Roy Aitken

SOLKITTS and I are both Ayrshire lads,and lived our formative years in Ardrossan. I was lucky,being a Kilwinning lad,and can look back on those days as an “unfortunate event” but the lifetime friendship I forged with my best mate was definitely worth it!


A couple of weeks back,he sent me a clipping from an old newspaper,showing four young Celtic players. They were called Jim Clarke,John Murray,Hugh McKellar and Lou Macari. I can’t find any information about the first two,and Lou Macari naturally needs no introduction.


But for younger readers-don’t remember him by his time as a a manager. Us older heads prefer to remember the prolific striker who made hunskelping a specialty just prior to handing the mantle to Kenny Dalglish. Both would leave for financial reasons,and both would return as managers. Their performances as players certainly outshone their managerial efforts for us.


The fourth,Mr McKellar,suffered a serious leg break which necessitated his retirement. He would later face the daunting task in his new job of being my music teacher at school!


All four of those players I mention also had one other thing in common. They all attended the same school,and in fact were in the same year at St Michael’s Academy in Kilwinning. That’s not a bad achievement,given the paucity of Catholics in that neck of the woods. It was soon to change though with the adoption of Irvine as a designated New Town and overspill for Glasgow. It meant there was an urgent need for a new Catholic secondary to the north of Kilwinning,which would serve the needs of the towns in that area,Kilwinning being largely filled with the new intake to the south.


And so it came pass that St Andrews Academy in Saltcoats was established. Which can’t manage four Celtic trainees from the same year,but it certainly achieved some sporting excellence in its early years. I arrived there in 1975 and it was in the same school year that the playground was full of the unbelievable rumour that…
A fifth year had been taken out of school to play in Europe for Celtic!


That was Roy. He’d not long turned 17 and had made a few appearances already but wow! And because he was underage,the East German authorities insisted that Sean Fallon “adopt” him for the occasion.


Quite bizarre. But we were all thrilled,everyone who knew the fella was convinced he had it,and would be a big player for us.
Quite how big,few of us really could imagine.


Roy was originally envisioned as a centre half,and truthfully he would excel there for us for many a year. He formed a great partnership with Tom McAdam in particular,and also with Mick McCarthy in our Centenary Season,more on which later. But when Jock Stein returned from injury a few months after that Zwickau game,he saw the 17yo colossus in a different role.
Holding midfielder.


Well,Jock could spot a player being played out of position. He had done so often with the Lisbon Lions. And Roy could read the game,he could pass. He was speedier than he looked,and boy could he tackle. Jock had him working defensively in training with Pat Stanton,so the thought was always for the long term,but in the meantime his midfield presence allowed Roy Glavin and Kenny Dalglish the freedom to go forward. And to great effect too.


Jock won the double on his return,much against the odds. There were many players to thank for that,not least the peerless Pat,Danny and Kenny. But Roy was far from an unsung hero. The fans knew we had a winner in our team.


This was indeed a winner,a man for the trenches. A year after the Zwickau debacle,he was scoring our two goals at Ibrox! Both taken with an aplomb which barely matched his obvious pleasure!!!


Roy was a leader and a man for the trenches,aye. And never was that quality needed more than in the annus horribilis which followed. I’ll pass over that year,which could easily have seen us relegated. Roy’s performances that season weren’t always stellar,but Messi would have struggled as we suffered one boot in the baws after another. Tom McAdam even got a literal one,which is another story.


The following season wasn’t much better,not to start with. But we seemed to get the bit between our teeth when football restarted after a deep freeze,and suddenly with a run of form there was a realisation that…
Come on boys,we can do this!


And no-one epitomised that than Big Roy. We can all see him,tall and leaning forward,fist clenched in front of his face and dragging his colleagues to give that extra one per cent,push us over the line.


And when heads went down ten minutes after half time in the decider on the famous 21-5-79 Monday with the ordering off of Johnny Doyle for not kicking Alex McDonald hard enough,who was it that rallied the troops?

Come on boys,we can do this!


A goal down at the time,and shortly after 2-1 down,there was one man on that park who would settle for nothing less than a victory. Sure,everyone wanted one-but Roy just wanted it that bit more. And he drove every last ounce out of the team that night to get it.


It’s such a shame that there is no proper footage from that night,but everyone who was there knew that the man who scored the equaliser-!-was the catalyst for possibly our greatest night for twelve years.


