The Lisbon Lions-of us,and amongst us.

Fifty Two quid a week. That’s what the top earner in the Lisbon Lions team was making when they lifted the European Championship trophy back in 1967.

I first heard that ten years ago, It was the single statistic in a welter of them – parlayed by the wee man who escorted a group of us on the Celtic Tour – that amazed me then and has stayed with me ever since.

I was so gobsmacked that I neglected to ask whether or not it included win bonus. But even assuming it didn’t, the figure still astonished me because that season I had left school and started work as a Class 4 clerk in Central Station on a annual salary of £525 or ten pounds a week.

That means Celtic’s top earner was making just five times more than an entry level railway clerk!

£52 in 1967 equates to 659.89p in today’s money according to’s inflation calculator. That’s £34,314.28 a year.

Currently in Scotland, the average clerical salary is £17,748, that of a bus driver £25,369. And a newly qualified ScotRail train driver is on £35,829.

The point of all this is to perhaps explain why, despite their glorious achievements on the park, the Lisbon Lions were and continued to be a bunch of remarkably modest guys. They were working class then and ever thereafter.

They were of us and amongst us.

Indeed when I was growing up in Castlemilk in the sixties my mother used to regularly sit beside young Bobby Murdoch on the number 46 bus to Parkhead Cross where she managed Clydesdale’s furniture store. I think he got on the bus around the Spittal area. Poor Bobby. His ears must have been sore by the time he got to training cos my old maw could surely gab!

Occasionally on my way from the bus stop to Linn Park golf course I’d spot Billy McNeill pushing a big silver pram back to his semi-detached home in Simshill, Kings Park.

Meanwhile, in an upstairs flat in Easterhouse, Stevie Chalmers and his wife Sadie were bringing up six kids. I’m sure I’ve read somewhere how Sadie used to struggle to get the weans out of the house when Stevie was at training. She’d have to take the two eldest down first and tie them to the backcourt clothing pole to stop them wandering off while she nipped upstairs for the others!

It was an era where braggadocio or “bummin’ yersel’ up” was strictly frowned upon. I’m guessing that one reason why his mates gave big Billy the nickname Cesar – after Cesar Romero the actor in ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ who drove all the others around in his car – may have been to keep his ego in check at a time when he was the only one of the players to have a car.

Now there are millionaires playing for Celtic and they are not even near the high earners in the sport.

And BBC Sport ‘gossip’ contains the following item:

Paris St-Germain will offer Manchester United £90m for David de Gea, with the 28-year-old Spain goalkeeper set to be offered £450,000 a week by the French champions.

£450,000 a week! A week! What must wee Bertie be thinking?


Above article is by BYRES ROAD BHOY. We are very proud to post it as Article of the Day,and will do the same should any of our readers wish to send us an article.

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A thing of beauty

Great article BRB. It really gives some perspective to the huge salaries players earn these days. I remember when Larsson was getting £40k a week at Celtic and thinking, oh dear that is around 80 times what the average fan is getting, maybe more. It made me think how it would make him and others like him detached from the supporters and I was right. It was the start of the silly money and the start of players becoming detached from reality and from the support. That never happened with the lions. They certainly did not earn enough and there should be a happy medium but the salaries even average players earn these days is a step too far for me.


Great article for you to “break your duck” and thank you very much.

Even given the times,it’s hard to believe that our board was so niggardly in its dealings with the players,given that Johnny Haynes was on nearly double that six years earlier. And he couldn’t hold a candle to Bertie Auld!

As an example,Bobby Lennox was serving pints in his pub in Saltcoats for most of his life after leaving Celtic. Our second-highest scorer until Henrik arrived…

Of course,these guys should have been amply rewarded,and I’m quite sure that certain board members were eking out a good living from the club,but there really wasn’t the money available to football then.

As an aside,Lou Macari left Celtic five years after Lisbon to join Man Utd. For £300 a week! David Hay joined him down south shortly afterwards-miffed at missing out on first team wages due to injuries while doing the hard work!-for a wee bit more.

When Charlie Nicholas left in 83,story was Celtic had offered him £750 a week. He could get four times that with Arsenal!

