Curated from a massive archive, a new book brings together a vast collection of fantastic photos of Celtic in the black and white era, including some rare gems.
Putting together a book of great Celtic photos was easy, and yet very difficult.
Easy because there are plenty of photos to choose from. The wily Jock Stein realised early in his managerial career that it would benefit his club if he kept a high profile in the media.
The great man fed stories to reporters, knowing that they always thirsted after good copy.
To compliment these stories Jock allowed, and encouraged, photographers to take photos of his players behind the scenes, at training, even in their own homes.
So lots of candid photos are held in the “cave of wonders” that is the DC Thomson archive.
And difficult because Celtic became, as per Jock’s plan, a much-photographed team.
This was great for supporters, but not so great for an author trying to find never-before-seen old photos 50 years later.
So it took a lot of work. There were more, indeed many more, photos that could have been used. But they had been seen before — some Celtic images are famous and have been endlessly featured in newspapers, books and on websites.
However, the rare gems of never-before-seen photos do exist. And that’s what is in this book. It took a lot of research and a lot of hard work, but for any supporter of Celtic there are images here that won’t have been seen.
Jinky at his welding job, Tommy Gemmell out hunting, Gil Heron’s debut for the club, John Thomson at home with his family and fiancée — and photos of great games that have lain hidden.
This is, by any measure, a highly significant addition to the history of the club.
You’d have to see to believe the reception the players got after returning from the 1970 Leeds European Cup Semi-Final away leg.
You will gaze in wonder at a 15-year-old George Connelly doing keepie-ups. You’ll laugh when you see Jinky’s come-uppance during training at Troon beach.
The biggest jewel, however — an emerald wonder — is the collection of photos from the 1957 League Cup Final.
The fabled Hampden in the Sun occasion, when Celtic beat Rangers 7-1. The photos the book carries of that game are among the best images ever taken of any Scottish football game. Hampden looks truly incredible.
The slopes of the old north terracing, with the long-gone high stand towering over, are breath-taking. The sun’s rays are playing on the packed-in crowds as the likes of Neilly Mochan and Dickie Beattie play out that remarkable game.
If there were ever to be a photographic competition for vintage Scottish sports photos, then these images would win, and win easily.
They have to be seen to be believed. They aren’t like other football photos you will have seen before.
There are many good Celtic books. There is an interest and a love of the history and the ethos of the club that runs deep among the faithful-through-and-through support.
But there has never been a Celtic book like this. There never will be again. This book has material that no other can get close to. It is a unique and fascinating look at a succession of charismatic players — Bertie Peacock, Charlie Tully, Bobby Collins.
It is a window on the history of the club that has never been opened before. There are photos here that will fascinate any Celtic supporter, indeed anyone interested in the history of Scottish football.
The foreword is by Marie Clark, daughter of Lisbon Lion John. She talks of her fascination at seeing her father in his youth, in photos that even she has never seen before.
She relates how she, and her own daughter, pored over the photos of her mother and father from 1967 and the conversations about her mother’s dislike of hats (yet she is wearing a hat) and the dress she had on in a series of heart-warming shots that show Marie herself as an angelic toddler.
If the book touches the heart of even the players’ families, think what it might do for a supporter who remembers the classic games and players themself, or who wants to see what it was really like back then.
If you were ever looking for a hits-the-right-spot Christmas, birthday or Father’s Day gift for a Celtic supporter, you’ve found it.