After the recent sad news that Bertie Auld has been diagnosed with dementia. A Celtic legend who I personally believe is and was the best ever Celtic ambassador, he is the epitome of Celtic, always willing to share time with fans young and old alike, a hugely popular character among the support.
I thought it might be an apt time to take a walk down memory lane.
Bertie joined Celtic in 1955 from his local side Maryhill Harp, he would play for Celtic in his first spell as a winger, but had poor discipline which led to him being loaned out to Dumbarton, several discipline issues followed and depite his obvious talent, this led to former chairman Bob Kelly deciding it wasn’t going to work and Bertie was sold to Birmingham.
While playing in England Bertie continued to make a name for himself as a tough and talented player, in one game he headbutted 2 fulham players, in another game Ron Yeats of Liverpool, thought by many at the time to be the hardest player in English football also got a famous glesga kiss from Bertie.
In another game Bobby Stiles broke Bertie’s collar bone, but Bertie wouldn’t come off until he had retaliated, Stiles was eventually stretchered off, yes Bertie was a hard player but he was very skillful too, Bertie could pick a pass and was a very talented player.
Bertie’s no nonsense, never scared to mix it Maryhill attitude would follow him throughout his career both in England and Scotland. Jack Charlton often refers to having a black book of players names, and wee Bertie was reportedly the first name on it, Bertie however was not (at least in my eyes) a dirty player, but one very capable of looking after himself and his team mates, many many players would testify to this, some of them with broken bones, but primarily he never went looking for trouble, he just dished out what came to him, more often than not, with a little on top, just for good measure.
In 1965 Bertie Auld returned to Celtic, shortly after the appointment of Jock Stein as Celtic manager, many believed at the time Bertie returned because of Jock, but different sources point to it being Sean Fallon who won over chairman Bob Kelly and convinced him to bring Bertie back, Fallon was always a huge admirer of Bertie.
After re-signing for Celtic Bertie scored five goals in a 6-0 win against Airdrie
In April of 1965 Bertie Auld had what is believed by many to be his most important game for Celtic.
Jock Stein’s Celtic faced a determined and highly fancied Dunfermline side at Hampden in the Scottish Cup final. Twice Dunfermline took the lead but twice Bertie Auld put Celtic back level. This day would go down in history as Cesar’s finest Scottish cup day.
Billy McNeill as we know became a legend that day by scoring the winning goal but it was really Bertie Auld’s final with his two goals that kick started the great years under Jock Stein.
Celtic had qualified to play in the European Cup, and their reults were.
Celtic v Zurich. 2–0 (Gemmell, McBride)
Zurich v Celtic. 0-3 (Chalmers Gemmell,2)
Nantes v Celtic 1-3 (McBride, Lennox, Auld)
Celtic v Nantes 3-1 (Johnstone, Chalmers, Lennox)
Celtic v Vojvodina 0-1 (who cares)
Vojvodina v Celtic 0-2 (Chalmers, McNeill)
Celtic v Dukla Prague. 3-1 (Johnstone, Wallace,2)
Dukla Prague v Celtic 0-0
In 1967 Celtic were unstoppable and won every competition they entered. Bertie claims if they had owned a horse and golf clubs they would have won the grand national and golf open too that year.
Bertie as we all know led the chorus in the tunnel of the Celtic song on their Glorious day of 25 May 1967 when they won the European Cup against Inter Milan in the Cup Final.
In the tunnel one of the Inter players said something to Bertie in Italian, and Bertie shook his hand and said “I’m going to boot your arse up and down that park” much to the laughter of his team mates.
Bertie would play many games for Celtic he was a player with vision and talent and wit, and one who could take care of himself, he would not suffer fools gladly, and woe betide anyone who crossed him or his team mates, he stood up and stood tall.
Bertie gave his all in every game no matter what he was playing for, he was once sent off against Real Madrid in the great Di Stefano’s testimonial
At a Celtic Supporters Association Q+A Evening, a fan once asked “Bertie how hard did you hit that Racing Club player ?
He replied “Son I’m from Glasgow, how hard do you think I f*cking hit him ?”
Bertie Auld played his last game at Parkhead in a 6-1 victory over Clyde in 1971. After the game Bertie was carried off the park, shoulder high, by the Celtic players as the crowd chanted his name.
Anyone who is lucky enough to have spoken to Bertie Auld will know that Bertie rarely speaks about himself and appears humble and normally wants to talk about the brilliance of fellow Lisbon lions such Bobby Murdoch or Jimmy Johnstone, who he says in the 1970 European Cup semi final ties against Leeds United, that Jinky was simply unplayable as he took Leeds on a merry dance in both legs, and Bertie swears that Bobby Murdoch shouted during the game to Jinky, “Hey you, is that ball tied to your foot ?..we want a kick too.”
Or how George Connelly who was a surprise starter for Celtic when Celtic won the first leg at Elland Road 1-0 through an early George Connelly goal in just 40 seconds, Bertie says George was quiet but confident, and that he knew George had the class and ability to play anywhere in that winning team.
Bertie though does himself an injustice, as during this time Leeds had a tremendous midfield of Billy Bremner and Johnny Gyles, on both occasions Bertie Auld and Bobby Murdoch just blew them away, in the 2nd leg Leeds struck first through a Billy Bremner goal though, Two minutes into the second half, John Hughes drew Celtic level on the night, before Jinky set up Bobby Murdoch for the winner, as the tie ended 3-1 on aggregate amid deafening noise.
One Leeds fan encapsulted the whole Celtic teams performances brilliantly when he said “Celtic put 17 players on for the warm-up. I don’t think they have taken any of them off, above all Jimmy Johnstone has had England left back Terry Cooper on toast for 90 minutes”
Regardless of any football game you have seen or may see in the future, I know you will never see the talent that was on display that night, Leeds had a full team of English, Welsh and Scottish internationalists, and Celtic well what more needs to be said about that team.
Bertie was the forerunner to PC Lustig, when he was pictured after the Leeds return leg at Hampden wearing a distinctive Fedora hat, celebrating with the fans. The crowd was over 135,000.
The thoughts of all Celtic fans are with you Bertie, you gave us your all and more and we cherish the fact you remained a Celtic bhoy through and through, we wish your family and yourself strength in these times.
God Bless and Hail Hail.