Another tale of Lisbon – A Letter To Eugene

The Celt fanzine is arguably the longest running football supporters’ publication in the UK having first been published 34 years ago in August of 1983.

Strictly speaking it’s not a fanzine in the true sense. Although it does comment on current affairs at Celtic Park the main reason  is to report and examine players and events in Celtic’s long colourful history and it has had some notable contributors through the years including David Potter, Tom Campbell, Pat Woods and George Sheridan who have all went on to write notable Celtic books and publications over the years.

The late Eugene McBride was once the editor of ‘The wee rag’. Eugene was a remarkable man who had had a fascinating life and was a devout fan of Celtic all his days despite his exile in the south of England in his later years.

To note his contribution to The Celt publication Alex Ferguson (as a proud born and bred Govanite I refuse to refer to him as Sir) took time from his busy schedule to write a letter to Eugene. He has a story worth sharing and it is printed below:

Dear Eugene,

May I congratulate you on your service to the Celt fanzine, you have had a truly remarkable career there.

I know there are many fanzines throughout the length and breadth of Great Britain, some satirical, some extremely critical and really you get a cross section of how the most important people – the fans – think about their team.

I think you have had some great moments and pleasure in these last six decades of chronicling the history of Celtic football club and I would like to recall a story of a day which is very special in the history of Celtic.

On 25th May 1967, my Granny’s birthday, I was in Hong Kong playing for Scotland against a Hong Kong select and we won 4-1 and because of the time difference it was some hours before Celtic played in Lisbon. The humidity was terrible and none of us could sleep so a few of us sat down to play cards.

One of them was a goalkeeper called Harry Thomson who played for Burnley another was a young Clyde player called Harry Hood, anyway Thomson was quite scathing on Celtic’s chances and gave very generous odds against them winning to which all the home Scots immediately plunged in with some good wagers.

Harry Thomson was sitting sweating his socks off worrying about the score, back then of course Hong Kong was far in advance of Great Britain in terms of television news, it came over every hour from all over the world. The news reader read about all the world news and ended by giving the half time score – Inter 1-0 Celtic. Well, we were as sick as pigs , not that we were all Celtic fans I stress ! But money does change people.

Harry Thomson was ecstatic and he was having a ball ridiculing Scottish football so then he decides he is going to up the odds and even went further and erased the goal lead that Inter had at half time, from memory I think he was giving 5/1 odds on Celtic for the second half.  So we all plunged in again more out of anger but also in genuine hope that Celtic could pull off a miracle.

On went the card school for another hour until the next broadcast and the first words that came over from the news reader were not about world news but the score from Lisbon. ‘ Glasgow Celtic have become the first British club to win the European Cup’ and you can imagine the bedlam as poor Harry was being battered by all the lads and he lost a fortune. As the story goes he had to go to the treasurer of the SFA and get a loan covered by hos match fees to pay off the bets.

A great moment for all Celtic fans and I believe all of Scotland supported them that day.

Eugene, I hope you find my recollections of that day worthy of a place in your magazine. Take care of yourself and God bless.

Yours sincerely,

Alex

Note: Sadly Alex Ferguson and his team mates did not receive Scotland caps for playing in these games as the SFA did not deem them as full internationals. In the above picture Ferguson is seen with team mate Jim McCalliog.

Written By
More from St Anthony

LATE ARRIVALS – RANGERS 2008

When Rangers arrived at Parkhead on 16th April 2008, Celtic’s league title...
Read More

1 Comment

  • Fascinating article. Highlights a side to Fergie we don’t often hear about in the media. Thanks for sharing this.

Comments are closed.