Following this achievement,Roy was shuffled back to central defence by Billy McNeill,and really became a mainstay of the side. Sure,he had some right bad days and we all saw them,but they were few and far between. I remember us getting hammered 2-2 by Ajax in 1982 with their Danish players in particular giving us the runaround,and remarking to my mates that I hoped that destroys the notion that Roy’s anything but vital. He played in the return leg,and we won 2-1. He missed the first leg,of course. Those players had suddenly found their freedom a tad restricted!


In fact,Roy always seemed to be the man when we won,and the fall guy when we didn’t. Maybe I just noticed it more because of my personal and local attachment. Didn’t stop me giving him pelters when needed,like when he didn’t kick Stuart Ripley into the jungle on the way to setting up the winner for Forest in 1983! I wasn’t blind to his failings,far from it. But for me,he got a lot of undeserved abuse at times. Some of the partners he had to endure in defence filled the pages of They Embarrassed The Hoops,so that maybe goes some way to explaining. Even Roy can’t be in two places at once!

Though memorably,he was! The 1989 cup final against the huns!!!


That one needs no further explanation as he decided that he was judge jury and executioner on a throw-in decision. One which the huns still throw in to the mix when we go ballistic about refereeing decisions.

They loathed Roy. And he loved it.


His time in the mid eighties wasn’t terribly successful,mind. Nor was anyone’s,really. Not our best or most fruitful times,though the football on display was often scintillating. But it would be difficult to argue about his part in our cup final victory in 1985. A goal down to Dundee United-they fielded a ringer that day,putting a bloody greyhound into a football jersey!-David Hay told Roy to do what he does best.

Yep,it was FEED THE BEAR time!


Roy grabbed that game by the scruff of the neck and drove us forward time and time again-and he could still be relied on at the back on the few occasions that United broke forward! And who can forget that wonderful cross from the right,bang onto Frank McGarvie’s ear for the winner?


The following year,he seemed to invoke The Spirit of 79 as he recalled us then,coming from behind to snatch victory. And snatch it we did,in a famous day at Love Street.


That was Roy. Ten years after Zwickau,still driving us on. It can’t get much better than this. He’s not just living a dream,he’s living a bloody fairytale!


Well,sometimes The Gods look down on us mortals and allow us one fucking huge shot at glory. And there could surely be no greater shot than our Centenary Season? Who wouldn’t want to be around for that? Well,Brian McClair,Judas and McInally for starters. That’s about seventy goals a season gone in one hit. Murdo McLeod departed too. To be fair,we all knew about the contractual problems,and most of the fans supported their stance. Roy had also had protracted discussions on that matter,as had everyone else,particularly Tommy Burns.


We went into the season on the back of a 5-1 hiding from Arsenal at home. Fortunately it was only a friendly,but with a big-spending rival already on the front foot,it did not look good. And although we beat them early on,our usual Halloween Horror saw us only take nine points from fourteen.

So we put on the afterburners!


And when I say the afterburners,I mean it. Think back on how many games we pulled out of the fire after the fat lady had already started warming up. Sometimes we did it as she was performing her encore! We won that league by a mile,losing only three games and 23 goals in a 44-game season. A phenomenal achievement,and another jewelled chapter in the rich history of our club.

“It doesn’t get much better than that,Ted”

Unless you win the double?

Not much chance of that. A goal down in the dying minutes of the semi,och I’m telling you the plot.

And aye,it was the same in the bloody final anaw!


Roy was a constant in our team from 1976 until 1990 when he left for personal reasons. That’s a lifetime for a footballer,much more time than most get in the game at all,never mind being at the centre of it. He played 667 times for us. 57 times for Scotland-and we had a bloody decent team back then,so plenty of competition. Captained club and country and won six titles and five Scottish Cups.


There are many accorded the mantle of legend. He is one of the few deserving of it. My grateful thanks,Roy.


Btw,you may remember my intro about the four players from the same school? Roy,Mark Reid-good call,JIMMYNOTPAUL-and Stevie Clark were all there at St Andrews at the same time about a decade later. Not a bad return,and one that sadly we are unlikely to see again these days.


Above article by BMCUWP. As always,you can send us your thoughts for us to publish as Article of the Day. Mail Mahe

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June 13, 2020 5:01 am


selections,follow the link.

June 13, 2020 5:22 am

Roy Aitken-Local Hero.

SOLKITTS sent me another clipping,in particular,about three years ago. It was a function at Ardrossan Garryowen CSC,early seventies.

