille to win 2 titles and only lost a third to a crowd of non tries at Dunfermlime when we horsed Killie I wouldn’t be surprised if by tomorrow night we are champions.

Then some serious thinking. Do we stick to the plan or is it time to rethink?

I’ve never liked Dunfermline since that game. I read something in the past few years about some kind of connection between Dunfermline FC, BOS and David Murray.

Something was rotten in the kingdom of Fife.

rebus67

Auldheid,

I agree on Clarke, but I think I read somewhere that he stated he is not interested because of the pressure it would bring onto his family. If true that is a pity. His team could have won today, especially in the first half. Bain is impressive when called upon.

In the past, I have seen Scottish team after team beaten at home by foreign teams playing Killies’ tactics today.

Winning the league will excuse much of the performances of late, but let’s not kid ourselves much change is needed.

However, clearly, God is a Celtic supporter. Only a supreme being could orchestrate that goal and its timing!

The nature of the goal shows the value of having someone in the box who can head the ball. Currently, we have no forward with that strength.

Currently we look like a team playing without a plan or, certainly, no flexibility.

If this is the future, get your crash helmets out. We shall be drilled playing like that in Europe. Two FBs that are too slow to get back to position; lack of creativity in midfield;predictable sweeping passes out to the wing; wing play that rarely involves getting to the byeline and no heading power in the box.

Big changes needed. Can anyone say that this team has improved this season, or even after the few games played under the interim?

Still, the victory was sweet!

Rebus

big packy

you could not make that up, no 5 scores in the 67th minute only at celtic, anyway onto other matters, that was a hard watch so much so near the end of the first half I was screaming for bobby lennox to come, on he would have scored a hattrick and he is in his 70s, we need a goalscorer who can head the bloomin ball aka stevie chalmers, bobby lennox. still its another 3 points.hh.

big packy

mike@2-25 hope he was only passing through ?

big packy

AULDHEID@4-03 I would take steve Clarke in a heartbeat ,sorry you davie moyes fans, davie is a nice bloke, but celtic manager no thanks.hh.

Christina

JimtheTim53
Yes there was a connection between those you mention. Dunfermline, allegedly 🙂 , had a huge loan owed to BoS which would have sent them into administration had the bank called in the loan. Nothing on the scale of DM’s loans, but then he had friends in the bank! It was, allegedly 🙂 , suggested to yer man Yorke I think his name was, that if Rangers should win that game by the required number of goals or more then all would be well on the loan front! The fix was in, only one of many as we now know, and all went according to plan. Celtic seemed to be aware of the jiggery-pokery, or at least suspected it, as Chris Sutton called it out on live TV! The hysterical furore calling for Chris to be run out of town, given a lifetime ban from football or shot at dawn….or words to that effect 🙂 prompted MON to remark that “you would think he murdered someone”! Just another unsavoury episode from the Murray years where cheating was normalised and Celtic were just expected to suck it up!

Christina, Thanks for that. ‘The establishment’ rallying together again. When you think of how much debt Celtic had and they were ready to pull the plug on us. And how much debt Murray & Rangers run up it is astonishing.

However as I’ve mentioned the word a few times on here recently – Karma !! We now have millions in the bank and their successors are skint. We win everything domestically and the team from Ibrox win hee haw.

Didn’t see all of the game today, internet dodgy as ever, but did see the goal, as I posted earlier, written in the stars.
Loath to crit the players and the coach but FFS, Lenny is failing his audition and tyhe players look like they just want the season to finish, it’s a struggle all round and I include watching in that.
Noticed Moyes in the crowd, I said a week or so back, he gets the job I will concentrate of another sport, he is the last people who should even be considered for the job, a seriel failure after Everton, his football is brutal to watch and he is a dinosaur tactically, it would be a massive step back and imo will had the initiative to thems, I would rather have Ronny D back than Moyes, but it’s all bollix anyways, Lenny will get the job however the audition goes.
I get it’s not his team, but ffs, he just can’t change the outcome of a game, he seems clueless at times, I say this cos he doesn’t do anything to change things when change is drastically needed, is he the answer, deffo not, shame as the world is full of very decent compitent coaches who imo are light years ahead of Lenny.
I see Shef Utd have virtually secured prem footy next season, delighted for Chris Wilder, has feelings for Celtic and a superb coach, not a hope in hell but I would have him in a heartbeat as our coach, he has done a wonderful job there will little money, his team plays football the way it should be played.

