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Celtic: Nephew of ‘Lisbon Lion’ Bertie Auld recalls life of a legend after Celtic’s hero’s death

At the age of 11, Ian Cairns sat by his older brother William as his Uncle Bert delivered the information that their father had been kicked to death exterior a Glasgow pub. The passage of time has accomplished nothing to blur the sharp recollections of a Saturday morning in 1975.

A Celtic icon, Lisbon Lion and chief of males, Bertie Auld obtained the phrases and tone good. When the event demanded, he normally did.

‘We had been staying at my gran’s home and Uncle Bert known as me and my brother into the room to present us the horrible information,’ Cairns recalls now.

Celtic legend Bertie Auld (pictured lifting the Scottish League Cup) was part of the Lisbon Lions that became the first British team to win the European Cup

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Celtic legend Bertie Auld (pictured lifting the Scottish League Cup) was half of the Lisbon Lions that turned the primary British workforce to win the European Cup

‘I can bear in mind it phrase for phrase and the way he mentioned it and the impression it had on me regardless of the actual fact it was 46 years in the past.

‘He was an imposing determine. When dad was killed, we had been very younger and mum used to threaten us with a cellphone name to her Bert to come back and kind us out.

‘But, greater than that, he was a good man and I obtained to spend a lot of time with him.

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 From that time, he turned fairly particular to me.’ Long earlier than his death final month on the age of 83, Auld turned particular to tens of 1000’s of soccer supporters.

On a sun-baked afternoon in Portugal’s outdated nationwide stadium in Lisbon, the startled gamers of Inter Milan seemed on because the midfielder belted out the phrases of Glen Daly’s Celtic Song within the tunnel earlier than kick-off. In that second, he confirmed his standing because the larger-than-life embodiment of the primary British workforce to win the European Cup.

He left Celtic to play for Hibs for 2 years earlier than managing the Easter Road aspect to the First Division title in 1980/81. Dementia robbed him of a likelihood to exploit the acclaim of the 2 units of followers at tomorrow’s League Cup last at Hampden. Granted VIP entry to the nice man’s life over 5 many years, his nephew Ian agrees he would have lapped it up.

‘Honestly, I might take you to Marks & Spencer at Parkhead Retail Park and present you the place we used to satisfy up within the automotive park,’ mentioned Cairns. 

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‘It’d take 20 minutes to get within the door then one other half-hour to get served as a result of he was laughing and joking with all people.’ In the face of a debilitating sickness, the laughs turned a little tougher to search out. 

Ex-professional footballers had been discovered to be three-and-a-half instances extra more likely to die of a neurodegenerative illness. And Auld was the fourth member of the Lions after captain Billy McNeill, legendary winger Jimmy Johnstone and Lisbon goalscorer Stevie Chalmers to succumb.

‘Robert, his son, handled the sickness splendidly,’ added Cairns. ‘At one level, there would not have been a week passed by once I would not see him or converse to him.

‘We did not see as a lot of him during the last 4 or 5 months. I final noticed him two weeks earlier than he handed within the hospital. Robert and I walked him alongside to the day room and he was nonetheless winking and gesturing and pulling the faces, however he was discovering it harder by then. He gave me a beautiful cuddle once I was leaving.’ 

Younger brother of Ian’s mom Margaret and aunt Marion, Auld gained 5 league titles, three Scottish Cups, 4 League Cups and the largest trophy in world membership soccer as a participant.

A charismatic supervisor of Partick Thistle then Hibs, his standing as one of the true characters of Scottish soccer ensured he by no means needed to put his hand in his pocket in a public home in Glasgow or Edinburgh. Or, when he’d had one too many, pay for his personal taxi.

The 83-year-old died at the age of 83 on November 14 after a battle with dementia

The 83-year-old died on the age of 83 on November 14 after a battle with dementia

‘Mum and Uncle Bert had been the 2 favourites and when he was a supervisor with Partick Thistle he used our home as a bolthole, if you happen to like,’ continued Cairns.

‘He’d have a couple of beers and, as a result of he lived away out in Strathaven, it was simpler simply to leap in a taxi and are available to our home in Knightswood.

‘I can nonetheless see him the night time he arrived in a taxi sprawled within the again seat with the black boots, the black denims and the black shirt on just like the Glaswegian Johnny Cash.

‘He was telling the taxi driver the place to go for his £16 fare, turning the air blue.’ The driver’s first mistake was admitting he was a Rangers supporter. His second was voicing an opinion on soccer. In blunt phrases, he was advised that his information had as a lot substance because the centre of a doughnut. Seeking a peaceable decision, the cab driver supplied to accept the nice man’s autograph in lieu of fee.

