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new year greeting 2020

Ian Young

December saw the passing of Ian Young, over 160 appearances in the Hoops between 1961 and 1968 and still memorialised in song to this day:
There’s Fallon, Young and Gemmell,
who proudly wear the green,
There’s Clark, McNeill and Kennedy the best there’s ever been,
Jim Johnstone, Murdoch, Chalmers, John Divers and John Hughes,
And sixty thousand Celtic fans who proudly shout the news.

Aye it’s Celtic, Celtic that’s the team for me,
Celtic, Celtic on to victory…

Ian’s entry in the Alphabet of the Celts (McBride, Sheridan and O’Connor reads as follows:
Celtic took centre-half Ian Young (training at Ibrox) and centre-forward John McGaw from Neilston Waverley at the same time. Young John got a free transfer in 1962 but apprentice indistrial chemist Young played his first game for Celtic in the Glasgow Cup final of 1962 at Hampden after Dunky MacKay had chipped his elbow in the roughhouse against Uruguay at the same venue two days before.

He won his first medal in the replay on Friday may 11th.

He became Parkhead’s right-back in succession to Dunky on October 5th 1963 and had hist finest 90 minutes in a green and white shirt when Celtic beat Slovan 1:0 in Bratislava to reach the semi final of the Cup Winners’ Cup on March 4th 1964.

He won a Scottish Cup medal on April 24th 1964 and it was the power of an Ian Young tackle right at the start of the League Cup final of October 23rd 1965 that destroyed the threat to Celtic of Willie Johnston’s speed down the left wing. Rangers maintained ‘Bud’ had been sorted out; Celtic that it was no cruder a challenge than was typical of Celtic v Rangers encounters at the time.

Ian also won a championship badge for 1965-66 at the beginning of the nine-in-a-row.

Jock Stein experimented with Tommy Gemmell and Willie O’Neill on the North American tour of 1966 and at the start of the Annus Mirabilis of 1966-67 had decided on Tam and Willie as his full-backs.

Ian got two games all season and having ousted Dunky MacKay the chemist lost his place ultimately in turn to the dentist, Jim craig.

Yet Young and Gemmell is as memorable a combination as Craig and Gemmell; they were the full-backs at the start of it all, the Glasgow Cup final win of March 25th 1964 that marked the presence of the talent that the Big Man would exploit.

 

Ian played a significant role in Celtic winning the League Cup final of 1965.

David Potter describes events in his book ‘Our Bhoys Have Won The Cup’ in a chapter entitled The Dawn of the Free.

To get the whole story of that season 65-66 as a PDF just get in touch with us and promise a donation to a foodbank.

65 cover

With the Scottish Cup replacing the Chairman’s ashtray on the boardroom mantlepiece Celtic fans were entitled to feel slightly more optimistic as the 65-66 season loomed.

During the summer big Jock had invited four Brazilians to Parkhead for trials. In the end they were all released after they failed to agree terms so eager supporters had to make do with the signing of Henry Quinn from St.Mirren, a player whose career at Parkhead took off like a lead balloon.

By way of contrast, Stein had also swooped for Motherwell’s Joe McBride, his first of many inspired purchases. Tormentor of the Celts in the previous season’s Scottish cup semi-final, McBride’s was a move which would turn out to be the equivalent of signing a combination of Marco Van Basten and Gerd Muller.

The Celts could have used some Brazilian inspiration as the League Cup got under way in the days of the old sectional ties. A 1:0 victory over Motherwell was sandwiched between defeats by Dundee United at Tannadice and, worse, Dundee at Celtic Park; but the troops were duly rallied by the wily Stein who masterminded a 4:0 win at Tannadice on the opening day of the League season, the prelude to victories in all of the remaining League Cup games.

Plucky Raith Rovers kept up a stiff resistance in the quarter-finals before succumbing to a 12:1 aggregate defeat, which light relief set up a fraught semi-final against Hibs. It took a last-minute equaliser from Bobby Lennox to save the first match and force extra time before Celtic administered a 4:0 gubbing in the replay which went ahead at Ibrox despite the protests of both clubs over the quality of the Ibrox floodlights which hadn’t improved much since the days of wartime blackouts.

