Celtic’s European Cup Win (50th Anniversary)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 25 May 2017.

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Photo of Linda Fabiani Linda Fabiani Scottish National Party

The next item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-05239, in the name of James Dornan, on when the Lisbon Lions roared, 50th anniversary of Celtic’s European cup win.

I call James Dornan to open the debate. You have around seven minutes, please, Mr Dornan.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament congratulates Celtic FC on the 50th anniversary of its historic win over Inter Milan in the European Cup final on 25 May 1967; considers that this was a magnificent achievement for a football club with all of its players living within a 30-mile radius of its home ground, Parkhead; notes that it was the first British team to win this trophy, and believes that, for Scottish and British football, the Lisbon Lions set a standard that is unlikely to be matched by a solely home-grown club again.

Photo of James Dornan James Dornan Scottish National Party

Thank you, Presiding Officer. I know that, when you have a lot of members wishing to speak, you often ask for a motion to be moved to extend the debate, but I was wondering whether I could get an extra 30 minutes for this speech, because there are a number of things that I would like to say and I have had a problem curtailing it.

1967.What a time to be 14! The Beatles, Motown, girls and Celtic. I will never forget Thursday 25 May 1967, when my dad, my brother Brian, my Mum and I all crouched round our wee black-and-white television at 5.30 pm. Kick off comes and goes, and nine minutes into the game the referee works his hardest to ensure that we will not be smiling at the end—it is a conspiracy—by giving a penalty against my dentist. I still say that it was a ludicrous decision. Batter, batter, batter! Yet, nothing gives. Then, in the 63rd minute, justice begins to be served. My dentist attacks from the right-back position, knocks it over to Danny Kaye, and it is one each.

It sounds like an old movie, does it not? After that, it was just a matter of time until, charging up from the left-back position comes Danny Kaye, who slips the ball to Bobby Murdoch—the greatest midfielder of all time—whose shot is stuck into the back of the net by Stevie Chalmers. There is utter mayhem in Lisbon on the pitch, in the stadium, in most houses in Scotland and, I suspect, in houses of football supporters around the world—especially in my house, of course.

I remember a number of things about the match, outside of the goals and the performance. When that second goal went in, I got soaked as my dad’s tea went flying all over the place as we all tried to reach for the ceiling at the same time. My other brother, Michael, came in from the room where he was doing his homework, asking what all the noise was about. I know, I know: we despaired, too.

“Top of the Pops” followed right after the game. I remember that because, hey, I was 14 at the time. Another thing that I remember is the fact that I had the opportunity to go to the game with my uncle, but I never got to go, for two reasons. One reason was financial difficulties—it was not uncommon back then not to be able to afford to do those sorts of things. The other reason was that I had been grounded. So remember, kids: if you are lucky enough to support a great team, make sure that you behave. Otherwise, who knows what the consequences could be?

By the way, for the benefit of younger folk—which, looking around the chamber, I think is everybody here—“my dentist” was Jim Craig, and “Danny Kaye”, who was an American film star of the time, was Tommy Gemmell.

That result was larger than me, my family, Celtic or even Scottish football. It changed things. It changed the way people thought that the game should be played. For years, “cattenacio”—score, then defend at all costs—had been the way, and it had been hugely successful. Inter Milan had won the European cup twice and were expected to win it for a third time in four years, especially when they went 1-0 up, but they could not live with the whirlwind that was Celtic—42 attempts at goal to Inter’s five, and 10 corners to Inter’s nil.

After that game, teams realised that they could win by playing the Celtic way, so we started to see teams such as the great Dutch teams Ajax and Feyenoord take up the mantle. However, Celtic were not done. In the subsequent years, they had one quarter final, two semi-finals and one final of the European cup. Unfortunately, they lost that final to one of those up-and-coming teams—Feyenoord.

Celtic were one of the great European teams. That year—1967—changed how Scottish football thought of itself. Ludicrous as it might sound now, Scotland could have made a claim to being the best footballing nation in the world in 1967. Kilmarnock reached the semi-finals of the fair cities cup, Rangers reached the final of the European cup winners cup and Scotland won the unofficial world cup by hammering England 3-2 at Wembley with a quite scintillating display.

Outside of football, it was fitting, too. Celtic played stylish football at a time when modern life was changing and when young people started to see themselves as more than appendages to their parents and to become more adventurous in how they lived their lives. In Glasgow, to be young was exciting. Music had Motown, the Beatles, Hendrix and the Doors, and there was the continuing expansion of modern culture. For us, Celtic’s victory fitted in well.

However, I think that the place where it might have made the most difference was in the working class areas of the west of Scotland, particularly among the Irish communities. It made us feel a real sense of pride in our achievement—and we did think that it was our achievement. A team full of working class lads, all born within 30 miles of Glasgow city centre—I say to George Adam, wherever he is, that that is the real centre of the universe. The city came together and we celebrated as one. We Celtic fans cheered Rangers on against Bayern Munich the following week, and shared in their disappointment when they lost 1-0.

