A Kick Up The Eighties!

The weekly walk down memory lane by SES has got me thinking about the best Celtic XI I have seen in the flesh. 

I’ve restricted it to starting from 1980 as that is when I started going to every game home and away. 

I’ve come up with three players for each position and gone 3-5-2 as I think that suits best as we’ve always had better strikers than defenders


Big Packy Bonnar was a great servant but not top quality. 

Boruc was so agile – and gave us some great moments. His penalty save v Sp Moscow took us into the group stages of the Champions League and then v Man Utd his penalty save after the Nakamura free kick WOW – I thought I was going to take a heart attack!!!!

But it’s got to be big Forster. His performances v Barcelona had their media dubbing him La Gran Muralla – the Great Wall.

He also single handedly won us the League Cup Final v the Huns when he saved the penalty from Morelos. MOTM performance that day. You felt we could compete with anyone with him between the sticks.

Left sided defender

I’ve gone for Mahe in 3rd place. He had a great engine but alas a propensity to blow a gasket at any moment! Tosh McKinlay is runner up. A good servant to the club. A pity he didn’t arrive earlier in his career.

But, it’s KT all the way. Such a shame he didn’t stay to help secure the Ten. I suspect we’ll see him back some day.

It was such a downer when he left. A lot of folk are bitter but he was kicked up and down the park for 3 years with no protection from the refs. 

I’ve never seen any player receiving so many assaults after he played the ball away. He probably left to prolong his career. 

Central defender

And so to our dominating centre half. 

Virgil Van Dyke is the most expensive and best CH in the world however we only saw his apprenticeship so he doesn’t make the cut. 

Big Paul Elliot would probably have been a top shout but he buggered off to Chelsea after about 18 months so only gets a bronze medal. He only lasted a short time and had to retire very young. 

There’s not much between my top two. 

Bobo Balde might have made it but he was a bit reckless and petulant. A good servant but failed to hit the heights that he was capable of. 

So it’s his partner Johann Myallby who gets too spot. Together they took us all the way to Seville and gave us lots of great nights. He was just more consistent and played with us for longer so he grabs top spot.

Right sided defender

This was by far the easiest decision of the year for me. A mere nanosecond. 

Instead, I spent the time trying to come up with a couple of alternatives. 

I came up with Tom Boyd and Mikel Lustig. Two good servants to the club over the years. 

But – Danny McGrain. What can you say?

I see him often at Celtic Park. He is so humble, modest and unassuming. He still doesn’t get what the fuss is about!

My abiding memory of him was his first game as captain when King Kenny left. We played Chelsea in a pre-season friendly. There were 6 Chelsea fans sitting in front of me and they were completely blown away by his performance. At HT and FT they turned to me asking all about him. Their parting comment was a shake of the head and “ never seen anything like that in our lives! What is he? A fullback? A midfielder? He’s bloody everywhere!!”

I said we refer to him as an overlapping full back. They were like  “ ah ok”

He was truly world class by 1977. And he played like that for another 10 years after that! 

Defensive midfielder (no 6)

I’ve put Broony in 3rd place. Great servant and captain but for me a bit limited as a player. If Wanyama had stayed longer Broony probably wouldn’t have made the cut. 

Lambert gets second place. He was class and pure quality. We wouldn’t have reached Seville without him. 

In first place I’ve got Neil Lennon. As a player he was massive for Celtic. I don’t think people realised how good a defensive midfielder he was until he retired. In fact, the season after he stopped playing I could only come up with Edgar Davids of Juventus as a replacement! 😂

Holding midfielder 

(Playing alongside Lennon) So many really good players to choose from. I finally narrowed it down to:

3 Stan Petrov. I’d have loved him to have spent his entire career with us. Class act and provided lots of goals and assists. 

2 Chris Commons. Pretty much the same as the above. Unreal how many goals he scored from midfield.

1 Murdo McLeod. Nine seasons of hunskelping from a former Rangers supporter. He really bought into Celtic. I absolutely loved the wee man. 

