Billy McNeill signed Graeme Sinclair from Dumbarton for a fee of £65,000 on 12 August 1982. Sinky made his Celtic debut a fortnight later in a 7-1 win away to Dunfermline but would have to wait until April 1984 before he got on the scoresheet himself, in a 4-2 win at Love Street against St Mirren.
Sinclair was something of a cult hero to some Celtic supporters but also received more than his fair share of stick from others. His highlight in a Celtic jersey undoubtedly came in Amsterdam in the European Cup tie against Ajax. The first leg at Parkhead ended in a 2-2 draw and with the likes of Johann Cruyff in the Ajax side at that time few gave Celtic much hope for the return leg.
But Sinky was brilliant that night marking the legendary Cruyff completely out of the game. Even picking up an accidental broken nose from the Dutch master was no deterrent to Sinclair as Celtic prevailed in sensational style with goals from young Charlie Nicholas and a dramatic late winner from George McCluskey. Just six weeks before his brilliant defensive performance in Amsterdam, Sinclair had been playing in the Stirlingshire Cup Final against Stenhousemuir!
When Cesar left the club at the end of that season, the fifth highest paid manager in the league was denied a pay-rise by the old Celtic board, his replacement Davie Hay just didn’t fancy Sinclair and he soon left to join Big Billy at Manchester City on a short term loan before doing the same by going back to Dumbarton before eventually signing for St Mirren on a free transfer from Celtic in May 1985.
Speaking about that night in Amsterdam a Sinky said “Ajax were a great team but we had some terrific players, too, like Charlie, Murdo, George, Danny, big Pat Bonner, and one of our subs that night was Davie Moyes. It was a great night, and I’ll never forget it.”
Graeme Sinclair made in total 75 appearances in all competitions for Celtic and scored one goal which came against St Mirren. He played in the Celtic side that beat Rangers in the League Cup Final in December 1982 when the Celtic support were singing in the rain in the days when the Celtic end at Hampden had no roof.
His time at Love Street was short though as later that year he was forced to hang up his boots due to injury. He was just 27. He remains fondly remembered by those fans who appreciated his rugged qualities playing for Celtic.
Please note, David Potter started this series as he wished to feature all the players who have played for Celtic, as many as he possibly could. Sadly he managed just one hundred. In his honour we’ll pick up the baton and see if we can get the next hundred done starting today.