Outside of football, in modern culture, 1967 was the most exciting of years in many ways. The first heart transplant was done that year by Christiaan Barnard. I have talked about the Beatles a number of times, but I will just say that “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released that year, along with “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”, the best double A-side of all time. The first North Sea gas was pumped through the pipeline. Of course, there were downsides: Muhammad Ali getting five years for refusing to be inducted into the US Army, Otis Redding dying, and Peter and Gordon—Google it—splitting up.

I was extremely lucky to come across a number of the Lisbon Lions in later years. As I said earlier, Jim Craig was my dentist for a short time in Mount Florida. Billy McNeil and John Clark were my son’s management team when he was at Parkhead. I spent a few nights chatting to the wonderful Bobby Murdoch when he had a pub in Rutherglen. I sang and cracked jokes with Jinky and Buzzbomb Lennox at a few Celtic do’s. The great thing was that they were all gentlemen—all down to earth and happy to chat. It is hard to imagine the same scenario with the modern-day superstars—remember, Jinky was the Messi of his day.

It would be terribly remiss of me not to mention the other four Lions: John Fallon, the first substitute in a European final; Charlie Gallagher, a wonderfully gifted player who crossed for Big Billy to score the winner against Vojvodina in the quarter final; John Hughes, the unluckiest player, who missed out, and a player who could beat a team on his own; and, of course, Joe McBride, who finished that year as Scotland’s top scorer, despite being out injured from the new year.

For parliamentary posterity, let me just remind everyone again of that team: Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Lennox and Auld.

As I have mentioned before, I was 14 in that glorious year. During the summer I made a friend on holiday and, like with most holiday friendships, we lost contact, but recently made contact again through social media. When I said that I was having this debate, she sent me this poem by her father, John Mulligan. I want to read out the last verse of it. It highlights perfectly what that great day meant to so many people and how it is a day that we will never forget.

This is about when the winning goal goes in.

“Through tears of joy, I see it yet,

Lying so peacefully in the net.

The watches are out, just minutes to go,

Boy oh Bhoy has this been a show!

Came the final whistle, the final scene.

(Get that sideboard ready, Mr Stein).

The sun sinks slowly in the west

And weary bodies lie down to rest.

And if that night some men are smiling in their dreams

They are living again the Lisbon scenes.

And going over this great, great day,

1967, Thursday the 25th of May.”

Hail, hail!

Photo of Graham Simpson Graham Simpson Conservative

First, I apologise for the non-appearance of my colleagues Murdo Fraser and Adam Tomkins, who were desperate to take part in the debate but were somehow unavailable.

As a west of Scotland politician, I have always steered clear of mentioning football allegiances, but my wife tells me that it is time to come out. My dad, his dad and his dad’s dad before him were born and brought up in the shadow of Parkhead in Glasgow’s east end. My dad supported Celtic because it was his local team, and he used to tell me about the club’s charitable origins, which always impressed me as a youngster.

I was only three when Celtic won the European cup, and I guess that my father was pretty excited, although I do not remember it. I spent many years under the impression that we were somehow related to the late Ronnie Simpson. My dad told me that we were, but, despite extensive research, I have never been able to establish the connection. If there is anybody out there who knows better, please get in touch.

The Lisbon Lions played a swashbuckling style of football that was entertaining and full of flair—that is how football should be played. That they were all young men from within a few miles of Glasgow was remarkable. As the motion suggests, we will never see such a feat again. Last year’s winners, Real Madrid, had only two Spaniards in their starting XI. That Celtic made it to a second European cup final—they were unsuccessful the second time—was also incredible.

The first Celtic game that my dad took me to was the last for the Lisbon Lions captain, Billy McNeill—the 1975 Scottish cup final against Airdrieonians. Fittingly, Celtic won 3-1 in front of a 75,000 crowd, and Caesar lifted the cup.

We used to travel up from Carlisle for the odd game, and it was all a big adventure. When I eventually moved to Glasgow for work, I followed the team through thick and thin, including the “Super Caley Go Ballistic” game, which was a particular low point. I was lucky enough to be at the UEFA cup final in Seville in 2003.

My work had a team, which played in a charity match against Chick Young’s Dukla Pumpherston, and I lined up against one of my football heroes, Danny McGrain. He never played in a tougher game. Then Gerry Collins body-checked me off the park.

My dad met my wife for the first time on the Parkhead terraces during a less successful period, when it was quite easy to find someone on the terraces. Quite why she married me after that is anybody’s guess—especially when I decided to become a season ticket holder.

