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  • On This day in history: Willie Fernie returns as coach

    On This day in history: Willie Fernie returns as coach

    By: Joe Sullivan on 18 Jun, 2019 08:59

  • IT was on this day in history 52 years ago, June 18, 1967 that Willie Fernie returned to the club where has had his greatest days.

    The former Celt was brought home by his old team-mate, Jock Stein, and he would run rule over an emerging bunch of youngsters on the books sat Celtic Park.

    Over the next few years as players such as Kenny Dalglish, Danny McGrain, Lou Macari, Davie Hay, George Connelly and many others had the undoubted benefit of the experience of a true Celtic great.

    Here we take a look at some milestones in the great Willie Fernie’s Celtic career.

    PRELUDE TO PARADISE

    As a youngster, Willie Fernie had trials with both Aberdeen and Raith Rovers and in his late teens he could have had the pick of clubs on moving on from Leslie eartsHearts, but it was Celtic scout Pat Duffy who secured the services of this silky player who was a natural-born dribbler. He signed for Celtic on October 12, 1948, just a month short of his 20th birthday and was then farmed out to local Fife side, Kinglassie Colliery, in the town of his birth, so it would be a year-and-a-half before he made the first of his Celtic debuts. On leaving the Hoops in 1958 for Middlesbrough, he returned in 1960 for another year with the Celts.

    FIRST START

    It wasn’t until March 18, 1950 that the inside-forward made his full Celtic debut when Celtic took on St Mirren at Love Street and a Mike Haughney goal in the 71st minute delighted the Hoops fans in the 20,000 crowd with a 1-0 win. Fernie played in the further three remaining games of that season and finished on a personal high when he scored his first Celtic goal by opening the scoring against Clyde at Shawfield with Charlie Tully salvaging a 2-2 draw just two minutes from the end. With the league out of the way that season he went on to play in all three Charity Cup games and secured his first silverware in the 3-2 final win over Rangers.

    HIGHS

    He had a tidy medal haul in the 1950s with the Coronation Cup, the league and Scottish Cup double of 1953/54 and two League Cup final wins in 1956/57 and 1957/58, but which to choose? Alright then, let’s go for the 1957 League Cup final and the 7-1 win over Rangers. It was in final minute of a match that Fernie created a much-celebrated piece of Celtic history with his penalty strike at ‘Hampden in the sun’. By the 90th minute of the 1957 League Cup final, he and his Celtic team-mates had thumped in six and had hit the post a further four times in what was a complete rout of their derby rivals. Rangers were on the rack, a broken and spent force with full-back, John Valentine and goalkeeper, George Niven enduring a nightmare afternoon. Then, with seconds remaining, the outstanding Billy McPhail was unceremoniously flattened inside the box. Fernie was the man who stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick, aiming for Niven’s bunnet in the back corner of the goal. The penalty was duly tucked away and one of the club’s finest 90 minutes sealed in the perfect fashion.

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