Bertie Auld: Celtic’s Lisbon Lion dies aged 83

Bertie Auld
 Bertie Auld helped Celtic become the first British side to lift the European Cup.

By Bill Heaney

Bertie Auld, who played in the Celtic side that lifted the European Cup in 1967, has died at the age of 83.

Five months ago, it was announced that Bertie, who embarked on his football career with Dumbarton at Boghead Park, was suffering with dementia.

Best known for being one of Celtic’s Lisbon Lions though, Auld, pictured right, also won five league titles, three Scottish Cups and four League Cups at Parkhead.

The former midfielder spent four years with Birmingham City between two spells with the Glasgow club before finishing his playing days with Hibernian.

Capped three times for Scotland, he went on to twice manage Partick Thistle as well as Hibs, Hamilton Academical and Dumbarton.

“I don’t think words can ever adequately describe what Bertie meant to the club and our supporters. He was a giant of a player, a giant of a man and quite simply Mr Celtic,” said Parkhead chairman Ian Bankier.

“He scaled the greatest of heights as a player with his talent but it is who he was as a man that made him so much more to us all.

“He enriched all our lives so greatly with his humour, his character and personality and for that we will forever be grateful.”

Bertie Auld with Democrat editor Bill Heaney. Auld played for and later became manager of Dumbarton FC at Boghead Park.

As a player, he made 279 appearances for Celtic and was part of Jock Stein’s side that made history as the first from Britain to win the European Cup with a 2-1 victory over Inter Milan before also losing the 1970 final to Feyenoord.

At Dumbarton, as a schoolboy fan on the terracing at the Silverton end of Boghead, I remember watching Bertie turn in dazzling parformances on the left wing for Sons.

I also recall him as a cigar chomping, wise cracking  manager for Dumbarton, who gave journalists brilliant quotes, and later I enjoyed the craic over the occasional lunch with him in the board room at Celtic Park, where he was a popular ambassador for the Parkhead club.

Auld made more than 100 league appearances with Birmingham, also helping the club reach the 1960-61 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, where they lost to 4-2 to Roma.

As a manager, he twice won Scotland’s second division – with Partick Thistle in 1976 and Hibs in 1981.

Meanwhile, players from care homes will join former football stars at Glasgow’s first ever dementia football festival.

More than 60 players from eight care homes and projects across the city will take part in the event at Toryglen Regional Football Centre.

Former Scotland manager Craig Brown, ex-player Gordon Smith and former referee John Rowbotham are also among those attending the dementia football festival, which has been organised by Glasgow Life.

Research in recent years has discovered a link between football and dementia, with the Field study in 2019 finding that professional footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease than age-matched members of the general population.

The festival comes as tributes are paid to Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld, whose death aged 83 was announced on Sunday, see above, five months after his family said that he was suffering from dementia.

Those taking part in the festival will be able to try a circuit of activities including a special “Reminiscing” station supported by Football Memories Scotland, a “Touch” station where they can try out table football and beating the goalie, and the opportunity to take part in a game.

Mr Brown said: “You’ll struggle to find someone in Glasgow who hasn’t played football at some point in their life but, sadly, we tend to fall away from it as we get older or health issues take hold.

“We all know the benefits of keeping fit and health and, with more and more research coming out about how physical activity can benefit those with dementia, it’s brilliant to see Glasgow Life putting programmes like this into motion and really trying their best to help everyone who is affected by dementia – including the carers.”

The festival is being part-funded by an award from Life Changes Trust, a charity which invests in and supports the empowerment and inclusion of people living with dementia, and unpaid carers of those with dementia.

Glasgow Life has recently started a Walking Football programme for those suffering from dementia disorders, offering them the opportunity to play the game at a slower pace.

Councillor David McDonald, chair of Glasgow Life and depute leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “While our city is renowned for being an incredible host for major international sporting events, it’s days like today which really prove why we’re a top-class sporting city.

“Providing opportunities for everyone to play sport, regardless of their background or any impairments, is what Glasgow does best.

“Seeing the joy on the faces of participants and hearing first-hand about how our Dementia Walking Football programme provides social interaction and reduces feelings of isolation just goes to show that people really do make Glasgow.”

Arlene Crockett, director of evidence and influencing with the Life Changes Trust Dementia Programme, welcomed the festival.

She said: “Many people living with dementia stop taking part in activities that may have given them pleasure in the past, or which allowed them to mix with their peers.

“This project brings people together in a dementia friendly community, where they have opportunities to be part of something that is meaningful to them, and which focuses on what they can do rather than what they can’t.”

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