Anyone who reads the claptrap I write about my beloved Aberdeen in the football thread may possibly have noticed over the years that I hold no love for either of the two main Glasgow teams Celtic or Rangers, but even I have nothing but admiration for Billy McNeil, a gentleman by all accounts and you will be hard pushed to read anyone with bad words to say about the man.
Managed Aberdeen for a season before a chap called Alexander Ferguson took over from him, after he got the call to go back to his beloved Celtic, but his season as Aberdeen manager was not uneventful as he finished runners up in all three main trophies and signed a couple of players who would come to prominence in the coming years, Gordon Strachan being one of them. His Wife and family didn’t want to make the move back to Glasgow as they loved life up in the north east away from the Glasgow goldfish bowl and all the sectarian issues that go with being a prominent part of either, but they knew they were never going to be able to stop the gravitational pull of his beloved hoops had on him. Always spoke fondly of his time at Aberdeen and would give us fans a clap after games at Parkhead and Pittodrie, win lose or draw. As the saying goes you can’t buy class.
No matter how much hyperbole surrounds the English game nowadays, or the EPL to be more precise, the record books will always show Celtic as the first British team to lift the European Cup, done with a pool of players born within 12 miles of Parkhead and of them McNeil was the man who stood up to collect the trophy on that famous night in Lisbon.
RIP. Apart from his legendary status as Celtic captain, he was also successful managing Celtic, winning the double in their centenary year in 1988, when it wasn't such a formality as Aberdeen and Dundee Utd were also strong at the time. Before he had brought Man City back up in the early 80s, he was reportedly close to being offered the Man Utd job instead of Big Ron. Somehow thought he had died a few years ago.
The name resonates to a time of proper football. No poncey boots or Instagram accounts, no agents messing with your mind and of a time you played through the pain barrier instead of taking a six week break in Dubai. RIP Billy, and thanks for the memories.