Memory Lane – Charlie Nic

Charlie Nicholas at his best was a goal-scoring sensation whose goals and style made him the darling of the Celtic support in the early days.
For those of us like myself, who remember Charlie breaking through, there is no doubt this is true, however it seems another life time ago.
Charlie was, one of our own, a Celtic fan who came through the youth ranks and finally fulfilled a dream by signing professional terms in June 1979.
Even before Charlie signed his professional contact, his talent was such, that most of us had heard about this young bhoy, from Maryhill, who was scoring goals for fun, for the youth team.


At the close of the 1979/80 season Charlie was on the bench several times after excellent reviews in a successful Celtic reserve side under Frank Connor. However, he never made a first team appearance, that season.


His first team debut came in Aug 1980, he came on as a substitute in a 3-0 league victory over Kilmarnock, hitting the post twice.
His first goals came against Stirling Albion a week later in the League Cup, and he then went on an unbelievable scoring streak, scoring 13 goals in his first 12 Celtic games between August and October, remember he was still only 18, no wonder he was loved.


Seldom has a player made such an immediate impact in Scottish football than Charlie Nicholas and all sorts of nicknames were given to him.
I think it was Jimmy Sanderson who nicknamed him ‘The Cannonball Kid, other names were Charles De Goal, Charlie Bubbles and the one that would stick more than others, Champagne Charlie.
In that debut season1980/81 Charlie scored 28 goals, it should be noted though that Frank McGarvey scored 29 goals, as Celtic romped home to the title. A highlight of the season, for me, was the 3-1 win over Rangers at Parkhead with Charlie scoring twice, a game I recall well, I was in the Front Stand that day, Rangers fans used to get a bit of the front stand back then, sections FS6 and 7, I think, that day I was right at the segregation part, all the goals were scored at the East End, Celtic ,unusually, were shooting into that end, in the second half. Celtic were 1 down at half time and if I didn’t know it before hand, I certainly found out in that first half, how vile some Rangers fans could be, however that just made the second half all the sweeter, with Charlie scoring 2 and then big Roy scoring near the end to make it 3, he ran, celebrating, towards the very same Rangers fans and that made it even more joyous for us.
Charlie also scored the winner at Ibrox in a 1-0 win in April, a result which all but gave us the league title that day.


Charlie started in the side in 1981/82 but lost his place in September to George McCluskey, a man who served Celtic well and never says a bad word about the club. The bad winter weather meant that Celtic did not play much in December and by January Celtic arranged a friendly against Morton at Cappielow, where Charlie suffered a serious leg fracture and with that Charlie’s season was over. It had been a total contrast to his first season as a Celt.


Charlie came back with a bang, the following season, he was majestic and when he scored 48 goals, he became the most wanted talent in Britain. During that season 82/83, some memorable goals, were a magnificent strike against Ajax in Amsterdam, a last minute winner in the 1982 League Cup semi-final second leg at Tannadice and in the final he helped inspire Celtic to a 2-1 win over Rangers at Hampden when the scoreline did not truly reflect Celtic’s superiority on the day.
That’s was a day all of us who attended, will never forgot, because we were in the uncovered terracing and the rain was torrential the whole game, we also missed some amount of sitters that day.
On New Years day 1983 Nicholas scored another spectacular effort at Ibrox in a memorable 2-1 win which gave Celtic their first new year win at Ibrox, incredibly, since the days of Jimmy McGrory.


BMCUW has previously highlighted how this season fell apart and somehow or another, we managed to blow the league.
Charlie was now into the last year of his contract and as the weeks past it became obvious that he would depart although he refused to confirm or deny this in the media.
Celtic had a dreadful April when they lost two league games, which ultimately cost them their title, and also a Scottish Cup semi-final to Aberdeen and the Celtic fans now felt that that the circus following Charlie was affecting the morale of the team.


The last game of the season was on 14 May 1983 and the title could have gone to Celtic, Aberdeen or Dundee United that day. Celtic were 2 down at Ibrox, but inspired by a fabulous walk on at half time, we came back and won 4.2 with Charlie netting 2 penalties. but Dundee United won at Dens Park to win the league.
Charlie went on to win both the Scottish footballer of the year and the Scottish PFA player of the year shortly after.