Football has changed greatly since 1967. It has become big money and international. That is not something to be sad about, however. Celtic fans have been lucky to see the likes of Henrik, Lubo, Di Canio and Pierre, and Rangers have had Laudrup, Albertz, Gazza and Filip Šebo, although some of their greatest stars were home grown—Baxter, McCoist, Durrant and Barry Ferguson.

Whoever one supports, seeing local talent come through the ranks is great, but we will not see another team of Scots make it to the heady heights that Jock Stein’s men achieved in Lisbon that day. For Scotland to have produced the first British team to win Europe’s premier trophy is something that all of us should celebrate, whoever we support—and that includes Murdo Fraser and Adam Tomkins.

Photo of Willie Coffey Willie Coffey Scottish National Party

I congratulate my friend and colleague James Dornan on bringing this important debate to the Scottish Parliament to commemorate the 50th anniversary—today—of a wonderful achievement by Celtic Football Club when it won the European cup in Lisbon in 1967.

I am naturally appreciative that James Dornan also mentioned my own team, Kilmarnock, and its achievement that same year. Fifty years ago yesterday, we played in the semi-final of the fairs cup—which then became the UEFA cup and is now the Europa league—losing out narrowly to a wonderful Leeds United team. I attended that game as a young boy, just as I attended all the European matches that came to Rugby park.

The Celtic achievement in 1967 was pretty incredible when we consider that they finished eighth in the league a couple of seasons earlier, when Kilmarnock were champions. The key, of course, was the arrival of Jock Stein as manager in 1965. To go from eighth in the Scottish league to winning the European cup two years later, and then nine championships in a row, is an unbelievable achievement and marks Jock Stein out as one of the all-time great football managers in the world.

Apparently, Jock had managed to get Bertie Auld and Ronnie Simpson to Celtic even before he officially became the manager of the club. He went on to assemble a talented group of players, most of whom lived near the ground—Bobby Lennox was furthest away, in Saltcoats. In fact, one street in Saltcoats can boast nine Scottish cup winners’ medals. Kilmarnock’s Ray Montgomerie has one and Bobby Lennox has the other eight, on top of his European cup medal and other medals, but that is a different story.

The journey to the final of the European cup in those days was a straight home-and-away aggregate knockout—there were no leagues, as there are today—and it was only champions who got into the competition.

I am indebted to Mr Albert Gonnella, an old friend and colleague, who sadly passed away only last year. Some years ago, he very kindly let me copy the match programme for the final that he brought back from the game, on which are the autographs of both the managers and most of the players. He managed to get them on the way back home from the airport, so it was signed by big Jock and Herrera, along with the whole Celtic team, including Charlie Gallagher, as well as Mazzola, Sarti and most of the Inter team. It is quite a privilege to have it.

The programme shows us that Celtic beat four teams on the way to the final—FC Zurich, FC Nantes and Vojvodina, and then Dukla Prague in the semi-final. It is interesting that Linfield from Northern Ireland also made it to the quarter finals that year, losing out to CSKA Sofia.

The final, which was on a Thursday, just like today, kicked off at about 5.30 pm. I remember watching it on the TV at home, in black and white—it seemed a pretty hot day there.

One of the funniest stories that I have read about the game is Billy McNeill’s description of both teams in the tunnel before the game: Inter were all tall, athletic and tanned, and Celtic were all peelie-wally white—some of the team with no teeth. Bertie Auld then started singing the Celtic song, which must have been a huge motivation for the players before they came out on to the park.

No sooner had the game started than Inter were awarded a slightly dodgy penalty to go up 1-0, but as the game developed, it looked to me as if Celtic could have been three or four up in the first half. As a young boy used to seeing my own team winning regularly in those days, it became clearer as the game wore on that Celtic were miles ahead in both skill and stamina. When the equaliser went in in the second half, there was only one outcome, and the winner duly arrived with about five minutes to go.

The Scottish team who had no chance against the fabulous Inter Milan played them off the park, and by the end it was the Inter players who were looking to get hold of Celtic strips for souvenirs.

The great Bill Shankly summed it up when after the game he told Jock Stein that he was now immortal.

It was indeed

“In the heat of Lisbon

The fans came in their thousands

To see the Bhoys become



I once again thank James Dornan for bringing this debate to the Scottish Parliament and for allowing some of us to share our memories and to offer our congratulations to Celtic on a magnificent achievement.

Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour

I congratulate James Dornan and thank him for lodging the motion, securing the debate in Parliament and allowing so many members to share their memories of such an important occasion.

It seems to be one of those debates in which people reveal their ages. I was three and a half at the time of the 1967 cup final; it is my earliest memory in life, and I remember so well the excitement in the house and the game coming on the television. I would not say that I understood football a great deal at the time, but I realised the importance of the occasion and remember the excitement when Celtic won.

