The sad news reached us today that ex Celtic player, John Kurila, had passed away at the age of 76.

In his autobiography, Alex Ferguson stated that the hardest defenders he ever faced in his career was the late 1950’s Celtic reserve half back line of John McNamee, John Cushley and John Kurila. All three were hard, robust, uncompromising defenders and not noted for taking prisoners.

When I was a boy I would laugh when my dad told me that the Celtic support had given John the nickname ‘Kurila the gorilla’. He also told me that John, who was of Lituanian descent, was a fine player who like many of his team mates just had the misfortune to play for Celtic at a difficult time in the club’s history.

John’s main claim to fame was that he was part of the Colchester United side who created a major upset in 1971 when tey knocked Don Revie’s mighty Leeds United side out of the FA cup.

May he rest in peace.