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Caithness Celts pay tribute to football legend McNeill


By Matt Leslie


Billy McNeill and his wife Liz with Caithness Celtic Supporters Club representatives Robin More and Sheena Miller at the John O'Groats signpost in July 1970. Picture: Caithness CSC
Billy McNeill and his wife Liz with Caithness Celtic Supporters Club representatives Robin More and Sheena Miller at the John O'Groats signpost in July 1970. Picture: Caithness CSC

Celtic fans from Caithness have been joining those throughout Scotland and around the world in mourning the loss of football legend Billy McNeill.

Robin More, a former secretary of the Caithness Celtic Supporters Club, described him as "not only a great player but a perfect gentleman".

McNeill, who both played for and managed Celtic, died this week at the age of 79. He had been suffering from dementia for a number of years.

He also won 29 caps for Scotland and also managed Clyde, Aberdeen, Manchester City and Aston Villa.

But it was at Celtic that he made his name, and he was the first British captain to lift the European Cup following the Bhoys' famous 2-1 victory over Italian giants Inter Milan in 1967.

McNeill was also part of the team that won nine league titles in a row while also winning four league titles, two Scottish Cups and a League Cup as Celtic's manager.

He paid a visit to Caithness in July 1970 to receive the local Celtic Supporters Club's player of the year award. That was the year Celtic reached their second European Cup final.

Robin More was part of the committee that welcomed him and this week he paid tribute to the player, captain and manager fondly known as "Cesar".

He said: "It has been an emotional week as we've lost a man who was not only a great player and manager but a perfect gentleman as well.

"We were honoured to have him up as our guest for our annual awards night in 1970. I rang up Celtic to ask if he would be willing to come up and he responded to say that he would.

"Our chairman, Jimmy Tait, who founded our supporters club, myself, our treasurer William Manson and our president Alec Manson arranged the flights and accommodation for Billy and his wife Liz.

"We met him at the airport in Wick and took him on a tour of the surrounding area – including John O'Groats, where we had an addition to the famous signpost put up, pointing south and saying Celtic Park on it.

Billy McNeill and his wife Liz receive a framed painting from the president of the Caithness Celtic Supporters Club, Alec Manson, at the Station Hotel in Wick in July 1970. Picture: Caithness CSC
Billy McNeill and his wife Liz receive a framed painting from the president of the Caithness Celtic Supporters Club, Alec Manson, at the Station Hotel in Wick in July 1970. Picture: Caithness CSC

"He met a number of young fans and he was more than happy to sign autographs for them.

"We then took him to the town hall at Wick where he was received by Provost Bill Mowat, and he went inside to sign the visitors' book.

"He was the guest of honour at our function held in what was the Station Hotel and was given a framed painting. He made a speech thanking the club for inviting him and Liz up to Caithness.

"The Celtic supporters up here spoke highly of his visit, saying he was the perfect gentleman."

Robin would also have correspondence with McNeill many years later when the Celtic legend headed south to take up the manager's post at Manchester City.

He added: "Billy left Celtic in 1983 to go down south to Manchester and I wrote to him to express my thanks for all that he had done for the club.

"Not long after, I received a letter from him thanking me for writing to him. He was a class act.

"That was Billy all over. He was the best captain we've ever had at Celtic.

"An indication of his stature has been the respect shown to him over the years, not just this week, by fans of other clubs – including those from Rangers.

"He will be missed."



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