As my Dad was a founder member,I asked if he recognised any of them. Of course he did,knew them all-including his brother! Well,of course I’d spotted my Uncle Jim,went without saying. He also told me about the club president-won’t mention his name-who had died from a heart attack at a Rangers game.

Hmmm,I think I’ve got his son’s e-mail address. So I contacted him and asked. He lived near London and was back home on a sad duty,to visit his ailing Mum. He was actually staying at Dalgarven House,a small hotel only a stone’s throw from my parents’ house. And he would love to have the photo,as they didn’t have many of his Dad.

Tom was over the moon when I mailed it to him,and so was his Mum. Strange stuff indeed…

June 13, 2020 5:24 am

Always reminds me of LEFTCLICKTIC,that one. When he visits his Mum,she asks if he’s still talking to that man in yer wee box from Swindon. Like I live inside his laptop.

Give yer wee mammy an extra hug from me please,P.

June 13, 2020 6:07 am

Some shameless name-dropping here. I saw him making his debut for Wimbledon,back in 1995. 18yo,scored as they beat,I think,Southampton. I was in The President’s Club when he was awarded the man of the match,and Robbie Earle gave me a lift home! He lived just round the corner,next door to a girl I knew.

Jason should probably have made more of his career. Robbie should have taken my advice and joined Celtic!

Bada Bing
June 13, 2020 6:11 am

Morning Bhoys

June 13, 2020 6:29 am

Brilliant article. Very fitting tribute to a player I absolutely adored. Definitely a Celtic legend in my book too.

What an important part he played in so many of our important matches. Your article captured them brilliantly.

Paddy Turner
June 13, 2020 8:01 am

Saw Big Roy make his Celtic debut at Ochilview Park…….many moons ago

June 13, 2020 8:09 am

Bloody hell. I admire the memory a lot of you bhoys have for detail on matches/ players .

Only a few debut games still stick for me.

Paul Elliot
Jan Venegoor

Not sure why those ones in particular.

Ask me debut matches for

Paul McStay

As examples….. nope. No clue.

In saying that, was Paul McStay v Aberdeen?

June 13, 2020 8:14 am


Hope you’re still on the mend bud. Naps today so you’ll just need to be!

big packy
June 13, 2020 8:30 am

TWISTY, did you see my post to you the other day about bedworth??

big packy
June 13, 2020 8:49 am

JIM, if your lurking just sent you an e-mail?

June 13, 2020 8:54 am

No I didn’t bud. Apologies!!

Bedworth? Near Coventry?

Hmmm. I think you told me before you’d a brother lived there?
Apologies if I’ve got that wrong.

Or if not you, someone else on here ( or CQN)

(My memory ain’t brilliant unless it’s 70’s stuff. ?)

I wasn’t far from there though.

big packy
June 13, 2020 9:05 am

TWISTY, yes the locals call it bedith? 3 brothers and a sister there, you could walk to the ricoh arena in 10 minutes from their houses?

June 13, 2020 9:18 am

I bet they were at the Coventry v Celtic friendly there some years back. I was. Decent Celtic support there actually. I was just over the road from it.

Bada Bing
June 13, 2020 9:21 am

Twists- I was at The Maestro’s debut at Pittodrie, I think he scored in a 3-1 win

big packy
June 13, 2020 9:26 am

TWISTY, yes the lot of them? ok these west highland terriers keep looking up at me, think I know what they want, catch u all later ,JIM ,wakey wakey

June 13, 2020 9:30 am

In saying that, about my memory I mean, I know what I was doing exactly 39 years ago today.

I got up. Was a fair bit of activity in my house that day.

Everyone dashing about. House was very busy. Folks in and out all morning. Everyone very excited.

Me? I was cool as a cucumber. In fact when the Goth pub opened at 11am I headed there. Mum giving me a hard time

“ awww yer no gaun to the pub the day son are ye?”

Aye I’ll go for a few.

“ awww don’t you be getting drunk the day mind. I’m warning ye!”

Aye ma. Don’t worry I’ll no be long.

“ Well mind yer getting picked up at half one”

“ Ah Ken ma. Dinnae worry I’ll be here”

Had a few beers, few games of pool, played a few tunes on the jukebox.

True to my word I was back in time to get picked up.

No choice really. Couldn’t keep Father Healy waiting I guess. Only fair. After all, he was the one marrying me that day ! ?

Found out my wife had phoned my mum several times that day making sure I was definitely going!

How she’s put up with me for 39 years I’ll never know ?

June 13, 2020 9:32 am

Ha! There ya go then. I do remember another debut. ?

