Family, Faith, and Football

JimmyNotPaul inspired me to pen this when he did a leader on Paul Mc Stay (The Maestro) As Tommy Burns and Paul were two of my greatest ever Celtic players.

There are many articles written about Tommy Burns, one of our own, and most of them are too fine for me to try and emulate, so I did not want to do another on his playing history at Celtic. He was a fans man, a Supporter who got lucky, and he always remembered the fans. I think he paid the Ultimate accolade to us when he said.

“That’s what’s so special about them right there, Just right up there; that’s what’s so special about them. They’re there and they’re always there, and god bless every single one of them.”

Possibly one of the greatest tributes to Tommy the player, came from the legendary Johan Cruyff, who after an Ajax European Cup game said “I liked the red headed player in the Celtic team.”

A gifted midfielder with a sweet left foot, even though Jock Stein sometimes used him at left back, he was known as that wee guy with a mop of red hair, and a fiery temper to match, at least up until he married and seemed to mature as a person both on and off the field. Tommy made 467 Appearances for Celtic, then would go on to play for and then manage Kilmarnock, Celtic, Reading an assistant with Scotland, both with Bertie Vogts then Walter Smith and then Celtic with Gordon Strachan.

Tommy is probably remembered as an incredible person first of all and a Celtic player secondly. He lived his dream by going from a Celtic fan, to playing for his team, and finally becoming the Celtic manager. I think one of his own sentences sums up what the club meant to him. Speaking of his last game for Celtic, he recalled. “I ran about the pitch for 20 minutes with tears running down my cheeks because I knew I would never wear a Celtic jersey again.”

My own personal knowledge of Tommy is, he would leave tickets at parkhead for my Granda, and he called him His Da, even though they were not in any way related at all, my Granda idolised Tommy, and the auld yin was a really hard one to please, he was really old school, best described as a permanently grumpy bitter auld bugger, who thought children should be seen and not heard. It seemed to me back then, that there were very few people that he liked. He hated Dalglish as I recall, and would refer to him as “That midden”, (I’m not sure if this was a reference to Dalglish wanting away in 1977 or not, I never dared question his reason, as the auld bugger was always too angry to ask questions to.) but he loved Tommy. The last time i saw Tommy was at my Grandas funeral in St Gregory’s chapel in Maryhill.

Tommy burns, was Celtic through and through, but i’d like to focus more on Tommy as a person and his great spirit, and the human and humorous side of him. I’m sure there are many stories and some will have their favourite.

A family asked Tommy to visit their elderly father (who was unknown to Tommy) in Glasgow’s Western Infirmary where he was trying to come to the end of his life, as a result of cancer, with as much dignity as possible, the man his eyesight poor, his speech slow and his reactions dull, from having brain tumours. Tommy said “When I sat at his bedside and told him who I was, there came an instant flicker of recognition and an anxiety to say something back to me.” Moments like that and my implicit belief in God gave me a sense of perspective and kept the daily demands of football at a tolerable level.

On the lighter side of Tommy Burns, Hugh Keevins said, When I questioned the wisdom to Tommy at a night out, of leaving his brand new car unattended in the Gallowgate, this being a spot in Glasgow where the Marine Corps might have felt a sense of clear and present danger, Tommy’s reply to me was.. “I’m Tommy Burns. I have Diplomatic immunity.”

Si Ferry tells the story of how he and Paul McGowan were enrolled on a sports coaching college course every Wednesday by Celtic, but they never ever went and they thought their non-attendance wouldn’t be noticed. Inevitably things caught up with the pair of them, and were sent for by a furious Tommy Burns and John Cushley, he recalls Cushley said during the meeting “If there’s any two that need to go to college it’s you two clowns, because when you two don’t make it in football, both of you will be working in McDonalds next year.”
Si admits to saying to Paul McGowan after the meeting “We’re sacked mate, Tommy was raging and I’ve never seen him like that”.
Later that night Si Ferry says he’s back home in his digs when the phone goes. It’s Tommy Burns.
Si tells his flatmate “‘This is it, I’m done mate that’s me, I’m getting released here!!”
Ferry manages to summon up the courage to answer the phone and is met by the voice of Tommy Burns on the other end:
Tommy says “Can I get a big Mac and chips please !!”

