Review – All The Way With Celtic by Bobby Murdoch

For more years than we care to remember, second-hand book shops up and down this land have proven to be an irresistible lure for BTLM. We’re always up for a furtive rummage around for old football book bargains and, over the years, we’ve duly acquired a sizeable collection of the classic, the mundane, the obscure and the just plain weird.

We thought we would revisit and review some of our collection here on BTLM, curious as we were to see whether such books offer much to the contemporary reader when read out of their original context. We’ll start this series with a 1970 autobiography by Lisbon Lion and Celtic legend, Bobby Murdoch.

All The Way with Celtic by Bobby Murdoch

(originally published by Souvenir Press in 1970) 128 pages with 12 pages of photos.

Few players epitomised the dyed-in-the-wool Celtic fan turned player better than Bobby Murdoch. From an early age, he knew that Celtic was the only club he wanted to play for and was willing to turn down better terms at Motherwell to sign for his boyhood club on a part-time basis. This was back in a time when it was not necessarily the obvious move you might have thought – Celtic were very much a second-rate club in the late 50s and early 60s.

Murdoch’s early Celtic career soon stagnated and his true talent only really flowered when Jock Stein arrived as manager in 1965. Stein immediately appreciated his ability and cleverly moved him deeper from inside-forward to wing-half. Stein felt this would take better advantage of his excellent passing range and vision, while still allowing him scope to make late runs into scoring positions in the penalty box.

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Power Boots 1966-76

A Word From Our SponsorsWe can imagine the brainstorming session that went on at the British Bata Shoe Company one afternoon when the marketing department was trying to think up a brand name for its new football boot range.

“Let’s try word-association. What word do you associate with thumping a ball hard into a goal net?”
“Umm, how about power?”
“Yeah that’ll do. Right, let’s go to the pub.”

And so the Power Boots brand was born and would spend roughly a decade trying to find a visual identity that didn’t look like an awkwardly plagiarised mix of Gola and Puma’s brand. The sternly endorsing words of Alf Ramsey seemed more of an order than an inducement too.

The Importance Of Being An Innocent Bystander – Kevin Keegan’s Belgrade Misadventure, 1974

England‘Bad luck always comes in threes and starts with a B’ is a variant on a popular old adage that could have been copyrighted by Kevin Keegan during his playing days. Bikes, Bremner and Belgrade: the Liverpool and England forward suffered a personal hat-trick of misadventures during the mid-1970s when he Yugoslaviabecame the unwitting and unfortunate victim of three very different and very painful incidents.

In 1976 the perpetrator was a particularly wobbly bike during a guest appearances on BBC’s ‘Superstars’ programme. Never seeming in control as he pedalled down a track for 100 Kevin Keegan v Belgrade Airport Securityyards or so, Kevin’s precarious battle against gravity was finally lost and he crashed to the ground suffering severe cuts and grazes to his arm, shoulder and back. Two years earlier he had been on the wrong end of a physical battering from Leeds United in the Charity Shield at Wembley. Johnny Giles was to the fore in the tenderisation of the Liverpool man and when he whacked Keegan from behind at a corner, the forward’s considerable patience finally snapped. When Keegan turned round Giles had disappeared, so the angry Liverpool man assumed that Billy Bremner was responsible as he was the closest Leeds player in attendance. A punch-up ensued and both players were red carded, tearing off their shirts as they left the pitch in protest at the decision. There was wide scale condemnation and a lengthy ban for Keegan, but precious little comment about the lack of protection he had received from the match officials.

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Partizan Belgrade Eleven

YugoslaviaAs a companion piece to our lengthy pieces about Partizan Belgrade from their 1960s European Cup Final days, we thought it appropriate to follow-up with an Eleven post dedicated to the crno-beli (black-whites). We asked Partizan fan and lively Twitter presence Dusan Mihajilovic (@DusanMih) to put together his best all-time Partizan team and he came up with the following attack-minded line-up.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

1 – Ivan Ćurković (1964-72, 427 apps / 0 goals) One of the best Yugoslav goalkeepers of all time. A lack of trophy success during his time at Partizan was more than compensated for following a move west to Saint-Etienne. Ćurković became a legendary figure during his 9 years with the French club and was a mainstay of the powerful side that reached the 1976 European Cup Final.