Charlie left and had the choice of Liverpool, who were Europe’s finest side, Manchester United or Arsenal. He surprised mostly everyone by going to Highbury, until it became clear that living in London and earning a higher wage far outstripped any footballing decision to be made.
He received a reported £100,000 signing on fee and a £2,000-a-week contract (massive money for the time) He also had the most glamorous nightclubs in the country on his doorstep.


In August 1984 he played for Arsenal in a friendly at Parkhead and was roundly booed by the Celtic fans in the Jungle who clearly had still not forgiven him for his ‘betrayal’ in leaving a year earlier.


I did meet Charlie in 1984, along with a good few of the Scotland squad, I knew John Wark, a little, but enough for him to let us join their company.
The likes of Wark, Albiston, Strachan ( who I didn’t want introduced to, as he had just had big Roy sent off, in the cup final and yes, even McLeish, were great company, Strachan was truly laugh a minute stuff. I think you can all guess the two who were ignorant and thought that they were better than the rest, Yip, Nicholas and Judas, well Mo, as he was then, he hadn’t changed his name to Judas yet.
It was a sign of things to come.


In January 1988 – with just a League Cup winners medal to his name, Nicholas left Arsenal.


Now, at what should have been the peak years of his career, there were no longer any number of top clubs interested in him. Instead he moved to Aberdeen in a £400,000 move. His form with the Dons was good and he helped them to Scottish Cup glory in May 1990 when they defeated Celtic on penalties. Just a couple of months later he was back at Parkhead.


He was welcomed by a Celtic support who hoped he could help a Celtic team that was, by Celtic standards, mediocre. His vision and touch was still there, but he lacked the speed, hunger and the youthful confidence of the younger Charlie. He did have a new found maturity and with his natural ability, it was significant enough to still make him a reasonable performer.
When Tommy Burns arrived as manager in 1994 his days were numbered.
Celtic released him in May 1995, and he moved on for the last time from Celtic. He was long past his best at this point in fairness to the coaching team, and he was ageing.


In his complete Celtic career Charlie Nicholas scored 125 goals in 249 appearances, and is fondly remembered as a player. Sadly, it will not be as one of the legends for which there was an inkling at one point that he could reach that level.


In recent years Charlie Nicholas has gone on to carve out a very successful media career as a co-commentator, pundit and newspaper columnist.


However,he dropped a faux pas on national television when he and Jim White were heard to make derogatory remarks against the ‘Fields of Athenry’ song in a TV studio, which was heard being played over the loudspeaker at Celtic Park before a big European game. So much for Charlie the Celtic man.


His criticism of Celtic, as a pundit, at certain points has seemed to be vindictive on occasions


Charlie insists that he remains and always will be a Celtic fan but ultimately he will be remembered for his premature departure in 1983 from which his career never truly recovered and for developing a certain bitterness against Celtic.
In my eyes he’s gone from almost hero to nearly zero.


Once again, thank you to the wonderful Celtic Wiki.

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April 3, 2020 4:46 am

That’s a quality read, many many thanks.
I didn’t know half that stuff tbh.
48 goals is a well of a season it’s gotta be said,, and footie was pretty level back then as witnessed by Dundee Utd winning the league while he was there.
I had no idea of the Fields thing, maybe you or someone could expand on that. That idiot White involved I see.
I was thinking just how much was 2k back then, and that’s in pound notes times also.
So I googled it and discovered the very top of the range Ford Escort available then ( RS1500i) was 6.5k, so less than a months wages. Nice wedge I can easily admit.
Also didn’t know he returned tbh but his overall one in two record is good for a striker.

There’s certain people you just get the feeling you don’t like them even if never in their company, you can just tell they are slimey or off putting. Think Trump.
Well I have had Charlie firmly in that bracket for quite a while along with a few other ex players, Judas and Kenny spring to mind.
He’s nearly zero to you but he’s pure zero to me.

Once again many thanks pal and enjoy your weekend. Hail Hail

April 3, 2020 5:08 am


Nicholas was a sight for sore eyes for us when he was a kid. Quite the opposite since. I was fortunate to see most of the games when he was with us first time around,and equally fortunate to be in London when he returned.