That semi-final victory set up a final against Rangers. David Potter takes up the story of that match in his book, “Celtic in the League Cup”:

The team had at last ‘arrived’ when they won the Scottish Cup the previous April, but could the momentum be maintained? The important tournament, of course, was the league Championship, but the League Cup would show everyone that Celtic were the team of the moment. There was also that most painful of recent memories – the League Cup final of the previous year when Celtic had given at least as good as they got against Rangers but still collected the losers’ medals – to expunge.

The Celtic propaganda machine was now in full operation. A piece written by Sean Fallon appeared in the Scottish Daily Express on the Wednesday between the semi-final replay and the final on Saturday, in which Sean stated that Celtic would win on Saturday The beauty of all this was that there was no hype or hysteria, no jargon or journalese, just a simple statement of fact that Celtic would win en route to even greater things at the end of the season.

107,609 – a record crowd for the Scottish League Cup which will now never be beaten – attended the final on Saturday 23 October 1965. Stein stuck with the men who had served him well in the latter stages of the campaign, and Rangers were at their strongest as well. The teams were:

Celtic: Simpson; Young, Gemmell; Murdoch, McNeill, C!ark; Johnstone, Gallagher, McBride, Lennox, Hughes.

Rangers: Ritchie; Johansen, Provan; Wood, McKinnon, Greig; Henderson; Willoughby, ForresL, Wilson, Johnston.

The referee was Hugh Phillips of Wishaw, and he would play a significant part in the proceedings.

Celtic started off playing towards their own supporters in the pleasant autumn sunshine, but it was Rangers who seemed the stronger side in the opening stages. More than once the Celtic end held its breath as McNeill, uncharacteristically hesitant, lost out to Jim Forrest and only poor finishing prevented Rangers from taking the lead.

Before that had happened, as early as the fourth minute, Celtic full-back Ian Young, a strapping youngster with a peculiar hunched run, went in like a tank on Rangers’ Willie Johnston. Young was booked for the tackle and Johnston for retaliation, but the challenge served its purpose in that Johnston did not contribute as much to the game in the later stages as he could have.

It was also a clear statement of Celtic intent. From now on there would be no more ‘Mr Nice Guy’ from a Celtic team whose management had frequently in the past given the impression that a defeat was acceptable, as long as everyone played the game fairly. This was now a more professional and determined Celtic.

Eighteen minutes of this torrid game had gone when there occurred one of the bizarre and inexplicable things that happen on a football field. Celtic won a free-kick half way inside the Rangers half. It was taken by Murdoch and was sailing harmlessly over the heads of defenders and attackers alike when Ron McKinnon jumped up and handled the ball. There was a stunned silence before Hugh Phillips pointed to the penalty spot as the Celtic End gasped and congratulated each other, as supporters do in these circumstances.

Up stepped John Hughes to take the penalty kick.

‘Yogi Bear’ was having a good season. He had scored that marvellous goal at Dens Park, as well as one or two other fine counters, and had even scored a penalty against Rangers in a League game a month previously. Yet he had suffered a great deal of abuse from the support in the years before Stein arrived, and his temperament and inconsistency still did not mark him out as a natural penalty taker for Celtic. Breaths were held as John placed the ball, ignored the gamesmanship of Billy Ritchie and lumbered back for his short run-up before slotting home an assured penalty kick to unleash a sea of rejoicing on the packed terracing behind the goal.

The value of this goal was seen immediately in the confident nature of Celtic’s play, with McNeill, in particular, now rising for every ball to get the better of Forrest. Relief was now the dominant emotion on the King’s Park terracing and Celtic began to get a grip of midfield, with Charlie Gallagher, that great reader of a game, coming into his own.

Ten minutes later, Celtic were 2-0 up. The circumstances were equally bizarre as Mr Phillips made a mistake when he awarded a penalty after Davie Provan seemed to bring down Jimmy Johnstone. It was inside the penalty area, but there was no immediate danger, and television replays would show that there was no great contact either. Rangers chairman John Lawrence would later say that what he thought of that decision could not be printed – a remark which got him into a certain amount of hot water – and not even the most ardent Celt could put his hand on his heart and say that it was a definite penalty kick.

