Lisbon to Milan, 9IAR to the 4-2 game and Seville – Mike Maher’s Celtic stories

I received an email this morning from Mike Maher, a good friend and fine writer on all things Celtic. Mike has written some brilliant material on what it was like attending the Celtic games home and away during Celtic’s first 9-in-a-row, I’ll need to dig one out and get it back up on the site, maybe tomorrow, so look out for that one. It’s a great read.

By the time Celtic beat Rangers 4-2 to win the league with ten men in May 1979, young Mike had a girlfriend and things were getting serious. He even took her to that game and she still talks about it to this day, as all of us who were there do. She wasn’t a local girl, she was from New Zealand and Mike subsequently emigrated, they got married, had kids and he has mostly watched Celtic from afar. Pretty sure Mike has written about the romance and 4-2 game too.

That Monday night when Ten Men Won the League

There’s also the story he told in Seville – The Celtic Movement book which I edited and published – about how the New Zealand Celts watch the UEFA Cup Final in 2003 against Porto, again that could be worth a re-run as it’s a great read. Over the course of May you’ll get to read all these stories on The Celtic Star.

Anyway back to Mike’s email this morning. I thought it would be interesting to share this with you as it gives a wee insight into the lockdown in New Zealand and leads on to a Celtic story which we’ll publish this morning for you.

So I’ll hand over to Mike Maher…

Hi David

Trust you are keeping well in these concerning times. We went into total lockdown on 24 March but moved to level 3 two weeks ago. Expecting a move to level 2 to be announced on Monday.

I am classed as an “essential” worker so I have still been working but from home. To be honest I am finding this not too bad so I am going to try and keep to this arrangement to some extent when ‘normality” returns. Unfortunately my old “gut” problem has flared up badly in recent weeks but as i don’t have a 40 minute drive to the office to contend with I am finding it easier to cope.

We had Jim and Elisabeth Craig as visitors in February. Jim did a “meet Jim Craig” session at the NZCSC which went down really well. One of outcomes was that it revived a lot of enthousiasm and we were getting good response to live games before the lockdown.

I was reading David Potter’s piece on Milan 1970 the other day and it reminded me of something I had done a wee while ago. It was for a Dutch journalist who was writing a book on the game to celebrate the 50th anniversary and was looking for a Celtic perspective. I have included below the piece I did for her. Maybe it will be of interest for The Celtic Star?

By the way please pass on my regards to David Potter. I have been re-reading some of his books during the lockdown and they are still so informative and entertaining. He was helpful with suggestions and encouragement when I was doing my piece for your book “In the Heat of Lisbon” but I seem to have lost his contact details.

Anyway take care and hopefully we all get through this situation soon. I am glad my wife and I had our trip to Europe last September. I was planning a visit in September this year but that has been panned. I was speaking to my sister in Milngavie about it a couple of weeks ago and reckon that the earliest I might make it now will be September 2021.

All the best


We’ll run Mike’s article on Milan 1970 this morning so watch out for that. It really is outstanding, well worth a read.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who 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

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