One of the YTS players at Kilmarnock Alan Kerr recalls how, When Tommy was manager at Kilmarnock he summoned a lot of YTS boys in to his office regarding a night out, that he knew they should not have been on.
David Bagan, Mark Roberts, Colin Meldrum and a few others were summoned, and Tommy asked them if they were out on a night out, with their heads down they admitted that they were indeed on a night out, Tommy then asked if they had been drinking, sheepishly they also admitted to drinking, and were standing there in fear, about what Tommy would do, he then asked with an angry expression, “who aw got a burd?”
Nobody answered.
I’ll ask again said Tommy “who all got a burd and I want an answer?”
Six of us replied “Melly gaffer”, to which Tommy turned to Melly, who had now turned as white as a sheet, and said “did you walk her home?”
“Yes gaffer” was Mellys reply.”
“Did ye get her number Melly?”
“Yes gaffer”
“Did ye winch her?”
“No gaffer”
“Mellly did ye winch her?”
“No honest gaffer I didn’t !!”
“Well you are fined.”
“I canny believe you got her number, walked her home and didn’t winch her!”
Then this big smile came across Tommy’s face which to our relief, we all burst out laughing!

TB did lots of charity work, and helping people with their faith, and also helped them through illness, even when he probably should have been more worried about his own health, all round he was just a fantastic person, and the world is a sadder place without Tommy Burns, and it is much poorer in his absence. I think it’s good to remember his caring and funny side, as well as his love for Celtic and it’s supporters.


The above guest article is by ASWGL. Should you take the notion to pen one the email address is

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Twists n Turns
March 25, 2020 5:16 am

I’ll comment on the wonderful article later but it’s appropriate I’m first to post on this thread:

Tommy Twists Tommy Turns …..

Tommy Burns

Twists n Turns
March 25, 2020 5:39 am


Tommy Burns.

I was writing about my mum on here recently and commented that in her darkest hours, all she could think about was others.

Tommy Burns was the same. Caring , unselfish, others come first. A wonderful person.

I intended to cut n paste sections from this article but I’m running a bit late so I’ll link the entire article. This further captures the essence of Tommy Burns. A man who put others first.

Graeme Murty speaks very highly of Tommy.

Twists n Turns
March 25, 2020 5:57 am

The committee who will decide the outcome of the title this season. From today’s Record.

“So just who and how to the authorities decide what happens next? The final decision rests with the six-man SPFL Board who serve alongside SPFL chief executive Doncaster, chairman Murdoch MacLennan and independent non-executive director Karyn McCluskey.

The six are Motherwell CEO Alan Burrows, Hamilton vice-chairman Les Gray, Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson, Dunfermline chairman Ross McArthur, Alloa Athletic secretary Ewen Cameron and Brechin City chairman Ken Ferguson.

It will be their duty to take steerage from all 42 member clubs before making a call and only in extreme circumstances would it go to a vote.

That, though, is unlikely with the majority of clubs relaxed about ending the season and the minority – the likes of Hearts and Partick Thistle who would face the drop if the season is declared over – strongly against it.

March 25, 2020 6:33 am


Apologies,mate. I missed the bad news yesterday about your cousin. Sincerest condolences to all.

Keep an eye on your Mum too,as if I have to remind you! Difficult times for everyone,sadly.

March 25, 2020 6:38 am

On which,e-mail yesterday from our big chief MD,not the local one. A “significant” number of employees to be laid off in accordance with the government 80% scheme,all others to receive a thank you for working in the shape of a 15% cut in salary,first £18k exempt.

Been a long time since it was the company I first signed up for. If they pull that stunt on me,I’ll be on to my union. And I’ll be taking a week’s sick leave for every six weeks it lasts.

Twists n Turns
March 25, 2020 6:59 am

Thanks for your kind words. Yeah I’m looking out for my mum as best as I can, as is my eldest brother. ( he got stopped by the police yesterday leaving the supermarket with groceries for my mum). He said they asked him what he’d bought and wanted to look in the shopping bag! He explained it was for his elderly housebound mum and they accepted his explanation. He only had one carrier bag.! Seems bloody ridiculous to me but what do i know. My brother is fairly quiet natured. I’m not sure I could’ve stayed calm.

My other brother is a window cleaner. He got confirmation yesterday he’s ok to work. I’m baffled by these new ‘ who can who can’t ‘work. Is there any rhyme or reason to it?

My courier turned up yesterday to collect my deliveries. He’s then cleansing his hands as he gets back in his truck. I asked him if he had medical gloves? He said no, the company haven’t supplied him any. I have boxes of them that I use when handling pigments. I gave him a box.