David Hay remains a man I have the highest regard for. As do all of The Lisbon Lions. Not so much the board who treated them as indentured labour.

big packy

BYRES ROAD BHOY, lovely article yes to think what the lions achieved and the wages they were on compared to todays primadonnas is scandalous.hh.

Great stuff BRB.
Billy said on the radio that Bobby M had to get a crisis loan from the social for a fridge, changed days, you are lucky to get an autograph from some of today’s “superstars”.

De Gea isny that good, I honestly would have our own Scott Bain any day.

I wonder how much the Kelly’s and the White’s were raking in at the time, a hell of a lot more than £52 a week.

The Gombeen Man

Byres Road Bhoy,

Thanks for the article, a great read. As others have pointed out it puts in perspective how blessed we are to have experienced the phenomenon that is ‘The Lions.’

Timing is everything.

Jack Aitchison’s goal last night in the 19th minute while wearing number 9 took us almost into mystical territory.

Jozo’s header on Saturday in the 67th minute, while wearing number 5 seemed a bit spooky…but last night?

For the Lisbon Lions to achieve what they did so many things had to happen. The right Manager, backroom staff, right players, right attitude and the right timing.

A few years later the game had moved on and the predators from other leagues might have tempted some of the key members of the squad to more lucrative pastures.

They might not have experienced the financial rewards that they should have, but that lack of monetary compensation has helped immortalise The Lions in a way that no one could have anticipated.

The Lisbon Lions story isn’t one of fame and fortune but humility, decency and ordinariness. In their lives they experienced success but also disappointment and failure. Life has a way of evolving our characters through the highs and lows.

Their inner strength completely outshines today’s preoccupation with image rights, Bosmans and jersey’s saturated with advertising.

They never have to deflect, deny or point the finger at anyone. They played the game honestly. The suits did what they always do…But by loving the club and the support. The Lions earned more than money ever will.

To this day the Lisbon Lions are a standard on and off the field. Their success didn’t come easy, it was earned. They were never given an easy ride but on any occasion I’ve met any them, they had the gift of making me feel special. Just by a smile or a bit of eye contact.

You can’t buy that…Can you Sir David?

(Sorry couldn’t resist a wee dig?)



God bless our Lisbon Lions, legends!


God bless our Lions!


Great read Byres Road Bhoy.
The Lions will always be Legends.
And a glaring example of the once beautiful game.
De Gea’s salary is a symptom of the corruption that is destroying the peoples game.
When the common fan find s no more common ground then the curtain will fall on what once was a glorious sport.

Genuine question. Why do we (myself included) hate the obscene amount of money earned by some footballers and yet nothing much is said about film stars, TV personalities, pop stars etc?

The Gombeen Man

Hiya Jim,

I hope you’re enjoying the snooker.

It’s a good point you make about the resentment towards footballers and their earnings.

Taking a ‘stab in the dark,’ I’m attached to Celtic. Anything I’m attached to causes pain. I’m not attached to musicians, actors or TV personalities in the same way.

Infact I’m attached to football in general.

When I see the kissing of the jersey or the shenanigans of agents, boards and administrators I react differently.

Football means more to me emotionally and when I detect injustice it somehow resonates differently than the ‘other stuff’.

With Celtic it’s also connected to my family, my origins, my roots…so it takes a lot to walk away.

I think. ?



My post was not meant as resentment of De Gea’s salary but at the UEFA corruption that has facilitated it.
Interesting your comparison to film stars and musicians as technology has actually devalued their earnings in recent years which is the opposite to footballers.

Fan-A-Tic, Please don’t think that was a direct response to your post. it wasn’t meant that way. It’s a topic spoken about on a daily basis by a huge amount of people. Besides, I agree with you!


I didn’t think it was aimed a my post.
Just wanted to give my perspective.
Anyone else here think that DeGea is working his ticket with recent performances?
The last few seasons Man U have refused to budge on his transfer requests as the fans would have gone mental.
After his recent lapses many want him out.
Or am i just a cynical auld B?

