Desimond recalls a wonderful night celebrating the Lions…
It was a beautiful night as Celts descended on The SSE Hydro to pay tribute to The Lisbon Lions, with all profits going to the Celtic Charity Foundation.
After Manchester, security was heightened and everyone waited patiently to enter the Hydro.
Once through security, we made our way up to our seats and into the arena. All around hung tributes to the Lions
The crowd soon filled the arena and passed the time with loud renditions of various Celtic songs and then it was show time..
The first band played a few songs including Hail Hail and then the announcement went up,,..”Ladies and Gentlemen…THE LISBON LIONS!” and the heroes strode up to take centre stage beside THAT trophy!..THEIR trophy!..OUR trophy!
The crowd rose as 1 and saluted the Lions with all their hearts.
The Lions then departed to take pride of place in the front row for the Tribute show.
MC or should I say Elaine MC Smith was the hostess and she gave a lovely intro saluting the Lions, big Jock and Sean and the Club and its heart. The first act to come on was Celtics Got Talents superstar Susan Boyle and the “Subo” cries rang out as she arrived to sing “I Dreamed a Dream” with great coverage shown to accompany her wonderful voice.
Subo departed and Elaine informed us that intended Tenor Russell Watson couldn’t make it due to ill-health but up had stepped John “The Peoples Tenor” McInnes to sing “You raise me up” and then a wonderful “Nessum Dorma” as a dedication to the Celtic fans
The crowd lapped up the show from the class singers and and also enjoyed how throughout the night the camera would pan the crowd and pick up on great Celts there, roars went up for legends such as Brendan, Kenny and Danny McGrain and when Martin ONeill was seen on screen, Elaine could only hush the “Marrtiinnn onneillllll” chanting by promising he would be on stage later.
There was wonderful comic value from Sanjeev Kohli, who plays Naveed in Still Game.
He told how Naveed had hoped to be there himself but Meena his domineering wife didn’t allow it. Seems she didn’t like the Lions due to issues in Sri Lanka…she had confused them for the Tamil Tigers! The crowd were in stitches.
The football class shone as Elaine C Smith introduced “her 3rd favourite man from Govan!” and on stepped Sir Alex Ferguson and the crowd rose to salute the legend who loved Big Jock.
Sir Alex soon had the crowd roaring in mock boo’s when he mentioned “rangers” twice before conceding “ah cannae win here” and calling them “the other mob” to massive applause .Fergie’s tales of sitting with Big Jock and Sean Fallon were captivating and it was wonderful to see the wonderful Fergusons love for the legends.
One story had everyone howling when Ferguson remembers sitting in The Beechwood Bar with Jock and Sean eating steak dinners and talking football. This was early on and Ferguson was just doing his badges whilst still playing wth “the other mob”. Fergie, as he was an eager pupil of soccer management. managed to stun Big Jock by asking
“Could I come and watch you training?”
Big Jock paused, and then said “Sean?”
Sean Fallon simply said “Finish your steak!”
The tales from Ferguson were varied from the image of him sitting up all night talking tactics with Jock who had Jimmy Steele on Tea Duty ( at 3am!) and how he invited Jock to be with him in his wonderful Aberdeen vs Real Madrid win and the benefits of hoodwinking Alfredo di Stefano with a bottle of whisky. The crowd were in rapture and Sir Alex did the big man proud.
Michelle McManus came on to sing a lovely rendition of “From a Distance” in tribute to Lions now in Paradise
Tributes were shown on the screens in between acts including a Hollywood celtic fan and a Celtic legend who is in town this weekend
I was out for a pint when The Bay City Rollers were on but then it was the turn of the Celtic Managers and up on stage came King Kenny, Gordon Strachan, Martin ONeill and Neil Lennon to chat with Rob McLean on the couch.
Sadly I didnt hear Kennys actual chat but my daughter told me he praised the Lions, thanked them and remembered how he couldn’t believe joining and being part of a club that had made such an achievement. I did enjoy the crowds roar when he was shown with big jock during the night
After Kenny it was Gordon Strachan. Wee Gordy recalled how he didn’t appreciate the scale of Celtic until being given an impromptu “end of Season review” . The surprise was it came in a small town restaurant toilet in Southern California!
And that End of Season review he received in the rest-room?.. “Aye no bad wee man, but no quite Martin O’Neill!”
Then it was Blessed Martins turn
Martin recalled his Celtic memories and made the interesting point highlighting how many of the great players and manager were protestants, A club for all indeed.
The biggest cheer for the ex managers though was saved for Neil Lennon.
The mic was passed to Lenny but before he could answer the question on the Lions achievement, the crowd as one took over and sang out “One Neil Lennon!”. The crowd sang and sang and sang as one loving voice.
The adulation for the man who suffered in so many ways for his Celtic love was unbelievable and reduced Lenny to having to choke back the tears.
We also had a few more musical tributes before the headliner was due and the crowd lapped them up.
John McLaughlin gave us a rousing “Best Days of our Lives”, his Lions tribute that made it Nbr 17 in the charts no less and then he and his band belted out Celtic songs inckuding a great “67 – In the heat of Lisbon” which had the crowds voices and phones raised high
The Female Duo “The Sisterhood” gave us a beautiful rendition of Grace and the Fields of Athenry
Eddie Reader recalled how her Da finally recognised she had “made it” when he heard Celtic fans paraphrasing her hit singles “perfect” during a Rangers game on telly
Then it was time for Etims Celebrity Fan of the Season, Martin Compston to step onto the stage
Celtic loving Martin was beaming with pride as he got to invite current Manager Brendan Rodgers and the crowds salutes sang out long and hard.
Brendan saluted the Lions, the fans and promised to do all he could to win the Treble on Saturday.
And then it was time for Rod Stewart.
The band arrived first and after a few minutes, in came the Celtic loving superstar to bow to the Lions
Rod ran through his hits and kicked a good 20 balls ( well threw them eventually) into the crowd.
The crowd were loving it, especially when he donned a special green suit, well the jacket at least ( it had “trousers big enough to fit Peter Lawell! according to Rod)
After a while, we went full Celtic and Rods backing singers and musicians were soon donning the Hoops. Even John Peel didn’t look this good pretending to play the Mandolin on Maggie May
Special roars of approval went up for the glorious “Celtic United of ‘Youre in My Heart’
and there was a lovely Tribute to Manchester with Rod and the crowd as one singing his classic ‘Sailing’
The hour flew by and before long, it was time for 1 last song.
Rod and his band were joined on stage by everyone involved and up stepped The Lisbon Lions for the singing of ‘WALK ON’ and cue the confetti for the final salute to the Legends.
This wonderful tribute had came to an end and bravo to all involved. It was a quality production and worthy of the Lions. All involved did so for free, and out of adulation, and once again the heart and love in our club is staggering.
As the crowd stepped out into the warm Glasgow evening, the Hydro and the Armadillo buildings showed their own appreciation to The Lions amazing achievement.