Yet it was all so ironic. A year previously, with the same personnel – Provan, Johnstone and Phillips – there had been an absolute stonewall penalty claim which was not given. Here now, Celtic were even being given the soft ones, and it is perhaps salutary to recall two quotes made by members of the Celtic staff about the influence of Jock Stein on referees. ‘He cowed them into fairness,’ and ‘It was remarkable the amount of penalties that we started to get when Stein took over’.

It was a gift horse perhaps, but it still had to be converted. Once again, hearts in mouths as John placed the ball. This time, it was a weaker penalty and Ritchie did get a hand to it, but it still went in and delirium reigned once again at the Celtic End.

Half an hour gone and 2-0 up. Those of us who had suffered so dreadfully during the early 1960s were convinced that Celtic would throw it away but half-time came with the same margin.

There had been one moment of panic towards the end of the half when veteran Ronnie Simpson had to dive to show his mettle in the face of a fierce shot from John Greig. The game had been fast, furious and frantic – and players on both sides rather too keen to ‘mix it’ with each other – but the bottom line was that it was still Celtic 2 Rangers O.

Half-time joy was tempered by the thought of the long second half to come, but this was now a far more professional Celtic team who were learning, ever so slowly, that occasionally, to win football matches, defensive play and ‘soaking up pressure’ is necessary.

McNeill was now more composed and was stoutly supported by Murdoch and Clark (as well as by forwards like Gallagher and Johnstone pressed into defensive duties). Gemmell had total control over Willie Henderson (whose sad decline from the game may date from this event) and behind them all stood the vastly experienced figure of Ronnie Simpson.

Simpson, the son of a Rangers player, had already won two FA Cup final medals with Newcastle United in 1951 and 1952. Still very agile at the age of thirty-five, Ronnie dominated his penalty area, and how reassuring it was for the 50,000 anxious souls behind the King’s Park End goal to see him laying down the law to his defenders, captain McNeill included, about the necessity for concentration and positional awareness. Only once towards the end of the game in the 85th minute was the Celtic defence pierced, and it was a scrappy affair. A Henderson free-kick saw Ian Young and John Greig go up together. Both seemed to push each other, but the ball hit Young’s face and skidded into the net.

It was an unsatisfactory goal, but it did give Rangers a ray of hope as well as doing dreadful things to the nervous system of the massed-ranks behind the King’s Park goal. But Rangers’ frantic attackers made no further impact on the spoiling tactics of the Celtic defence, and the game finished with Celtic winning 2-1.

Yet this was not the end of the drama. Celtic were presented with the league Cup and set off for their customary parade around the pitch to show the trophy, which they had now won for the third time, to their adoring and relieved fans. The Rangers supporters took exception to this and invaded the park with clear aggressive intentions to the Celtic players. The players managed to escape on time and, mercifully, the Celtic fans did not retaliate. The upshot was that laps of honour were banned for some time afterwards – something that punished Celtic almost exclusively.

65 league cup huns assault

This incident sadly made all the headlines the following day, and it was noticeable that many members of the press, who a year previously had lapsed into sycophantic adulation of Jim Baxter and his cavorting with the same trophy, were now describing the showing of the League Cup to fans as ‘provocative’ and ‘insensitive’. Charlie Tully, however, wrote a piece in the Daily Record to redress the balance – a fine example of how the media now had to be fair and be seen to be fair.

Not that it mattered, of course, for Celtic fans could now afford to laugh and not take umbrage at any ill-disguised courting of the Rangers readership. Much had also been made about how poor a match it had been and how dirty (there had been five players booked, but it hardly deserved the label ‘Orgy of Crudeness’ which the Glasgow Herald put on it) but the bottom line was that Celtic had won the League Cup and no amount of camouflage or obfuscation could disguise that fact. There was now in place a manager who realized that success on a football field is more important in the hearts of supporters than anything else.

The winter of 1965/66 was spent in the pursuit of the League Championship and the European Cup Winners’ Cup. There was precious little time to bask in tbe afterglow of a famous victory which, in retrospect, was even more significant in the long-term development of Celtic football club than it appeared at the time. Without this victory, the team might. well have once again subsided into its inferiority complex: which had been so much part of club’s make up in the early 1960s. But the pendulum had swung and swung decisively

In the meantime, the dark nights of November and December of 1965 were lit up by the thought of the Scottish League Cup and the Scottish Cup sitting together for the first time on the Parkhead sideboard. The Glasgow Cup was also there for good measure. It was rumoured that the League Cup turned to the other two and sang ‘Take my hand, I’m a stranger in Paradise’. She was now well on her way to becoming a recurring visitor.

