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  • Bobby Murdoch: When he played, Celtic played

    Bobby Murdoch: When he played, Celtic played

    By: Paul Cuddihy on 15 May, 2019 10:01

  • BOBBY MURDOCH was always, first and foremost, a Celtic supporter. He also just happened to be one of the finest players ever to have worn the green and white Hoops. He had been part of the most successful Celtic squad in the history of the club but more than that, he had been a vital member of the team which brought so much silverware to Celtic Park.

    Between 1959 and 1973, Murdoch made 481 appearances for the club, scoring 102 goals in the process. He won eight league championship medals, four Scottish Cups, five League Cups and, of course, a European Cup winner’s medal.

    Born in Bothwell on August 17, 1944, Murdoch joined Celtic in 1959 straight from Our Lady´s High School, Motherwell. He was farmed out to Cambuslang Rangers to gain experience, and made his debut in 1962 in a 3-1 League Cup victory over Hearts at Celtic Park, scoring after just seven minutes.

    It was the Hoops´ first competitive fixture of the season and the 17-year-old Murdoch was chosen when it was discovered that John Divers had forgotten his boots.

    And it was to be in the League Cup that he made his final appearance for the Hoops - on August 29, 1972, in another 3-1 victory, this time away to Arbroath. This time, however, he was not to be on the scoresheet.

    In between then, he helped Celtic to eight of their nine titles in a row, and was part of the team which beat Inter Milan on May 25, 1967. Indeed, it was a Murdoch shot which was knocked in for the winning goal by Stevie Chalmers.

    Originally played as an inside-right, the arrival of Jock Stein in 1965 saw Murdoch move back to right-half, the decision by the Celtic manager helping to create one of the finest midfielders in the world. The switch had an immediate benefit, and Murdoch helped Celtic win the Scottish Cup in ´65 with a 3-2 victory over Dunfermline.

    Inter Milan´s coach at the time of the European Cup final, Hellenio Herrrera, described Murdoch as 'my complete footballer' after having watched the Celtic midfielder orchestrate the defeat of the defensive-minded Italian side.

    In 1969, that extraordinary ability was recognised when he was given the Scottish Football Writers´ Player of the Year Award. Like many of his Celtic contemporaries, Murdoch never received the number of Scotland caps commensurate with his ability. He represented Scotland a total of 12 times.

    Murdoch left Celtic for Middlesbrough where he quickly established a reputation as one of the best players that club ever had. Indeed, the man who signed him, Jackie Charlton said: "Bobby Murdoch was the first player I ever signed and he was also my favourite. I played against him for Leeds when he scored to send us out of the Eutropean Cup... but I forgave him for that! Yes, he was a smashing lad and there´s no doubt that he went on to become a major part of my team at Middlesbrough.

    "Bobby was an amazing passer of a ball who could drop a ball on a sixpence from any distance and, although I´ve had players who covered more ground, I never worked with anyone who could strike the ball as well as he could."

    And Graeme Souness, a team-mate at Middlesbrough as a young player, said: "He came along at just the right time, not only for me but for the whole team. His experience settled us down as we went for promotion and he also proved to be a big influence on my career.

    "Bobby was an excellent passer of the ball and he had an excellent attitude. He would always pull me to one side to pass on advice or to tell me when he thought I was acting wrongly."

    Murdoch finished his playing career with Middlesbrough in 1976, then becoming coach at the club for five years before a brief spell as manager.

    On May 15, 2001, Bobby Murdoch died. He was aged 56. And the thoughts and prayers of the Celtic family remain with his wife, Kathleen, and all his family and friends.

    Bobby will always be remembered as a great Celt whose love for the club remained undiminished throughout the years. And Jock Stein himself said of Murdoch: 'As far as I´m concerned, Bobby Murdoch was just about the best player I had as manager.'

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