Frank Connor is remembered with a great deal of affection among a certain generation of Celtic supporters…
Frank Connor played for the club in the early 1960s making 8 appearances for the club, but as a goalkeeper he was seen as too ‘small’ at 5ft 8 inches. Whilst his playing career didn’t quite go to plan at Celtic, he would go on to make his name in a coaching capacity at the club.
Frank had three different spells at Celtic Park stretching between the late 1970s and the early 1990s and was highly regarded by everyone connected to the club. From youth players to the seniors he was respected across the board. He was known as a great motivator and a decent man to work under.
Perhaps his most high profile input during his tome at Celtic was during the early 1990s when he took the reins as caretaker boss after the departure of Liam Brady after a dreadful performance in a 2-1 defeat at McDiarmid Park against St Johnstone. Seldom has the Celtic support been as angry with the team as they were that night, and no-one could blame the supporters who were at the game because Celtic were terrible and the scoreline flattered Brady’s team.
Frank then took charge for four games and in that short space of time he was unbeaten. An unbelievable task during such a disastrous time for the club, when to put it bluntly, we were dreadful. Under Frank’s leadership we recorded two wins and a draw domestically, while recording an impressive win in the UEFA Cup against a decent Sporting Lisbon side.
His first game in charge was against Dundee at Celtic Park on 10 October and Frank’s side, despite going a goal behind, fought back to win the match 2-1 with goals from Gerry Creaney and Pat McGinlay and in doing so deliver Celtic’s FIRST home win of that dreadful season.
Afterwards he said, as reported by The Celtic Wiki– “Tam McAdam was reserve coach at the time and joined me in taking the first team. We beat Dundee 2-1 in our first match but lost a goal early in that game. I turned to Tam and said: ‘I hope you’re wearing a bullet-proof vest’.”
The attendance was just 16,994, a very long way from the 60,000 there at every home game these days.
Next up, Gerry Creaney grabbed a late equaliser against Hibs at Easter Road on 16 October to share the points in a 1-1 draw and maintain Frank’s unbeaten run as Celtic’s caretaker manager.
His third match in charge was a UEFA Cup tie at Celtic Park against Sporting Lisbon who had a certain Jorge Cadete in there starting line-up, but it was that man Creaney who got the only goal of the game with nine minutes on the clock to give Frank Connor a fine European victory (the crowd that night was 31,321) that set him up for his final game in charge, at Ibrox that weekend.
And that was of course the dramatic 2-1 win against Rangers which saw Brian O’Neil score a last gasp winner after Ally McCoist had opened the scoring on 67 minutes before John Collins levelled the match a few minutes later. It was of course said to be the first game of Lou Macari’s time in charge, but it was Frank who picked the side and took charge that day, Lou was just sitting on the bench seeing what he’d got himself into!
It was unfortunate that Frank wasn’t gave any consideration for the mangers job on a permanent basis, and although he had a lack of experience as the main man, in hindsight he would have been a much better choice than Lou Macari, whose heart was never really in the job.
So looking back, Frank Connor has the great honour of technically being the only unbeaten manager in the club’s long and unbroken history. A high accolade indeed for a great Celtic man.
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