Jimmy in Vietnam, 47 years after Milan, got his Jock Stein shirt back

JIMMY McCONNELL finally got his replacement Jock Stein t-shirt at the weekend 47 years after he gave away his three-year-old original at the European Cup Final in Milan in 1970.

Jimmy’s home-made t-shirt first became famous just as the referee blew the final whistle in Lisbon on 25 May 1967 and Jimmy, along with many thousands of other Celtic supporters in Lisbon exploded with joy.

He had taken a white t-shirt and using a green marker pen, had added in large letters the name of Celtic’s greatest ever manager.

Little did he know that this shirt would become famous and have it’s very own part in Celtic’s Lisbon fairytale.

50 years after Lisbon I reproduced Jimmy’s t-shirt and it’s magic started all over again. Someone asked me if I knew who the supporter was who wore the original shirt in Lisbon so I accepted the challenge to try to find out.

The stories told by Celtic supporters returning from Lisbon were re-told and told again over the years and in this way were passed down the generations. Enough Celtic supporters had heard the story of the Jock Stein t-shirt to make my seemingly impossible task a little easier than I first thought and after a few days trying to find our man, I tracked our man down – in Vietnam!

I reached out and eventually got a hold of Jimmy and was delighted to interview him This is re-produced below, in case you missed it first time around.

I sent Jimmy one of the 2017 Jock Stein t-shirts and a few Lisbon books for him to enjoy but realised that it would take some time for these items to reach him in Vietnam. Jimmy promised to send me some photographs of him wearing the t-shirt when it arrived.

And he was true to his word, because a few weeks later I got them through with Jimmy saying:

Hi David

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…

Kind regards


Jock’s Stein’s son and grandson now live on Switzerland, but they too contacted me as a result of the t-shirt. Both were absolutely delighted that these were brought back out and they have also got their own shirts which they promised to wear with pride.

Here is the earlier article which was on The Celtic Star on Saturday regarding Jimmy and how I tracked him down in Vietnam…

The Celtic supporter in Lisbon with that famous Jock Stein t-shirt

IT is not every day you speak to someone from Mientrung University of Civil Engineering (MUCE) in Vietnam, but these Celtic supporters are everywhere.

This evening I rescued this article of mine from elsewhere. I’ve been meaning to get this onto The Celtic Star for ages now but never got round to it. Back in May 2017 I’d been looking for this particular Celtic supporter for weeks.

I had no idea of his name or where he was from. All I had to go on was an old photograph of his from almost 50 years ago.

I knew when it was taken, 25 May 1967 and I know where it was taken. In Lisbon. That’s all we had to go on. This photograph here:

Posting on a Celtic site one evening a few weeks before I stated, somewhat over ambitiously that I was going to try to find the young man in the photograph and there have been a few follow up enquiries asking if I had had any luck in my search.

I thought I had some luck when someone suggested that our man hails from Nottingham but he wasn’t there. Then I got another lead, followed it up and BINGO!

We’d got our man!

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.

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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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