Right sided Midfielder (7)

In third place I’ve gone for George McLuskey – although he also played wide left at times. He was sorta overlooked a bit due to the arrival of Charlie Nicholas and Frank McGarvey. But I really liked him. He used to get a bit of abuse from guys in the Jungle but he could always produce a wee bit of magic to shut them up!

In second place I’ve gone for Di Canio. Absolutely amazing player. If he’d stayed for 4 or 5 seasons then I’m sure he’d have been number 1.

First is wee Davie Provan. Another great servant to the club. He scored so many important goals and weighed in with numerous assists too. It was heartbreaking that his career was cut short by ME. I remember crying when he came off after 10 mins during his testimonial match. 

Central midfielder (no 8)

I’ve gone for John Collins in third place and Tommy Burns in second. Both were so talented and oozed quality. TB just pips JC due to his longevity at the club. 

In first place it just HAS to be the maestro- Paul McStay! I remember when he played his “last game” he threw his boots into the Jungle.  All the talk was that he was going to Arsenal or Juventus. Then a few weeks later I was driving to Campsie listening to the radio. The DJ said here’s the sports news…..Paul McStay has signed a new four year contract with Celtic!

I nearly left the road and ended up in a field!!! And THAT’S at true story BTW! 😂

Left sided Midfielder (11)

Jota is already no 3. I hope to God we can keep him – but it’s already looking unlikely if he plays like he currently is all season. 

In second place I’ve got Scott Sinclair. I wasn’t expecting too much from him but wow what a player. I’m not sure we should have let him go. He seemed very disappointed to be left out of the team and was managed out the door. 

Number one is the incomparable, magical Lubo! There are really no words that do him justice. Just go and watch his DVD! 

Up front I have gone for twin strikers:

In third place I’ve gone for Gary Hooper. He scored 82 goals in 138 games. I was at the game v Hearts when he scored all five in a 5-0 win. He also goes down in history as the last player to score in an Old Firm game- in 2012.

In second place I’ve got Leigh Griffiths. 90 goals in 173 games. He had everything. Left foot, right foot or headers he scored every type of goal. Unfortunately, he self destructed as a human being which is really sad. He’s far and away the most natural Scottish striker of his generation and he would literally WALK into the current Scotland team if he hadn’t fucked up so badly. 

And now, my number 1.

It can only be the King Of Kings himself – Henrik Larsson! 

He gave us 7 magical seasons. With him in the team you felt that we could beat anyone – and we took some big scalps. Time will tell if Angeball is going to produce someone like him. I’ve rarely been as excited at the start of the season as I am at the moment. 

Second striker 

My twin striker to play alongside Henrik. 

In third place I’ve got Brian McClair. Signed to replace Nicholas for 10% of the fee we got for him. He played for 4 seasons and scored 30 each time. I was gutted when Man Utd pinched him. 

Second is big bad John. I thought he was more or less finished when he came to Celtic. His days at Arsenal seemed like a long time ago-but what a player. I reckon if he had been fit to play in Seville we’d have beaten Porto. 

And in first place it’s Chris Sutton. What a partnership he had with Henrik! I was confident going in against any team with these two up front. 

Funnily enough I think we have a really exciting front line right now. It will be very interesting to see if any two develop the chemistry Henrik and Chris did. 

Fingers crossed 🤞 

So, that’s my lifetime best Celtic XI.

I’d be interested to hear what others think. And perhaps someone with a fetish for spreadsheets of a Celtic nature would be interested in collating the results of this,and that it inspires others to name their favourite 11.

Billy Bhoy 

Leave a Reply

32 Comment authors
Notify of

My apologies,as this has not formatted properly. Have tried to sort it,and will keep trying.