2 – Zoran Mirković (1993-96 & 2004-06, 253 apps/6 goals) One of the last true ‘hard men’ of the Serbian game. Adored by fans for always giving everything for the Partizan shirt and he even played his final season for the club without a contract. Between his two spells with Partizan, Mirkovic enjoyed decent spells abroad at Atalanta, Juventus and Fenerbahce.

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A Balkan Soap Opera: Belgrade, 1966 – Part Two

Rarely has football seen a better example of the truism that success can be a double-edged sword than the story of Partizan Belgrade in the mid 1960s. The Belgrade club’s fine achievements during that decade culminated in a European Cup Final appearance in 1966, but that success only pushed the club unwittingly towards a perfect storm of difficult events as clashing elements of capitalism, communism, professionalism and amateurism all conspired against them.

'A Balkan Soap Opera. Belgrade, 1966'

The unfortunate consequence was that the greater their success on the pitch, the quicker it hastened the club’s broader decline. By adding implausible sub-plots involving player strikes, broken contracts, furtively acquired Western consumer goods and a mass purge of the supporting cast at the end of the season; a picture starts to emerge of the Balkan soap opera that was Partizan Belgrade and the broader Yugoslav game in 1966. This is Part Two of their story; you can read Part One here.

 

Rašović & Ćurković

The ongoing European Cup run remained the single, unifying element for Partizan’s warring factions. Sparta Prague looked a tough Quarter-Final draw and with Bečejac and Kovačević both suspended, keeper Šoškić suffering from a hand injury and Bajić taking ill at the last moment; Partizan appeared severely weakened for the away leg. The Czechs cruised to a 4-1 win and fully exploited the uncertainty of young reserve keeper, Ćurković, after he fumbled a corner into his own net for the opener.

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Yugoslavia Vintage 1960-74

YugoslaviaOur latest Vintage series takes BTLM back to one of our favourite footballing subjects: Eastern European football before the collapse of communism. This is the first in our Yugoslavia Vintage series; a gallery featuring an eclectic retro mix starring some of the major players, teams and managers from the sixties and seventies.

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A Balkan Soap Opera: Belgrade, 1966 – Part One

Rarely has football seen a better example of the truism that success can be a double-edged sword than the story of Partizan Belgrade in the mid 1960s. The Belgrade club’s fine achievements during that decade culminated in a European Cup Final appearance in 1966, but that success only pushed the club unwittingly towards a perfect storm of difficult events as clashing elements of capitalism, communism, professionalism and amateurism all conspired against them.

The unfortunate consequence was that the greater their success on the pitch, the quicker it hastened the club’s broader decline. By adding implausible sub-plots involving player strikes, broken contracts, furtively acquired Western consumer goods and a mass purge of the supporting cast at the end of the season; a picture starts to emerge of the Balkan soap opera that was Partizan Belgrade and the broader Yugoslav game in 1966. This is the first part of that story.

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Things had begun so simply back in the late 1950s with the Partinzanove bebe (Partizan’s babies). Yugoslavia was already known as the European Brazil for the conveyor belt of young talent the country produced, but this was a particularly special collection of talent.

The spine of the team was forged by a quartet of players who would come to define Partizan: Milutin Šoškić was an agile and courageous goalkeeper; in defence Fahrudin Jusufi a technically adroit, attacking full-back who could switch flanks seamlessly; up front was Milan Galić, an opportunistic forward who could switch to play on the left too. All three were key members of the national side that won 1960 Olympic gold and finished runners-up in the European Nations Cup. Emerging shortly after was central defender and sweeper, Velibor Vasović. Despite suffering throughout his career from asthma, Vasović was a groundbreaking player who was as significant as fellow 60s luminaries Facchetti and Beckenbauer in revolutionising the role of the playmaking defender.

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