Pretty sure that the only time I saw him play for us then was actually against Arsenal.

ATHINGOFBEAUTY and I couldn’t buy tickets as we lived in London,and I did try. So we tried to get into the Celtic end anyway. Nope. Told we couldn’t get in to the Arsenal end as ATHINGOFBEAUTY was wearing a Celtic jersey.

WTF,it’s a testimonial! Look at her,does she look like a trouble maker? I was wearing a suit,btw. Straight from work,driving,stone cold sober. So I kicked up! Spoke to a big sergeant on a horse,explained the situation-his response was to dismount,get a colleague to mind his pal,march us to the gate.

Took us in to a spot just behind the goal and told us not to let him down,and not to both go to toilets or catering facilities at the same time as where we stood was under a security camera.

You don’t get that kind of service fae the Glesca polis!

ATHINGOFBEAUTY and I got on well with the people around us,a right good crowd. And she got some abuse from them when Wdowczyk lined up that free kick. She told them,penalty kick and nae bother.

To a man,they replied that he’d never beat Seaman from there!

Great night.

April 3, 2020 6:52 am

Good morning all from Govanhill. Met CN in Warehouse disco on Dunlop Street. Wished him good luck for the future, hardly bothered to reply. Ignorant git.

April 3, 2020 7:02 am

When Charlie was making up his mind who he would sign for he was on a summer tour with the Scotland team. I think they had been in the Far East maybe HongKong , but they arrived Vancouver . I had always read and heard about media circuses and hadn’t witnessed it until I saw what was going on here in Vancouver. I know the Scottish press always talked up our good players leaving ,so his head was probably turned or was spinning. No excuses for his dissing Celtic ,don’t know his side maybe it was penny pinching or the lights were too bright in London ?

April 3, 2020 7:26 am

A wee bit more information on comments, it was 2007.

SKY TV presenter Jim White was caught on air mocking Celtic fans over the potato famine.

And he was joined in his jibes by former Parkhead hero Charlie Nicholas.

Sky Sports anchor White appeared to think his microphone was off as he chatted with pundit Nicholas at halftime during Wednesday’s Champions League clash.

Hearing the crowd sing The Fields Of Athenry, White was heard to say: “Oh here we go again, the tottie famine.”

Nicholas replied: “Aye, and they’re all eating chips singing this.”

Fans watching online via a foreign internet sports channel were stunned to hear the exchange.
Last night, Sky said they were investigating.

April 3, 2020 7:30 am


He was in my company once in Nico’s about 81 or 82. Not my type of place,not my type of person. Told the lads I was with that I thought we only came in here for one. They insisted,stuck around for another one.

Third one was off the cards as they soon realised I was right. Tosser.

April 3, 2020 7:35 am


My recollection at the time was that Celtic offered him £700 a week. Three times that at Arsenal,not a difficult choice for him.

Except that none of our players were remotely close to earning that. He might have had a better career had he realised that he actually hadn’t had enough game time,learned the ropes yet,to branch out into the big bad world.

And of course,finding himself landed with uber-hun George Graham as manager a few months later didn’t help.

Hell mend him. We are a club blessed with real legends. And too many couldashoulda types. Thought he was bigger than Celtic,see where thought got you.

April 3, 2020 7:38 am

Yes, that was my impression,too
We had been invited into the company, yet he couldn’t have made it clearer that he wasn’t interested.
There’s the famous story though, when someone said to him that he wasn’t that good and he could do anything that Charlie could do.
Charlie pulled out a £20 note and burned it and said do that, then.
That kinda sums him up.

April 3, 2020 7:40 am

Yes, I agree.
I’ve never understood his bitterness towards Celtic.
Is it, simply, knowing his T.V./ Press audience and chasing the money?

April 3, 2020 7:42 am


My hun pal Jimmy refused to eat potatoes,and no,I’m not kidding!

We shared a place for a while,but never cooked for each other as we had different tastes. Took me a while to realise he never ate them. So I asked him why not,you can guess his reply.

Eh,Jimmy. How often have we nipped into the chippy on the way back fae a dayoooot in Bath,Bristol,Cheltenham whatever?

They’re no tatties,ya daft bastert!