One of my twins. He calls and asks if he can have a box of gloves for his partner. She works in Edinburgh airport. She does check in , despatch etc. She’s handling passports, boarding cards etc. She’s also been given nothing by her employers.

Face masks. I’ve issued her ( well, I will be later this morning) with those as well.

It’s undoubtedly true that some employers are only concerned with ££. Don’t give a fff about the employees.

March 25, 2020 7:00 am


A Lovely article….a laugh and a greet at the same time.
Take care.

March 25, 2020 7:04 am

A most enjoyable read.
Thank You.

March 25, 2020 7:15 am

Back to the article. JIMMYNOTPAUL’s stoatir about The Maestro had my kid sis reminiscing of her teenage years,waxing lyrical about the pleasures of watching one of our finest really grow into the famous jersey. Now to be fair,she was 10yo when SOLKITTS and I took her to her first game and Charlie Nicholas was all the rave,so Charlie was indeed her darling.

Strangely enough,I’ve always thought the game was against Partick Thistle but I’ve just had a check back,it was against St Mirren. Anyway,Charlie hit a hat trick. ATHINGOFBEAUTY had had a great day-and a great view too,as I manouvered her into the space directly above Exit 8 in The Jungle. Uninterrupted view,perfect for a wee lass!

Tommy Burns also scored. Paul McStay was in his first full season in the team,and had only just turned 18 a couple of weeks earlier. He was already playing like a veteran and it wasn’t long before the flirty wee mare had changed her affections-for the better,I might add. Paul McStay was her hero,and I think he always will be.

But the player who stood out for me in our 1980s midfield was indeed Tommy Burns. I recall him warming up as a substitute for his first game towards the end of the season in 1975. Brightest red hair seen since Jinky,and a blue-sorry,Tommy!-whiteness to his skin that you can usually only get from a boil wash in Daz! We lost that day,no great surprise as we only picked up about ten points from a dozen games from February onwards. It took him a while to really grow into his role,about the time Ten Men Won The League,but he made the 80s his own,for me.

People were quick to question his temperament in his early days,putting his change in on-field discipline down to getting married. That may be true,but he didn’t have a problem with his temperament in my opinion. He just couldn’t tackle! I saw him nearly halving Gordon Strachan in two up at Pittodrie-which,to be fair,would have been about knee height on anyone else!!-but there was genuinely no malice in it. Once he learned how to tackle,or when not to try it,he became a 90 minute player.

And what a player. He could receive the ball at the same time as making the slightest of feints to one side,selling his opponent and making that bit of space. He could run with the ball and beat a man or three too. Had great vision despite wearing glasses(!). And he could pass,boy could he pass…

He played alongside some fine players in his time with us,but he might have saved his best for last. When he teamed up with Billy Stark for our Centenary Season,there was more than just the two of them wished it had been done about a decade earlier.

ATHINGOFBEAUTY and I never ever argue about who was better at that time,Paul or Tommy. We were just delighted-and blessed-to have seen them together and in their prime.

Twists n Turns
March 25, 2020 7:23 am

Yesterday morning my missus looked at me and said I looked terrible. I looked in the mirror. Hmm. Can’t argue with her. So I tried to get an appointment yesterday. Phoned constantly. No answer or a message saying closed. So I’m no further forward. Can any of you help? Anyone know where I can get an emergency appointment in West Lothian ….. furra haircut? ?

March 25, 2020 7:28 am


No attempt at PPE by my company,even for those working the presses. Not a pair of gloves,apparently. Of course,by the time they got wise to things those items were probably sold out. Nothing to do with being tightwads.

There are lists available of premises which are allowed to remain open. I’ll find a link which gives yours the all clear,but some mentioned have me scratching my head. (Nips off to wash hands…)
Bicycle shops
Home and hardware shops
Laundrettes and dry cleaners
Car rentals
Pet shops
Are those REALLY essentials?

Btw,there’s a company called Key Industries. Forced to close under the new measures!

March 25, 2020 7:30 am


Scroll to the bottom of this article for the caption competition. Might be your best bet.

March 25, 2020 7:48 am


Thank you very much for the article,bud. Greatly appreciated. Tommy has earned his place in our history,but as you say,there was a whole lot more to him than that.

I never had the pleasure of meeting him,but I know plenty who have-from both sides. And it says a lot for him that my phone at that sad time was inundated with texts from Rangers supporting friends who genuinely mourned his loss.

There’s a site I used to read a lot more often than I do now,and I really need to get that habit back again. His blogs are a mix of fact,history and-perhaps?-whimsy. But he has a way with all of them,and a fondness too for Tommy.

