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 moneysorter.co.uk’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.
Mail it to