Davie McParland’s sad passing was announced yesterday.
Davie was a Partick Thistle legend long before he reached Celtic Park. He spent 16 years as a player at Firhill before becoming Thistle manager in the early 1970’s and led them to that sensational League Cup victory over Celtic in 1971.
When Jock Stein returned to Parkhead after recuperating from a near fatal car crash in 1976 he appointed Davie McParland as his new assistant manager. McParland was a younger man and was seen as taking on the coaching role which Stein now found difficult. Sean Fallon, who had previously been Stein’s number two, was moved on to youth development.
The first season was tremendously successful with Celtic winning the league and cup double with an enetrtaining, attacking side. McParland was instrumental in bringing striker Joe Craig to Celtic and he had a great understanding with Ronnie Glavin, both players whom Davie had reared at Firhill in the early 1970’s before they moved to Celtic.
The summer of 1977 is interesting to note. Firstly, Scotland rried to get Jock Stein to replace Willie Ormond. Stein declined but had he accepted the overtures from the SFA then Davie McParland would certainly have been made Celtic manager. Secondly, Davie was said to have been keen on Partick defender Alan Hansen but Stein was not convinced. Celtic’s dithering allowed Liverpool to step in and bring Hansen to Anfield and the rest is history. Thirdly, Celtic captain Kenny Dalglish demanded a transfer and was sold to Liverpool. Dalglish was close to Fallon and Sean long maintained that had he remained as Stein’s assistant he could have persuaded Kenny to stay.
Celtic could not cope without Dalglish. Added to this, Danny McGrain, Pat Stanton and Alfie Conn all had long term injuries. The Celts finshed fifth in the league and trophyless, something that could not have been even remotely imagined just twelve months previously. Jock Stein departed Parkhead in May 1978 and Davie McParland was released from his duties also.
Celtic fans will always recall Davie McParland for the 1976-77 season in which Celtic went desperately close to winning a treble. However, he will always be better remembered as a Jag and regarded as a legend in Scottish football.
May he rest in peace.