For me I think it’s all part of the bigger picture in the widening gap between the haves and the have nots. Even outside the sports & entertainment industries, I remember reading something about the difference in directors salaries and workers salaries. In the 60s & 70s a director of a firm might be expected to earn 5,6,or 7 times that of a worker in the firm. I don’t know how many noughts you would need to add to that X figure nowadays. I blame Thatcher. I won’t even begin to talk about the gap between the 3rd world and the developed economies.

Even doctors (GPs) – God bless them – used to work for about double the average wage. They did many many home visits. Were on call 24/7. By comparison they now earn a fortune Mon – Fri 9-5 and very few home visits. Interestingly that was brought in by Blair – the new Thatcher.

bada bing1

” Female athlete” Castor Semenya has had her appeal rejected. She says she feels like she has been kicked in the balls. ?


I have a friend who is an orthopedic surgeon.
Evil bastard loves an icy winter with lots of people falling.
Certain people in society have been conditioned to believe in selective entitlement.
Was sitting with him in his $4 million valued house with 5 cars ,3 BMW’s 2 Volkswagens,one for himself, wife,nanny and two teenage kids who attended expensive private schools.
He was bemoaning that it was unfair that after all the money he had paid to go through college the rewards were not enough.
I responded that from were i was sitting he had been more than adequately compensated as his one and a quarter million investment in his education had led him to own outright an expensive house,provide luxury for his family with an approximately one million dollar a year salary that he often boasted about.

He took genuine offense to this!

bada bing1

Undercover cop has a Celtic track suit top on…


Byres Road,

Excellent read and it brings back so many memories. Firstly, your name alone conjures up happy nights in Curlers, Tenants, and the Ubig. Chip, not to mention the Glasgow Uni ladies college dances! I better stop there before the excitement makes my dental plate fall out.

When salaries rise, it creates a disadvantage to small market teams, unless there is a disturbing factor like a millionaire owner. As players salaries rose in England, Scottish teams began a slow decline on the international stage. You can see it in the European results of teams like Dunfermline who once thrashed Valencia 6-2 in Scotland but rarely will you see such a result from a Scottish team currently.

The gap between the have and have-nots increased even more when the transition happened changing footballers from sports(wo)men to performers due to the arrival of TV.

Last night I watched several Youtube performances of the likes of Rod Stewart, and Brian Ferry….both of these lads are smart enough to surround themselves with very talented musicians who basically outperform the star, BUT, will receive only a fraction of the reward.

The lions were sportsmen who performed, nowadays footballers are athletic performers. There is a difference and that difference makes them part of the entertainment industry.


bada bing1

Young player nominations
David Turnbull
Jake Hastie
Ryan Kent
Lewis Ferguson

No Kris Ajer….

Bada, wondered about that myself. Also, how on earth Morelos is in the POTY nominations beats me. Surely the professional players voting for this will leave him with an embarrassing vote count.

Re. The undercover cop in Barcelona wearing a Celtic top. Was it PC Lustig by any chance?


Great article BRB well done. The amount of money paid to players, particularly the top players is obscene. Brother Walfrid must be turning in his grave. Although the Lions were on relatively low pay considering their achievements I think you’re spot on about how they remained working class and you really get the feeling that they are truly one of us. Hail x2

bada bing1

REAL MADRID legend and Porto star Iker Casillas has been rushed to hospital after suffering a heart attack at training.


BRB Excellent artcle. Bobby Murdoch used to visit the Vogue Bar on a regular basis to talk Celtic and shoot the breeze, and whilst we always respected his greatness he was never a man apart. Bobby was a real everyman who never lost touch with his roots. HH

bada bing1

G64- very true re Bobby,a humble Superstar, i will probably be in said establishment for the game on Saturday…HH


Many thanks for today’s article and it’s a topic we should all shake our heads at.
I recall cqn trying to raise funds for a new TV for Tommy Gemmell.
I texted my da let’s stick a few quid in and he never responded because he thought it was a joke. Just goes to show most think any football at all equals minted. Nowadays yes.
Tbh I wish I had have known Stevie needed a fridge,, the blog would have got it for him.
If anyone knows any Lions , let us know if you hear anything pls.
Busy today , but I reckon Virgils launderette finds Messi in his pocket tomorrow. 1 nil the Pool.
Hail Hail

big packy

MAHE hope not, ive been taunting joan all day that Barcelona would win 2-0 ,as you know shes a Liverpool fan, to be honest would not watch it if they played in my back garden, if Glasgow celtic are not involved im not in involved, joan says im jealous, well I probably am deep down, only because I know in my heart, that if my club got the tv revenue the other clubs get with our worldwide support we would be competing in the champions league not playing against teams at the bottom of the Europa league, no disrespect to them, joan will watch it and I will take the dugs out ,and remember it was Glasgow celtic who showed the other teams how to break catenaccio.catch u all later after the game has finished.hail hail.