Disnae matter how it formatted it was a great read

A thing of beauty

Billy bhoy,
Enjoyed that read this morning. I agree ina few but I’ll take time today to give my 11 some thought and put them up later.
From last night. I agree with what you say. I said I didn’t think it was a good deal and that It wasn’t necessarily true when Doncaster said they took it to the market. It seems the Huns are certain that was not the case. The problem we have is our game is so hamstrung by the 5 way agreement and all the shenanigans that have went on since 2012 that we never get the truth about anything. It certainly feels that way.

Aye a great read Billy Bhoy ,got my top 3 in there McGrain ,McStay and Larsson .hh


Straight Outa Compton into the Calton…Hail Hail!! Brilliant, just brilliant!!

16 roads

The Maestro,KT & Henke 100% .

It’s going to take a while trying to select the other 8.

Wasn’t lucky enough to see Danny McGrain play live.

Mark Viduka was a class act.

John Kennedy when he arrived on the scene?

Moussa Dembele recent times.


Too many to mention.

Over & out.

HH. 🍀


The Maestro, Collins, Lubo, Henke, Forster, Boruc, KT, VVD and Denayer, Reiper, Bobo, Mjallby, Lambert and Lennon, Sutton, Hartson, Hooper, McClair, Nicholas, Provan, McGarvey, Stan, Adam Matthews anyone(?), Nakamura, tough choices all over. Need to have a think later, need to get going!
Good article, Billy Bhoy, very stimulating!


Bobby a great read thanks

From 1980’s is it ?

Van D
Twists n Turns

Subs – Forster, Lustig, Elliot, Agathe, Petrov, Naka, McLair, McAvennie

Manager – Wim Jansen

At least one Champions League from
that lot.

Not one of our existing squad get near these guys.

Prestonpans bhoys

Billy bhoy

Great article and as McCaff says so, so many others to think about.

Only one I would disagree with is Bonar, the grey brigade on here has already discussed this and the common consensus was Latchford was by far a better goalie👍


Jobo Baldie

Good morning, friends.
Thanks for the guest article, Billy Bhoy. I really enjoyed your walk down the more recent memory lane! Had you published it at the start of International Break rather than today I may well have risen to the challenge of collating results. But as we are just 2 more sleeps away from the restart of this years POTY competition I’ll continue to enjoy the wee break from 5 bar gates!

Billy Bhoy

Morning all from Sunny Portugal 🇵🇹

Bobby, I’m wondering if the formatting issue is down to how i collated it.

I’ve been communicating via WhatsApp with an old school pal who is in Oz. We recently came up with the idea of compiling our best Celtic XI – one position each day.

Just the other day I had the idea of collating it and fleshing it out into an article that you could use to fill a space in the blog.

Is this possibly why you’re having these issues?

I’m glad it has stimulated some interest.

Jobo – whatever gave you the idea that I was referring to you? 🤔

What’s that old song again…..

You’re so vain I bet you think this line is about you…


Big Audio Dynamite

Stubbs + Rieper were great together.

Jobo Baldie

You’re quite correct, Billy Bhoy. I cànt be the only anorak on here!!

Billy Bhoy

There might be other anoraks on here but as Carly also sang:nobody does it better!


Billy Bhoy

My apologies – just realised it was your item. A fantastic read btw!

Those players would all do us a turn in any team or period.

Keep them coming buddy!


Cosy Corner Bhoy

Fantastic idea and article Billy Bhoy. I’ll get on this later in the day after all chores of the day set by Mrs CCB are completed. Might think about doing one for players from 1943 onwards😁😁!


Morning all,

Great idea Billy Bhoy and very thought provoking !!!!

I looked at SeS team and made 2 adjustments.

Van D

So so many choices but above team might be hard to beat 🍀🍀


St tams

Morning all.
My team would be.
Di Canio

St tams

Billy Bhoy
Forgot to say ,vgreat read .👍

The Star Above The Crest

Van Dijk

Jobo Baldie

So the question is, if players played in the 80s or later they are available for selection, yes? Well in that case, even though most of his outstanding career was behind him, I give you the twin strikeforce of Larsson and Lennox!



