‘Paul McStay had absolutely everything, he could have played anywhere in world football,’ Kevin McLaughlin

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NEXT UP for our very popular #FanOfTheWeek on The Celtic Star is Kevin McLaughlin. Kevin is 37 and he’s lived in Edinburgh since he was 9 years old so I guess you could call him a ‘**** from Edinburgh’ as Kevin Bridges would say.

He has a son Dale aged 12 and career wise Kevin is a Data Consultant in Financial Services. In his spare time he enjoys long walks with his dog Max, films/TV shows, also still plays a bit of amateur football and he’s a total music fiend.

He runs/performs in live music events in Edinburgh with a mate under the banner ‘Svengali Sounds’ (shameless plug but he had to get it in there, check them out on FB and Twitter). He’s a massive Tim, current season ticket holder and he’s been on/off for last 23 years, currently sits in Jock Stein Lower with his Dad. You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kevinmcl29

Enjoy Kevin McLaughlin’s #FanOfTheWeek – asking the questions as usual is our Celtic Star Reporter Scotty Alcroft.

What’s your first memory of Celtic?

The famous Love Street game where Celtic won the League on the last day thanks in no small part to a certain Mr Kidd. I wasn’t actually at the game as my Dad had just had surgery that week and I had only just started going to matches, we actually lived in Linwood at the time so I could hear the crowd while listening on the radio, I don’t remember much about it (I was 5 I think) but I remember my Dad jumping about daft (at least trying to) with big bandages on his feet screaming towards Love Street when Dundee scored.

What was the first game you went to?

Again, I was really young so I don’t remember too much about it so had to do a wee bit research, It was 16 February 1985 v Inverness Thistle in the Scottish Cup, I remember getting a pie before half-time and it took me till near full time to eat it. I also remember being totally confused when the teams came out for second half as I thought a new game was starting. I don’t remember the match itself but my research tells me it was Paul McStay’s only senior hat trick and Celtic won 6-0.



Who are your top 3 favourite Celtic players and why?



Paul McStay – As a young fan growing up in the early-mid 90’s there weren’t many heroes to choose from but McStay is my all time favourite player,  he had absolutely everything as a player and but for his loyalty to our club he genuinely could have played anywhere in world football at his peak. People often forget how hard he was in the tackle too as well being an excellent ball player. An by all accounts he was and still is an absolute gentleman too.

Henrik Larsson – No real explanation needed but for me it was more than just his goals, the way he carried himself on and off the park was great to watch, I remember him squaring the ball to Harald Brattbak from an easy tap in for himself so Brattbak could get the goal for his hat trick…a class act from his second day at Celtic till the last (We’ll let his debut fly, just about redeemed himself after that).



Leigh Griffiths – I’ve known Sparky and his family since he was a young kid and to see him not only sign for Celtic but thrive is absolutely brilliant. Not only that but he’s a bit of a dying breed in the game these days where there’s a lot of ‘False No9’s’ and teams playing without a proper striker, you put him on the park and he will get you goals…of all kinds too he’s not just a poacher by any stretch, and he’s a smashing lad to boot (not like the press would have you believe). He (and his family) can’t do enough for you when it comes to charity donations or  appearances etc.



Best game you’ve ever seen involving Celtic in your time?



Tough to pick just one but the Barcelona game we won 2-1 at Celtic Park in 2012 just pips the rest of them. I only got a ticket for the game a few hours beforehand as my brother couldn’t make it. I had the day off work so ended up travelling through early and got to Glasgow about 4pm, so by time the game came along I was half-cut. The bedlam after Tony Watt’s goal will live with me forever, I remember being on my knees screaming then running about like a mad man, finally went to sit down to find I was in the next section about 4 rows down from my own seat and not a clue how I got there.

The train back to Edinburgh was absolutely bouncing, ended up befriending 2 other tims and we hit a nightclub, last song of the night we took our jackets off and started jumping about the dancefloor in our hoops…turn round to see about 40 other people doing the same thing, my partner woke up the next morning about 7am to find me on the couch completely p*ssed watching the goals on Sky Sports News on a constant repeat, I must have been sitting there about 2-3 hours.

Worst game you’ve ever seen involving Celtic in your time?



Thankfully not had many recently, the one that sticks out is the 1994 League Cup Final against Raith, for my hero McStay to miss the penalty like that was heartbreaking, especially since we’d been waiting so long for a trophy. Up to that point I hadn’t actually witnessed a trophy win. I guess it made the Scottish Cup win the following year all the more special but that day was just awful.

Pick your best ever Celtic X1 from what you’ve had the pleasure of witnessing.