A lot of families had their own representatives in Lisbon, and mine was no different. Our representative was my grandfather James Kelly, who I am named after and who got there courtesy of winning a newspaper competition. That was quite good, because he did not even know that he had entered it—my dad had done it. Those who entered had to name all the teams that Celtic played on the way to the final and then come up with a caption; my dad’s caption was “Clean sweep soots the Celts”—and certainly as far as my grandfather was concerned, a clean sweep really did suit them. He thoroughly enjoyed his time in Lisbon, not just, as I understand it, the football but the celebrations after the game.

Fast forward to April 1980: I had saved up for one of those projection kits that were advertised in

Shoot! magazine and which were used to show football films. When it arrived, all of us—my brothers Jack, Frank, Tony and Gerard and my friends Gerry Foyer, David Gibbons and Paul Wilson—crowded into my house in Halfway. This was in the days before YouTube, so we had not really seen any footage of the game, apart, perhaps, from the goals; when we ran the 10-minute silent black-and-white film, we could not believe how good Celtic were. We watched for the first time the famous Ronnie Simpson back-heel as he took out an Inter Milan defender; we watched Jimmy Johnstone run rings round the defence; and we watched Tommy Gemmell’s ferocious shots.

These were also the days before people compiled statistics of games. Since then, though, the statistics of that game have been compiled, and they show that Celtic had 45 shots on target while Inter had only three and that Celtic had 10 corner kicks while Inter had none. It must be the only time in the history of European cup finals that a team has not had a corner, and it only shows Celtic’s dominance. We could not believe the absolute quality of Celtic and how good they were—even in a fuzzy, black-and-white film.

The other day, someone challenged me to say why the Scottish Parliament should be debating a game of football that was played 50 years ago. There are two reasons. As James Dornan has said, this was a victory for the working-class community. It also showed that 11 players who lived within a 35-mile radius of Celtic Park were able to take on the best in Europe and win, and my family, like a lot of working-class families in Glasgow and west central Scotland, took great pride in that victory. Indeed, they still do, and it is something that is still shared with families.

This was a fantastic achievement by the Lisbon Lions, and it is a great piece of history that is still very relevant to many families. I also think it relevant that James Dornan has been able to secure the debate and allow us to celebrate that tradition.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

I congratulate James Dornan on securing this debate. I have no doubt that some members are wondering what on earth Christine Grahame is doing in a debate about football. As members might know, sport—whether it is participating in it or watching it—is not in my DNA, and I know little about it. I am not proud of that; it is just a fact. It is a bit overwhelming to be among so many experts on football.

However, let me take members back to 25 May 1967, when—and here is another declaration of age—a young secondary teacher, me, had a date that evening with her later-to-be husband. He was a keen sportsman—football, rugby, golf and so on. They say that opposites attract. The place for the date was the top of Dunfermline High Street, and I cannot recall the exact time, but it will become relevant.

My Dunfermline landlady, Mrs Irwin, had settled down to watch the Celtic match, so I joined her on her big sofa, just to pass the time until my evening romantic rendezvous. Soon, despite myself, I was engrossed in a match between a team that I saw as fighting Scots, as Davids against the Goliath of Inter Milan. I recall my heart sinking when that first penalty goal was scored against Celtic but, instead of leaving in despair, I found myself immersed as, time and again, Celtic tried to break down a solid wall of Italian defence. I had no idea that it was a match of—let us say—an attacking as opposed to a defensive style. Then, at long last, came the equaliser, and I was going nowhere, date or no date.

I recall the players’ struggle against fatigue, socks rolled down as they played with every sinew of muscle and determination. When that winning goal was scored, I held my breath until the final whistle. The players might have been exhausted; so was I.

Of course, I turned up late for the date. I was just about to pack it in when my boyfriend came round the corner. He, too, had been determined to see the end of the match.

Members can see how the significance of that match cannot be exaggerated. It is a match that a non-football fan like me can recall to this day. Part of the explanation for why I was so drawn to the contest, beyond the David and Goliath reference, was that, as members said, this was a team that had been forged from local players from very ordinary backgrounds, which had at its helm a man of the stature, the worldliness, the determination and the dignity of Jock Stein.

Now that football has become so commercialised and is a business that pays millions of pounds for top players from all parts of the world, with managers on a treadmill of hirings and firings, I frankly cannot see that day being repeated.

The phrase “team spirit” has been overworked, but not when it is applied to the Lisbon Lions, because it was team spirit that carried them over the goal line that day.

Photo of Annie Wells Annie Wells Conservative

I thank James Dornan for lodging the motion in celebration of a fantastic achievement that today still stands tall in the history of Celtic and Glasgow.

Although I am not old enough to remember the game—I am really not—I feel like I kicked every ball on the journey, because my dad would always tell me stories about it. The fact that a team of 11 Scottish players, all born in Glasgow and the west of Scotland, were able to overcome the might of Inter Milan and that team’s infamous defensive football is a story worth retelling.