65 stein league cup final

 

Earwig on presents for zombies, word spaghetti and irritable bowels…

earwig card zombies

In this season of good will to (nearly) all men, may I begin this rare outing in print by presenting my Sevco supporting readers (Sid and Doris Arsehole) with a Christmas card. It depicts a zombie Santa Claus, a zombie somebody else and a baby zombie who has been opening his presents under the tree. Always a difficult one, presents for zombies, as I’m sure you’ll agree. For my own zombie pals, like Ian here, I was going to get a few calculators to give out.

earwig hun explanation
Jamesy, on the other hand, could possibly make more use of a dictionary. The poor lad’s brain went into meltdown when his beloved Sevco had a brief spell at the top of the league and he actually managed to confuse the dictionary with a library – understandable when you consider that Jamesy is most probably a stranger to both.

Leave it to Mossblown Loyal to explain the complexities of the league table:

earwig hun explanation 2

If you’re anything like me you probably had to read that twice. But trust me, it doesn’t matter if you read it a hundred times, it’s still genuine Copeland Road frontier gibberish.
The trouble is, if you develop an allergic reaction to dictionaries, like Jamesy G, sometimes the words just don’t spring readily to whatever vegetation lies dormant inside your skull masquerading as a brain. Rossco seems to have contracted this malady, as he can’t distinguish between an implication and an implantation, such as when he heard that The Scotsman had run a story implying (or maybe implanting) that HMRC had overcharged Sevco in their last tax bill and they might be due a rebate:

earwig implantations
Quite mad, indeed, when we stop to consider the implantations of it all. But I would like to reassure Rossco that if he thinks we’re mad then the feeling is mutual, just like football pundits are supposed to be. Actually I really have no idea what Sparess is trying to implant… er… imply about Chris Sutton, but when he is finished with the dictionary (mutual comes before neutral in the library as Jamesy would say, although Mossblown would possibly bring in quantum physics as well) perhaps he could lend it to the chap who irons the letters on the backs of the Sevco kit.

letter stewrat

Naming somebody ‘Stewrat’ is not a good look, unless it’s some kind of bizarre homage to the movie Shrek (apologies to the player but I don’t know his actual name – like most of their current squad I wouldn’t recognise them if they got into my car and sat in the passenger seat.

If you do have a spare moment to yourself, dear reader, and fancy a shot at solving a real word puzzle then here’s a tweet from Nacho Novo, the subject of which is, I believe, his erstwhile business partner.

earwig nacho novo bar
My guess was: ‘My partner and I are Finnish. I have not gone quietly. Do not take the pish out of me. Please no! Go, if you care about me. I am lost in love.” Try it yourself. Insert random punctuation and you can make lots of different messages. The implantations are endless.

No such ambiguity can ever be ascribed to our favourite poetess, Melody Bedford. At Christmas we should remember those whom we have loved and lost, and there is nobody better than Melody at cherishing the memory of the late Diana Spencer:

earwig di 2
I’m pretty sure all sufferers from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) take comfort at the thought of Lady Di as they are shitting themselves inside out in agony. Which brings me back to Christmas, and the ideal gift for the Sevconian in your life plagued with IBS:

earwig door
That’s correct, a toilet door commemorating Barcelona 1972 complete with the words of a song recalling how the Spanish police were clubbing their supporters over the head at the time. Available from a company in Belfast. And for the staunchest Christmas ever, decorate the toilet with this tree. The poppies will remind you of the fallen reindeer and the gallant elves who died on Flanders fields.

earwig christmas tree poppies
Toodloo the Noo
and Merry Christmas

The Earwig

The NTV Other Team Of The Decade…

decade derk

AKA They Embarrassed the Hoops 2010-2019

This has been one of the most successful eras in the history of the club, but if that made you think that we hadn’t had to endure some right haddies during that time then buckle up because some of the names I’m about to throw at you might spark a kind of PTSD reaction.

