It was a dark and wet night I remember that! I was a 12 year old boy wondering whether my football team would be no more. Then came the quote which will be forever grained in my head, ‘The battle is over, the Rebels have won!’
Our neighbours are faced with a similar and almost worse scenario. However, this night was the rebirth of Celtic Football Club. A failing team a long way behind our neighbours, a stadium which was crumbling and at that time a massive debt of £7million. In strolled the bunnet, he was a very deliberate businessman. He had a plan and he was sticking to it. Anyone who crossed him felt his wrath. Players who demanded more from their contracts were shown the door, mangers were moved on, Tommy Burns, Wim Jansen and others. Tommy’s departure was harsh in a lot of fans eyes however this now meant the following year we would be celebrating a league title for the first time in over a decade. In my eyes one of Fergus’ biggest achievements was taking on the SFA Chief, Jim Farry, after the diabolical 6 week farce of holding Jorge Cadete’s registration. The panel would side with Celtic and Farry would lose his job.
I think a lot of fans will regret the booing Fergus received when unfurling the Championship flag at the start of the next campaign. It was understandable, in that the manager who had brought home the league, was then shepherded out the door. However, he always stated, “I want people to judge me on what we have achieved after five years. I will go back to my home in Bermuda, play some golf and live a healthier life.”
When he left in 1999 he had saved a club on its knees and turned it into the biggest stadium in Britain, with sold out season tickets and now a success on the park. This was a modern Celtic, a professional Celtic, one we now see the benefits of. I think it has taken for the Armageddon scenario hanging over the west end of Glasgow for the Celtic family to understand how much we should now appreciate what Fergus gave us. We have statues of Brother Walfrid, Mr Stein and Jinky, I think something should be done to recognise what this man did for our club, possibly the naming of a stand? However I, for one, will say on behalf of Celtic fans worldwide, thank you to the ‘bunnet’ which is long overdue in my opinion.
Thank you Fergus
Fergus talking about Celtic’s Share issue.