Jimmy Johnstone, Bertie Auld and Bobby Murdoch were the players that my dad would always talk about as I grew up, but when the time came for his heroes in Lisbon it was not those players who wrote their names into the history books. Celtic had already enjoyed a huge amount of domestic success that season, as they often would do for the remainder of Jock Stein’s tenure, while Inter Milan had fallen short in their own league, but the odds were still stacked against Celtic—a team of 11 boys from within 40 miles of each other, facing the might of the Italian giants.

Step forward Tommy Gemmell and Stevie Chalmers. I want to tell members a wee thing about Stevie Chalmers. My dad and his brother were orphaned very young, and Stevie Chalmers and his girlfriend used to come and get my dad and my Uncle Frankie and make sure that they got to the Celtic game, when he could. I thank him for that. My dad always spoke very kindly of him.

From one-nil down, Celtic scored twice to provide a fairytale ending in Lisbon. It was a Scottish club—a Glasgow club—that had made history. The fact that we are discussing it in the Scottish Parliament 50 years later is a testament to how significant an achievement it was.

Celtic, heroes of Lisbon, flew into Glasgow that night to find themselves the underdog heroes of the football world. Fans were wearing sombreros and wielding champagne bottles in delight. On the players’ return from their European success, the team bus was mobbed by thousands of jubilant Celtic fans all the way from the centre of Glasgow. My dad was at Parkhead that day and always said that he remembered it as if it was only yesterday. He told me that being at Celtic Park that day made up for not being in Lisbon for the game. The streets were lined with thousands upon thousands of fans, delirious and weeping openly, as they welcomed home the men who changed the face of football. At Parkhead, my dad and his friends were put on the back of a lorry and followed the procession route four times.

Winning the European cup was the making of the club; after that, everyone knew about Celtic. Never again have we seen scenes outside a football stadium like my dad did. The east end of Glasgow was brought together—people of all ages and classes—and given something to be proud of. Thousands and thousands of Glaswegians came together to appreciate their local heroes who had overcome all the odds to be crowned the ultimate champions of Europe and put Glasgow’s name firmly in the history books.

In the financial climate of modern football today, European success feels a long way away for any Scottish club. However, that aspect of communities coming together stands strong. We have debated in the chamber the antisocial behaviour in modern-day football, and we still too often see that side of the story. Perhaps we can look at the past and see the legacy of Lisbon and how it brought so many people together.

The legacy stands strong every second Saturday at Celtic Park. We should remember that fact when we talk about football fans today, for it is the younger generations of people like my dad who are dreaming of that success for their heroes.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I have three members left who wish to speak, so I am minded to accept a motion without notice under rule 8.14.3 to extend the debate by up to 30 minutes to allow them all to take part.

Motion moved,

That, under Rule 8.14.3, the debate be extended by up to 30 minutes.

—[James Dornan]

Motion agreed to.

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

I thank James Dornan for bringing this debate to the chamber to congratulate Celtic. Mr Tomkins has arrived, after everything. To sit here and still talk about Celtic’s success 50 years later—all that I can say is, “Football fans, what are we like?”

Some people might find it strange that I am taking part in the debate, as I am not a Celtic fan and I am not from Glasgow. I am, of course, a proud Paisley buddie and support our local team St Mirren, but I, too, have a 1967 Celtic European cup story, which is surprising given that I was not born until 1969.

My mother and father were married in 1967 and, bizarrely, they thought that it would be a great idea to take their wee Triumph Vitesse and drive all the way from the centre of the universe in Paisley to Portugal. With the motor industry in the UK being the way that it was, we can understand how that could probably be quite a difficult job for them. Their holidays until that point had consisted of just trips to Blackpool. Even their very romantic honeymoon that year had been in the granite city of Aberdeen; to her death, my mother still said that she had never even seen the northern lights—I have no idea what she was talking about in that scenario.

Members will be aware just how much of an undertaking that journey was for my parents. They left with their friends Tam and Sheena McKee, who had been married at a similar time. They drove through England, France and Spain and finally made it to Portugal, only to get lost in the middle of Lisbon. They ended up watching the game on a terrible black-and-white television in some cafe at the edge of town, but they still talked about the fact that they got the opportunity to be there and to see the match there.

As James Dornan and Willie Coffey have said, what a year for Scottish football 1967 was. Not only did Celtic become champions of Europe, but their rivals Rangers made it to the final of the European cup-winners cup. Kilmarnock reached the semi-final of what was then the fairs cities’ cup—the fairs cup—which eventually became the UEFA cup; I think that that tournament was changed in every year of its existence back then.

It was quite a year for Scottish football. We even had the audacity to go down to England on 15 April and absolutely hammer them 3-2. England were then the champions of the world, so Scotland were literally at the pinnacle of football in 1967. It was not such a great year for my team, St Mirren, as they were relegated from the old first division and ended up in the second division. However, as in all football stories, there is a happy ending, because they came straight back up into the top flight in the next season.

