Photo Exclusive – A Celtic training session at Barrowfield in mid-1970s

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Before Celtic’s first team training facilities at Lennoxtown opened in 2007, the Celtic players gathered just along London Road at Barrowfield for training. Celtic had acquired the land in the summer of 1959 and from then until Lennoxtown opened this was the training ‘facilities’ that were used by the great Celtic teams of the 1960’s, 70’s, 80s and beyond  so the likes of Henrik Larsson would have trained there.

Antiquated by many modern standards, it was still the place for Celtic training since even before Jock Stein’s time. After buying the land Celtic set about laying a series of red blase pitches and establishing Barrowfield as the club’s training ground which would be available to the players and coaches even when the turf was fully frozen at Celtic Park.

However, the ground was to be a hindrance in later years. Whilst many other clubs modernised and invested good money for the longer term, the Celtic board at the time regarded Barrowfield as being fit for purpose. Its lack of proper resources didn’t help training against other major clubs with their increasing scientific and modern methods and design.

1988: Billy McNeill Manager of Celtic waves to the crowd in celebration after winning the Scottish Cup Final match against Dundee United at Hampden. Celtic won the match 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport

Billy McNeill apparently told a story that in second stint as manager that a European coach visited Barrowfield to see the training facilities at Celtic and was shocked that a club of Celtic’s stature operated in such poor conditions.

Last Friday at the Celtic FC Women’s media conference Fran Alonso told The Celtic Star that the builders had moved in earlier that day and were greeted by a huge cheer from the Ghirls as they trained at Barrowfield ahead of the game against Aberdeen yesterday lunchtime. They went on to record a record breaking 13-0 victory.

So Celtic is at last investing in Barrowfield and a new multi-million pound training complex will be built over the next year or so, providing a permanent base for the Celtic FC Women’s team and also space for the Celtic Academy.

Celtic v St Mirren – Peter Lawwell and Michael Nicholson in the stands during the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park, Wednesday November 1, 2023. Photo Andrew Milligan

Celtic CEO Michael Nicolson had this to say about the re-development of Barrowfield when the project was given the green light earlier this year.

“We are proud to commit to this significant new development and we are sure it will be one which will deliver great benefit to the Club for many years to come. Supporting the development of young players and investing in women’s football are two key elements of the Club’s strategy and the new training centre will be hugely important in supporting our objectives in these areas.

“Some of the Club’s greatest ever players have been trained and developed through its Academy system and we hope that many more young players will follow in their footsteps, benefitting from this new facility, with the ultimate aim of reaching Celtic’s first teams. It was also very important for us to provide our Women’s first team with a high quality, dedicated training centre, to allow the team to build on the great success they have been enjoying.”

As Nicholson noted some of the greatest Celtic players trained at were developed at Barrowfields and it remains an important part of the overall Celtic story. The new facilities will obviously have their own story and it’s clearly a move in the right direction from the club.

Billy McNeill holding the European Cup that Celtic won in 1967 football Lisbon Lions

However what was Barrowfield like when the likes of the Lisbon Lions or the Quality Street Gang trained there on a daily basis?

In the first of two articles, The Celtic Star is going to show some exclusive photographs of a Celtic training session from the mid 1970s at Barrowfield and there are some huge Celtic names – truly World-class footballers – playing in this bounce match and doing the other training routines that were used at the time by Jock Stein and his coaching staff. It all looks super intensive with the quality of footballer on show quite remarkable, that striker looks like a player!

In the second article we’ll run later this week, we’ll show you around the Barrowfield ‘facilities’ and remember this is where the Lisbon Lions trained – the Champions of Europe!

That’s going to be a real eye-opener and it’s going to be a million miles from what the Celtic players of the future will experience at the new Barrowfield facilities that will at long las t be state-of-the-art.

As previously explained these photographs were all in print or slide format and were completely forgotten, left in boxes up in former Celtic director Tom Grant’s loft.

Tom Grant sitting to the left of Fergus McCann at Celtic Park

Tom was moving home recently and while clearing out his loft came across the photographs and passed them onto The Celtic Star so that we could share with the wider Celtic support.

With around 800 prints and slides to be digitalised, it was no easy task but we got there and we’ve been sharing images of Celtic Park from the 1980s an early 1990s recently with the facilities underneath the Jungle bringing back all sorts of vivid memories from Celtic supporters of a certain vintage.

This evening we’ll take a look at a Barrowfield training session in full flow and you’ll have some fun trying to name all the players on show. Bet you can’t name them all!

It’s one brilliant photo per page, just click to enjoy the show!

A CELTIC STAR EXCLUSIVE – CELTIC TRAINING AT BARROWFIELD IN THE MID-1970s – PHOTOS BEGIN ON THE NEXT PAGE…

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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 editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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