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Celtic Diary Tuesday June 10: McStay Comes Home

Charity football matches seem to come along more often than league games these days, but one that should grab the attention, and see a decent turn out takes place in September at Celtic Park, and will feature Paul McStay. The man who carried Celtic through the dark days of the early nineties when he should have been away establishing himself as one of the greats of European football will return, and theres more than a few of us that are looking forward to it.

MvStay has always shied away from playing football, even in legends games, as his ankles were seriously damaged during his playing days as opponents, usually in blue, couldn’t work out any other way to control him. The club website gives details of the fixture;

CELTIC Football Club is delighted to announce ‘MAESTRIO’ – a legends’ charity match featuring former Celtic star Paul McStay and ex-Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand – on Sunday, September 7, 2014 (2pm kick-off).

This unique event, which will be hosted by Celtic FC Foundation*, will see the ‘Maestro’ himself – Celtic legend and former Captain, Paul McStay – make a rare and much-anticipated return to Paradise. McStay’s Maestros will take on Rio’s All-Stars as a host of footballing legends and celebrity fans battle it out on the pitch at Celtic Park.

Paul McStay spent his entire career with Celtic, making his debut in 1982 and retiring in 1997. In his time with the club, Celtic won the League title three times, the Scottish Cup four times and the League Cup once. His talent, passion and commitment have never been forgotten by the Celtic support and it will be an honour to welcome him home.

Paul McStay said: “Although I’m now based in Australia, my heart will always belong in the East End of Glasgow. It was a privilege to play for and captain the Club I have supported all my life and the pride I felt all those years ago will forever remain.

“The Celtic fans were always an inspiration to me and I can’t wait to share another very special day with them, one which honours the very essence of our Club and its charitable beginnings. There’s going to be a buzz about the place!”

Those of us old enough will remember the countless interviews where McStay would describe any sort of good news as creating ” a buzz about the place “, though all too often it was more of a desperate attempt to convince himself that sooner or later other players nearer to his own level would join the team. They did eventually, such as John Collins and  Tommy Boyd , but it was too late for him to enjoy the success he deserved.

 If only the old board had built a team around him and Charlie Nicholas when they exploded onto the scene…

 Tickets will go on sale to season ticket holders on a first come, first served basis – maximum of 10 per person – from 9.30am tomorrow, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, priced at £10 for adults and £5 for concessions. Tickets will be available to purchase ONLINE by calling 0871 226 1888*** or by visiting the Celtic Ticket Office.

 I don’t normally bother with this sort of thing, but  its McStay. It’ll be like seeing a puppy you had to give away as a kid, and meeting it years later when you’ve both grown up.

 Speaking of John Collins, McStays midfield partner for a few years in that period, theres still talk he will be appointed as Ronnie Deilas number two . That should come as a relief to John Park, who doesn’t want the job, as it will mean relinquishing some of his powers. He may not have any authority on paper, but like the Cabinet Secretary in Government, he has the ear of the boss…..and appears to control who else has.

Scott Burns, in the Daily Express, still looking for that golden moment when he gets something right-which would mean going against company policy-says that Deila has all but convinced Collins to take the job;

” The Norwegian had lengthy discussions with the former Scottish international last week.

Collins, who has been manager of Hibs and Belgian side Charleroi and director of football at Livingston, is now considering an offer to become Deila’s assistant.

The former Celtic, Hibs, Fulham, Everton and Monaco player is impressed with Deila’s plans and vision for the Scottish champions, but had been seeking assurance that they will get total control of all football matters.


The 46-year-old, who had been helping the SFA as a part-time youth coach, is keen to return to management – but he wants everything to be right.

Collins has a strong philosophy on football and how it should be played and that was part of the reason why he walked out on both Hibs and Livingston. “

Deila is also likely to include John Kennedy in his new-look management team. Kennedy, who saw his career ended prematurely through injury, has worked wonders with the club’s young players and Celtic believe that he is now ready to step up.