When we talk about Scottish football in 1967, we cannot help but mention the great Jock Stein, who was born John Stein on 5 October 1922 in Burnbank, Lanarkshire. He was part of a dynamic group of Scottish managers: Matt Busby, Bill Shankly and—we always speak about the three of them—big Jock himself. Jock Stein played for Celtic and Albion Rovers as a centre half and took up management as the result of an injury. Who can forget the time when he moved on to Scotland and, after the 1978 world cup, got us into the 1982 world cup finals? Who can forget that night in Ninian Park in Cardiff when he died before the end of the world cup qualifier, not knowing that Davie Cooper had scored the goal that got Scotland through to the next round?

Jock Stein was a man who lived and loved football and wanted to play it in the correct manner. The Lisbon Lions were a pure example of that. Jock Stein put it better himself. He said:

“I think it is important to win a match, but I think what is even more important is the manner in which you win.”

That is what our national sport should be about.

I close with the words of an esteemed sports writer, Hugh McIlvanney, who said that Jock Stein was

“The greatest manager in the history of the game. You tell me a manager anywhere in the world who did something comparable, winning the European Cup with a Glasgow District XI.”

The team will be remembered by us all and, to paraphrase the late, great Bill Shankly, they will be forever immortal.

Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour

I thank James Dornan, as it is a pleasure to hear the speeches and experiences in today’s debate, and to give my own.

By now, there is hardly a person who does not know about the historic and incredible victory in Lisbon 50 years ago. The players were 11 working class men of home-grown talent and they were the best footballers of their generation or probably even of this one.

Celebrated by Scots and internationally, it was the nation’s victory and it will never be repeated.

Like many Glasgow Catholic Celtic-supporting families, we were brought up on a diet of Celtic victories and defeats. For years, we thought that we must be related to Billy McNeill, because of the number of times that he was mentioned at home. Like George Adam, the immortal Jock Stein was a household name to us, a god, a genius manager and—importantly—a bridge over the sectarian divide.

We used to wait with bated breath for the latest letter back from Celtic Park. My dad was a prolific letter writer and he had a campaign. Celtic was his first or second love, but Frank Sinatra was another of his great loves, and he used to write to Celtic Park every week to say that he would rather that they played the Sinatra version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. However, to my knowledge, that never happened.

It is not just a story of a football team that, as the underdogs, took on the champions Inter Milan and brought with them the wide Celtic support that had never before been experienced by the world. It is a tale of a football club that was formed to save the lives of poor Irish people who were fleeing from famine and persecution for their faith, and who wanted to be accepted on equal terms.

I have quite a few quotes from Kevin McKenna and I give him credit as he has written some excellent articles on the subject. Of the many documentaries that were on last night, I caught one that gave an account by Bobby Lennox. He said that, the night before the match, Jock Stein had decided to take the players to the prestigious house of a contact that he had in Portugal. They could not work out how to get in the front door of the large house so they were all dreepin over the walls to get in. Bobby Lennox said that it would be inconceivable now for footballers to be climbing over walls the night before a European final. There could have been all sorts of disasters.

The Inter Milan players were allowed to look on at a pre-match Celtic training session. They said in amazement that it was incredible how relaxed the Celtic team was in “a kick-around”, as they described it. I think that that was all down to the way in which Jock Stein managed the team.

Jinky Johnstone was, by all accounts, the greatest Celtic player of all time. We thought that he was a superstar, and we were amazed that my dad was pictured with him. I still have that picture on my desk. Kevin McKenna wrote:

“Premature death and health inequality have stalked” those communities, and

“The traditional afflictions ... have not spared the men who became their champions.”

He said that the players won 22 trophies from 1965 to 1975, and

“They were feared and saluted throughout Europe, yet they were ill-rewarded for their labours. Celtic raked in untold riches on the back of their endeavours but the players saw very little of it.”

Jim Craig, whose pass set up Tommy Gemmell’s goal, said:

“there was no question of our players receiving life-changing amounts of money”.

As we have heard, those men were part of their communities. They saw their supporters every single day, and perhaps were better men for that.

It is worth noting that many think that the Rangers team of that era would also have been a match for other European teams.

Kevin McKenna wrote that the historian Tom Devine:

“says the cultural and social impact of Celtic’s Lisbon triumph can never be underestimated and that it still resonates to this day. ‘That team and their achievements gave such a boost to working men all over Scotland but especially to the Irish-Catholic community in west central Scotland, whose story ... had been characterised by discrimination ... though this was beginning to fade.”

What a team it was. A year later, in 1968, Celtic’s reputation was further embellished when, having been drawn to play in Hungary in a European cup tie, the club protested at the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia by refusing to play.

Chalmers’s winning goal six minutes from the end of the final will never be forgotten. A leading Swiss journalist said of the team that we must all now play football that way—the Celtic way—with eight forwards.

