A statue of Jock Stein, to many minds the greatest single Celt there’s ever been, will be unveiled outside Celtic Park before the game against Hamilton tomorrow. A visionary, a man before his time, big Jock replaced the eight-year vale of tears that followed on from our historic “7-1” triumph, with a dominance unknown for sixty years.
Big Jock was not one to sit at the back of the bus, as Inter manager, Helenio Herrera, soon found out in the lead up to the 1967 European Cup Final. History records that Jock Stein trumped every effort of Herrera’s to gain an edge for Inter:
He ensured that Celtic were accorded training facilities at the Estadio Nacional on the eve of the game, at the same time of day as the actual match, despite attempts by Inter to muscle in.
He insisted on occupying the ‘Home’ bench during the game, not through pushiness but by right, as it had been allocated to Celtic – again despite the pressure of arriving to find Herrera already sitting there. The language barrier was no obstacle, as the Big Man clearly conveyed to his counterpart the dire consequences that would certainly ensue if he did not shift – pronto!
Tomorrow, cast in bronze, he rightly takes his place within the iconic huddle by the door of Celtic Park.
Big Jock is and always will be, ‘immortal’.