Is that Henrik playing and Annie singing 😜😜😜

Jobo Baldie

Leggy, the voting for Sentinel Celts top 3 Scottish musicians of all time is one for the close season…
Other ideas are welcome… top 3 beers…. top 3 Apollo gigs…. etc etc.
I better refrain from booking next years summer holidays…

big packy

BILLY BHOY, good post, the best celtic team i have seen in the flesh ,surprisingly is the lions👍🤩

16 roads

—————————– Gordon ————————-

——– Mikel ——– VVD ——- Kennedy —– KT ——-

——————————— Vic67 ——————————–

——————————– McStay ——————————–

———— Di Canio ———————- Naka ——————-

————————– Henke –Dembele ————————

That was an incredibly difficult task, goalkeeper in particular.

Feeling guilty already over leaving out Lenny and Lubo.

Thanks Billy Bhoy.

HH. 🍀

Good read………….how far back can i go.

The Real McCoy

Busy week , so lurking mostly.
Belated Hoopy Birthday Frodshambhoy 👍🏻
Sad to realise yesterday was the anniversary of Garry going to Paradise 🙏🏻💚
All the discussion regarding Songs In The Key Of Life almost persuaded me to post Pastime Paradise ( Gangsta Paradise) from that album and , of course, reference Coolio . RIP 🙏🏻
I remember vividly buying that album whilst studying at Paisley in ‘76. A forerunner to Prestonpans Bhoy in Land Eekees and probably a nuisance to Professor Rebus 🤷🏻‍♂️
I agree with Bobby ( or friend?) that the album was ‘ heavy going’ . I really associated with it’s forerunner Fullfillingness First Finale.
Hopefully Heaven Is 10 zillion lightyears away—


BillyBhoy, great leader and certainly one to keep us busy. I’d need to start at ‘65 and somehow consider leaving out a Lisbon Lion 💚🥺
Give my regards to Mrs BillyBhoy 👩‍🏫at OLHS👏
Away fur a piece’n’locust 🐜
Laters 👋🏻

Ok just read it again from 1980. can’t do it was over here,might put my team in from 1960 but that would be unfair they would hammer any team.☘️😉



No doubt about that!

There are almost certainly players from later who were better individually in their chosen position,but the team is the thing here.



Bill Shankly’ Anniversary today – here he is talking about Jock Stein


Billy Bhoy

You’ll probably have a lot of posters nodding in agreement and we have so many to choose from, no current players yet for me although Callum will soon be joining this lot … at some point 🙂

My fav 11 that I saw don the hoops, not necessarily the best and probably not everyone’s cup of tea but have terrific memories of each of them

Artur Boruc

Tommy Boyd
Mick McCarthy
Bobo Balde
Kieran Tierney

Tommy Burns
Paul McStay
Neil Lennon
Scott Brown

Frank McAvennie
Henrik Larsson


Is there no end to this folly ?????

Guess who I’m with 🍺🍺🍺




Canny be BIGRAILROADBLUES if you’ve only had three beers. I trust that you are enjoying yourselves?

Billy Bhoy

Thanks a million for that wee walk down amnesia lane. A very enjoyable and entertaining read indeed. My own selection dates from 1971-2005.












I’m going for 3 subs:




The team would be in 4-4-2 formation, and managed by Jock Stein.

Hell’s bells, Billy bhoy. I was the best part of an hour, putting that team together. 😀 My most difficult decision, was who to play as my number 8. Henrik just shaded it over Mr McStay…sorry ATOB.


Is that you leading the shy and retiring BRB astray again?

Hail Hail.


Don’t forget there is a rail strike on Saturday, so check your service if going to the game or pub’s



That’s first 10 minutes 😜


How dare you put The Maestro on the bench.👎👎


Billy Bhoy

Hi Guys

I’ve just returned to base camp after a 7 mile coast walk here in the Algarve. I’m chuffed to see so many responding to my post with their own teams. Thanks for all the positive comments too.

