It had been a long day for me at the Dental Hospital in Glasgow.
Lectures most of the morning, then some lunch in the canteen before an afternoon seeing patients. Most days for me at that time were like this but this particular one was to become a bit more special.
Just after 4.30pm, I left the Dental Hospital – which was in Renfrew Street, one to the north of Sauchiehall Street – and walked down to what was popularly called the ‘Heilan’man’s Umbrella’ just under the Central Station in Argyle Street. From there I caught a number 62 bus going to Auchenshuggle and got off at Celtic Park, where I had an appointment that night to sign for the club.
The dealings were under the direction of manager Jimmy McGrory but the signings were performed by his assistant Sean Fallon and went smoothly. Afterwards, I was taken into the Boardroom, where I met the Chairman – Mr Robert Kelly at that time – and the Treasurer – Mr Desmond White.
I had brought along my trainers as I fully expected to start training that night but it was decided that, as the part-timers had already started, it was too late to join the guys but I would be there on the morrow. As I waited for another bus on the other side of London Road to take me back into town, I was an unbelievably happy man.
Curiously enough, when I did run out for training the following evening, the coach in charge was John Higgins, born on this day in 1933.
John had joined Celtic from St John’s Boys Guild in Uddingston in January 1950, went on to play 84 times for the club in the outside-left role, with 40 goals, before becoming a Celtic coach on his retirement.
He certainly knew his stuff and equally importantly, was a very nice man who made his young charges feel part of the club.
John Higgins died on 8 June 1994.