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Celebrating Bertie Auld!

Date: 21st June 2021

Last week Celtic announced that club legend Bertie Auld was suffering from Dementia. 

It is indeed a hellish disease and it’s so sad to see one’s memories being taken away from them. Bertie has memories us mere mortals can only dream of. 

Mr Auld enjoyed two spells at Celtic making over 170 league appearances for the club, as well as starring for Birmingham City and Hibs. It’s simply ridiculous to think that he only ever made three appearances for the Scottish national side. 

The midfielder would win fourteen major trophies during his playing career, the pinnacle of which was helping Celtic secure the European Cup in Lisbon in 1967! 

As a manager he’d win league titles with Partick Thistle and The Hibees. 

Now being in my mid-thirties, I clearly never saw Bertie play. Even his managerial career had ended before I discovered my love for the beautiful game. 

As a boyhood Rangers fan, Bertie Auld shouldn’t have made an impression on me either. 

Yet thankfully my grandfather was the person who switched me onto football. In the 1960s during Celtic’s dominance, my grandpa was a successful Glaswegian bookie. He was a bluenose but he still counted Sean Fallon and Jock Stein as friends and acquaintances. 

My grandfather always ensured I was respectful to everyone and I’d always eagerly listen to his stories about football during his era. He would tell me about his days as a football fan and was always complimentary about that famous Lisbon Lions side. 

Jimmy Johnstone would be described as ‘a terrific wee player’, Billy McNeill was ‘a big gent’ and Bertie, well he was ‘a character’. 

I was told that during those days my grandpa’s great friend Willie Henderson, a Rangers legend, was picked up by the scruff of the neck by a Celtic opponent who would then ask ‘Where you going for tea tonight?’. 

It was a rivalry yes, but there was certainly no hatred on the field of play. I was told that it should be the same off of it too. You can respect your opponents. 

As I became more of a nomadic football supporter I have found myself going to Celtic Park a few times in the last decade, both for work and pleasure. Each time I’ve been there I have noticed Bertie Auld and his unmistakable large grin standing outside of the main entrance at Celtic Park being rightly hero-worshipped   by many a Hoops fan. He’d spend an age taking selfies and discussing all things Celtic.

My nephew, a twenty-two year old Celtic fan, sent me a photo he’d got taken with the great man just a few years back. Where? Celtic Park. What did Bertie have? The biggest smile imaginable!

I was fortunate enough to meet and interview legendary Celtic stalwart Sean Fallon a few years before he sadly passed away. He was a great man, full of wonderful stories. I asked him if he still liked to go to Parkhead and he said not so much because of a pain in his back. I questioned this and he said he didn’t get a chance to watch the game because someone would always poke him in the back and ask for more stories. I bet Bertie Auld wouldn’t mind that wee pain in his back. He seemed to relish match day, even when he retired thirty years before! 

It is of course terribly sad to think he might never get to see Celtic play under the lights at Parkhead again. I have no doubts that he will forever sing Celtic songs, dream Celtic dreams and will feel immense pride whenever he hears the name Celtic Football Club. Dementia won’t take that away from him. 

My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family at this difficult time. He will undoubtedly fight on and still have that smile on his face.

A loving smile that can light up 65,000 other faces in Glasgow’s East End! 

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