The rest is history.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

If you could have proved that you are related to Billy McNeill, I would have let you talk for longer.

Photo of Gail Ross Gail Ross Scottish National Party

I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak in the debate, and I thank James Dornan for bringing it to the chamber.

On 25 May 1967, Glasgow Celtic Football Club was the first British and first non-Latin team to win the European cup. It did so with a team all of whom were born within 30 miles of Celtic Park; indeed, all but one player was born within 10 miles of Celtic Park. The Lisbon Lions defeated Inter Milan 2-1 with goals from Tommy Gemmell and Stevie Chalmers. Incidentally, Tommy Gemmell scored the first goal—and Celtic’s only goal—in the 1970 European cup final, which they lost to the Dutch side Feyenoord, and he also scored Celtic’s first-ever goal in the European cup, against FC Zürich in 1966.

Celtic won every competition that they entered in that famous 1966-67 season. They won the European cup, Scottish league division one, the Scottish cup, the Scottish league cup and the Glasgow cup.

Some say that the attendance at the European cup final was 45,000, and some say that it was 70,000. We can safely say that, whatever the attendance was on the day, many more people have since seen that famous game on television and the internet.

Of the approximately 12,000 Scottish fans who made the journey to Lisbon, many travelled in the Celticade, which was led by the Celtic fan and Glasgow

Evening Times reporter Dani Garavelli. Perhaps even Mr and Mrs Adam were part of that: who knows? A hundred cars made the trip in the Celticade. Unfortunately, one unlucky fan woke up in Glasgow after getting a flight home and realised that he had left his car in Portugal.

Before the game, the manager, Jock Stein, told his players:

“If you’re ever going to win the European Cup, then this is the day and this is the place. But we don’t just want to win this cup, we want to do it playing good football—to make neutrals glad we’ve won it, glad to remember how we did it.”

Not just neutrals, but communities and fans from all sides of the footballing world, were brought together by what was a truly inclusive win.

I will move forward in time slightly, to the early noughties, when I used to work in a hotel in Glasgow. When Neil Lennon first signed for the club, he stayed in the hotel for his first few weeks. One day, he came down for breakfast and I gave him my Celtic strip to sign. He took it away and the whole team signed it. It was 2001 and, that season, Celtic won the treble, which was the first time that they had done so since the 1968-69 season, when the team had consisted of most of the Lisbon Lions.

More recently, names such as Sutton, Tébily, Moravcik, Mjällby, Lambert, Agathe, Valgaeren, Smith, Larsson and, of course, Martin O’Neill have been etched into Scottish football history. I am sure that there are many other names that could have been put forward since then.

That hotel was also the temporary home of Donegal Celtic supporters’ club on match days. I remember arriving for work at 6 am on Sundays, to find them still in the lounge, playing guitars and singing Celtic songs. Some days, I would be lucky and get a spare ticket to a game.

In a speech about Celtic, it would be remiss of me not to mention one of my other past jobs, working for a charity called Football Aid, which is based here in Edinburgh, was set up by Celtic trustee Craig Paterson and has a vice-patron in Celtic ambassador Danny McGrain. One year, I attended a charity match at Celtic park with Tommy Boyd and Paul Lambert. I can say that I have scored a goal at Celtic park, but I should probably confess that there was no one else on the pitch.

I could fill up most of the afternoon with tales and stories. As James Dornan did, I struggled to get my speech inside the time allowed. However, I will leave members with thoughts of Jock Stein. Bill Shankly said of him:

“A great manager, my pal for years, a great man as well, with a heart of gold who’d give his last shilling. Aye, Stein, he’s the best.”


Glasgow Herald wrote:

“Arguably the most important man working in this nation at this time.”

A message on a bunch of flowers left on the night he died in Cardiff said, “Jock! Heroes live forever!” The man himself said:

“Celtic jerseys are not for second best. It is the jersey worn by men like McNeill, Gemmell, Clark, Auld, McBride and Chalmers. It won’t shrink to fit an inferior player.”

To those names, I add Simpson, Craig, Murdoch, Johnstone, Wallace and Lennox—and let us not forget assistant manager, Sean Fallon.

Presiding Officer, it may have been 50 years ago, but that remarkable game will live long in the memories of football fans all over the world.

Photo of Aileen Campbell Aileen Campbell Scottish National Party

Before I begin, I want to reflect on what has been a remarkable debate that has spoken of football’s reach, its cultural and societal impact and its power to do good.

Last night, although Monday’s tragic events in Manchester put life, politics and even football firmly into perspective, Manchester United’s victory against Ajax provided just a glimmer of light in this truly dark time. I place on record our congratulations to Manchester United on winning the Europa league.

I thank James Dornan for bringing the debate before Parliament this afternoon and other members for all the other contributions made across the chamber, including family memories and stories that were told often with great humour.

