Buzz bomb !
A real goal scoring machine, in a Celtic career spanning the best part of 20 years.
Quiet shy and never seeking the limelight, Bobby Lennox was a tremendous player who is overlooked by many, because he was never one to bang his own drum, but what a noise it would create if he ever decided to give it a good old wallop.
The reason Bobby was sometimes overlooked, but certainly should not have been, is he was the professional football player, who never sought attention, and only appeared on the back pages of a newspaper, never the front pages. While many superstars would and sometimes did, bask in the limelight, and visit pubs or nightclubs after games, Bobby would return to his hometown of Saltcoats and have a quiet night in a cafe with a vimto, or a night at the movies with his childhood sweetheart Kathryn.
Without doubt in footballing terms, he is one of Celtic and Scotlands greatest sons. Some of whom have been fortunate or skillful enough to be either a Lisbon Lion, or a Wembley Wizard, but buzz-bomb Bobby Lennox was both.
While still a teenager Bobby was invited down to Chelsea, other English clubs were interested in me too, and he says, “Ach, I stood in the middle of the Kings Road wishing I was back in Saltcoats, it wasn’t for me.” Bobby would go on to make 571 appearances for the Hoops and score 273 goals, over 300 goals in all competitions. Played in two European Cup finals. Scored in the famous Scotland Wembley Wizards 3-2 win over then World Cup holders England. Throughout all of this he remained wee Bobby fae Saltcoats.
Bobby was signed by Celtic from Junior team Ardeer Recreation in 1961 aged 17, for a while he was nicknamed Lemon, as a newspaper article had miss-spelled his surname, and it became a joke within the Celtic dressing room, it caught on and big Jock would sometimes call him lemon too, as would some Celtic fans in an endearing way.
Bobby’s greatest asset was his speed, he had an uncanny acceleration of speed, and it helped him terrorise defenders. Bobby really flourished under big Jock after a slow start with Celtic, but when Jock appeared things really took off, and buzz bomb became an accomplished striker, and first class finisher.
Bobby’s speed could sometimes go against him, as he was many times called offside when he never was. In one game against Dundee United an over eager (let’s just say) linesman waved him offside a few times, he later in the game pretended to run from inside his own half and before he got over the halfway line he stopped, and the linesman put his flag up, Bobby just looked at him with contempt, knowing it’s impossible to be offside from your own half. The linesman got dogs abuse for the remainder of the game from the traveling Celtic support
Bobby says the tour of North America was the turning point. Five and a half weeks in North America, starting off in Bermuda, Bobby remembers that big Jock was experimenting with the team all the time, in their first game of the tour, as crazy as it sounds now, Jock played Tommy Gemmell as a striker, he actually scored two goals in a 10-1 rout of the Bermuda Select. Bobby would return from the tour, unsurprisingly, as Celtics top goal scorer
This tour laid the foundations for the success that Celtic were about to have, as they had now made permanent bonds as a unit, they would win every competition that they entered, including the Big Cup. Bobby admits that they had not realised the incredible feat that they had achieved after beating Inter Milan 2-1 in the 1967 European Cup Final, until they returned to Glasgow and around 60,000 people were lining the streets of Glasgow up to Parkhead.
In season 1967-68 Bobby won the bronze in the Golden boot award (top european goal scorer), he scored an incredible 32 league goals in 28 games, quite an achievement, but the old Celtic board did not tell him, instead they sent a board member representative to the lavish award ceremony, where the representative wined and dined before collecting Bobby’s award and gave it to him later on, this was a shameful way to treat a great Celtic servant.
Bobby says it surprises him, still to this day why so many Lisbon Lions got so few Scotland caps. “I would still like to think I deserved more than the 10 caps I got, scoring three goals in six wins, three draws and only one defeat. It wasn’t a bad record but maybe I was a victim of the times.” Personally I think the Lions were all victims, and treated with contempt by the Scottish FA.
Of the Wembley Wizards game Bobby recalls, Dennis Law scored the first then a short time after I got battered by big Jack Charlton. “He really clattered me and snapped a stud on my knee. The stud went up into his boot and it broke one of his toes. My knee wouldn’t stop bleeding for a couple of days. It bled through a grey suit that i wore. In those days, there were no substitutes allowed, but I wasn’t about to come off, no way.”
Just as well because in the 78th minute wee Bobby hit a shot past England keeper Gordon Banks, he recalls thinking “Don’t even bother diving Banksy, you’re beat”, and smiled.
Bobby had a great record against his old rivals Rangers(IL) once scoring a hat trick at Ibrox in 1966, but he is probably best remembered for scoring the only goal of the game in the De Stefano testimonial against Real Madrid, where wee Jimmy had the game of his life. A pivotal part in Celtic’s first nine-in-a-row, Bobby had the knack of scoring many important goals in very important games, he showed vast determination and real grit. In a later game in 1976 against Rangers(IL) Bobby had his leg broken by John Greig after only 12 minutes, in a horrific challenge, the referee gave a penalty, then surprise surprise changed his mind (same as it ever was).
In 1980 due to a serious foot injury Bobby Lennox called time on his Celtic playing career
Awarded an MBE in 1981, and a statue made in his honour in 2018 and unveiled in his home town of Saltcoats. Humble and unassuming Bobby Lennox is a little embarrassed by his statue that proudly sits in his home town in his honour, and he says.. “It’s all a bit: ‘Look at me, look at me’.” He continued: “I am proud for my family that this statue is being unveiled but I have to admit to be being a wee bit embarrassed by it all.
Bobby Lennox as Celtic top goal scorers go (301), sits above Henrik Larsson (242) and just below Jimmy McGrory (502) that is no mean feat for a wee quiet unassuming guy from Saltcoats, who loved his time at Celtic, only leaving for a short time to play in America, with Houston Hurricane’s before being asked back to Celtic, by then manager Billy McNeill, and lived the dream of winning everything in sight.
Bobby claims the most important match of 1967 was his wedding to childhood sweetheart Kathryn, I go to the same place for my papers every morning, I go to the same place for my morning rolls, i like being just wee Bobby fae Saltcoats
At Celtic Bobby Lennox won 11 League medals, 8 Scottish Cup medals, 5 League Cup medals (scoring 63 goals in the competition) 1 European Cup medal.
On Bobby Lennox…
Bobby Charlton: If I’d had Lennox in my team, I could have played forever. He was one of the best strikers I have ever seen.
Alfredo Di Stefano: The Scotsman who gave me the most trouble was Bobby Lennox of Celtic. My testimonial at the Bernabeu was against Celtic as, of course, they were the champions of Europe in 1967, and although I remember the Bernabeu rising to Jimmy Johnstone, I admired Lennox greatly.
This part taken from Celtic wiki: Walter MacRae, a Scotland trainer who also worked with Kilmarnock, a club that almost signed Bobby Lennox as a youth, told him “You were unlucky Bobby, you were nearly at Kilmarnock, we were keen to sign you but we thought you were a bit too small.” With a bemused look on his face Bobby replied …“I was unlucky ? I’ve got a European Cup winners medal.” MacRae had the good grace to laugh when he realised what he’d said.
Bobby Lennox at a testimonial dinner: “Explaining the unusual healing skills of Celtic physio Bob Rooney when Bobby Lennox once struggled to see properly after heading the ball and getting grit in his eye. Rooney told him to lie still and then licked the grit from his eyeball…….”What did he do for groin injuries?” …asked a brave diner.