There’s a lot of his archive which includes TB. Well worth a look. Actually,the whole site is-as many of you know.

March 25, 2020 7:57 am

Morning bhoys…… Now to read the article.

March 25, 2020 8:06 am

Crackin piece on Tommy ?
Love reading the human sides to our hero’s.
The pressures they must be under not to step out of line must be really difficult in times where nearly everyone has the potential to take a snapshot of their every move.

March 25, 2020 8:07 am

Twist n Turns

Thoughts and prayers offered at this difficult time. ?

March 25, 2020 8:10 am

When I mentioned that TIRNAOG09’s blog included whimsy,I could and should have phrased that better.

I apologise for that as it demeans the intent behind his words. Sentiment isn’t whimsy,it’s so much more than that when he writes stuff like the following.

March 25, 2020 8:15 am


You decided to join us in the deep end after paddling about the shallow end for a while?

Must admit,the jukebox has improved since you’ve been on!

I think you’ll like Friday’s article,in that case.

How’s the bumpy shadow K-K-K-keeping? Give them both a wee hug,and I expect at least a photo soon after a certain event in twelve weeks,God willing.


March 25, 2020 8:24 am

Tommy’s footwork and football brain amazing.
To many heroes, this wee video covers a few legends for me.

Oh,lATOB, young Charlie Nick is on it.

big packy
March 25, 2020 8:28 am

ASWGL, brilliant article, so many laughs and tears, the ghuy was celtic to the core, and you nailed it with that post, thank you very much?

March 25, 2020 8:45 am


aye , thought about posting for a while , i actually posted on the first day of the blog as anon , as you could.
it was JTT’S Paisley chat ( AWE NAW , McCAFFand GORDAN64 ) that did it for me….

Not to make light of the situation , but i think i have a better chance of surviving the virus than being in lockdown wae three hormonal wummin ….

on top of that my eldest daughter and her man have been ordered back to work , so we’ll also have the 3 grandkids.

Kelly doesn’t actually look that big and shes coping well after a turbulent few months …… her being pregnant.saved me a fortune in Rome(nae alcohol for her) lol.

Twists n Turns
March 25, 2020 8:51 am


To be honest, but at the risk of sounding cold, my cousin who passed wasn’t someone I was particularly close to. More affected my mum tbh. It did make me reflect on happy times growing up when the entire family were close, meeting up regularly, but as the years passed, and the uncles and aunts all died off, the cousins haven’t remained particularly close.

March 25, 2020 8:53 am


You can never have too many grandkids about the place. Spoiling them and then handing them back,totally ruined,is what grandparents are for.

I remember ATOB saying to our nephew-your grandparents are much nicer than my parents. Totally confused the wee 8yo,but she was right!

Btw,aye. Certainly a fortune saved,haha!!!

March 25, 2020 8:56 am


I remember that wee chat,absolutely amazing stuff. Best laugh is,I knew Liam-their mutual friend-too. Went to school with him. Stayed about fifty yards away as the crow flies,and a great fan of The Laurieston,Ardrossan back in the day.

As we all were back then. By the time you were 18yo you had three years experience under your belt. Great days.

March 25, 2020 8:59 am

ASWGL, A very good read, thanks, and such an appropriate article for you! 🙂

big packy
March 25, 2020 9:09 am

MORNING JIM, its a lovely sunny day here, whats it like in gods own county?

March 25, 2020 9:15 am

Morning Packy, Only one word for it – Dreich!
The good news is my window cleaner has arrived. Smashing guy, Polish, he has a green van and he calls his wee firm Green Power. 🙂 I won’t need to deal with him I pay by direct debit. Imagine telling your old granny that?

big packy
March 25, 2020 9:20 am

JIM, lol, our grannies would not believe us

big packy
March 25, 2020 9:29 am

JIM, talking about grannies, my mum was never a baker, I always thought you just bought pancakes from the shop, until one sunday my dad takes me down to croy to visit my grannie, and there she was making pancakes in the frying pan, I was amazed think I ate all of them??

March 25, 2020 9:32 am

a wee tune for everyone on the blog going through difficult times .

The wummn folk need feedin ….laters .

March 25, 2020 10:16 am

Sentinel Celts Fitness Workout during Covid 19 pandemic…

March 25, 2020 10:17 am

Morning all, Thanks guy, and cheers for the links Twists and Bobby fine reads ?

