The relationship between Jock Stein and goalkeepers – not any particular one just keepers in general – was an open secret. He seldom trusted them! His feelings were summed up by a throw-way comment I heard him come out with one day when he thought no one was listening; “You can plan for everything that happens on a football pitch barring an error by a keeper”.
It was not as if he had poor keepers to deal with during his Celtic career. Most of them were top-notch, like Ally Hunter, who was signed from Kilmarnock on 24th January 1973 and made his debut on this day of that year against Airdrie. Over the following three years, Ally made 91 appearances for Celtic, with 43 shut-outs, a 47% record, well up among the best in the club’s history. He had some competition for his place as well, with Evan Williams and Denis Connaghan also in the frame.
Ally was a worrier and his career was – to an extent – blighted by the loss of a soft goal at Hampden when Scotland played Czechoslovakia in a World Cup qualifier in September 1973. But he managed to overcome the venom that such a mistake can bring from the public and continued his excellent career with Celtic and later, Motherwell and St Mirren.