Before I delve into the mists of time to name my top 10 Celtic players since my first game in 1972, let me state firstly that I am only choosing players from which I saw the majority of their careers at Parkhead. I was fortunate enough to see Johnstone, McNeill, Murdoch, Lennox, Connelly, and Brogan but only at the tail end of their careers and not at their peak. So the guys I will choose I have recollections of the majority, if not all, of their Celtic careers.

10. Frank McGarvey
Frank McGarvey makes the top 10 shortly after his sad passing, however this is no sentimental decision in choosing him. Frank was a Scottish record fee transfer from Liverpool in 1980 and gave the Celts 5 years of outstanding service. Celtic were blessed with many fine strikers – George McCluskey, Charlie Nicholas, Brian McClair and Mo Johnston. What they all had in common was that they benefitted hugely from Frank’s unselfish play and hard work. He was a live wire player and a nightmare for players to play against. He also had in abundance that great asset which all the best Celtic players have had – heart. Frank was as brave as a lion and he could perform twin roles, that as the main goal scoring striker, and that as provider for his strike partners. It was fitting that Frank scored that brilliant cup final winner in 1985 when his header beat Dundee United. If ever a Celtic player deserved to go out on a high it was him. Davie Hay selling him in the summer of 1985 was a monumental blunder. In certain circles, I always felt Frank was under rated, but never by the Celtic fans who loved him dearly.

9. Tom Boyd
Had Tom Boyd endured a mediocre career as a Celtic player, he would still have been a huge improvement on the lumbering carthorse named Tony Cascarino, who Celtic swapped for Tom, in February 1992. Chelsea’s loss was, very much, to be Celtic’s gain. Tom was very versatile and served Celtic well at left back, right back and even at centre back in his later years. In January 1998 he led Celtic to a must win game over Rangers at Parkhead. Wim Jansen employed him as an attacking left wing back and he ran Rangers’ Rino Gattuso into the ground during a vital 2-0 win. He replaced Paul McStay as captain in 1997, in itself no easy task, and was a fine leader on the pitch with his calm, controlled manner. It was fitting that Tom, who suffered the difficult times of the mid 1990’s, was able to enjoy the days of milk and honey under Martin O’Neill. Indeed, at the age of 35 Tom led Celtic to victory against Ajax in 2001 and to the promised land of the Champions League. Tom Boyd was the captain who led Celtic to perhaps their most important title win and will always be fondly remembered.

8. Davie Provan
Davie Provan, with the curly hair flowing behind him and with his socks at his ankles, was a joy to behold. An iconic sight. There were times when Celtic managers played players on the wing against their will but Davie was a natural wide man, who almost had a nose bleed when he wandered into the middle of the pitch. He was a brilliant crosser of a ball and had a particular talent for crossing a ball on the run, a difficult task which many players cannot master. His brilliant delivery from corners and free kicks must have created hundreds of goals for Celtic. Guys like Tom McAdam, Roddy MacDonald, and Roy Aitken, all fine headers of a ball, all benefited from Davie’s pinpoint crossing. It was a great shame that he contracted an illness in 1985, which brought his career, to a premature end, and just when he was regaining his top form. It took Celtic many years to find a replacement for him on the right wing. In an era of great wingers, the Scottish game could boast the likes of Peter Weir, Davie Cooper, Ralph Milne, and Ian Scanlon. For me Davie was the best of them. At his peak I wouldn’t have swapped Davie Provan for the world.

7. Tommy Burns
With that bright mop of thick red hair, Tommy Burns was a standout player for Celtic on the pitch in the late 1970’s. Not only visually, but in terms of his football skill. Tommy’s commitment was never in doubt but inconsistency and indiscipline plagued him in the early years of his Celtic career. In 1980 Tommy married Rosemary and his career blossomed, and I always thought that was no coincidence. He was at his peak from 1980 to 1983 when an injury seemed to affect his mobility in later years and he lost a bit of pace. Good left footed players ate always at a premium. In a golden era for Scottish football Tommy took on the likes of Gordon Strachan, Jim Bett, Bobby Russell, Eamonn Bannon, Bobby Russell and John McMaster, and won. He was a huge influence in the great league title wins of 1981 and 1982. In later years he inspired Celtic to another title in 1986 during the miracle of Love Street and rounded it off in 1988 with a centenary double which he enjoyed to the full. As in impressionable teenager in the 1980’s, Tommy Burns was my inspiration. He lived for Celtic, was a wonderful talent and he also lived his life well. Tommy had a rapport with the fans that few Celtic players can claim to have enjoyed. The fans lifted Tommy to great heights and in return Tommy gave the supporters many fine memories.

6. Roy Aitken
Few players gave so much effort to Celtic over the years than Roy Aitken, There are 3 exceptional games which will always stand out for me. The legendary 4-2 game in 1979 in which he was arguably man of the match, the 3-1 win over Rangers in February 1981 in which he scored an incredible lung bursting goal, and the 1985 Scottish Cup final win over Dundee United, when thrown into midfield after 70 minutes, he single handedly grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck to lead Celtic to a memorable 2-1 win. The one problem with Roy was he suffered from his versatility. Half the Celtic support preferred him as a rugged centre back, full of aggression and pace. The other half thought Roy best engaged as a marauding, attacking midfielder. When ‘The Bear’ went on those barn-storming, powerful runs down the field, you could almost hear the bugles sound a cavalry charge. Roy was Celtic’s leader on the pitch for many years and the only real physical presence in Billy McNeill’s early 1980’s Celtic team, which was definitely one for the purists. The number of games where Roy Aitken pulled Celtic’s fat out of the fire must be truly outstanding.

Coming soon, the top 5…