I was proud to have helped on this wonderful documentary and even more chuffed to get a name check in the credits at the end. It was shown again on the BBC Scotland channel the other evening but if you missed it, Glasgow 1967 – The Lisbon Lions is available for the next 28 days on the BBC iPlayer.
Broadcast for the first time on Wednesday 24 May 2017, exactly fifty years after Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup, this compelling documentary tells the amazing stories of the men who claimed it.
All eleven team members came from within 30 miles of Celtic Park and this evocative film weaves together the social and football history of the era in Glasgow.
Captained by the legendary Billy McNeill, The Bhoys battled through four home and away ties before defeating the mighty Inter Milan 2-1 in a memorable Final at the Estádio Nacional in Lisbon on 25 May 1967.
Celtic’s fast-paced attacking style eventually proved too much for the more cynical, defensive approach of the Italian champions. Inter took an early lead through Alessandro Mazzola’s penalty before Celtic twice hit the crossbar among their 39 other attempts on goal, eventually wearing the 11-man defence down with goals from Tommy Gemmell and Steve Chalmers.
This hour-long documentary captures all the drama and emotion of a remarkable sporting story. It features beautiful, unseen archive footage, funny fan stories and moving testimony from Bertie Auld, Bobby Lennox, Jim Craig, John Clark, Willie Wallace, former Rangers captain John Greig and from the players’ families. Glasgow 1967: The Lisbon Lions is an IMG production for BBC Scotland.
Football starved folks:
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And towards the end of Glasgow 1967 – The Lisbon Lions you’ll see the Celtic supporter wearing a homemade Jock Stein t-shirt. We told you the remarkable story about that t-shirt and the Celtic supporter who wore it.
Fifty years after he was on televisions screens around the world celebrating Celtic becoming the Champions of Europe, someone asked me did I know him or anything at all about him. I didn’t have any idea but said I’d find out. Easier said than done, all we had to go on was this footage from Lisbon and one or two grainy black and white photographs from 25 May 1967.
Well, the Celtic family being the Celtic family it was easier than you might think. Asking around among the various Celtic Supporters groups and clubs, someone thought he was from Nottingham but after making a few enquires that was a dead-end.
Then one of the Bhoys from the very fine Greenock CSC told me that there’s a guy who came from Port Glasgow who always claimed it was him wearing the Jock Stein t-shirt after he’d one or two drinks but he’d not been seen for years. Enquiries were made and I was given an email address and a phone number to check out if this was the Bhoy I was looking for but the biggest problem was that the details were from a University …in VIETNAM. Here’s what happened next…
IT is not every day you speak to an Academic from Mientrung University of Civil Engineering (MUCE) in Vietnam, but these Celtic supporters are everywhere. I was contacting this Lecturer to say, excuse me, you don’t know me but 50 years ago were you in Lisbon at the European Cup Final wearing a homemade Jock Stein t-shirt. Here’s a photograph, is this you?
And do you know what, I got a reply straight away and BINGO, I’d found our Bhoy! In Vietnam!
His name is James McConnell but he prefers Jimmy. This is his story of Lisbon on 25 May 1967 and his now famous t-shirt.
How did you manage to get yourself to Lisbon for the European Cup Final?
I had received two tickets for the match from my uncle, Joe McConnell in the Port. I was refused time off from my job to go to Lisbon, I resigned, sold my car, and with my good friend Billy Parrish travelled to Lisbon.
What were your first impressions of the city?
The first evening in a bar a young man joined us and after a while proceeded to produce a revolver. We quickly made a hasty retreat. Welcome to Lisbon.
Can you tell us about your day in Lisbon on 25 May 1967?
Trying to do justice in articulating that incredible, wonderful day, 25 May 1967 would require a Hemingway. Lisbon that day was taken over by Celtic supporters, the atmosphere was incredible. Billy, wearing his green and white hooped shirt and me wearing the ‘Jock Stein’ shirt being embraced by people we had never met before, being asked, with our English accents, how we were in Lisbon supporting Celtic.
Where were you sitting in the stadium, what were you thinking during the game? Can you describe what was going on in your head at the final whistle?
We had seats on the halfway line, right at the front, a perfect view of the game. Once Tommy had equalised we all knew Celtic were going to win, and at the final whistle, the dry moat separating fans was easily jumped over. The game and aftermath, the memories will remain with me forever. The people of Lisbon were wonderful. Walk down the street and there would be a fifty children and adults following us, go into a bar and I can’t remember paying for a beer. David, if I could have 24 hours of my life back, it would be the 25 May 1967.
But your Lisbon adventure never ended there?
We were due to fly back to London on the Sunday after the game, but we changed our flights so we could stay another week. Wearing our shirts around Lisbon and Estoril meeting other Celtic fans, some who had missed their flights home We also made friends with some of the local people. One man we met was a member of Benfica. He took us to their ground and showed us around the stadium and their trophy room. Another man we had met, a Sporting Lisbon member did the same showing us Sportings trophy room. We signed the visitors book underneath the President of The Czechoslovakia Football Association.
How was life for you generally back in 1967?
In 1967, there was a credit squeeze and a person going abroad was only allowed to take 50 pounds out of the country. We were running out of money so I went to the Embassy to ask for money to get home, I said I had my money stolen at Estoril. After I had made a false report to the police, the Embassy gave me, I can’t remember how much, enough to get home.
And you used this money to get you home, right?
A couple of days before leaving Lisbon, we went into a bar, as money was tight we only had a beer each. On leaving we were given a bill which included a cover charge, not knowing this and not having enough money we argued with the manager, no violence involved. The next thing, the police arrived, we were arrested and thrown into a cell.
How did you get out?
After some hours a man arrived from the Portuguese Tourist Board, we explained the situation, paid for the beers consumed and were released. On arrival at Heathrow, my passport was taken from me and not returned until I had repaid the money from the Embassy.
So you went back home to England?
Yes. Arriving back in England, and with no job, I went to Dublin, staying with my cousin. I was spotted playing in a local park and signed for Shamrock Rovers, and included in the squad for both legs of the Eurpean Cup Winners Cup tie against Cardiff City in October 1967.
Don’t suppose you played against the Champions of Europe did you?
No. The following year, Celtic came to play Rovers at Dalymount Park. Although I was not involved I was lucky enough to meet Jock and Sean Fallon at a reception after the game.
Finally Jimmy, there has been a great deal of interest in your Jock Stein shirt over the years. Can you tell us a little bit more about the original Jock Stein t-shirt you wore in Lisbon?
The shirt. I painted the words on the shirt. I wore it to the San Siro in 1970, hitchiking with Billy to Milan, taking three days. We met some Celtic fans we had met in Lisbon, and even though I had a Celtic scarf, at his request I swapped my shirt for his scarf. I still have a piece of the Lisbon turf after 50 years.
Finally Jimmy, sum up Lisbon on 25 May 1967.
The best day of my life.
I sent Jimmy a replica of his t-shirt and a Lisbon book from 2017 and while he flagged up problems with the reliability of the Vietnamese postal system, he promised me he’d send me a photograph of him wearing it if and when it arrived. A few weeks later he replied, as below…
Finally, the shirt and books have arrived, so many thanks. I hope the photographs taken on the University football pitch are suitable.
If I ever get to the Port, maybe we can partake in a ‘wee half’. Take care and continuing success…
He enclosed his photograph, as promised and here it is…
Just over 50 years after this happened. Don’t you think that there’s still something quite magical about Lisbon 25 May 1967? Enjoy watching Glasgow 1967 – The Lisbon Lions on the BBC iPlayer…
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