Forster
Paul Elliott, Aitken, Tierney
Petrov, McStay, Brown, Collins
Di Canio, Larsson, Griffiths

Give us a funny or surreal moment from your time supporting the Hoops.

I was down in Norwich for a testimonial around 2001/2002 (was for Martin O’Neill’s old physio I think) with the Leith CSC. We were back at the hotel in the wee hours after the game and I’m in one of the other rooms having a bevvy with a few of the boys, as the two lads I was rooming with were crashed out in my room. I go back to my room to grab some more beers I’d stashed to find wee Jimmy from our group sleeping in the hallway, by wee I mean he’s 4ft 5 with heels on. So I pick him up and chuck him in the sofa bed I was gonna sleep on, goes back to the other room, tells the boys I found wee Jimmy lying in the hall and put him in my sofa bed. One of the lads (who shall remain nameless) says ‘show me’, so take him through to my room.

He then turns wee Jimmy sideways on the mattress and folds the sofa bed up and chucks the cushions back on, we run out the room pissing ourselves laughing, I go back 2-3 mins later to check the poor wee guy is alright and my two mates are waking up to these muffled cries of ‘AW NAW’ so I quickly open up the sofa bed and leave him sleeping, I go back through a few hours later to grab my bag to checkout and wee Jimmy’s still in there telling my two mates about his horrible dream that he was being suffocated, we never did tell him what really happened and to this day if I ever run into the two other lads this story always comes up.

I also have to mention the time me and my brother tricked my Nana into believing my uncle was taking us to a Celtic v Rangers game in 1995 when in fact we travelled from Edinburgh ourselves (My dad was on holiday and would not let us go ourselves, I was 14 my brother was 12) would have gotten away with it too if we hadn’t bumped into my Dad’s mate who mentioned it to him a few weeks later that he’d seen us at the game, got an absolute bollocking for that one.

Give us your assessment on how this season has gone so far?

I’m a glass half-full kinda guy, plus I’m old enough to remember the pre-Fergus McCann era in the 90’s when we hours away from not having a club to follow at all so I’ll refrain from being too critical. Has the football been poor at times? Absolutely. But given the amount of injuries Celtic have had (be interested to see how many different starting 11s there have been this season) to having the league wrapped up with plenty to spare and one game away from another treble will do me.

Complacency is just a part of life and given last season’s remarkable achievement it’s understandable that standards have dropped a little bit. Fatigue has to come into it as well as most of the players only had a 2-3 week break before starting this pre-season.

I think we’re only 2-3 really good players away from making a proper impact in Europe again as well. In th end they’ve got the job done while not always being pretty…7/10

.

Which 3 Celtic players from any period would you have in Celtic’s current team and why?



Paul McStay – As good as our midfield is right now I think we’re missing a box-to-box midfielder who can also make the killer pass. Him and Brown in same midfield would be incredible.

Danny McGrain – He’d solve our right back problems in a heartbeat, I saw him a few times when I was very young and the footage I’ve seen still shows how good a player he was, he was a trailblazer for the attacking full backs you see today, he was doing it 40 years ago.

Kenny Dalglish – It’s often said ‘that player would be worth millions today’ and that’s definitely true about him in my opinion. I was too young to see him at Celtic but I remember watching him at Liverpool on TV and he was just incredible, real influence on an aspiring footballer like my younger self who also lacked pace but knew how to read a game, being clever enough to get in the right positions at the right time and play to his strenghts. Some of the goals he scored were incredible too, especially the footage I’ve seen of him at Celtic.

Finally, explain to us what Celtic means to you

?

It’s hard to not use the cliched term ‘Family’ but that’s really the best word for it. I couldn’t imagine my life without Celtic in it as it’s been a huge part of my life and identity for so long. I still get that buzz when Celtic Park comes into view when travelling to games and I’ve met some of the most amazing people all over the world through being a Celtic fan.

I’ve been to football games all over but I’ve yet to experience anywhere like Celtic Park on a big night under the lights. I’m actually fulfilling a lifelong dream next month by playing on Celtic Park for Football Aid. All I need to do is score a goal or two and I can die a happy man….for the record I’m not dying.

Scotty says…
Kevin, that was brilliant! Your Celtic X1 is a cracker. I don’t think many players would get past that defence!! I think that’s the first one with Di Canio in it too. I wished he’d stayed a little bit longer. What a legend he could’ve become at Celtic. Your assessment of this season is pretty much spot on for me too. Injuries have stopped us getting the consistancy levels of last season but hey, I don’t think we’ll ever see a season like last season ever again eh? Thanks very much for taking part Kevin and hopefully I’ll bump into you at Paradise soon. HH

Interview by Scotty Alcroft for The Celtic Star

@Scotty10IAR on Twitter
#FanOfTheWeek
#10IAR

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