IN the lead up to the Jock Stein 30th Anniversary Charity Match – sponsored by Direct Slating Supplies – the official Celtic website will be conducting a series of interviews with key players who played under the legendary Jock Stein.
First in our memories series, is incomparable Lisbon Lion, Bertie Auld. One of Celtic’s greatest ever players, Auld enjoyed two main spells at Celtic with the first stretching from 1955 to 1961, before the midfielder returned in 1965 becoming an integral part of the ensuing triumph in Lisbon.
Often called ‘the voice of the Lisbon Lions’, Bertie spoke passionately about his time under Jock Stein and outlined why he felt that – even after 30 years – the legendary manager’s achievements stand alone.
He said: “I don’t need to be reminded of how much time has passed because every time I’m at a game, what he achieved – whether at Celtic Park or away from home – that’s what stays in my mind. I’d think, ‘How would the boss address this?’
“There were no gimmicks with him and what you saw of Jock Stein, that’s exactly who the man was, a straight-talker who loved people to entertain. He always spoke about how the most important people were the supporters and that’s what he kept saying to us.
“Everyone talks now about how Celtic fans are the best support – and once again I applaud the fans, they’re marvellous – but Stein gave the fans so much to cheer about through what he brought to the club.
“Jock knew the value of having Celtic supporters in his team and the most important thing about him for me was how much he loved the club.
“In his playing days, he was a good, steady centre-half and when he took training he had so many ideas about how you actually trained, from start to finish.
“Without Jock, Scottish football would have died because he was a breath of fresh air who got bums back on seats at the stadium and importantly, got them off those seats to applaud.”
The European Cup-winner also reflected on Jock Stein’s footballing philosophy, as he described his passionate adherence to Stein’s virtues of entertaining football.
He said: “In the dressing room before the game, he would talk to us as individuals and one of the things he didn’t like, and would reiterate to us, was that you should never humiliate your fellow professionals.
“Before we left the dressing room, he always said ‘ENTERTAIN! This great support has been working hard to get the money to see you play, entertain!’
“Those were his words and I can still picture it, coming out of the dressing room heading towards the tunnel and hearing his words while the opposition were standing there, and you could just see them changing colour.
“As an individual, it was a tremendous boost, for anyone who played at that particular time the message was to ‘entertain’ and he’d remind us that if we didn’t have that ability, we wouldn’t be at Celtic Park.
“I’m not kidding you, that word – and that message – feels like it’s been written into the back of my head.”
The Hoops’ legend also discussed Jock Stein’s meticulous approach to man-management, including his attention to detail and genuine regard for players’ families.
Expanding on his qualities as a leader and motivator, Bertie said: “As a person, I’d say he was fair but there were times when you maybe thought you played not a bad game and he’d bring you down.
“Yet, when you thought you were having a shocker, he’d be there to point out all the good things you were doing, the good points that you played and the good points that you had generally.
“He always, at the end of any training session – and I’m not just speaking about me – spoke to each individual, and he knew your mother’s and father’s names asking ‘How are wee Joe and Peggy getting on?’”
Bertie rounded off his assessment of his former manager’s character by affirming that Jock Stein was truly one-of-a-kind.
He said: “People talk about managers these days with terms like ‘The Special One’, well The Boss was a man’s man. A great leveller with a great passion for the game.
“As far as I’m concerned, what he achieved puts all the rest as runners-up.
“There was only one man and that’s Mr Stein, The Boss.”
Celtic Legends’ Squad So Far
Manager: Murdo MacLeod
The Jock Stein 30th Anniversary Charity Match takes place on Sunday, September 6 at East End Park (KO 2pm).
Tickets for the match, priced at £12 for adults and £6 for concessions, are available ONLINE, by calling 0871 226 1888* or by visiting the Celtic Ticket Office.
Matchday Hospitality is available, on a first come, first served basis, in the Purvis Suite at a cost of £45 per person, or supporters can upgrade to a pitch-side box for an additional price of £100 per person.
Proceeds from the day will be shared between Celtic FC Foundation and the Pars Foundation, the respective charitable arms of both clubs
*Calls cost 13 pence per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge. For customer enquiries relating to existing purchases only, please call 0141 230 1967. Calls charged at standard rate.