Unlike James Dornan, I am unable to remember that fantastic European cup win 50 years ago but, like all, I have seen the footage, both in black and white and in colour, and it remains as evocative today as it was then. The footage may be grainy, but the memories—and the place of the Lisbon Lions in history—will never fade. Jock Stein brought together a truly remarkable squad of players. Not only were the starting 11 all Scottish, but all hailed from within a 30-mile radius of Celtic park.

Like Pauline McNeill, I want to reflect on what Kevin McKenna wrote in his article—I am glad that she did not use the same bits as I want to use. I recommend that members read the article, in which he wrote:

“On one level, Celtic’s 2-1 victory in the European Cup final over Internazionale, the champions of Italy, must stand as Scotland’s greatest sporting achievement. Football then, as it is now, was the most popular sport in the world in terms of participation and commerce. That a squad consisting purely of men from the west of Scotland with no advantages or privileges of finance or sports science could win the world’s premier football tournament was considered improbable then. It would be regarded as well-nigh impossible now ... There was light and joy in Celtic’s play ... an exuberance that you might more commonly associate with Latin or African countries. It belied the grime and industrial drudgery of the places where the Lisbon Lions were reared.”

Celtic played “total football” before the phrase was even coined—they played the Glasgow Celtic way. Their victory remains iconic in Scottish sport; indeed it is an iconic landmark in British sport, as Celtic—as others have recognised today—were the first British club to win the famous trophy.

It is fitting that as Celtic celebrate the 50th anniversary of their greatest-ever season, they are having another hugely successful campaign. This is difficult to admit as a St Johnstone fan, but Celtic have been absolutely phenomenal this season. Not only have they remained unbeaten all season, they have accumulated more than a hundred points and scored more than a hundred goals. In terms of silverware, Celtic have already won the league cup as well as their sixth premier league in a row, and they will be looking to complete the domestic treble when they face Aberdeen in the Scottish cup final on 27 May.

Those achievements were recognised in the Professional Footballers’ Association Scotland and Scottish Football Writers’ Association annual awards, when the club’s achievements were recognised with a clean sweep: manager of the year going to Brendan Rodgers; player of the year to Scott Sinclair; and young player of the year to Kieran Tierney. It is a team that some have described as having a whiff of the Lisbon Lions.

I am delighted that the women are having a strong season, too. Celtic are near the top of the Scottish Women’s Premier League and competed in the Scottish women’s league cup on Sunday. I am also pleased that Christine Grahame, Pauline McNeill, Annie Wells and Gail Ross have shown that today, our beautiful game is for more than just men.

Scottish football sometimes makes the headlines for the wrong reasons, as Annie Wells noted, so I am delighted to be able to focus on the positives, as this Parliament comes together to celebrate one of Scottish football’s greatest achievements.

Like many members who have spoken, I love football and am a big football fan. The memories that it creates are phenomenal and last a lifetime. Celtic’s win in 1967 transcended clubs and geography. My dad—who was then a young man playing football for Kinrossie amateurs in Perthshire—remembers the win. He talks about it and how he cheered Celtic on. It is etched on Christine Grahame’s memory, even though she is not a football fan.

Football creates stories, it creates drama, it raises passions and it creates heroes. The Lions are undoubtedly heroes; so, too, are the heroes in tangerine, the terrors of Dundee United, who, 30 years ago, did Scotland proud again, narrowly missing out on securing the UEFA cup final but again placing Scotland on the world football stage. I commend BBC Alba’s documentary on their expedition into Europe.

George Adam and others spoke about our national team’s successes in that era, the 1960s, and rightly commended the phenomenal record of Jock Stein and his Glasgow district 11. Willie Coffey talked about the achievements of Kilmarnock and James Kelly recognised the Lisbon Lions’ win as his first-ever memory.

The memories are strong for every football fan. They might not always be of the glories of European cup games, but the power of football and its stories is why the Scottish Football Museum’s football memories work is so important for a reminiscence therapy approach to helping those with dementia.

As the mother of a wee boy who is daft on football, I know that 47 years from now, he will still be talking about when St Johnstone won the Scottish cup 50 years ago. I hope that we might even be talking about a win in between times.

Football inspires memories and has a reach that no Government could ever dare to emulate. That is why it is also important to put on record our thanks to Celtic and all the other clubs that do so much work off the pitch to help the communities that they serve.

In summing up, I recognise and celebrate the remarkable achievement of the Lisbon Lions, and I hope that everybody involved with Celtic Football Club enjoys the celebrations during the 50th anniversary.

I thank James Dornan for the opportunity for us all to come together as a Parliament to pay our respects to the immortal Lisbon Lions. Heroes live forever and I am glad that we are able to recognise what they achieved. We will continue to remember the way in which they went about winning the cup—not just for Celtic but for Scotland.

13:34 Meeting suspended.

14:30 On resuming—