Bada Hopefully see you there to celebrate Eight In A Row. Hh


Not quite sold on the new strip. I don’t like those hoooops being buggered about with!

bada bing1

Clyde trying to do the soft soap Boabby Madhun interview, Nobody’s buying it……..whats next Beaton doing the GBX on Saturday night? Except it will be the KBX….

Byres Road Bhoy

Many thanks to all of you who showed your appreciation for my article today. Jimthetim53 you make a fair point about why we don’t disparage the earnings of film stars, TV personalities and pop stars with the same alacrity we do regarding football stars. If I am to have a stab at answering that, I’d suggest that it matters more to those of us of a certain vintage and that film,tv and pop stars were ALWAYS high earners back in the day. I’m thinking Fred Astaire, Clark Gable, etc. But football stars were ‘johnny come latelys’, particularly in Scotland. Here’s wee Bertie himself telling of how his move from Celtic to Birmingham City in 1961 doubled his wages to £18 a week! £18 in 1961 equates to £280.14p today so Celtic were paying him the equivalent of £140!!! It’s a good read. Hope the link works. If not it’s from the Independent online, Saturday 26th February 2011.
Now for Liverpool v Barca…

Cheers Byres Road Bhoy, you certainly got us thinking about things, from several angles, after your smashing wee article this morning.

Another ironic thing about the high earners is that they are being paid a king’s ransom for doing something that they love! There are countless people who play sports or entertain as a pastime, a hobby, just for the love of it or for a pittance. Imagine singing and becoming a multi-millionaire! And we are not talking about singers with the skills level of Pavarotti or Maria Callas. Mick Jagger types!

Lucky sods. Maybe I’m just jealous. 🙁

It wasn’t Stevie who needed a fridge, it was Bobby Murdoch.
Billy McNeil told the story years back on the radio.

Byres Road Bhoy

Can I just clarify something. I don’t begrudge today’s footballers a single penny of what they earn. Indeed, I wish Celtic could afford to pay many more in hundreds of thousands a week (on the other hand what would the board charge us to watch them…?)! As other posters have pointed out, today’s sportsmen are in the entertainment business thanks to tv. Golfers, boxers, racing car drivers etc. all earn colossal amounts so why not footballers. I’ve just watched Barcelona beat a good Liverpool team 3-0. The athleticism, technique, and tactical nous on display was phenomenal. It takes years of dedication but it’s a short earning life so good on them if it gains them access obscene amounts of money. We live in an age where people can become millionaires via You Tube! Have a look at this and sicken yersels.
What galls me is that the Lions never got the rewards they deserved for ascending the same peak as the likes of Messi & Co. And for being the first British team to do so. They were just born too soon, in far off times where glory had to suffice. But that’s why they’ll always be real legends.


Good game to watch tonight and Liverpool matched and even bettered Barcelona in some areas of the field.
Just not where it counts.
Too many coaches and teams fixated on the wrong areas as looking good and winning are very different.
On my USA broadcast the very pro English commentators can be a little full of it especially as the tv companies have to continually sell the EPL as the best league in the world to maintain interest.
After the game they all said Van Dirk was imperious which i found astounding.
He is a great player but on the first two goals he was partly culpable.
A centre back has a simple remit to stay goal side of attacker.
On the first he and Matip were in centre and as cross came over Matip attempted to cut out cross at front post.Virgil should have tracked Suarez’s run but stayed centrally in no mans land allowing Suarez to deflect into net.
On the second goal he was originally guarding Messi but just stopped as pass went to Suarez.
Suarez hits bar and Messi has time to chest down rebound and walk ball home as his man Van Dirk was stationary.
He had a decent game but when two goals were partly Virgil’s fault he hardly deserved the imperious tag.
Been a great defender in the EPL is one thing but you have to replicate against the top European sides to be the best.


