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  • They Played At Paradise - Bobby Charlton

    They Played At Paradise - Bobby Charlton

    By: Joe Sullivan on 29 Mar, 2020 12:01

  • HERE we revisit a Celtic View series that looked at just some of the famous names that have graced the hallowed turf of Paradise with visiting teams down through the years.

    Next up is Manchester United legend, Bobby Charlton

    When did he play at Paradise?
    The great Bobby Charlton has paraded his wares at Paradise on more than one occasion, but perhaps the most famous instance was on August 6, 1966 when Celtic kicked off the new campaign with a pre-season game against Manchester United here at Celtic Park. United featured names such as George Best and Denis Law and much-loved former Celt, Paddy Crerand, but the real focus was on Charlton and his England team-mate Nobby Stiles. The reason? Just a week earlier England lifted the World Cup at Wembley but the Celts were in no mood for respecting reputations. The Bhoys railroaded to a 4-1 victory and set the tone for the rest of season 1966/67.

    And his return to Paradise?
    This was a much more sedate affair at the start of season 1974/75 when, by this time, Bobby was player-manager of Preston North End. He may have been past his golden years but he still hit the net in a 2-1 victory for the English side over what was basically a Celtic reserve team. With Preston wearing all white, the Celts took to the field wearing their rarely used change strip of green and black stripes with black shorts and socks. The reason for the weakened Celtic side on show was that the Bhoys had already played two Drybrough Cup games that week and the final was the day following the Preston game – Celtic beat Rangers on penalties to lift that particular trophy for the first time after reaching all three previous finals.

    Were those the only games he played against the Bhoys?
    Not quite. The Charlton brothers pulled off something of a coup in season 1972/73 when the both managed to get Celtic to play in their testimonials just a couple of years after the Celts had travelled to Upton Park to play in a testimonial to the man who captained the brothers to World Cup glory, Bobby Moore. Bobby Charlton’s testimonial went ahead at Old Trafford on September 18, 1972 (0-0) while Jackie’s took place at Elland Road on May 7, 1973 (4-3 for Celtic).

    Could he have worn the Hoops?
    Well he did – and the posers of many a trick question regarding World Cup winners who have played for the Hoops will delight in telling you that he actually signed for Celtic, albeit on a very temporary basis. The occasion was Liverpool legend Ron Yeats’ testimonial at Anfield in season 1973/74, indeed this was the first such game played by Celtic since doing the Charlton testimonial double the previous season. Wearing the No.9 shorts, he played in a side that outclassed Liverpool and he opened the scoring in a 4-1 win for the Celts. The top performer, though, was Bobby Lennox, and Charlton has admitted on several occasions since then that he would, ‘love to have him in my pocket everywhere I went.” When Liverpool finally scored a late consolation, the Kop started chanting ‘Ee-Aye-Addio, we’ve scored a goal’.

    Did ‘Wor Jackie’ ever get to play at Paradise then?
    Jock Stein’s Celtic and Don Revie’s Leeds United met on a fairly regular basis in the late 1960s and early ‘70s but it’s well known that the famous 1970 European Cup semi-final second leg was played at Hampden Park to accommodate the 136,505 who beat the queue and managed to get in to see it. In August 1968, the Leeds side came north for a friendly but that too was played at the national stadium in front of over 75,000. However, they returned a year later in August ’69 and this time the other Charlton played at Paradise in front of 65,000.

    And another thing.
    Bobby almost made another unscheduled appearance at Paradise when he travelled north for a game but turned up late. The match in question was the traditional Scotland v England international at Hampden in the late 1970s when he was due to appear as a pundit on the TV Football Panel. On reaching the outskirts of Glasgow he headed straight for the old floodlight pylons towering above the rest of the city. But it was only on reaching the environs of a surprisingly deserted stadium that he realised he was at Celtic Park!

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