Celtic fans have voted for Fergus McCann to be the next man honoured with a statue at Celtic Park. But all supporters want to see more done to mark legends of Celtic history.
In a series of online polls ran by Celtic Star writer Matthew Marr (@hailhailhistory on Twitter/X), thousands of fans participated in various votes to choose between 16 candidates. The suggested names represented the club’s earliest days, up to 21st century heroes too.
The full 16 were: John Glass, James Kelly, Willie Maley, Neil McCallum, Jimmy Quinn, Patsy Gallacher, Jimmy McGrory, John Thomson, Bobby Lennox, Stevie Chalmers, Tommy Gemmell, the Lisbon Lions, Kenny Dalglish, Tommy Burns, Fergus McCann and Henrik Larsson.
In the Last-16 round, many famous names fell out of contention. This included tragic goalkeeper John Thomson, who lost out to Tommy Burns whilst the club’s first captain, James Kelly, made way for Lisbon Lion Bobby Lennox.
In the quarter-final the competition became even fiercer with eight names vying for a semi-final place. Matches included Tommy Burns being beaten by Celtic’s longest serving manager, Willie Maley and Stevie Chalmers, scorer of the famous 1967 winner falling to Fergus McCann.
By the semi-final stage, it was a true list of old and new legends. James McGrory, Celtic’s top scorer, faced Henrik Larsson, with the Garngad man making the final. Willie Maley – involved with Celtic for 50+ years – was knocked by Celtic saviour Fergus McCann.
In the final, it came down to two Celtic legends from very different eras: James McGrory or Fergus McCann. As well as the voting, it provoked fierce online debate.
Pro-McGrory supporters argued that statues are best reserved for players (Brother Walfrid aside), and that McGrory’s 30+ year connection with the club – as player and manager – ought to be acknowledged.
Fergus McCann’s backers had a simple argument; this was the man who saved Celtic, and laid the foundations which has led to the 21st century domination for the Bhoys.
In a very tight contest, McCann emerged as winner, securing 55% of the vote. The fans have clearly shown a strong desire to celebrate McCann; the Canadian businessman in fact knocked out an ‘All-Lisbon Lions’ option in the first round.
Despite the vote, the main sentiment expressed in poll comments was that all of the 16 (and many others) should be given the accolades that their Celtic contribution deserves. In particular, the idea of a club museum at Celtic Park was repeatedly raised.
Other suggestions included a range of statues to line the Celtic Way at the ground, again adding images to giant banners on the side of the stadium or plaques placed around the ground.
Celtic fans – and the club – rightly focus on “knowing the history”. However more can – and should – be done to tell the tale of all the people that have been part of Celtic’s story.