Sign in or
Jock Stein (The Soul Of Celtic)
No figure looms over the modern Celtic quite like the great Jock Stein.
He is the reason 60,000 fans pack Parkhead, he is the reason we demand attacking, entertaining and winning football, he is the reason why sometimes even winning is not enough. He is the man who gave us all dreams and songs to sing.
From coal miner to the father of the modern-day Celtic, Stein's journey to football legend was a remarkable one. Although Jock himself was modest about his own footballing ability Stein was, while no world beater, a competent and effective centre-half. He had joined Albion Rovers in 1942 from Blantyre Victoria but after a contract row left Coatbridge in 1950 for non-league Welsh side Llanelli. He was brought home to Scotland in December 1951 when the Bhoys paid a fee of £1,200 for his services.
Stein’s arrival at Parkhead underwhelmed the faithful. Most reasonably assumed the ex-miner would make little impact beyond the reserves. But injuries and a string of dire defensive displays from Celtic enabled Stein to stake his claim for a first team place. He made an immediate impression. With the big Lanarkshire man at the heart of defence the once lightweight Bhoys were suddenly a noticeably more robust and resilient outfit.
Stein’s commanding presence compensated for a lack of pace and what he lacked in technical ability he made up for with excellent positional sense and organisational skills which quickly made him a vital influence on the pitch. His influence and formidable presence did not go unnoticed and Stein was soon handed the honour of captaining the Hoops.
With Jock as club captain the previously honour starved Celts claimed the Coronation Cup in 1953 and the League and Cup double the following season. An ankle injury would force Stein to retire in 1956 but the seeds of future success would be sown when Jock took up a coaching position with the Parkhead reserve side.
He would quickly prove to be an extremely capable and popular coach and his ideas and enthusiasm ensured Jock was a popular and much respected figure among the youngsters at Celtic Park. It was no surprise then that his departure to take the manager’s post at Dunfermline was met with deep disappointment.
At East End Park Stein enjoyed a productive apprenticeship in his new trade He quickly transformed the Fifers from relegation candidates into title contenders and Scottish Cup winners – defeating Celtic at Hampden Park in the final of 1961.
Part of a new breed of 'tracksuit' managers, Jock was full of ideas about how to approach the game, how to train and how to get the very best out of his players. Stein was convinced that with the right players and the right sytem you did not have to compromise style for victory. As a man-manager he was fair but stern and his players knew there would only be ever one winner in an argument. He was exactly what Celtic - indeed what football - needed.
However, over at Celtic Park Sir Robert Kelly’s influence remained omnipresent. His considerable interference in team selection meant not even the presence of some undoubtedly talented performers could prevent the Hoops stumble from one trophy-less season to another.
In the Spring of 1964 Jock had been tempted to Easter Road and again his efforts began to reap immediate rewards. His Hibernian side picked up the Summer Cup and were serious title contenders. His reputation as one of the finest young managers in football was growing with almost every passing game.
Throughout this time Stein had remained in close touch with his friends at Celtic, including Kelly. Knowing the Parkhead chairman was now under intense pressure to deliver success Jock made his move to return to the Hoops. Stein let it be known to Kelly that he was thinking of moving on from Hibernian. He confided in the Parkhead chief that a move to Wolverhampton Wanderers was on the cards and superficially asked for his advice. But what the Big Man was really doing was letting the Celtic chairman know that his services were available should he require them.
The appointment of Stein was an obvious and logical solution to Celtic’s troubles but Kelly would have to relinquish all control of playing matters. Further to that Stein would be Celtic’s first non-Catholic manager and the chairman worried if such a move would be seen as a betrayal of the club’s traditions. He should have known better. Celtic had always been a club open to players of all faiths and whatever the religion of the support as far as they were concerned as soon as you pulled on the Hoops you were one of them.
This was illustrated perfectly in March 1965 when Stein returned to Parkhead as manager. His appointment was met with all the joy of a family welcoming home their favourite son.
The statistics will tell you that as Celtic manager Jock Stein won 10 League Titles, eight Scottish Cups, six League Cups and, of course, the European Cup. But as glorious as those facts are his achievements cannot be measured in trophies alone.
Jock Stein set standards, raised expectations and made dreams come true. He embraced and enhanced Celtic attacking traditions. Jock Stein took a club with a wonderful past but a difficult present and gave them a great future. He proved to the Celtic support that there team could be the greatest. It was a lesson they've never forgot.
His influence however was not confined to Scotland though, and when the world of football was in danger of being choked by the negativity of Cattenachio Stein's team showed in Lisbon that attacking football had a future. It was a favour for which an entire sport was eternally grateful. Following his horror car crash some said the Big Man was never the same again. Certainly he could not retain the high standards he himself had set at Celtic Park. But who could?
He would depart Celtic without his achievements being given anywhere near the recognition they fully deserved.
But in the hearts of the Celtic support Stein lives on. His ambitions, his aspirations and his standards set a new benchmark for all Celtic supporters. He may no longer be with us but when you ask any Celtic fan what they want from their club they will simply point to the teams produced by Jock. As Bill Shankly said: - "Jock. you're immortal".
Latest page update: made by joebloggscity
, Nov 3 2009, 8:36 AM EST
(about this update
About This Update
Edited by joebloggscity
9 words added
8 words deleted
1 image added
1 image deleted
- complete history)
Keyword tags: None
More Info: links to this page