FEARED BY THE BAD…

This is an old article by Lachie Mor which is being reprinted due to high demand. For the record the kids referred to are now at college…

One of the tasks I have inherited as part of the grandparent package – Oh joy – is that of taking care of my daughter’s two wee ones on a Thursday as she teaches part time.  On such days I walk for miles, and we are on nodding acquaintance with every horse and pony for miles around with our seemingly inexhaustible supply of old carrots and apples.

As an aside, have you ever noticed dear reader, how smartly packaged vegetables and fruit from our various supermarkets go off very quickly once you have them home, even if kept in a cool and dry place.  One consequence of this phenomenon is that our various equine buddies gallop towards us as soon as the buggy hoves into sight.

This week the weather has not been so brilliant and we – I – decided to pass on our afternoon perambulation. but to attempt to entertain the troops at home.  Since Balamory was not on T.V. we were listening to a c.d. called ‘Hello Children – Everywhere’.

Those of my own generation will recognise these words as the introduction to ‘Children’s Favourites’, a programme hosted by ‘Uncle Mac’, in which children could write in and request music every Saturday Morning – I think on the BBC Home Service.  In these days of wall to wall audio and video entertainment it is hard to imagine a much simpler world, in which tunes such as ‘The Deadwood Stage’, ‘The Ballad of Davy Crockett’, or ‘Nelly the Elephant’ would compete for air time with ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’.

A programme regular at the time ‘The Ballad of Robin Hood’, a tune which is on the c.d. brought to mind a Celtic player of no little ability who was one of my own favourites whilst he graced the Hoops.  A small group of my friends, who attended most matches when not playing, would parody this song to the effect:

 

Harry Hood, Harry Hood running down the wing

            Harry Hood, Harry Hood makes the fans all sing

            Feared by the bad,

            Loved by the good

            Harry Hood, Harry Hood, Harry Hood.

When I went to college in Manchester, Harry Hood was a Sunderland player.  He had played for Clyde and Celtic tried to buy him, but for some reason he signed for Sunderland – the so-called ‘Bank of England Club’ of the period and that – it appeared – was that.

My room-mate in the hostel was a guy called Peter Wright, who had been on Sheffield United’s books as a youngster, and had played trials for England Schools before suffering a bad injury which put an end to his prospects of a professional career.  He remained an amateur footballer of real talent, whose game was all about touch and skill, and who appreciated these qualities in other players.

One of the stories he told me of his footballing exploits concerned a visit to Glasgow with Sheffield Schools to play a match against Glasgow Schools. To his disgust, it transpired that the match was to take place on a red blaze pitch, so beloved of the Scottish amateur game.  As the teams lined up he noticed that one of the opposition was wearing sandshoes and his growing contempt for Scottish Football went up another notch – or at least it did for ninety minutes.

When the final whistle blew, Glasgow Schools had recorded a victory, which according to my friend was entirely down to the efforts of Sandshoe Sammy, otherwise known – he later discovered – as Harry Hood.  He told me that Harry had run rings around the English boys, who according to my friend, had a terrific team with several schoolboy caps in their midst. They could do nothing with Harry, whose ball skills were unrivalled even on a crap surface and Peter said that he was the best player he ever played against by a mile.

When Celtic went back for Harry in the late 1960’s it was a second chance which he did not turn down and they acquired a classy player whose career to that point was really unfulfilled.  He had gone back to Clyde, and it looked as if he would play out his days there, but following a couple of brilliant displays against the Hoops, Stein paid Clyde £40,000 in March 1969, thereby recruiting a player whose skills were undeniable but who had yet to fulfil what many saw as his potential.

Whilst it would be stretching the truth to suggest that Harry took on the mantle of players such as Bertie Auld or Joe McBride, he became an important part of the team for the next few years playing his part in many great wins and scoring freely, while never really a striker in the Lennox or Wallace mould.

Amongst the highlights of his time at Celtic were a brilliant hat-trick against the FOD in the semi-final of the league cup at Hampden, the winner at Ibrox for a ten-man Celtic following Jim Craig’s dismissal, and a beautiful headed goal against Benfica at Celtic Park which we all confidently thought had put the tie out of reach of the Portuguese champions. He was never an automatic choice but when he played brought a touch of class to the party and few more graceful players have donned the Hoops in my lifetime.

In the recent reminiscences about Mr. Stein, Bob Crampsey recalled a discussion which he had during a question and answer session which they both attended in Dunfermline.  He quoted Stein as saying that you would not win many leagues with a team composed entirely of Charlie Gallaghers and Harry Hoods. Crampsey’s reply that any team which did not have at least one such player would be unlikely to win many either, received a grudging acknowledgement from our gruff genius.

It is interesting that even Stein, for all the aesthetic brilliance of his teams, was slightly suspicious of players who offered little in terms of the broadsword, but rather who depended on the rapier.

As a footnote to this homage to one of Celtic’s less celebrated, but certainly most skilful players, I would like to relate a short tale of my period as a conductor on Glasgow Corporation’s buses.  There used to be small fittings above the seats which held adverts for various goods and services.

In very fine pencil – tiny letters – barely visible, I used to write ‘Viva Harry Hood’ on the sign above the conductor’s seat on every bus I took out.  One night whilst having my tea in the garage canteen, my driver (a fellow Tim) and I were greatly amused when one of the more rabid follow followers stormed into to begin his break exclaiming: ‘If ah ever go oan another bus wi’ that Viva f$%”*’n Harry f$%”*’n Hood am gonnae go f$%”*’n mental’.

Cue our quiet departure, containing our hilarity until we were out of earshot, but if ever a slogan was appropriate it was Viva Harry Hood.

 

 

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