I don’t watch much football outside Scotland so haven’t a clue about foreign managers. If push came to shove and we had to appoint a domestic manager I would choose Gordon Strachan over Neil Lennon. I think he would be a safer pair of hands.

big packy

THE EXILED TIM, have not heard of chris wilder .hh.if he is better than we have got now im all for it.

Big Packy, why don’t you apply for the job? Bobby could be your right hand man. You could give me a job selling programmes or something. 🙂

BP
I’m sure I will be mocked for suggesting him, do I givea, not at all, he is a quality coach, plays football the right way, has built a team with little money and just got them into the epl tonight, no mean feat, delighted for him.
HH

big packy

THE EXILED TIM ,to be honest your too much a respected poster on here and the other chanel to be mocked, if you say your impressed with chris wilder that’s good enough for me, no matter what jimthe tim53 says.?

Cosy corner bhoy

Well here we are then….the game was won by providence or at least seemed that way to me! It certainly wasn’t won by NFL’s team selection or marvellous substitutions. I know I’m in the ‘not for me ‘ re him getting the job permanently,but bloody hell…Ntcham rubbish last week Hayes no more than adequate,so plan A drop them and use TR and SS from the beginning and see how that goes! Aw.. no worky…eh eh… Plan B lhads…bring on them two rubbish players from last week and replace those two who swapped places with them and we will get a miracle!Well,it took a bloody miracle…No.5 in the 67th minute…you couldn’t make it up,
Just can’t understand NFL’s reasoning (I hesitate to use logic)…you’ve got X games to amass 7 points ,get it done quickly and then you can play anybody you like! Even me! But no,let’s not pick the best players in the squad and get the job done. These loan signings he seems to have an anathema for cost MILLIONS.. they cannae be dummies.
No,not for me..Sorry,Neil, you are a first class man and Celt,but we need more.
As an aside,great day there pre match and tears were flowing,albeit maybe because we (CCB and daughters 2) were there before 1030!… it’s a long day.

big packy

HI JIM, have applied for the job, but peter wants you as manager and mike in Toronto as your assistan,t.ach well never mind maybe next time.?.

Packy, It’s cause we are the cheap options!

big packy

COSY CORNER BHOY, more power to your elbow for getting there so early, cap doffed god bless and hail hail.

A thing of beauty

A very emotional day at paradise. I thought the club did Billy proud and the tributes to him were a real touch of class. I’m quick to criticise the club so credit where it’s due.
Onto the game.oh my days. I struggle to remember watching a good performance this season. I know there will obviously be some but watching this team is hard work at times. I have to say, for me the main problem is the full back positions. The modern game is built around attacking fullbacks. We have got two who are too slow to get forward and teams know this so they double up on the wide men safe in the knowledge Izzy or lustig are not going outside them to the by line. Izzy has not played all the games, Kieran has played plenty too but even he rarely hits the by line now. I don’t know if that’s coaching or injury but he is not the dynamic full back he was. Tolljan came in and looked the part but after a couple of good games fell away. It is causing us immense problems in the attacking third. If you look across the road, their main assist man is Tavernier. Now we know he can’t defend but going forward he is contributing massively to the team. Barasic when he plays also hits the line or delivers a quality cross. Even that diddy Halliday gets up and down when he plays.
We need major surgery this close season but with so many players out of contract the opportunity is there to bring in some class players where we need them – starting with two top quality fullbacks.

CCB
No like you to be in the neg camp, but……I honestly know how you feel, major surgery is required from the top to the bottom, pity the top will survive unscathed, but that’s how things work.
HH
……………………………
BP
I’m sure many will disagree with that but thanks 😉
We took in a blind cat the other week, the second one we have had, this one is struggling a bit but he will get there, they are amazing to watch.
HH

big packy

JIM, ?

Gordon64

Well done to everyone involved in today’s game. The choreography involved by all concerned to enable our number 5 to score the winning goal in the 67th minute was outstanding. HH Cesar

TET, I can’t begin to think how you would deal with a blind cat. Another cat to help it like it would a kitten?

big packy

THE EXILED TIM sorry about the rant, but people do not appreciate what you do for the animal kingdom ,I do and I wish more people would, I know jim does and mike, but what you do is truly humbling.,more power to your elbow.hh.

Gordon64

That was another hard watch today. Our players are clearly jaded and need refreshed however our manager played the same players who have not produced a performance in weeks. As the game unfolded it was clear to everyone in the stadium certain players were not up to the task and needed to be replaced. Our manager got the result however the performance was pretty woeful and bar our goalies efforts it could have been worse.

Gordon64

Heard that Timothy Weah has returned to PSG.

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