The criteria for inclusion here isn’t just not being good enough to play for Celtic but somehow finding yourself in the first team (that section of society not good enough to play for Celtic includes basically everyone who will ever read this and definitely includes the person writing it).

Going along with that has to be a certain other dickishness or outright wage theft – ladies and gentlemen I give you Derk Boeritgter. You get the picture.

On we go.

 

Goalkeeper

As previously mentioned this was an unusually strong decade for goalkeepers at Celtic, but we still had to endure a couple of shall we say more typical specimens; specifically Zaluska and DeVries.

That’s maybe slightly hardsh on Zaluska. He never had any really major clangers and kept clean sheets everytime he faced der Hun, but it is certainly merited in the case of DeVries. He was a calamity from minute one and was directly responsible for two of our more depressing European results – Barca away (should have saved at least four of the goals) and the calamity away to Zenit. A balloon.

 

Right back

Gamboa. Again a Scabbers purchase and again the primary reaction having watched him was bafflement that anyone thought he was good enough to play for Celtic. Away to Munich he was subbed after about an hour. As he trudged off his stats went up; 33 passes and a completion rate of 30%. I imagine most junior players would feel they had a sporting chance of bettering that. Never convinced and not missed.

 

Left Back

Remember El Kaddouri?

Brought in as cover after Izzy had had his ankle broken, he had decent pedigree given that he arrived from Kiev, but my word he was awful.

His highlight was scoring with a speculative effort at Ibrox, but his performance after that was horrific. After a mere six appearances he was shipped back to Kiev. Duff.

But not selected here because we had to suffer the efforts of Edson Braffhied the Dutch left back who we got on loan from Bayern Munich in 2010. This guy must have the best agent in the world to have pushed that transfer through, but they sussed him pretty quick and shipped him out looking for a sucker. Then we showed up.

A genuinely terrible player but during that summer we had the truly bizarre sight of him coming on as a sub against Spain in the World Cup final. Again baffling.
Central Defence

We are pretty spoiled for choice here but one player who won’t be featuring is Josh Thomson. He was never good enough, but he was honest enough and at least got a win against the Hun under his belt whilst here.

Obviously we have Commper nailed on here. How could we not?

But the other space has some seriously hot competition in the shape of Glenn Loovens and Daniel Majstorović.

Both were big and apparently imposing but in truth they were not what they said on the tin. Loovens was a ‘star’ in the Mowbray era, the very epitome of his philosophy and asking players to do things they weren’t capable of,

Majstorović’s inclusion here is almost on the basis of one performance; at home to ICT in November 2010. We were 2-0 up and cruising, then big Dan absolutely shat the bed and we conceded two late goals to drop two points. It was galling to watch this guy who was huge seemingly terrified of competing with players far smaller. Those two lost points went a long way in conceding that league title.

We could also consider Joos Hooiveld. He was beyond hopeless and the fact that he went on to be considered alright at Southampton says more about that league than him. Horrendous.

But let’s face it Tyler Blackett wins. A loan from Man U that the club felt the need to present like a multi million pound signing he showed clearly just how far standards at Old Trafford have fallen. His low point was being absolutely rag dolled against Molde at Celtic Park.

Note: we never even mentioned Rahmi Gerhson.
Midfield

In terms of central midfielders we were actually pretty strong in this decade. There aren’t really any total disasters. The two who never really hit great heights were N’Guemo and Crosas, neither of whom was truly terrible.

It was on the wings that we really plumbed the depths.

Derk is the clear stand out here, the very definition of a wage thief, a guy who had no pretence of ever bringing anything to the table.

But we have a couple of other names to deeply traumatise you with.

Berget anyone? Not only was he hideously bad with us he then came back and bloody scored against us for Malmo as Ronnie’s team folded in a Champions League qualifier.

OK still with me? Let’s sort that; Tonev.

Winger loaned from Villa. Six inept games later sent back to Villa. Oh but before being accused of racist abuse towards Logan of Aberdeen. It must be noted that the club backed his claim of innocence, but not his claim of being a competent professional footballer.

Olivier Kapo? Signed in November 2010, released early 2011. Nope me either.

Mubarek Wakaso. You might remember him from scoring in a European game. You might not. Fast. Terrible. Burke without the goal threat if you catch my drift.