If this is true, it would mean that Danny McGrain will not be resuming his role after he recovers from his heart attack. This time, can we make sure we get the chance to give him a proper thank you and a heartfelt farewell ?

The 30-year-old former Scotland defender is in the frame to be named Deila’s first-team coach.

Goalkeeping coach Stevie Woods is also likely to be retained, although coach Garry Parker is set to follow Johan Mjallby and Neil Lennon out the Parkhead exit door.

Er, he’s already gone. Still, it is the Express.

Deila’s previous assistant manager, David Nielson, is unlikely to join him as he is remaining at Stromsgodset to become their new head coach.

And that should make us all heave a sigh of relief. He’s off his head. Peter Houston is being considered for the managers job at Falkirk, and we would just like to assure the Bairns that he is a quality performer, with an excellent knowledge of the game, fantastic communication skills, which will enable him to bring exceptional levels of skill, fitness and teamwork to any team fortunate to have him as their manager at any level.

Think they will go for that ?

Talk of new Scandinavian wonderkid Martin Odegaard continuing his development under Deila at Celtic Park was met with a swift rebuke from Nielson, as he claimed that the youngster was out of our league and will end up at Barcelona.

That should help keep his feet on the ground and encourage him to work hard.

Odegaard is now in the first team at Stromgodset, becoming the youngest player in the world to score a goal or something, at the tender age of fifteen.

Website  Talking Baws had this clip of him in action…


After this game, Ronnie Deila took the chance to say an emotional goodbye and thank you to the Stromgodset support;

“I have almost no words,” he said speaking on the pitch. “But I would like to say that I am incredibly thankful for the nine wonderful years we had together. 

“The support I’ve had here in Drammen, the people I have met and the confidence I have gained is the reason I have been given this chance. Thank you.”

After leaving the pitch Deila added: “It is very emotional, and lots of thoughts are going through my head right now, but first and foremost I feel incredible gratitude for having been allowed to be chief of Strømsgodset football for nine years.  

 Seriously, does he ever stop talking ?

 He’s been in the Celtic job for nearly a week and all he’s done is tell everyone how happy he is with it. Thats when he’s not telling everyone he was previously associated with how happy he was with them. If he wins any manager of the year awards, you’ll need to take a sleeping bag to the ceremony.

 Anyway, his former director of football at Stromgodset, Jostein Flo, whom Deila has not yet thanked for his time, his voice and his applause, revealed there is a darker side to the new managers personality, and warned Celtics players they will have to do it his way.

“Ronny is a nice guy who listens to everyone. He’s very good with media guys, all smiling and chatting.

Er, we’ve noticed..He even had lengthy discussions with John Collins. I’ll bet the time just flew by.

“But nothing will make him change his belief in playing attacking football and he has a strong side – an aggressive side.

“We had to fight inside the dressing room sometimes. We had to lock the door but that’s because he knows what he wants.

“It didn’t matter if we argued, we didn’t care about that because we were winning games.

What were they arguing about then ? Whose round it is ?

“Even when we disagreed we knew we were always caring only about what is the best thing to do for the team.

“He would also sometimes fight with the players because he knows how they should play.

For such a chatterbox, this sounds like he actually has poor communication skills…

“He is a strong-willed man when it comes to deciding how to play and you can’t move away from his style of football.

“Even as a player he was very clear and precise about how to do things.

“He was practically a manager even when he was playing.

“Ronny is also very clear in what type of player he wants for each role, as well as the system of play he wants.

“He’s tactically strong, he works them hard in training but he makes sure they have the skills to play the right football.”

Or, presumably, he locks them in a room and knocks them about a bit. Well, it might work.

“Ronny’s young but he has been here since 2007. He’s a good leader who listens to people, works well them and helps them to grow around him.

“At training on the pitch he’s the best I’ve seen and he will play attractive football. So I think it’s no problem for him to take even a big job like Celtic.

“Ronny has a great knowledge of football and knows how to play the game the right way.