Shrugged my shoulders and shook my head at that,as you canny ejikait pork. Fantastic bloke,but jeezoh he could be hard work at times.

April 3, 2020 7:45 am


I’d never heard that before. I’d have booted Charlie Nicholas in the bollocks and asked Charlie Nicholas to boot Charlie Nicholas in the balls.

And then asked everyone else in the group to show him how easy it was.


April 3, 2020 8:10 am

Aye Mick.
It was in a nightclub, possibly Panama Jax
Guy came over giving it all the patter and that was his response.
His hangers on, though that it was hilarious, remember this was 80s, so £20 worth a lot more then.
Guy in work was there and witnessed it, story went around Glasgow, like wildfire as you can imagine.

April 3, 2020 8:31 am


Somehow,I can’t really imagine a real legend like,say,Bobby Lennox who was still playing into the 80s,doing that. Knobbery of the highest order.

Those guys were so keen not to be ‘flash’ that they were even wary of getting a round in for people,unless they were in company. And by that,I don’t mean they were tight,they just knew the WoS attitude and mentality.

The last time I met one of our Lisbon heroes,btw,was in a non-Celtic situation. I wouldn’t say I was starstruck because I knew the fella was on a quiet night out with his pals. Didn’t bother him at all,as a matter of fact. But I did when he went up to the bar!

Just asked him if it was ok if I bought that,please. Eh,WTF for?

The least I can do,Mr X. My pleasure,after all the pleasure you and your pals gave me.

He could have had doubles or trebles,he gave us them anaw!!!

big packy
April 3, 2020 8:33 am

MORNING ALL, JNP fantastic post, loved Charlie as a player, first time he played for us, was sad actually when he left, but down in London he seemed to be mr bigman, and I started to go off him a bit, but that exchange with jim white over the fields of Athenry done it for me, completely dislike him now, when he comes on tv, I switch it off, another true story?

April 3, 2020 8:46 am

Seems football clubs,and players in particular,are getting a bit of a kicking these days. Accused of a moral vacuum,no less.

Criticism of a moral vacuum from Tory MPs,who have warmly applauded the cuts to the NHS etc etc etc over the last decade? Hmmm,nice.

April 3, 2020 8:54 am

“In the summer of 1987, Celtic attempted to persuade Nicholas to return to Parkhead.[48] However, he rejected his old club’s offer, and decided to stay at Arsenal in the expectation he would remain part of their side.[48] It proved to be a poor decision; Nicholas was dropped four games into the start of the 1987–88 season, in favour of Perry Groves as the strike-partner for new signing Alan Smith.[47] He spent the rest of his time at Highbury playing for the reserves.[48] ”

Nice wee bit of karma for Charlie!

After that snub It’s surprising that Celtic took him back in 1990.

April 3, 2020 8:57 am

BMCUW. 8.46.
I think it’s because most footballers come from working class backgrounds, the elite are using them as a deflection.
Why not tackle the rich owners, hedge funders, non doms, billionaires etc.
I’ve had a bit of hassle on Twitter over this.
Nicola Sturgeon’s sister, who works in NHS put a message out defending her sister and praising NHS, all that is fair enough, she then had a pop at footballers saying they could do more and they earn more than the First Minister.
I pointed out, in Scotland, the vast majority of players would earn less than her and that I didn’t think it was a good look to have the working class fighting with fellow working class.
It’s fair to say I received a bit of incoming!!! as they call it.

April 3, 2020 8:59 am

Morning Jim.
I think at that time, in the 90s we would have taken anyone!!
To be fair though, Charlie without setting the Heather on fire, done ok second ti.e around.
I certainly see your point though.

April 3, 2020 8:59 am


A sign of our desperate situation at the time that we took him back. Five years,one good season. Oddly similar to the MkI version a decade earlier.

As for getting binned for Perry Groves,haha,couldnae have happened to a more deserving person.

April 3, 2020 9:03 am


Oh,you should know better than to take on clan,mate. Honestly,they shut down any criticism like the good old days of the Stasi. It’s like going to a wedding and criticising the bride’s dress,hairdo,choice of groom and hymns.

So much for freedom of speech.

April 3, 2020 9:05 am

Heather on fire?

Tchah. Have the real thing.