I note that some have gone further back and included some of the Lisbon Lions. Indeed, Packy has just gone for the entire team. We!!, Packy, living down south you may not know this but the Daily Record once did a critical assessment of the Lisbon Lions v the Hun nine in a row team. They didn’t compare favourably. In fact , the hun won hands down.

None other than Walter Smith was asked about this at an event soon afterwards. He had the decency to be embarrassed and may actually have spilled his drink at the very suggestion.

And that is another true story!


RIP Coolio, 🍀🍀🍀

I’m with Toolio 😜😜😜

Hee Heeeeee !!!!!!!!

Gon the BRRB 👍


Having had time to think about my best team-I think it is only fair to stick to the same timeline as BILLYBHOY,which rules out all the Lions,plus the likes of Pat Stanton and Kenny Dalglish-here is mine.

Boruc. I had never seen Celtic with a decent keeper since Ally Hunter till he arrived. Although I still think David Marshall was hard done by. (After THAT Barcelona display,I thought he and John Kennedy would be the spine of our defence for fifteen years. Naw.

Danny. Nuff said.

KT. Same

My two centre backs are difficult. CCV can be one sometime in the future,but VVD was simply outstanding. As was Marc Rieper.

Midfield? Maestro,Lambo,Stan and Lubo.

Up front,Henrik and Jorge.

I’ll back them against all-comers!


Twas an agonising decision to be sure. My thinking on this one is simple. My team’s first game would be a challenge match v a Huns 1971-2005 select. Once our 7th goal went in, Henrik would be subbed on the hour mark, and Mr McStay would take his place. 😀

Billy bhoy

Sure weren’t the Huns Seville heroes the best Scottish team ever? 😀


I’m half way through the Godfather book. Tis a cracking read.


Stunning stuff yesterday. The picture of Sgt. Bilko made my day. My two favourite episodes of the series are:

1. The flashback episode set during the American Revolution.

2. The episode where Bilko drove poor Colonel Hall mad, by running a racehorse on the post.

Hail Hail.



I remember Bertie and Jinky being driven around Glasgow in a taxi,a fly-on-the-wall segment on Sky. Pop in to a few bars for a chat with the locals,etc.

It was around the time of The Tainted Nine,and Bertie was no fool. Nor Jinky either. Take their money,don’t be a patsy,ram it right into them!

So Jim White asked Bertie how The Labon Lions would get on against that current Rangers team.

“Oh,I think they’d win 2-1”,says Bertie!

That reply shocked JW a bit,and he said so. Bertie explained it thus…

“Aye,you hiv tae remember we’re aw well intae wur fifties noo!!!

Boom boom,followed by the deafening sound of silence!

Prestonpans bhoys

You come back from ASDA and see the words Paisley Tech mentioned😱😵


The impertinence and insolence I have to endure from Leggy. That’s OK it’s his round. 🍻


I have had more rounds than Jack Nicklaus 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺



I think that the reason why it didn’t format properly is because I replied to the mail you sent it in!

When I looked for it last night on my iPhone,it was under “See more”. Which clearly cocks things up when I c&p as an article.

Apologies,next time I will reply on a standalone mail.



A good teacher will always have headstrong and impertinent students,Grasshopper!


The Real McCoy and Prestonpans,

I taught at Paisley from 1972-81….nice to see the old place mentioned again!

If I came across you, I hope we can still be friends!

I was in Malaga a few years ago and met a former student from the Engineering with Management degree….a collectors’ item as it did not survive long. He had a Russian wife and was in Malaga to buy a holiday home….more than I could manage.

Tx for reviving memories. Paisley punched above its weight.


Danny Mac23

Tom McAdam😁
Di Canio

Tam McAdam scored the most goals v the huns post war before Charlie N and was as adept at centre half as he was centre forward.

Johan otherwise but as it’s a bit of fun put in big T

Thanks Billy Bhoy

1 2 3