I Have a Dream
Let’s dream for a moment.
You are a Glasgow boy and signed by, and get to play under, Celtic manager the great Tommy Burns. (so far, so good)
After this transfer to Glasgow Celtic in your first season, you are nominated and win the PFA Young player of the year. (doing well here)
How about we dream a little further, and during this dream, soon you become an integral part of the Celtic team to stop The now dead Rangers of old, in their holy grail quest of ten-in-a-row, suddenly you become a parkhead hero. (you’re smashing it now)
Let’s expand that dream further and during your time at Celtic, you get to score the opening goal in a Scottish Cup Final, (what’s not to like here ?)
You remain at Celtic for the next 10 years, which of course both you and I know, that unless there is something really special about you, it just wont happen. (still we’re only dreaming, aren’t we ?)
In this dream, you go on to beat the likes of Henrik Larsson and Chris Sutton as Footballer of the year (I mean seriously ?)
Let’s dream even more, and you get to appear with Celtic in a European Cup final. (c’monnn)
Probably at this point you are saying “Yeah sure IF ONLY !! …(but what a dream though eh ?)
Actually for one person, this is no dream !!!.
Signed by Tommy Burns from Dunfermline in 1995 aged 22 years old, in the year after the Celtic boardroom takeover. Jackie almost instantly became a Celtic favourite, and his direct play and decent pace made him popular with fans.
Jackie won his first League medal in 1997-98 Just in time to stop the hun hordes cheating up to the holy grail of ten-in-a-row, and was the PFA Players Player of the Year 1998. Jackie held a regular place in the Celtic side ever since Tommy signed him, and through several manager changes, and along with his defensive abilities, and his directness when attacking at pace was warmly welcomed by the parkhead faithful.
When Martin O’Neill took over the managers seat a few years and manager changes later, in 2000-01 Jackie found himself used sparingly. Jackie did however score the opening goal in the 2001 Scottish Cup Final a 3–0 scoreline while facing Hibernian. He might have went on to another cup final triumph but was sadly suspended for the 2001 League cup final a 3–0 win against Kilmarnock.
Martin O’Neill rarely used Jackie at first in his preferred formations, so Jackie found himself getting fewer games in 2002, and became more of an effective squad player, more so in defensive or midfield positions. Something which infuriated me at the time as Jackie would often get MOTM awards, while filling these positions, yet Martin would drop him for the next game or two, when whoever he was covering for were again fit. When 2003 came around Jackie though found himself, more regularly in Martins plans, and played most of the big games in the Seville season.
Jackie was an intelligent player and could read the game very well in 2004 Jackie was voted Football Writers Player of the season, this was I think the pinnacle of his Celtic achievement, as he beat co-players Henrik Larsson & Chris Sutton for the award, which in itself was no mean feat at all. Martin later made Jackie Celtic captain.
Jackies form appeared consistent throughout the eight or nine years so far, and he had adapted well to most positions he was asked to fill, by previous managers, i personally don’t think he had a bad season for us, injuries aside.
After having lost the league on the final game of the season 2004-05, Celtic did win the Scottish cup and Jackie proudly collected it. The following day Jackie McNamara had a testimonial against the Republic of Ireland, this occasion also gave the Celtic fans the chance to say goodbye to Martin O’Neill who was leaving due to his wife’s health problems.
Unknown to the Celtic support this was also to be Jackie’s farewell as contract talks seemed to be a clusterfsck and each party blamed each other for failing to agree a deal for Jackie to continue playing at Celtic, and he ultimately headed to Wolves in 2005.
There was some grumbling at the time, that Jackie had gotten his testimonial and just left looking for more money, which does not appear now to be the case as he went to Wolves, for what is now known, to have been the same money he was on at Celtic, so the money theory doesn’t fit.
Jackie says that he wanted to end his career at Celtic, but felt he never received enough prompt encouragement to do so. The fallout was highlighted in the press several times, agents blaming club for slow to no progress and vice-versa club blaming agents, however unlike some former players Jackie has remained respectful of his long bond with Celtic, and is not one of the bad mouth brigade, now used as useless TV pundits, who we ‘thought’ were Celtic bhoys.
Jackie gave every bit as much to the club as the support gave to him, he was a great servant, and he is still very well respected to this day, something that was brought to light when he was recently put into an induced coma due to a brain bleed issue, he is thankfully now on the mend.
Jackie McNamara was a favourite of mine, quiet unassuming, very work like, and respectful, in his prime he was excellent, and later in his career his football intelligence and reading of the game made up for any lack of sharpness. Jackie won four league medals, three Scottish cup medals, three Scottish league cup medals, made the EUFA cup final, played in most of the big games leading up to it, and managed to stay at Celtic for ten years.
Internationally Jackie had a fairly good career as he won 33 Scotland caps. Jackie played over 350 times for Celtic scoring 15 goals. (This from wikipedia)
Jackie’s father Jackie senior also played with Celtic as a defender, when Jackie senior was asked “Is your son a better player than you were ?” he replied “He was a better player than i ever was when he was still only nine years old !”
Thanks for the memories Jackie, Quite a dream sir.
(And may your health continue to improve).
The above is by ASWGL. Should you fancy flinging one in yourself as usual the email is firstname.lastname@example.org