April 3, 2020 9:23 am

BMCW sounds like Charlie’s is a good example of why we should appreciate guys like Paul,Tommy,Henke ,the Lions and many others like yesterday’s example Lubo. All players who took the fans love and gave it back ,shinning examples for future Celts
Great stories on here
Someday I hope someone comes up with a blog where you get 30 seconds to leave a verbal post , I could listen to all the entries as I go for my walks doing my chores etc my wife is constantly nagging about the time I spend on here reading all the posts
With a wee ear piece ,she would think I am daft walking around laughing to myself

April 3, 2020 9:36 am


Very good point. All of them lived the dream. Many of them didn’t know it until they signed for us,they just thought it was another job.

Until they realised just what it meant. That dream that we all had as kids. Even my sister who was physically unequipped but had everything else!!!!

Then you get an arsehole who dreamed all his days of achieving the dream we all had. And pissed all over it. Took a wage for his final three years while watching his arse getting bigger and eff all else.

Naw,he’s not in the same league as the proper legends that we all hold in high regard. He can wear that badge with more pride than he ever wore ours.

April 3, 2020 9:39 am


You wouldn’t be able to understand a word I say,mate. Ayrshire lad. Broad accent. Rattle off the words like a machine gun on speed.

Have a nice kip!

April 3, 2020 9:42 am

It’s sad but I think Charlie Nicholas probably thrives on the Celtic fan’s attitude towards him. There’s no such thing as bad publicity as Max Clifford would say.

April 3, 2020 9:47 am


Indeed. I wonder how that worked out for him?

big packy
April 3, 2020 9:47 am

aff oot on my 1 hour walk with the dugs, will wave to the guy across the road with his stopwatch timing me? will leave you with this one, Constantinople is a very big word, spell it see you shortly HH

April 3, 2020 9:50 am

I remember the first time i heard/saw ‘open all mics’. I was in the pub (!) one Saturday afternoon, the telly on, and all this yelling coming from the football programme. Pundits shouting over each other to tell everyone about a near miss or a throw in!

Guess who was the loudest shouter? Yip, Charlie boy! That’s what started his illustrious media career.

April 3, 2020 10:00 am


Do you seriously have a fascist wee bastert neebir timing you? There’s lots of advice online of how to legally piss off someone like that. Initially free magazine subscriptions-porn seems to be a favourite-though they seem to be clamping down a bit on that. Use a throwaway tenner phone for it.

Not that I’ve used that route yet,too subtle for me.

The guidelines that are in place are just that. Not laws. Take the dogs for a walk and keep a safe distance.

April 3, 2020 10:31 am


Mailed you. Was gonna post it here,mail was a better idea.

Hope yer keeping good,old son.


April 3, 2020 11:33 am

I’m sorry to bring the sad news that the father of Gerard Hamill (Parkheadcomesalford) on CQN passed away at 7.30 this morning.

CQN regulars will remember Gerard often fondly refer to looking after his father Felix, who was in his 90s, and will I’m sure pass on condolences. RIP.

April 3, 2020 11:42 am

RIP Felix.

April 3, 2020 11:49 am

RIP Felix.

big packy
April 3, 2020 12:06 pm

BOBBY @ 10 am, remember that programme the neighbours from hell? who got that spelling question right?

big packy
April 3, 2020 12:08 pm

condolences to parkheadcumsalford rip felix

big packy
April 3, 2020 12:12 pm

well who got the answer,r come on jim speak up?

April 3, 2020 12:16 pm

The answer is either Istanbul or I.T.

big packy
April 3, 2020 12:19 pm

JIM, top of the class IT? how are you today

April 3, 2020 12:30 pm

Hiya Packy. I was speaking to my sister there. She has a house in Spain, usually goes over about 6 times a year, I get all my duty free baccy that way! Having to pay the full whack now. A 30g pkt lasts me 3 days. That’s £10. She is sick as a pig at not getting over just now. Not as much as I am I replied!

