Breaking Hearts – “He’s fat, he’s round, he’s worth a million pound,” Celtic’s 1988 semi-final Hero

Mark McGhee came off the bench in the 1988 Scottish Cup Final to help turn around a 1-0 scoreline in favour of Dundee Utd to win the cup for Celtic and complete the ‘Fairytale Double’ in our Centenary season.

Maybe only the Tom Rogic Cup Final in the Invincible season comes close to the emotion and the elation experienced by The Celtic support that sunny May afternoon in 1988.

McGhee spoke to the media ahead of Celtic’s 2019 Scottish Cup Final against Hearts and if it were not for what he did in the semi-final to Hearts back in April 1988 we’d never have reached the final that year. That might be the best ever last few minutes in a semi-final for plenty of Celtic Supporters! It was mayhem! The celebrations were extraordinary!

“He’s fat, he’s round, he’s worth a million pound, Mark McGhee, Mark McGhee,” was the chant. Happy days!

Looking back on the 1988 Final McGhee remembers his own personal disappointment at missing out on a starting place in The Celtic team.

“I remember being a bit gutted that I wasn’t playing,” the million pound man said. “You are never happy when you aren’t playing in a game like that. I was champing at the bit to get on, and thankfully I was able to come on and make a difference.
“We had missed some chances, but I wasn’t really looking at the chances that were being missed, and as much as I was gutted not to be playing, there was never any resentment towards the guys who were playing. All the resentment was directed at the manager!
“But the manager knew that regardless if we were playing or not, we weren’t going to take the huff. Instead, what happened was what Billy would have expected, because we would have been so determined to show that we should have been playing he was likely to get something out of us,” McGhee remembered.

“I scored a lot of goals against Hearts, I used to score quite regularly against them, so the outcome of the game wasn’t really a surprise to me,” McGhee said as reported by the Herald.

“But Billy’s leadership was the catalyst to everything that happened that season because of his standing.

“It was such a big year for the club, and to have Billy there at that time was fundamental to it. He represented everything that everybody was feeling about the club that year, there was such a pride about the place.

“There was a kind of excitement about that year because of the centenary, and to be part of it was incredible. It just felt like Billy was the right man to lead that, and he led it so well.

“Tam Craig was the coach, and big Billy was the manager. But he was just this figure that was there with encouragement and common sense. He had the ability to make everybody feel they were playing a role, whether you were playing, or you weren’t, he had that ability just to keep everybody up.

“Billy would join in training sometimes, and I remember one day he took the gloves off big Packie and was showing him how he should be taking crosses.

“Big Billy was catching them about three feet off the ground, and big Packie was raging. He would do stuff like that and just lift the lads.

“His record as the captain of Celtic spoke for itself, so you just had a huge amount of respect for him. Billy was everything to us.”

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

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