March 25, 2020 10:37 am

Must admit that I’m fed up adding names to my boycott list. Wetherspoon’s will be a blow easily overcome,despite drinking in their premises for thirty years or more. But this,below,is a shocker.

March 25, 2020 11:13 am

Prince Charlie has test positive for Covid-19. ????. No shortage of ventilators there if it’s true.

March 25, 2020 11:24 am

Or to give him his full title

Noa So Bonny Prince Charlie

March 25, 2020 11:35 am

Yes, UK have been saying don’t travel to your second home.
So him and his entourage, travelled from London to Balmoral on Sun, with the virus.
As ever, different rules, for the, so called,elite.

March 25, 2020 11:53 am

One of my clients Matt Pinder makes documentaries, there is one of his showing tonight on BBC4 at 9pm, it tells the story of a man from Paisley, and his own memories of the 20th Century with some early Glasgow footage, then as he goes to war leading a group of Gurkha’s, he took his camera with him all the way. Narrated by Richard Madden, (born in Elderslie, Renfrew) who some may recall as Robb Stark in Game of Thrones, and latterly of this years award winning movie 1917. Matt’s Docu’s are usually well worth a watch if anyone is interested.

March 25, 2020 11:55 am

Nothing like a sense of self entitlement.I
Rules are only for the Plebs.
BBC stated he travelled already showing symptoms on a flight by RAF on Sunday & tested by Nhs on Monday. So should’ve been self isolated & no essential travel was already in force.

March 25, 2020 12:23 pm

Great article. Perfectly summed up a wonderful person who played fitba!!

Everybody Else
If ASWGL’s article didn’t bring a wee tear to your eye then you must have had a heart by-pass!!

Brilliant ASWGL, loved it!!

March 25, 2020 12:27 pm

A fitting tune to start the tunes today

Mike in Toronto
March 25, 2020 12:44 pm


Still needing a haircut? We all need to pull together in these difficult times. So Maybe BigPacky and hi missus could help out.

Here is their list of services … just tell them which number you want…

And since you are a SC friend, I’m sure they will throw in some flea and tic medication for free!

Mike in Toronto
March 25, 2020 12:45 pm

By the way, I enjoyed the article. My favourite ever a Celtic.

March 25, 2020 12:53 pm


I think I’ll have a Number 10 before it’s too late and I’m settling on a Number 26!!

Twists n Turns
March 25, 2020 12:53 pm


There’s no fkn chance Big Packy is getting near me with a pair or scissors or worse still, a razor.

As for a Joan? Might be a safer bet but I’m wary. I went out with a girl from the Wirral once. Only once mind ye.

Was back in my younger days when i wasn’t averse to going a few rounds with the best of them, but that girl scared me! If she said it was Tuesday it was fekkin Tuesday.

March 25, 2020 1:07 pm

Prince Charles is isolating at Balmoral with Covid 19.

Prince Andrew is isolating at Windsor with Jennifer 14.


March 25, 2020 1:08 pm


Sentinel Celts Fitness Workout during Covid 19 pandemic…


Btw could you let GARRY know , “BARRY THE TIM ” was asking for him , as well as myself obvs , tia.

Bada Bing
March 25, 2020 1:16 pm

When Tommy gave me a ‘row’- a Bhoy from our way died suddenly a few years ago. I arranged a charity game to try and get a few quid for his family, against Chick Young’s Dukla Pumpherston, at Glencairn Juniors park.I put a letter into Tommy who was the Celtic manager at the time,asking if he would play for us.I was in the bookies the Sunday before the game. An unrecognized number flashed up on my phone..’ how you doing, it’s Tam Burns…..’……. ‘whit…’ I replied, ‘it’s Tam Burns,about the charity game…’.I nearly fainted, he told me he couldn’t make it,as he was playing in another charity game at Pollok Juniors that day.He told me to come down to the Park and collect stuff for the auction, he finished off with this.He called me my full name ,and said he now knows where I work and said ‘ well done for organising the game,but if you arrange another charity game,and you don’t ask me to play,I will track you down….’
Typical of the man,when the call finished, I never knew anyone else in the bookies, but was desperate to tell all around me ‘ guess who that was on the phone…’ .Tommy Burns,a fan with a jersey,a True Celt.

Bada Bing
March 25, 2020 1:32 pm

When all this has passed, every NHS frontline staff should get a tax free £1k as a bonus, inc porters,cleaners,catering staff

Twists n Turns
March 25, 2020 1:48 pm

What a great story. Brilliant.

1 2 3 5