June 13, 2020 9:33 am

Feed the Bear – what a player for us

June 13, 2020 9:44 am

oops posted on the previous article.

15.00 Newbury
Oriental Mystique

June 13, 2020 9:55 am

Previous article correct for naps Jim ??

Fairhill bhoy
June 13, 2020 10:12 am

Twisty -happy anniversary to you both ??
Have a great day ?

Sol Kitts
June 13, 2020 10:22 am

The semi-final in the Centenary season really showed what Roy was all about. We’d just equalised against Hearts in the last seconds of the game, and we were all just so relieved. Plans were getting made for the replay, the teams were lining up again for Hearts to restart the game, and all of us there will swear we heard big Roy shouting, “COME OOOOOOOOOOOOON” over the noise of the crowd.
The rest, as they say, is history. Straight back up the park, winning goal. What had been a disaster 2 minutes before was now a joy.

June 13, 2020 10:29 am


Nowt planned today but I’ll be aiming to relieve the bookies of some of their easy earned cash.

Weather miserable here.

Gonna wander up the cemetery and say hello to a few folks I miss.

Got 6 coming for dinner tomorrow so I’ll do the prep work today.

That’ll be me:

Dinner prep

June 13, 2020 10:41 am

Packy, hiya pal. Just to let you know i haven’t won the postcode lottery again. Never mind, there’s always the naps!

pilsbury dough bhoy
June 13, 2020 11:06 am

First contribution so be kind. Twisty’s excellent anecdote about going to the pub on the morning of his wedding reminded me of the time, many years ago when I worked as a barman in the Pine Lodge Hotel in Newmains (true story). One Saturday Big Tam, a local bampot strolled in. “You’re looking very dapper for a Saturday lunchtime, Tam,” I said. “Ah’m going tae a wedding later.Gie’s ma usual.” His usual was a pint of Harp and a double banana rum and pep. About 3 hours and 10 rounds later Tam was playing pool when the door burst open and an enraged woman in a white wedding dress strode in. “Tam, the registrar says if you’re no there in 5 minutes he’s no going tae marry us,” she said exasperatedly.
“Steady the buff, hen, can ye no see ahm oan the effin black.” says the bold Tam

June 13, 2020 11:20 am

Pilsbury dough bhoy


Welcome bud.

If that had been me, as opposed to big Tam, I’m pretty certain we’d never have seen 39 years?.

My late father in law David, lovely lovely man and an absolute gentleman, and he was also an ex sergeant in the army. I think he’d have made sure I didn’t see my next birthday never mind an anniversary.

pilsbury dough bhoy
June 13, 2020 11:30 am

Thanks for the warm welcome Twisty. Nobody gets to 39 years of welded blitz by accident. Tam, on the other hand, was an accident waiting to happen!

June 13, 2020 11:37 am

pilsbury dough bhoy
Welcome and enjoy.
Happy Anniversary, to you both.

June 13, 2020 11:39 am

Pilsbury dough bhoy

Welded blitz. Vg.?

I’m hoping this lockdown carries on till June next year. Save me a bloody fortune on a ruby anniversary knees up.

I knew a fella from Newmains actually. Long time ago. Met him at engineering college. John Alexander his name was. Be 44years since I seen him!

The Newmains hotel.

My pal was a big Gers man, and after any games of us v them, we used to meet up in the Newmains hotel for a drink post match. Win, lose or draw we’d meet there.

At that time, sadly he’d more reason for celebration than me. Smiths 9 in a row era.

June 13, 2020 11:40 am


Great to see you posting today.

How are you? Still improving I hope?

A thing of beauty
June 13, 2020 11:41 am

Pilsbury Dough Bhoy
Welcome to the site. Some of the best laughs and funniest characters I’ve met was when I worked in pubs. Good times.
Excellent tribute to a Celtic legend. I’m not one to praise you for obvious reasons but that was first class. Some top memories in there. The 1988 semi final is legendary in our family and you along with sol kitts captured it perfectly. I was lucky enough to meet Roy at the reunion night for the centenary team. As you would expect he is a gent though to be fair all the players I met were gentlemen and happy to give their time to the fans. My only disappointment was the maestro didn’t fly in from oz for the event. He must’ve heard I was going and F…that, she’ll never give me a minutes peace.
I have missed the news of your illness but be assured I wish you all the best in your recovery and hope to see you back on here soon. I started off quite enamoured with the great tit that was around my back garden when lockdown started. But like every other t.t I’ve met in my life, I’m sick to the back teeth of listening to it now!!

