Celtic’s 9th Manager (1994-1997) – Tommy Burns gave us back hope and belief

Tommy Burns had an eventful three years as Manager of Celtic. He was appointed by the “new” Celtic Board, and he was definitely the right man in the circumstances. He had to be dislodged from Kilmarnock, which took a bit of doing, but he then proceeded in difficult circumstances to give Celtic back their self-respect, and then almost to regain the League.

The “self respect” came with the winning of the Scottish Cup in 1995. It was, frankly, an awful final against Airdrie after some other performances in the early rounds that struggled to earn the name “ordinary”, but silver was back after six years, and for that we have to be grateful. The next two years saw Celtic come second in the League, but still we could not quite rid ourselves of the Rangers complex. We were however close, and Tommy deserves our thanks.

He had several problems. His first season was at Hampden, and his other two were at a half built Parkhead. That was not easy for anyone. He also had severe problems with overseas stars who were talented enough (although they often over-estimated their own talent) but lacked maturity and common sense, and their personality disorders often gave Tommy and Fergus McCann a considerable amount of problems. And of course there was Fergus McCann himself – Celtic’s saviour, but often Celtic’s problem as well.

In addition, his best player Paul McStay was reaching the end of his career, his major opponents had possibly peaked and were beginning to slide, but they were still potent, and the Celtic death wish had not entirely disappeared. Celtic really ought to have won the Scottish Cup in 1997. They drew with Falkirk in the semi-final on a hot day at Ibrox losing a late goal, then could not find the net in the rainy replay. This was enough for Fergus McCann to blow the whistle on Tommy’s managerial career.

Tommy remained until his death in 2008 a well loved character among the Celtic fans. With a bit more luck, and had he come at a different time, he might have been a great Manager. As it was, he gave us back our hope and our belief that things did not have to be as bad as the nightmare years that had just gone.

David Potter


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About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

1 Comment

  1. Jim O'Rourke on

    It was a roller coaster ride for sure under Tommy but one that is for sure the fans were United behind him and although we lost the 9 and some poor cup games too boot (raith rovers probably the worst) we had the same love and respect for him when he was fired right up until he sadly passed away. Im 57 i often say to people he was my generations jinky. RIP Tommy and Jinky.