This is the second part of ‘In their own words’ in which I have taken a selection of quotes from Celtic podcasts I have done with ex Celts and media personalities for this site.
If you want to hear any interviews in their entirety then use the search engine on the site or plain old google it.
There are some crackers. Enjoy…
Graham Speirs (recalling his first Rangers v Celtic game at Ibrox in 1975) – In my Dad’s naiveté he took me to the spot that we always stood in – in the Celtic end. Up we went to our usual spot and I can’t recall if I had a Rangers scarf on but we were surrounded by 30,000 Celtic fans. It was a dismal day and when Rangers opened the scoring, it’s a surreal experience hearing the roar from the other end while you are surrounded by solemn silence. A delayed reaction. I instinctively leapt up and cheered and punched my fist and then was aware of the silence all around me. I can still remember a voice from behind me, a Celtic fan, saying ‘It’s alright, you cheer for your team son.’ I’ve told this story a few times and the Rangers hard core for some reason object to this story as if it’s some form of treachery.
Joe Craig (On joining Celtic in 1976) – The move really came out the blue. I was in my fifth season with Partick and working in a garage in Bathgate. I always remember it was a Friday afternoon about one-ish. The boss came out and said ‘There’s a call for you’, and it was Bertie Auld. He said ‘How would you like to move to one of the big two in Scotland ?’ I said definitely and he said ‘Get yourself through here pronto.’ I said to my boss ‘I’m off to Glasgow, I’m going’. I went home in the car, got changed and drove to Firhill. In all honesty I didn’t know if I was going to meet Jock Stein or Jock Wallace. I thought, I hope it’s Mr Stein as I fancied Celtic more than I did Rangers. I got to Firhill and Bertie said ‘There’s a man in there I admire, don’t you muck him about.’ Mr Stein was there and he said blah-blah-blah and I said ‘Just give me the contract.’ It must have taken 30 seconds and money wasn’t even mentioned.
Denis Connaghan (On travelling to play Atletico Madrid in 1974) – We never left the hotel. We went and done our training and then went straight back. Normally when you went abroad you got free time to yourself and the boys liked to go through the city centre and go shopping or visit Basilica’s and other places of interest. We sat at the swimming pool but we couldn’t go sun bathing so we were inside all the time doing nothing and that’s not good preparation for a game like that.
Jim Spence – When Barcelona visited Tannadice in 1987 I was on hospital radio. We wrote to Barcelona to ask when Terry Venables comes to Dundee would he do an interview with us for hospital radio and we got a reply back saying Mr Venables will do that. The night before the game Barca turned up with the big stars, Gary Lineker and Mark Hughes were in the team. Venables comes for the press conference and there’s a battery of cameras, there’s dozens of guys there. A lot of people always think Venables is a wide boy but this always sticks in my mind. He comes out and says ‘Before we do anything I have a letter here from hospital radio – they are first.’ And I just thought he’s an absolute gentleman.
Joe Miller (On his 1989 cup final winner) – I was confident, I was playing through the middle and I thought this is my golden opportunity to stake a place at centre forward. It was a great pass by Gary Stevens. If you watch it again he did it two or three times prior to that with slow pass backs and the keeper had to sprint out and kick it away. That’s why I played on his shoulder and fortunately enough he gave another slow pass back and I was in.
John Fallon (On being called up late to play Rangers in 1968, a game which he let in two soft goals) – We were sitting in the table tennis room with a quarter of an hour to go until kick off. I was ready to go upstairs to take my seat in the stand and Stein just battered the door open and said ‘You – in there!’ I walked into the dressing room and there’s no goalie. I’m thinking what’s going on here and Ronnie comes out the shower room dressed and Stein says ‘Get ready, you’re playing.’ There were only ten minutes till the start of the game. Hardly ideal preparation.
Mark Reid (On beating Ajax in Amsterdam in 1982) – I just remember that we were up against it. They were a right good side and I’ve still got their strip somewhere, I think my son has it. We did very well that night. Tactically we did very well which may not always have done in Europe at that point. There was a big crowd that night in the Olympic stadium and the fact that Cruyff played made it even more special.
Mike Conroy (On the 1980 Scottish Cup final v Rangers) – Big Peter Latchford had this thing where he would shout ‘Keeper!’ then shout ‘Not getting there!’ Sure enough late in the game Rangers got a free kick and it gets played in and it hung in the air and I’m waiting for the shout from Peter…and I’m waiting on the shout from Peter…and then I thought I need to deal with this, I need to jump and head it. The next the thing I fell over, big Peter had caught the ball from behind me, he’s pinned my arms to my body as he’s clutching the ball. I’m looking at the ball and if I move my arms they will hit the ball and it’s a penalty kick. I’m shouting ‘How did you no’ shout?’ and he’s standing with the ball and ref blew the final whistle.
Pat Stanton (Discusses his testimonial in 1978 at Easter road between Hibs and Celtic) – It was a miserable day, freezing. When I was in the dressing room I was talking to big Stein and I said ‘What about that weather’ and he just said ‘Don’t you worry – they’re on their way’. A couple of days before it a guy came on the phone and said he was in a flute band and they wanted to play. I said ‘Do you play Scottish tunes?’ and he said ‘Yes’ and I said ‘That’s fine.’ We’re in the dressing room before the game and the big police inspector came in and said ‘Where did this band come from?’ I said ‘The boy phoned me it’s okay.’ He said ‘Have you seen them they’re all lined up with the berets on.’ I said ‘They’re just playing Scottish tunes’ and he said ‘No problem.’ At half time he came back in and said ‘That flute band, you said they were just playing Scottish songs, well they’re up there at the Celtic end and it’s no’ Scottish. But it’s great, no problem, nobody is offended.’
Dom Sullivan (Recalling Johnny Doyle) – Wee Doyley got up to all sorts of mischief, honest to God. He wore this cross round his neck, you want to have seen the size of it, it was about 4 inches by 2 inches. He wore it all the time and the referees would say ‘Mister Doyle you have to take that off’ and he would say ‘That’s my faith, no way am I taking it off.’ The ref would say ‘Well you have to do something about it’ so he would tape it to his chest, hairs and everything. The refs would also check the boots in the dressing room. Now, I sat on one side of him and Tommy Burns on the other side. The ref would bend down to check them and Doyley would let the cross dangle down and swing it in front of their face. Me and Tommy would be sitting with tears running down our faces.