June 13, 2020 11:42 am

Great article, a most enjoyable read.
Roy is a Celtic legend for me.
One of my other memories of Roy, is the same 1989 cup final, when it was almost full time, Celtic had a free kick and Roy booted it right into the Celtic end, to waste time and allow Celtic to regroup ( no multi ball in those days )
The ref blew the whistle not long after and we had won the cup.
Also, BMCUW in the interest of fairness, I’m sure it was Garry who got Mark Reid, I got the other one, Stevie Clarke.

June 13, 2020 11:44 am

Thanks, yes. Improving, slowly but surely.

June 13, 2020 11:46 am


Don’t be fed up with the bird songs !

I worked with a guy in Shropshire. He used to moan every morning about the birds singing!

I said to him “ ffs man – what better than wakening up to bird songs? Let’s you know your alive!”

Wouldn’t listen though . “ Moan moan fekkin moan – noisy bastards blah blah”

This morning I have never seen so many birds in my garden. Honestly there had to be upwards of 60. All common. Sparrows, crows, starlings, magpies, seagulls. Not sure why so many today!

June 13, 2020 11:51 am

Thanks for your kind words.
The Starlings are costing me a fortune.
Paw and Maw have arrived with 5 fledglings, now that is great but they are eating everything in sight.
I put the Water Melon and Grapes out for the Blackies and Magpies but as well as all their own meal worms, the young starlings are eating that too, causing a load of friction, as Blackies and Magpies have their own young too.
Right I’m off, again.

pilsbury dough bhoy
June 13, 2020 11:52 am

JimmynotPaul, A Thing of Beauty. Thank you both.
Twisty. I was a student when I worked there in the late 70’s. Funnily enough I was born the same year as Roy Aitkin and I remember being blown away standing in the jungle aged 18, watching The Bear and thinking, that could be me (Aye right)

June 13, 2020 11:54 am

Big Roy is a week (and a day I think) older than me so you and I must be the same age.

June 13, 2020 12:07 pm

I was standing there organising tomorrow’s dinner and your story reminded of another. Not sure why cause it’s a bit different but it did. Made me chuckle as I recounted it in my head.

I’ll not name names cos the people involved are known to some folks on here!

A pal of mine who lives local to me was going out with a girl who was also local. This girls father was a bit of a nutter. In the lodge. Reputation as a real hard man.

Did my pal not go and get her pregnant!

He was absolutely shitting himself at the thought of having to tell his girlfriends dad. ( he’s an out and out tim which wasn’t going to help matters?)

Anyhow, he decided he’d be the one to tell him, as his girlfriend was too afraid to tell her dad.

So he came up with this:

He was going to go in to the house and tell him. He wanted someone to stand outside. If it got heavy, he wanted the person outside to come bursting in and help him out.
He duly recruited his ‘ helper’ and the time and date was set.

The only problem was :

How was the guy outside gonna know if it was kicking off?

So the plan was that if it did look like it was getting rough, he was gonna pick up something heavy and launch it through the living room window. That was to be the signal for him to get in there ASAP ?

He went in, guy outside staring at the window awaiting his signal. It never came.

When he came out he said the father in law was really calm about it and accepted him without a problem.

Thinking back on it now – what a stupid plan. He’d probably have been battered senseless before his accomplice got anywhere near the living room. ?

June 13, 2020 12:22 pm

Just popped in for a quickie, Celtic’s Invincibles are on Sky Sports Mix (Sky ch 45 ) at 1400. Hope all are safe and well. Byeeeeee. HH

June 13, 2020 12:30 pm

Oops, make that Sky ch 145. HH ???

June 13, 2020 12:38 pm



June 13, 2020 12:40 pm


Wi anecdotes like that,yer welcome here anytime!


June 13, 2020 12:43 pm


PMSL,as you might imagine…

A thing of beauty
June 13, 2020 12:46 pm

Happy Anniversary, 39 years is some going in this day and age. You’re right about the birds but 4 o’clock every morning that great tit starts. I think it’s because there’s no other noise that I’m noticing. I shouldn’t get annoyed and will desist immediately!!
Great to hear you’re on the mend and see you posting on here.

Any word today on Peter and Dermot’s donation to keep the club afloat?

June 13, 2020 12:47 pm


Good to know,mate. Cheers!

June 13, 2020 12:48 pm


Good to have you back,oul’ son. Hope things are on the up.

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