On this day in 1971, John Hughes made his final appearance for Celtic. He came on as a substitute for a certain Jim Craig in a league match against Airdrie at Broomfield, which, I have been reliably informed, was the highest ground above sea level in Scotland at that time.
John Hughes had had an excellent career with the club. A statistic of 189 goals in 416 appearances, while impressive, tells only half the story . John – otherwise known as ‘Yogi’ or ‘The Bear’ – arrived at Parkhead as a 16-year-old in 1959, made his debut at 17 and became a regular in the side shortly afterwards. Unfortunately, that meant that for almost six years – before the arrival of Jock Stein – he plied his trade at a club where the players were given little help from the managerial and coaching staff in becoming better or more effective performers. Had he been brought on by a top coach in his youth, John might have become one of the world’s greats; he certainly had the talent and physique.
As to his replacement of me in his final appearance, there is an obvious question to ask. I was at right-back, ‘Yogi’ was a forward, so the logical answer to the query is that I was injured in some way. That might be the case but I have not the foggiest idea of what happened but do notice that I was fit to play in the next match, seven days hence!