The Celtic Rising gets underway as Jock Stein is appointed Celtic manager

It was on Tuesday, 9 March 1965 at 9.30am (according to The Evening Times of that day) that Jock Stein took over at Celtic Park. The journalist Peter Hendry claims that he asked Bob Kelly the direct question “Will Jock Stein pick the team?” and the answer was “Jock is in complete charge.”

This was basically what Celtic supporters were wanting to hear. There would be no more foolish interfering with team selections, no more players being picked or dropped on the whim of a man who didn’t really know all that much about football, and there would be a football strategy in place. Stein was formally introduced to the Celtic squad at Barrowfield Park training ground that day, and the new era had begun. The sun was shining, and that was appropriate. “Westward, look, the land is bright!”

In a totally bizarre coincidence, The Glasgow Herald that morning in its Business section carries an advertisement for the selling of shares in a business of John G Stein and Company Limited, Manufacturers of Refractories. It had nothing to do with our Jock of course, but it must have worried a few supporters of Rangers and others that he was taking over other aspects of life as well! Indeed, his name would seldom be out of the newspapers from now on – a deliberate piece of massage and manipulation by Jock Stein who ‘made the newspapers support Celtic!’

Stein’s first task was to choose a team for the visit to Airdrie on Wednesday night. It was a meaningless League match as far as Celtic were concerned against the apparently doomed Broomfield side. Nevertheless, Celtic supporters descended there en masse to see an unchanged side win their seventh game in a row by beating the luckless Diamonds 6-0 and Bertie Auld scored five of them, John Hughes scoring the other. Conditions were far from ideal on a soft, boggy pitch, but some of the play was absolutely sparkling with all the players keen to show their new manager how good they were.

In the case of Bertie Auld, there was no need, but some others were not so sure of their place in the team, especially as new managers often bring in new players. Tommy Gemmell told the story years later of how he had heard that Jock Stein liked to see attacking full-backs.

Tommy forged up the left wing as often as he could that night (the poverty of the opposition allowed him to do so with impunity) trying to show off. Stein congratulated the team, smiling at everyone, but then in private growled to Gemmell afterwards, “Remember your job is as a defender!” It was as well that Gemmell did not always heed that advice in future years, for Gemmell’s attacking play was a feature of Celtic and produced many goals, not least a rather famous one in Lisbon!

David Potter

 Jock Stein’s back at Celtic as the new manager

A short  extract from David’s best-selling book The Celtic Rising, available in hardback and on kindle, links below.

About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

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