‘Uncle Bert obtained up like a shot, signed the paper and advised me to cost the boy £4,’ Ian recalled. ‘The driver says: “Bertie, absolutely you are not charging me £4 for an autograph”. He says: “Naw, I usually cost £20, however I owe you £16 for the fare…”

Those who entered the courtroom of King Bertie basked within the mirrored glow of his persona. Latterly, he turned referred to as a lot for his exuberance as he was for his days as a hard-as-nails technically gifted midfielder. A relationship with Bertie Auld had a lot the identical impression as the liberty of Glasgow.

‘When he was the supervisor at Partick Thistle and so they performed Rangers, I might be capable to take 5 – 6 of my friends up for the sport,’ mentioned Cairns. ‘They would conceal their scarves and we might go in by the gamers’ entrance.

‘Uncle Bert would shout: “In you all go”. And once they performed Celtic I performed the identical trick with my Celtic friends. So from 13 or 14 years of age, I realised that he was vital.

‘We would exit to his farm exterior Strathaven and spend time with my cousins. He had stables for about seven horses. My cousin Susan (Bertie’s daughter) was a champion showjumper and Robert (his son) was good on the horses as properly.’ Sporting excellence was printed on the household DNA. Ian’s older brother Willie Cairns performed professionally for Queen’s Park, Partick Thistle and Dumbarton earlier than he died tragically of a coronary heart assault in Canada aged simply 34.

When his mom handed away six years in the past, the household embarked with a heavy coronary heart on the duty of clearing out her semi-detached residence in Knightswood. Behind two wardrobes within the bed room, they stumbled upon hidden treasure.

Celtic fans gathered to pay tribute as Auld's funeral took place on November 26

Celtic followers gathered to pay tribute as Auld’s funeral befell on November 26 

‘We discovered uncle Bert’s Birmingham City contract in a small envelope,’ mentioned Cairns. ‘When you opened it up, it turned a large sheet of paper. There had been every kind of issues in there.’ Auld’s mom ran a store in Maryhill Road, the earnings bolstered by Partick Thistle gamers trudging again to Firhill from coaching in Ruchill Park and stopping by for a crammed roll and a bottle of Irn-Bru.

‘When gran died in 1995, we had been cleansing her home out and I discovered a black polythene bag on the backside of one of her cabinets,’ added Cairns. ‘I opened it up and it had a Holland prime, a Scotland prime and a Wales prime from his three worldwide caps in 1959.’ Auld’s enjoying profession completed at Hibs as one of essentially the most embellished Scottish footballers of all time. He performed in two European Cup finals, profitable one and shedding the second to Feyenoord in Milan.

But for an unexplained omission from the Scottish League Cup last of 1957 – a 7-1 win over Rangers – he’d have performed in two of essentially the most iconic video games in Celtic historical past. Former chairman Sir Robert Kelly had a disproportionate say within the workforce choice that day and a few nonetheless suspect he had a hand in Auld’s Scotland profession ending on the age of 21 with fewer caps than Robbie Stockdale or Kevin Kyle.

Cursed by a fast mood, the final of his three worldwide appearances got here in a 2-1 win within the Netherlands in May 1959.

‘He wasn’t proud of this however he was the primary Scotland worldwide to be despatched off,’ defined Cairns. ‘There was a kerfuffle on the finish of the Holland recreation and he was red-carded.

Auld (bottom left) poses with 'Lisbon Lion' team-mates and the European Cup back in 2006

Auld (backside left) poses with ‘Lisbon Lion’ team-mates and the European Cup again in 2006

‘At that point, it was as much as a membership to place gamers ahead to the committee for worldwide recognition. And the hearsay is that Celtic chairman Bob Kelly was embarrassed by the crimson card and had an enter into what occurred with Scotland.

‘How true that’s I do not know for sure. But Uncle Bert favored a music, a celebration and a drink and, let’s face it, these had been three issues Mr Kelly did not like a lot in any respect…’ Dementia was the one opponent he might by no means hope to overcome. God is aware of, he tried his finest.

In August, after the prognosis, Auld’s son Robert organized a lunch within the Celtic Skybox for household and pals, together with Lions team-mate John Clark.

‘We had been standing wanting on the magnificent stadium,’ mentioned Cairns (left). ‘Uncle Bert was frail and never the best way he was. But I mentioned to him: “Here Uncle Bert, this can convey again recollections”.

‘He simply checked out me with a wee twinkle in his eye glanced on the pitch and mentioned: “Naw son, my recollections are all down there…”.’

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