“If Celtic weren’t going to give me a medal then I wasn’t going to grovel,” Alan Sneddon

Alan Sneddon is rightly remembered as a Hibs legend given the years of distinguished service he put in at Easter Road after leaving Celtic in January 1981.

Before that move – he was signed by the then Hibs manager Bertie Auld – the right back had made 98 appearances for Celtic under both Jock Stein and Billy McNeill, played a pivotal role in the wonderful 2-0 win over Real Madrid in a European Cup quarter final and scored his one and only goal of his Celtic career at Ibrox against his boyhood heroes in the next ‘Old Firm’ encounter after the 4-2 game when Celtic were once again down to ten men and trailing – this time by 2-0. Sneddon’s late goal gave the Celtic fans hope and set the scene for Tom McAdam’s dramatic equaliser. Scenes in the Celtic “end” were epic to say the least – the free Broomloan was a building site, under construction on the day they opened the Copeland Road stand, so only 36,000 were allowed into Ibrox, with 6000 of these Celtic fans housed in the Enclosure.

Feed the Bear
And you know how this one was going to end…

2-0 down, down to Ten men, pelted with missiles, half eaten pies and much worse from above it was no wonder that all 6000 of us decided to hang around going into the final five minutes.

Then this happened… Alan Sneddon’s one and only Celtic goal… just as the Rangers fans were in ‘full voice”, listen below and watch Tom McAdam’s equaliser putting an early finish to the British National Anthems. Highlight of the night folks.

Sneddon pulls one back for 10 man Celtic with 6 minutes left to play.

The story went afterwards that Sneddon’s family home in Larkhall had the windows put in that weekend but the player himself later denied this. The jubilant Celtic fans were in full voice at the end signing “Ten men won the league” and “we only need Ten Men”.

Anyway back to Alan Sneddon, a somewhat forgotten former Celtic. He has certainly kept a low profile over the years as far as his first senior side are concerned but last weekend in an interview with Scotsman ahead of the 3-0 Celtic win over Hibs, Sneddon spoke about his time at both clubs.

Hibs were in the first division at the time Bertie Auld signed Sneddon and they went on to win the league and gain promotion. Sneddon had played enough games in the first half of the season for Celtic – who also won the league – but the old board never came through with the medal for their former player. Maybe this is a wrong that Celtic could now put right?  That old Celtic board incidentally were instrumental in wrecking that emerging Celtic side under Cesar’s guidance and in doing so allowed Aberdeen and to a lesser extent, Dundee Utd to emerge as real contenders for the next few years.

Sneddon was signed by Jock Stein as a 19 year old in 1977 and made his debut against Dundee in a Scottish Cup tie that Celtic won comfortably. We’d got his chance due to an injury to Danny McGrain.

“I was on an engineering apprenticeship with a local firm, the kind of place where the new kid would be told: ‘Fetch me a tin of tartan paint’ and “Go for a long stand.’ We all fell for those gags. But to be fair to the older guys, who were all big Rangers fans, they were thrilled when I made my Celtic debut. It was against Dundee in the Scottish Cup, a 7-1 win and I managed to lay on a couple of goals for George McCluskey. I was absolutely shattered afterwards and the next day had to call in to the factory sick,” Sneddon told Scotsman.

“He (Jock Stein) was good to me, although I was still bollocked. Lemon told me he’d mellowed since his car accident but I’m not sure I’d like to have known him before. There was a 4-1 defeat at Easter Road. Big Tony Higgins, blind as a bat, had one of those games. I don’t think Tony ever knew what he was going to do next so how could I? I was head down in the dressing-room having been shown up for my immaturity when the big size tens presented themselves. ‘As for you, Sneddon,’ said Jock, ‘you’ve been reading your own press.’ Thankfully he got distracted when Ronnie Glavin turned up, having been sat in the stand: ‘And as for you, Glavin, you really must be shite because you can’t get in this team.’”

Sneddon spoke about his pal Jonny Doyle who he describes as a “wind-up merchant”, apparently dangling his big in the face of the Larkhall lad. “I was at Hibs when I heard on the car radio that Doyley had been electrocuted. Terrible … ”

Talking about the game we featured above Sneddon gave an insight into what the goal meant for the club. “Afterwards a Celtic director said to me: ‘You’re a legend now.’ That seemed over-the-top as we’d only managed a draw, but I suppose he meant that my goal had ‘christened’ the Copland Road Stand which was officially opened that day” before going on to deny the smashed windows story “Another myth,” Sneddon said..

Then he talked about the trip to Albania to play a European Cup tie against Partizan Tirana in 1979 well before the days when that country had a President who is a fanatical Celtic supporter!

Celtic before kick-off against Partizan Tirana who won their home leg 1-0

1979 European Cup trip to Partizan Tirana: “It was like stepping back in time when we got off the plane with lines of clapped-out army trucks and farm folk in the fields with their hoes. The soup served in our hotel was yellow with a layer of grease on top – that went right back. But at our training sessions there were 10,000 locals and they threw flowers at us. Then, as we were leaving, a couple of guys who wanted to escape offered to carry our bags all the way back to Glasgow.”

Sneddon then scored a rather spectacular own goal in the return leg at Celtic Park to double the Albania’s lead and of course give them an away goal. Celtic needed to score three, they got four but it was an awkward moment for the player who claims he was subjected to unacceptable catcalls from the Celtic support.

“From the Jungle I got ‘Sneddon the Proddy’ and ‘Get back to Larkhall’. But we won the tie,” he said. The latter you might hear but the former seems bizarre. Still it lingers for Sneddon himself. Celtic then struggled past Dundalk (3-2 on aggregate, all the goals coming in the first leg at Celtic Park) and that set up a European Cup quarter final tie with Real Madrid

“I was up against Laurie Cunningham who went off like a rocket but, knowing I was inexperienced at that level, kept saying: ‘You’re doing well.’”  Sneddon had two assists that wonderful night when there were huge numbers inside Celtic Park. 67,000 and the rest!  But a  late collapse in the league that season – Aberdeen somehow won the league as Celtic simply throw it away – and Sneddon lost his place. He was back in the side for the Cup Final – the now infamous Hampden Riot final which Celtic won 1-0 and once again Sneddon had a hand in the goal.

Sneddon lifting the Scottish Cup after Celtic’s 1-0 win over Rangers in May 1980

The next season saw him drop out of contention as Mark Reid emerged at left back and Danny McGrain moved over to the right hand side. Sneddon left for Hibs for a fee of around £60,000 and went on to win the league there, meaning he was entitled to two medals in the one season. Celtic didn’t deliver their side of the bargain though.

“I never got it. First time back at Parkhead for Hibs, I walked into the home dressing-room by mistake and the lads were wondering why. But if Celtic weren’t going to give me a medal then I wasn’t going to grovel. It was disappointing but c’est la vie.”

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds 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 editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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