Bada Bing
April 3, 2020 12:59 pm

Played against and with Charlie when 15/16,played up Milton way one Saturday morning, the wind was gale force and a drop of rain hitting you,as if it was fired out a slug gun.The ball constantly in the air,one guy up front could pluck it out the storm with one touch was CN.I thought I was good,until I played with him for Glasgow Select,he was frightening, could pull ball down and turn in one movement, left or right side,always controlled the ball in one touch, no matter what speed or angle it came at him.I think he was such a natural talent, he didn’t work as hard as he maybe should have.

April 3, 2020 1:03 pm

Afternoon all
I hope this finds everyone in good fettle. It seems there’s nothing like a moan about a disliked former player to consolidate the bond of the Sentinel Celts! 😉
We are all in agreement the guy was very talented, sublimely talented in fact, but over his career not as good as he should have been and certainly didn’t prove to be anywhere near as good as he thought he was.
What annoys us about him, in my opinion, is he turned his back on us and we don’t take that well. We are faithful through and through and we expect the same from our heroes, especially home grown heroes!! It’s obvious he bears a grudge against the ‘Tic for reasons unbeknownst to us but feck him, we’ve got plenty of guys more worthy of our consideration!! By the way, JNP, great article!
The wee anecdote about burning the 20 quid note reminded me of an incident that gets retold periodically in the pub, and involves Charlie in Panama Jax again! Very similar tale but my mate pestered Charlie for weeks and months to buy him a drink ‘C’mon Charlie, your f***in loaded, get us a drink!’ It never happened but one night he took a £20 out of his pocket, blew his nose in it and lobbed it at my mate! A pure prick!! My mate wasn’t bothered, he was scrambling on the floor for the money! When I had my shop in Rutherglen, Charlie would pop in for a bottle of water or juice on his way to Broadwood stadium where he was filming a fitba programme with Davie Cooper. I never had a conversation with him but always acknowledged him, as I did to everyone, with a ‘Morning, Mate’ or a ‘How’re you doin?’ but if you got a grunt out of him that was something. As I say, a pure prick!!
By the way, it was during the filming with Davie Cooper that Cooper sadly passed away!

Bada Bing
April 3, 2020 1:08 pm

There is a virtual Grand National on Saturday being broadcast on ITV Saturday 5pm

Bada Bing
April 3, 2020 1:08 pm

Bring back the Naps…?

big packy
April 3, 2020 1:26 pm

doubt very much if there will be any football played worldwide, never mind in the uk for a good while sadly, the authorities could not take the chance of having huge numbers of people so close together,,OMO, message to the sfa give us our title now?

April 3, 2020 1:29 pm

His subsequent behavior since ditching us for mediocrity at Arsenal overshadow’s anything he did on the field for Celtic.
A rat best forgotten.

April 3, 2020 1:32 pm

Belarus are still playing.
Their crazy President said to continue as Vodka and Saunas cure Covid 19.

big packy
April 3, 2020 1:35 pm

JNP unbelievable.

Mike in Toronto
April 3, 2020 1:36 pm



Very good point. All of them lived the dream. Many of them didn’t know it until they signed for us,they just thought it was another job.

Until they realised just what it meant. That dream that we all had as kids. Even my sister who was physically unequipped but had everything else!!!!

Then you get an arsehole who dreamed all his days of achieving the dream we all had. And pissed all over it. Took a wage for his final three years while watching his arse getting bigger and eff all else.

Naw,he’s not in the same league as the proper legends that we all hold in high regard. He can wear that badge with more pride than he ever wore ours.


Celtic treats players and fans like shit (as a player, you bust a gut to win something, and get kicked blue and blue for your troubles, but you are cheated out of a title, and the chance at European glory, plus the chance of extra cash it would bring). Your club finds out you were cheated. Does your club stand up and fight for you? Do they fuck?! They sell you out for a few bucks. Honesty and integrity have no place in Celtic anymore.

Sadly, Charlie (sell your soul for a few Bob) is one of the players who best typifies the modern Celtic spirit…edged for the title perhaps by Mo (bless myself and play to the fans, but then go behind everyone’s back, and do a deal with the Huns) Johnson.

April 3, 2020 1:37 pm

Thanks for kind words.
That article took me much longer than any other, I’ve written.
Two reasons, one because he played with us twice and that had to be included, the other being I was trying to get across the difference between the player who broke through and the sour puss he became.
When he broke through, I really thought he would make it to the top, he had the ability not the application.

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