“He’s very offensive in his thinking and, almost regardless of who they’re playing against, Celtic will have more than 50 per cent of the ball.

“In the last year here he has also made us much more forward thinking in the way we play. He just loves to attack.

Yes, so you said

“Here he has brought in a lot of different types around him in order to develop players.”

 “With Ronny in charge the goalie will not just kick the ball up the field. They will play football.

Thats a relief. Fraser Forsters kick outs made the floodlights duck.

“He’s very offensive. The keeper will pass the ball out from the back and defenders will have the ball as often as the central midfielders.

Oh, feck.


“The style of play is very attractive on the eye, especially at home.”

Where most of us will watch it, from behind the couch.

“For the first two or three years with Ronny we lost almost every away game.

Strangely enough, it appears nobody noticed a pattern emerging.

“He had his principles. It didn’t matter if we lost the game away, he wanted to play offensive football, sometimes too offensive.

“Offensive football is his philosophy.

Losing every second game would offend most of us.

“We also had a problem with him in the beginning because in the last five or 10 minutes he wanted to attack all the time. Never just sit back and defend.

“That changed a bit because we lost all our away games in the first year.

Not that much though, they lost them in year two and year three. 

“We also kept playing really strong teams in friendlies so we lost all of these.

Anyone else notice the repeated use of the words “we lost ” ?

“Yet he kept going to play better and better opposition.

“Ronny kept challenging the team to move up a level and then we started winning away from home, with the same type of football.

“We were nearly as offensive as we were at home. And we won the league.

“After two or three years when he signed a new contract we were bottom of the league but he wouldn’t change his style of football.

“He was very clear that doing it his way would work.”

A bit like the Michael Palin character in  the ” Holy Grail ” who kept building his castles on a swamp. Is it too late to ring Willie McStay ? 

 Virgil van Dijk has another wee bit if trouble brewing. It appears that the business woman in the Diary the other day was not his sole external  project. Apparently he sent a text to another which has been misinterpreted, when he asked

” Are you flexible ? Can you do the splits ?”

 The Diary can reveal that he was actually talking to a mobile dessert chef, and was asking her to prepare the sweet course for an upcoming dinner party, but at that point was unable to confirm the times..

 Look, I’m trying to help him.

 Peter Lawwell says that the big man would benefit from another year in Glasgow, but you get the feeling that he might have to leave, or at least use that as his excuse.

We hear that Loius van Gaal is interested in taking him to Manchester Utd, and the big fellow will resist all other offers until he gets that one.

 Well, almost all other offers, obviously.

BBC Alba showed a documentary last night which charted the life and career of Jock Stein, the man who turned Celtic from a club with a proud history, into a club with a present and a future. The ambitious project was well received, and praise is due to those behind it.

 The hardest thing to do with any new work on Celtic legends, or the club, is to find fresh material, or at least a fresh perspective. Only Kevin McCarra, with the Nine Lives of Celtic, and Stephen Sullivan with Iron Man, have achieved  this successfully. so, the makers had their work cut out from the start, which is important to appreciate as you watch it.

 The latter fifteen minutes or so of the programme was classic television. Powerful and emotional contributions from Archie MacPherson ( author of the best book on Stein ) Gordon Strachan, Graeme Souness, John Clark and Danny McGrain brought a tear to the eye, as they recounted the final moments of the great mans life.

 Especially when Strachan, with a tear and a smile fighting for a place on his face,  reminded us the last decision in the greatest managerial career was to “take me off “

 One visual image that got  me was the still photo where Stein is stumbling, and Alex Ferguson is looking on in the background, , wide eyed with shock and fear.

 Although time is of the essence with these shows, one complaint is that a biography of Stein, which should always assume the audience has no prior knowledge of the subject, whilst considering those who do, ( Told you it was no easy project )  cannot possibly be complete with absolutely no mention of  Sean Fallon or Bob Kelly. Two men who knew him better than anyone, and I’m still not sure why the lass in the mining museum , the football historian or the reconstructions were chosen ahead of maybe some footage of Fallon, Kelly, or Bill Shankly.

