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Happy birthday, Bertie!

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CELTIC legend Bertie Auld is celebrating his 82nd birthday today, and the whole Celtic Family sends its best wishes to the Lisbon Lion.

Bertie made 275 appearances for the Hoops in two different spells with the club, scoring a total of 79 goals. That tally included FIVE in what was Jock Stein’s first game in charge as manager, and a double in the 1965 Scottish Cup final, helping to deliver the first piece of silverware in what was a golden era for the club.

Two years later, he was part of the legendary Celtic side that defeated Inter Milan 2-1 on May 25, 1967 in Lisbon’s Estadio Nacional to lift the European Cup.

Bertie played alongside the late, great Bobby Murdoch in the heart of the Celtic team, and it was the most formidable midfield duo in football at that time.

And today, March 23, as Bertie celebrates his birthday, we bring you a previous interview that the Celtic View had the pleasure of conducting with one of our greatest ever players.

ONE of the most exciting days of my life and my earliest Celtic memory was the day I first signed for the club. 
I had never seen inside Celtic Park and if you can picture it, it was completely empty. It was around 11 o’clock in the morning and I was there with my Dad, Mr Jimmy McGrory and the secretary of my old club, Maryhill Park. There were empty bottles and rubbish lying on the terraces, left over from the game on the Saturday and looking around the stands, I was just trying to imagine what the place would look like full and I just couldn’t. It was the first time that I saw The Jungle, the first time that I had walked down that dark, narrow tunnel out onto the pitch. As a 16-year-old who had been playing Junior football, it was awesome.

SOME people might say that the highlight of my Celtic career was the 1967 season, but I always look back to when I returned here from Birmingham in ‘65. 
I had always believed that I would come back and all of a sudden I arrived on a Monday morning, to meet Jimmy McGrory again and also Tommy Riley and Sean Fallon. I flew up that morning with my wife and my daughter and dropped them off in Knightswood at my mother-in-law’s. I then went to Celtic Park, put on one of the old grey training tops, a pair of sandshoes, shorts and socks and went out and loosened up. Jimmy then came out with Sean and Tommy and everything just fell into place. Even just putting on the training gear that day and going out for a run, I felt that I had ‘arrived’. There might have been ups and downs, but from that day on things just seemed to click into place.

THERE were disappointments in my first spell at the club and before I joined Birmingham I had the opportunity to go to Everton in a double transfer with Bobby Collins. 
Then, after that, the board tried to transfer me to Blackpool and there was no way I was going to entertain anything like that. I had worked hard to get to Celtic. My Dad had made a lot of great decisions and knew that the time was right for me to join the club as a 16-year-old. He believed I had an opportunity and he was right, it was a fantastic opportunity. Unfortunately, at that time, you didn’t get picked on your ability; it was down to whether or not the chairman, Robert Kelly, liked you. On the day that big Jock and his Dunfermline team beat us in the 1961 Scottish Cup final, I was playing up at Tannadice in a reserve game. That season was a real low for me and when Birmingham came in for me after that game, they got me at the right time. And I couldn’t have picked a better club to go to.

THERE were two or three grounds that I loved to play at, apart from Celtic Park and one was Cathkin, Third Lanark’s ground. 
That’s all closed up now, but that was a great place to play, because they always had a team who would try to play football against you and would lift their game. Dens Park in Dundee was another magnificent ground, as was Tynecastle in Edinburgh. Those games always felt like cup finals and there was no love lost in any of the games we played. They were always end to end, with no tackles pulled. Kilmarnock games were a bit like that as well and Rugby Park was another great place to play. But the quality of player during that era of Scottish football was outstanding, there was an abundance of talent. It was an era where people came in their droves to watch the games and it was a fabulous time to play in.

THERE was one player who never gave me a kick of the ball and I must have played against him round about half a dozen times. Albert Murphy was definitely my toughest opponent. 
?He was an Irishman who played for Clyde and what a player he was, he was long before his time and was like Danny McGrain - with a bit more height. He was a magnificent player. He went back to Ireland when he finished playing and had so much passion, so much ability and charisma, but was not egotistical. He was certainly the best full back I ever played against.

IT wasn’t until Celtic took us all back to the Estadio National in 2007 for the game against Benfica that I really started to remember the build-up to the European Cup final. 
Standing in the tunnel, the memories just started to flood back. I could remember sitting in this big, dark dressing room, with the noise and excitement all around me. The ones who looked the least excited were the ones who were going to play, they all had this calmness about them. Then we walked out into the tunnel, 30 yards up to the steps leading out to the pitch and they then kept us there until everything was ready. I can remember wee Jimmy looking them up and down and talking about the size they were. Now when we were at home, on the bus going to games, we used to sing Celtic songs and that’s what came to me that night. It was second nature and I we just started to sing the ‘Celtic Song’. We started in a quiet, low, deep voice and then, by the final verse, Pavarotti would have been proud of us!

THERE were two great rewards that I have enjoyed from being a part of that Celtic team, the first is the closeness we have and we are such great friends. 
The second thing is actually something that my Dad said would happen when I signed in 1955 and he told me that if I did well, then I would become a part of that Celtic support. The people who gathered every week to watch us on the terraces, they were a part of us, as much as we were a part of them. That’s why I have always said that we are ‘a family’. The Celtic supporters were fantastic, they came to us when we were in need and supported us at all times and we will always appreciate that.




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