 

Forwards

Carlton Cole. A real WTF moment. Couldn’t believe it when he was linked with us, aghast when we actually signed him and utterly embarrassed when he claimed that goal at Inverness. Dire.

If you ever need proof that the English leagues are hilariously hyped up you could reference Hooiveld, or even the fact that Waghorn is now apparently an £8m player. Or you could dwell on this; in Ipswich Daryll Murphy is considered a goal machine. Yes, that Daryll Murphy, the guy we signed from Sunderland (to great delight of their support), the bewildered bloke who never, ever looked like scoring.

Of course we haven’t yet mentioned others such as Kazim Richards, Scepovic or Ciftci, none of whom should have been anywhere near the place.
So we have:

decade team embarrassed

 

Manager: Mowbray

Just imagine watching that lot the next time we’re plodding through a game.

 

(All correspondence should be fired in the direction of AB Murdoch.)

NTV Team of the Decade – Part 2

Central Midfield.

Brown and someone else is the story.

Broonie was made captain in early 2010 and it would be safe to say it wasn’t universally welcomed. In fact in the summer of 2010 many would have been happy to see him leave. Seriously. There was a serious school of thought that his fee of £4m had been mis-spent.

But when he was fully fit and under Lennon he went from strength to strength. With him on the pitch the game was always going towards the opposition goal, team mates were inspired and all of a sudden £4m looked a bargain and so it has proved. Try and imagine our team without him.

mr hamilton h brown celebrates

But the other central spot has a few solid candidates as well. Wanyama and Ledley are the main contenders;. Wanyama the force of nature who could go toe to toe with the best in the world at the time as Xavi etc would concede.

Ledley the perfect foil for Brown, tidy, solid and good for a goal in tight spot.

But let’s face facts; Callum McGregor has been the metronome of our midfield and a cornerstone of the treble treble. In terms of technique he is the best Scottish midfielder in decades, he has a first class attitude and a good eye for a goal as well, as various semi finals and finals have proven.

decade mcgregor

Wide Midfield

OK this might be a little bit controversial again because in this position it is James Forrest and Kris Commons.

No wait. Hear me out.

As far as Forrest goes he is the best winger we have had since Jinky by every available metric you use (goals, assists, honours won, even European goals). Every other player in that category (Doyle, Provan, Miller, Di Canio, Petta, Agathe, McGeady) is left for dead by the numbers being racked up by young James.

McGeady was the next best but even his goals and assists figures were reached by Forrest 60 games earlier and while McGeady never made it into double figures for goals in a single season Forrest has done that three seasons in a row now.

No contest, the quiet guy from Prestwick is already a Celtic legend.

decade forrest 2

Commons is obviously not exactly a favourite due to some of his more outlandish media opinions since hanging up his boots and of course his behaviour towards Delia wasn’t exactly exemplary. But he scored 91 goals in 6 seasons and one of those season saw a return of only one goal, meaning he averaged 18 goals a season for the remaining five which is a phenomenal return.

It must also be said that he was also good for a goal in the important games; semis, finals and tough European games, so while he might not be the most popular figure right now it is impossible to ignore the onfield contribution of Kris Commons.

decade commons

For the other spot – second forward or number ten – we have an embarrassment of riches; McCourt, Roberts, Armstrong, Ki, Rogic, Christie… the list goes on.

But I’m going for Samaras for two reasons: one was his habit of scoring away from home in Europe; the other is that on his day (and there were more of them than bad days once Lenny got hold of him) he was utterly unplayable.

decade samaras

Forward

So now we have the really tough bit because logically there shouldn’t be much of a debate. Griff has 100+ goals, no one else is close to his numbers (Hooper is closest with 82) and that is the ultimate gauge of any forward.

Moussa? Two seasons and some vital goals, but also some long periods out with injury.

Eddie? A stronger case because this guy has it all, shows up in big games and never hides.

But 100+ goals. How do you ignore that?

decade griffiths

So here it is, the NTV team of the Decade 2019…

decade team

Bench: Gordon, Tierney, Wanyama, Edouard, Rogic, Christie
And now for something completely different…

NTV’s Christmas Film (Repeat)

comic 1

comic 2 grey

comic 3 grey