30th June 1983 Billy McNeill heads for Manchester City
Billy McNeill took over from Jock Stein as manager of Celtic on 29th May 1978 and immediately embarked on a pretty successful period in the post. Under his control, Celtic won the League title in 1978/79, 1980/81 and 1981/82; the Scottish Cup was picked up in 1980 and the League Cup in 1982/83.
It was an interesting and curious time in Scottish football, as while Rangers were still picking up trophies – they had won the league in season 1977/78, just before Billy had arrived, the Scottish Cup in 1979 and 1981 plus the League Cup in 1978/79 and 81/82 – there was now the ‘New Firm’ for the Old Firm managers to cope with. Under Alex Ferguson and Jim Mclean, both Aberdeen and Dundee United became very difficult opponents, never afraid of the visits to Glasgow which had bedevilled previous sides from these areas.
Unfortunately for Billy, his successes on the pitch were slightly overshadowed – on a personal level – by some problems behind the scenes. He quite openly admits to having a difficult relationship with Chairman Desmond White, the obvious difference in age compounded by White’s reluctance, at least in Billy’s eyes, to provide the money to spend on new players. Apparently, this had been a continual problem during the five years of Billy’s tenure but by the end of season 1982/83, he had had enough.
On this day in 1983, Billy McNeill headed south to take over as manager of Manchester City.
Sometimes, a player comes into a club like Celtic and finds things a bit difficult. Just occasionally, though, life then takes a turn for the better.
Outside-right Alex Crawford signed for Celtic on this day in 1901. At the start of season 1901/02, he made five league appearances for the club but obviously did not set the heather on fire, as he was loaned out to Morton in October 1901. However, on 12th May 1902, he came back to Celtic and only five weeks later, was in the Celtic side which won the Glasgow Exhibition Cup by beating Rangers 3-2 at Cathkin Park.
As I mentioned last week, Jimmy Quinn scored the winner from a corner in the last few minutes of extra-time. Quinn himself always said that Willie Loney took the corner; others said it was Alex Crawford. Whoever it was, it was a good one and the trophy went back to Celtic Park, Alex Crawford doubt delighted to receive a winner’s medal – which were supplied by Bovril!
Desmond White was better known in later life for being a director, then treasurer then chairman of Celtic Football Club but in his younger days, he had been well recognised as a goalkeeper.
He had a spell with Edinburgh City before joining Queen’s Park, for whom he was between the sticks on 16th April 1937 when Jimmy McGrory scored his last goal for Celtic. White became club secretary in 1940, was appointed a director in 1947 and assumed the position of chairman after the death of Sir Robert Kelly in 1971.
FROM LEFT; DAVIE MCPARLAND, TOM DEVLIN, DESMOND WHITE, JAMES FARRELL, JOCK STEIN, KEVIN KELLY
On this day in 1985, Desmond White died while on holiday in Crete; he was in his mid-70s.
17th June 1902 ‘British Championship Final Tie’
The first two years of the 20th century had been a mixture of triumph and disaster for Rangers Football Club. In the summer of 1901, the Light Blues had won the football tournament at the Glasgow International Exhibition, collecting a very fine trophy; then, on 5th April 1902, when a large crowd had packed into Ibrox for the annual clash between Scotland and England, part of a wooden stand collapsed, leaving 25 dead and around 500 injured.
In order to help with compensation for the families of the deceased and those suffering from injury, Rangers put the 1901 trophy up for competition and invited perennial rivals Celtic, English League champions Sunderland and runners-up Everton to take part. Celtic crushed Sunderland 5-1 in one semi-final and in the other, Rangers eventually beat Everton after a replay, so the scene was set for an Old Firm final, held at Cathkin Park on this day in 1902.
ABOVE: GLASGOW INTERNATIONAL TROPHY
7,000 were present to see the action and at the end of 90 minutes, the teams were level at 2-2, both of Celtic’s goals having been scored by Jimmy Quinn, having been moved for the occasion from his normal left-wing berth to the centre-forward position. And two minutes from the end of extra-time, young Quinn rose to the occasion again, rising above the Rangers defence – although it was suggested some years later that he had used his team-mate Tommy McDermott’s shoulders to heave himself into the air – to head home the winner.
14th June 1994 Lou Macari sacked
Between the years from 1897 to 1978 – a total of 81 – Celtic had four managers, Willie Maley, Jimmy McStay, Jimmy McGrory and Jock Stein. When Lou Macari took over the role on 26th October 1993, he became the 4th Boss in 15 years, after Billy McNeill (in two spells), Davie Hay and Liam Brady.
Lou got off to a good start with a win in an Old Firm derby and although Celtic crashed out of Europe to Sporting Lisbon, the team then went on a good 10-match run in the league, winning 5 and drawing 4. Unfortunately, they crashed 2-4 to Rangers in the Ne’erday fixture, then lost the next two league matches to Partick Thistle (A; 0-1) and Motherwell (A; 1-2). Later that same month Celtic surprisingly went out of the Scottish Cup 0-1 to Motherwell at Parkhead, with ex-Celt Tommy Coyne getting the only goal. Suddenly, Lou was under real pressure.
He was not helped by a difficult relationship with the new chairman, Fergus McCann. The Board was well aware that a up-grading of the ground was required, so money was not plentiful and Lou was only given enough to buy in some not-so-well -known players, like Wayne Biggins, Carl Muggleton, Lee Martin and Willie Falconer. He was forced to sell Gerry Creaney in January 1994 and arrival of Andy Walker on 13th June 1994 came a bit too late.
24 hours later, on this day in 1994, Lou Macari was sacked as manager of Celtic.