WTF A seven year old wean gets twentytwo million bucks for reviewing toys?

I give up,the world has gone effin mad.


Wonder what Seethin gets for throwing his toys out the pram on a regular basis?
He should make it a youtube channel.



Byres Road Bhoy

Wheesht!!! Don’t give Dave King any ideas! Lol!

So brother beaton will be the latest in line to cheat us this weekend, I was under the impression that the PLC had asked the SFA for an inquiry into his refereeing at the bigotdome in Dec, obviously they have been assured that everything was above board and everything is A Ok.
We get what we deserve, if you fund them they will continue to cheat you and you have no right to complain about it.

The Gombeen Man

John Beaton? The guy who witnessed numerous assaults on Celtic players at Ibrox and who later celebrated in a Loyalist Pub?

Alfredo and his five red cards nominated for Player of the Season?

Sevco players provoked?

How many penalties?

Two dodgy penalties last weekend?

Has Defoe been cited?

I read a comment somewhere to the effect that all Celtic need is a Coach, Centre Half, two defenders, a midfielder and a Centre Forward?

The reality is that the PLC are looking for a Scapegoat. Neil Lennon fits that agenda. As a coach we all know his limitations. We know that our failure to invest in the team has us on the slide.

What is the net spend on players over the last 12 months? (honest question).

The PLC’s blithering incompetence pushed Rodgers.

They have failed over Sevco.

They have failed over recruitment.

They have failed over the SFA.

They have failed over Res 12.

They have failed over the referees.

The plan is to divert the supports attention as the pressure mounts by blaming the coach. Rodgers saw that coming and walked.

The PLC’s goal is money, so much so they’ve even rented out Celtic Park to the eggchasers on Cup Final day.

The PLC are simply a company that profits from the commitment of the support.

They won’t do anything that might expose the extent of the corruption. The positive about the silence is that it will eventually undermine them.

Their only plan is blame Lenny. He’ll make the headlines and take the heat off them.

The tickets are already sold and next Season’s jersey is already being punted.

Beaton, Madden and Co actually help them to make money. It’s all part of the Old Firm circus.

bada bing1

BILLY MCNEILL’s funeral will be broadcast for fans at Celtic Park tomorrow.

A statement released by the club with details of the service earlier this morning.For those who are unable to attend the church, the service will also be broadcast live at Celtic Park, where the funeral cortège will also arrive approximately at 1:30pm

bada bing1

KT back training and in contention for Saturday, needs an operation at end of the season.

As long as we keep above the huns the support will do and say nothing, things will only start to happen when they win the league, even then I honestly have my doubts anything will come of it, the support have have ample opportunity to force the PLC to act, but again nothing so I won’t be holding my breath.
Shame really, I was always under the impression that the Celtic support were smart and that honesty, transparency and doing what was right was in the supports DNA, sadly I was wrong, it seems that the majority don’t give a and are indeed the other side of the OF coin.

The Gombeen Man


I know.

I watched the First Half of the Glasgow Cup Final. Sad really how we’ve been allowed to kid ourselves that it’s ‘business as usual’.

Appointing Beaton for the weekend is just taking the piss.

As I’ve said before I follow the team but it really is a corrupt set up…

If the PLC were around in 67 Jock would probably have walked.

It will be interesting to see if the penny ever drops.

Best of luck to John Higgins today.

I watched his interview with Si Ferry recently, worth watching.

The Gombeen Man, Thanks for posting that link of Si Ferry & John Higgins, I thoroughly enjoyed it. My goodness he has some memory! He remembers games, scorers and details like nothing else. A massive Celtic fan.

That was a super game with Higgins and Robertson. I was a bit torn to be honest, I’m a big fan of Neil. Likewise Judd Trump. Looking forward to the next few days of snooker with a big Celtic game as the cherry on the top. 🙂


If KT needs an operation he should have it now and hopefully be ready for European qualifiers.
Why risk exacerbating the injury at this stage of season.?
It would go along way to explaining the decline in his performances over this and second half last season.
He is young and we are handling his career badly.