10/18/2007

The greatest of them all!!!

I am going to continue with Celtic themed blogs for to-day. There are many differing views about the greatness of many Celtic legends. Is Stracho better than O' Neill (in my opinion yes), was Maley a better manager than big Jock ( I don't necessarily think so)?



However a debate that I have recently became entangled in with a Hoops supporting mate of mine is who is the greatest ever Celt to have graced the hollow grounds of Gallowgate.

For many the debate is narrowed down to only two contenders, however I feel this is unjust and overlooks many Hoops legends. Some argue that King Kenny must be up there with the best. In my opinion he was very good, but still doesn't challenge for the coveted title. Paul Mc Stay is in with a shout in the opinion of others, and whilst indubitably a midfielder of world class and master of the pass, I don't think he deserves the crown.

Some of the older generation even espouse the belief that Charlie 'The Belfast Bhoy' Tully has a valid claim to the title (who else can score directly from a corner kick twice in the one match?).

A rank outsider is Donegal born Patsy Gallagher. Known as 'The Mighty Atom' Patsy was a foot balling genius and his summersault goal against Dundee in the cup final is the stuff of legends. Indeed there was a commemoration for Patsy earlier this year in Donegal.

It was interesting to note the comments of one guy there who had a brief chat with the legendary Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld. The guy told Bertie that Jinky was his boyhood hero and Bertie replied that Patsy was his. The guy asked Bertie what Patsy was like and Bertie replied "have you ever seen Jimmy Johnstone play? Well Patsy was even better!"

In relation to my generation, Henrik is the obvious contender. He is the greatest foot balling talent that my generation has had the extreme good fortune to witness at Paradise. Whilst he may not have been a big name signing when Wim Jansen signed him, he was certainly a fucking legend when he left.

I watched clips of his last game at Parkhead against Dundee Utd on youtube today and the love he had for the club and fans was evident in the tears that were running down his face. Mc Stay and Lubo were other great talents that I can remember as were Di Canio and Pierre but they do not compare to the King of Kings.

However it is my belief that the greatest ever Celt to walk on this planet was Jimmy 'Jinky' Johnstone. The man is an absolute legend and his name is synonymous with Celtic FC. His performance at home against Red Star Belgrade is notorious as he single handedly tore them to shreds( all because he was afraid of flying and Jock told him if he played good enough he would get a pardon for the away game!!!!).

He was referred to by Jock Stein in a pre-match conference before the European tie with Leeds as "the man who is going to tear Leeds apart". Indeed even when he was injured the Benefica manager told Jock he had to play Jinky as his fans were going to cause chaos if they didn't get to see the genius that was 'the flea'.

I favour Jinky over Henrik for a few reasons. Firstly that Jinkys contribution to the success of the Lisbon Lions is a massive factor. Parallel to this is the fact that when Jinky was on top of his game for the Celts they were a huge force in European football, thus fame and praise would be harder to generate. But what clinched it for me was that Jinky was Celtic born and bred from the moment he left View Park to pull on the Hoops for the first time in March 1963. He was a life long Celt fan and embodied everything positive about Celtic. He was often seen knocking back a whiskey or two in Bairds and when he ended up behind the bar of The Celtic Bar on the Falls Rd after opening it is a story of just how ordinary this extraordinary foot balling talent was.

I know Henrik loved Celtic too,(as I alluded to above) but there is something special about the Jinky's, Mc Neills, Hays, Lennons, Hartleys, Keanes and Mc Geadys that makes them playing for their favourite club do it for me.

Hopefully it will not be too long before Parkhead is again blessed with talent like Henriks, Jinky's and Patsy's. Naka, Boruc and Scott Brown all have potential but there will never be another Jinky again.

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