Today marks one year since the passing of Celtic legend and Lisbon Lion, Bertie Auld.
Bertie was a character adored by the Celtic support who had represented the club all across the globe meeting fans from far and wide. It says everything about the great man that the majority of people would likely never have seen him play in the flesh for the Hoops.
Auld would make his debut for the club in 1957 and would play a pivotal part in the team which sent Celtic to the League Cup final. The 7-1 victory over Rangers is considered one of the club’s finest games, but Auld wasn’t picked for the final showdown. This trophy would be the last Celtic would win for eight years until 1965.
After a four-year stint down at Birmingham City which saw the club win the League Cup and get to the final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, Auld returned to Paradise. Celtic should never really have let the talented fierce midfielder go but in those days, Celtic Chairman Bob Kelly wasn’t too keen on players who had strong opinions being at the club which is why Pat Crerand was transferred to Manchester United in 1963. Sean Fallon was an admirer of Bertie but it is on record that Jock Stein had sounded him out before his return to Celtic Park.
With the return of Stein in March 1965, Auld would play an integral part in the side which won the Scottish Cup. He scored five goals in Stein’s first victory as manager. Celtic faced a well-equipped Dunfermline side in the final which had been crafted by Jock Stein. The core group of players who started that game had played under the boss in the reserves so were all well versed in the way he wanted them to play football. This match could be said to be Bertie’s finest in green and white hoops as he scored a brace to equalise for Celtic twice. This allowed Charlie Gallagher to cross a magnificent ball in for Billy McNeill to head Celtic into the lead late on in the game. As they say, the rest is history.
Two years later, Stein’s side would find themselves standing in the tunnel at the Estadio Nacional lined up against players in cashmere jerseys that were tanned, oiled and all had their own teeth. He would strike up the Celtic Song which would become one of the greatest tales in the club’s history.
Bertie Auld would continue to be a key player under Jock Stein until he played his last match for the club against Clyde in 1971. He would score important goals for the club and gain countless medals for the hoops. His connection with Celtic wouldn’t just stop there as he would continue to have a close relationship with the Celtic support for many years to come. He travelled the world to attend Celtic functions and events and I never once seen him refuse to sign an autograph or take a photograph with any supporter.
A magnificent ambassador for the club that you always got the same way. He could put a smile on anybody’s face and had a great warmness about him, he would always entertain! The Celtic support dearly misses Bertie Auld as he was one of the club’s greatest ever sons. He adored the Celtic support and we adored him.