 And where were Billy McNeill and Kenny Dalglish ? Two more men who were in Steins inner circle ?

 All that to one side, though, because it was an enjoyable programme, and the ending especially was of the highest quality.

 Sky Sports have announced that they will be launching a new channel, Sky Sports 5, adveised as ” the home of European football. “

 Now, if Scotland becomes independent, then technically any football from there will be on SS5, as will the Champions League. Hopefully I can then ditch four channels of golf, cricket , English football and other pretend sports and spend what I save on a car, a holiday and a dessert chef.

Yesterdays question concerned the man who has played the most minutes in matches at World Cup finals tournaments.

2,217 minutes by Paolo Maldini.

Which player has the worst disciplinary record-red and yellow cards in the finals ?

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7 years ago

Zinedine Zidane

holy sea
7 years ago

There’s been far too much talk of our Ronny Bhoy being a miracle worker.Let’s all settle down,and give him a chance to go about his business.As for No2,please NO,Collins.He is too smug,and if he was chocolate he would eat himself.Although,Ronny likes chocolate,so maybe,if Collins tells
him he is chocolate,Ronny will finish him off !!
For me,the Maestro’s big brother Willie,would be the perfect No2.A humble guy,steeped in Celtic traditions,who knows what
makes Celtic.Or should that be The Tic !!

7 years ago

If this Ronny character is offensive at football he may be getting his collar felt by the rather over-zealous plod.

7 years ago

The criticism of his team’s away form etc is a bit harsh as it overlooks the fact they were a pretty weak side in their league. A stubborn approach to high intensity attacking football is hardly going to cost us in the league, if anything it will result in exciting games where we attack from the off instead of lazing about for an hour before desperately looking for the goals we should have scored in the first half, as has frequently been the case in recent years.

7 years ago

excellent programme,but strange that many figures from Jocks career were missing from it.made me,and probably a few more see Souness in a(slightly!)different light.

7 years ago

The really jarring thing about the Jock Stein programme was the awful and bizarre musical choices. “Oops I did it again”? To illustrate Big Jock winning trophies? Really?

7 years ago

Worst disciplinary record? Must be Scotland? Always sent off home before the knock outs? (sorry, couldnt resist)

yeah, any more bigging up of this Ronny fella and we ll be disappointed he doesnt levitate onto the pitch. Maths doesnt seem to be his pal’s strong point either, at one point talking about the great 9 years Ronny had at Stromgodset, then talking about him coming in 2007?

He ll come in, and like every manager have his favourites,
play people out of position, make baffling subs, leave out players who should be in the team; in short not do the job as well as any of us think we could do it. But we ll get behind him, hopefully he can make good, not necessarily expensive, signings and have celtic play well and winning most weeks. With that and the odd wee sly dig at 2nd Rangers and their glorious 2 year history and he ll do for me

7 years ago

Enough yappin to the papers Ronny(and that agent o yours).

7 years ago

Tell them feck all, the press are a bunch of chancers and huns. Hh

7 years ago

Hail Hail the maestro! One of the greatest ever celts – imagine him in o’neils team !?! LEGEND

Nice one Terry! Nice one son, nice one Terry, lets have another one!!

It’s black, it’s blue its fuckin halved in two – Butchers leg!! – ahhh the good old days!! hehehe

Charlie Saiz
7 years ago

My Granny was a McStay… 😉

7 years ago

Watched Maestro on telly here in Sydney aboot a year ago: very articulate, humble ( no surprise, granted ) but it was good to see him in good spirits apparently settled here with his family. Would love to go back & go to the game in Paradise.

On another note…..whats Jonnys- talk the ears off a rabbit – nick name gon ti be????

HAIL HAIL N a that !!!!!!

7 years ago

…aye ah know its Ronny no Jonny. Early morning here is Sydney,gie a brek.


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