Brilliant Billy McNeill and John Clark Celtic story told by Hugh Keevins

By David Walton

April 24, 2019

Hugh Keevins yesterday told of a touching story that proved just how loyal Billy McNeill was.

Tributes and stories continue to fly around after Celtic’s greatest ever captain passed away yesterday morning. McNeill’s loss remains a bitter pill for us all to swallow, but it’s given us all a chance to learn more and more about the great man.

In what’s been a dark time for Scottish football, the shining light of fresh knowledge has been passed on about McNeill’s Celtic days. Almost everyone you’ll meet will have a story to tell about Cesar.

But one of the greatest was a story told by journalist Keevins. Speaking on Clyde 1’s Superscoreboard last night (Tuesday April 23, 28:17), the former Daily Record man touched on a brilliant moment that proved McNeill’s loyalty.

John Clark and Bertie Auld laid a wreath down at Billy McNeill’s statue yesterday (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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“Peter Swales, the Manchester City chairman, thought of Billy McNeill (for the manager’s job). The Celtic chairman at that time was Desmond White. This story came out at the same time as Billy found out he was the SIXTH highest paid manager in Scotland.

“He went to meet Peter Swales down south and came back up. He said to Desmond “This is the situation – Manchester City want me”. White then said to Billy McNeill, whose salary at that time I understand was £15k per year. He then said that we will raise your salary to £25k on one condition. You get rid of John Clark.

“McNeill rated Clark highly, they formed a magnificent defensive partnership for Celtic. Billy and John were Lisbon Lions. And he said to the club “If you want me to get rid of John Clark, I’m not doing it”, and he left to join Manchester City.”

A sensational listen regardless of Superscoreboard’s popularity

There have been plenty of occasions where many of us will have disagreed with Keevins. Perhaps many of us don’t even listen to Superscoreboard these days. But last night’s episode is a must-listen for any Celtic fan.

Keevins was on song with a variety of tremendous stories not many will know about regarding Cesar. It’s clear the broadcast pundit had a great friendship with the Celtic icon.

McNeill’s legacy lives on through his iconic statue (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Clark and McNeill, of course, were the defensive partnership in Lisbon. The former played for the Hoops between 1959 and 1971. McNeill, meanwhile, joined in the same year but departed four years later than Clark. They were the benchmark at the back for Celtic, and it’s clear McNeill’s loyalty to Clark was too great.

Clark was McNeill’s right-hand man between Cesar’s tenure as manager in 1978-83. He then returned to the club 14 years later and, to this day, remains the Hoops’ kit-man. Clark was part of Celtic’s fabric, and McNeill knew that.

But that was just one of plenty of stories told last night. If you still haven’t had a listen and want to hear more individual stories of Cesar, click here to listen to last night’s Superscoreboard.