John, You’re Immortal Now
The words of the late great Bill Shankly to John ‘Jock’ Stein after our club and Scottish sports greatest ever achievement on the world stage ,Lisbon 1967. Never a truer sentence has been uttered.
Today on the 28th anniversary of his passing you’ll read about THE GREAT MAN. I would instead like to try and give the younger Celtic support an idea of the impact of Jock’s death on Celtic and Scottish football. This is my personal memory of that night.
Me and my mates were in our local. The Cairn bar in Balornock. We were all there to see if Scotland under Big Jock could qualify for yet another World Cup. Ye see at that time Scotland always made the World cup finals. This was the final group match and both teams could qualify, we were in no doubt Scotland would qualify. As everyone now knows it was a tight game. Wales took the lead early on and it was nail biting stuff until the late Davie Cooper Scored from the spot with 9 mins to go. That was it Party time.
We all left the pub after we celebrated the goal and headed round to a mates house were the kerry oot’s had been stashed, we missed the end of the match. So there we all were in big Boaby Donauldson’s hoose partyin’ away, everyone buzzing because we we’re going to another World Cup. One of my mates had went to drop his car off so he could get drunk. When he arrived he burst into big Boaby’s room and shouted “Big Jock’s deed”! We sorta laughed and told him to fuck off. Ye see the guy who told us was oor mate Steely, he loved a wind up plus he was a Rangers man but one look at his ashen face should have been enough to know he was telling the truth.
“Get the telly oan” he shouted. At this point worry set in. So the telly went on we flicked through the 4 channels, nothing. The news was on ITN but they had moved on to another story. So we put on Teletext and there it was, Jock Stein had died of a suspected heart attack. What followed that night was something I’ll never forget. Here was a room filled equally with the fiercest rival fans in world football all sitting in stunned silence. It takes an extraordinary event to bring this about, I suspect the Ibrox Disaster was the only thing that had ever achieved this joint grief.
We all just sat there, the silence occasionally punctured by statements like ‘fur fucks sake’ , ‘no Big Jock’, ‘ah canny believe this’, ‘no fuckin’ way’ etc. After the stunned silence some tears started flowing. In the space of a few minute the world had turned upside down, the World cup ? No one cared. The party was literally over , everyone there Billy or Tim was devastated. Scotland as a nation had lost a giant, a force for everything that was decent and right. Jock Stein was the only man in Scotland that commanded respect from both sides of the sordid divide in our society. So after about 30 mins of sitting about in a genuine state of shock we all went home. Kerry oots were abandoned (another first), there was nothing worth saying because everyones head was scrambled. A horrible sobriety had taken over from the party atmosphere. This wasn’t just the end of the night it was the end of an era.
When Sir Alex Ferguson states that Jock Stein was the greatest ever manager you better believe him because he’s speaking from the heart.
God bless you Jock. Your Immortal.