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  • Where are they now? Frank Brogan

    Where are they now? Frank Brogan

    By: Joe Sullivan on 17 Jun, 2013 16:01

  • OVER the past 12 months, the Celtic View tracked down some of the club´s unsung heroes to look back on their career highlights and discover what happened to them after exiting Paradise.
    So interesting were these stories that, during the summer, we will be reproducing these interviews on the official website. Next up is former Celtic winger, Frank Brogan.
    Frank Brogan was part of the team that pulled the Hoops from the mire of the early 1960s towards the heights of European glory but a move to Ipswich Town in 1964 saw him miss out on Celtic’s treasure trail.
    However, he did pick up a few gems of his own thanks to his life down south and his career had moved on a long way since he and brother and fellow-Celt, Jim, first tested their football skill at St Joseph’s in Dumfries, where Celtic founder Brother Walfrid is buried.
    After completing his primary education at the boarding school, Frank qualified for St Mungo’s, a noted supplier of Celtic players, and it was there that his speedy wing play started to turn heads.
    He joined the Hoops straight from school and after making his debut in 1961, he scored 17 goals in 48 games before leaving for Ipswich in 1964.
    He finished his career in the early ‘70s with stints at Morton and Halifax but he will forever be remembered as the Celt who scored the club’s 5,000th league goal 50 years ago – and he returned to Paradise in Hoops´ first league game of last season to donate the ball he scored the goal with to the club.
    Here, Frank talks about his life and times with Celtic.
    Why did you end up at St Joseph’s?
    My Dad was a St Mungo’s Academy boy and he was taught by the Marists but when he was playing for St Mungo’s FP, he went down for a game at St Joseph’s and I think, secretly, he would have loved to have been a pupil there. So I think he wanted that for his boys – but it was a boarding school and I hated it. Jim loved it but I didn’t enjoy it at all – I wanted my Mammy!
    You were training to be a Chartered Accountant and your parents obviously prided themselves in the education of you and your brother. What was their reaction to you wanting to take up football?
    I think my parents gave me a long rein and let me do what I wanted to do, within reason, as even when I was 17 or 18-years-old, I had to be in by 10pm. But as far as the organisation of my own life was concerned, I was given pretty much a free hand. My parents were both strong-willed and intelligent people but they realised that Jim and I just wanted to play football.
    What role did Jock Stein play at the time?
    Jock did a fair bit of coaching with the younger lads that were coming through and I can remember him taking various training sessions, and although he had great success with the reserve team, I don’t think any of us thought that things would turn out the way they did. When he got the freedom to manage in his own way, then things changed. When he came back to Celtic, things were in such a bad way that Robert Kelly decided to give full control to Jock. That was an astute move that turned out to be fabulous for the club.
    What do you recall of your ‘debut’ in the Charity Cup final of 1961?
    I didn’t even know I was playing until I got there, which was maybe a good thing for a young lad as I would have been 18 at the time. The one thing I do remember was hitting the post with a shot in the second half that would have won the cup for us outright instead of sharing it with Clyde after a 1-1draw. We shared the cup for six months each but I never got a medal as you couldn’t give a player a medal for just six months. I never got a medal for the Scottish Cup final in 1963 either, as I only played in the first game and missed out on the replay.
    Then there was your debut proper in the league against Hearts in February, 1962?
    I remember that game as it was a good football match. We had just beaten them 4-3 in the Scottish Cup at Tynecastle a few days earlier. That was a great game as well as I was in the party and watched it – there were no subs in those days. It was 2-2 here and I enjoyed it, I was playing outside-right against Davie Holt at left-back. I remember turning in front of The Jungle early on in the game and he came rushing at me. He was a hard man and I thought, ‘watch out’ but I just basically stabbed the ball and it went right through his legs. Then I was around the other side of him right in front of The Jungle – that was me made.
    In your sixth league game, your fourth goal for the Celts was the club’s 5,000th league goal. How did that feel?
    It was a free kick maybe five or 10 yards outside the box and I ran over the top of the ball. Paddy Crerand pushed it around the wall to the side, I was in the penalty area by that time and I swivelled on my right foot and basically just hit it. It just flew into the top left-hand corner and it was ex-Rangers keeper George Niven who was in goal and that made it all the sweeter for me.
    You were also pictured with other milestone scorers, Celtic legends Adam McLean (2,000th), Jimmy McGrory (3,000th) and Jimmy Delaney (4,000th). Mr McGrory was manager but how did you feel to be in such exalted company?
    I was in their company for only 60 seconds really, but they were Celtic legends to me, especially McGrory. I mean, how do you score as many goals as he did? Jimmy Delaney was also a legend and he’s the only player to have won cup winner’s medals in Scotland, Ireland and England, so that speaks for itself. It wasn’t until later on that I realised what a great player Adam McLean was, but I found out he was a true legend.
    How hard had it been to break into the side?
    It’s always been heard to break into the first team of a huge club like Celtic and it will be the same just now for the young lads as was for myself and Wee Jinky, Bobby Lennox, Bobby Murdoch and so on. It was difficult and you had to improve and reach a certain standard very, very quickly. And even that, certainly in my case, wasn’t enough at times because, if your face didn’t fit then that was it, or at least that’s the way I see it.
    Appearance-wise, season 1962/63 had been your most fruitful but by the following term, younger brother Jim was starting to pick up the odd first-team appearance. Was that a source of family pride?
    It was, especially for my Mum and Dad. To have two boys playing for Celtic at the one time was a dream come true. I can’t remember my father ever missing a Celtic game that I played and that speaks for itself if you’re talking about family pride. It was the same with Jim as when I went down to Ipswich, my father came down for the odd game but I don’t think he missed very many games with Jim playing for Celtic.
    After 17 goals in 48 games, you moved to Ipswich Town on June 11, 1964. How did that come about?
    The reason I moved was basically over money as I wanted my wages to be made up to the average for the first team. Football contracts ran until June 30 and about 10 days before that I got a phone call from Jimmy McGrory to go up to Celtic Park. I thought to myself, ‘Great, they’re going to give me the money’. So up I went and the boss asked me if I was still of the same opinion and wouldn’t sign for the same terms as the previous year. I said no and that I wasn’t signing for anything less than what I asked for. He then told me that Ipswich Town manager Jackie Milburn was up, and Jackie was a legend with Newcastle so I said that I would speak to him, never believing for a second that I was going to go. Basically, I didn’t want to leave Celtic, all I wanted was four quid – taking me from £26-a-week to £30 which was the average wage in the first team at the time. I spoke to Jackie and apart from being an absolute legend in the game, he was such a nice man who inspired me with confidence as he really wanted to sign me. The money I was offered was three times what I was getting at Celtic Park – three times! But I still hadn’t made up my mind because I thought I could stay and fight to get my place back in the team. But I was adamant about the money, I wanted that £4 and I thought to myself that if they can’t give me £4 on trust for being in and around the first team then there wasn’t much hope for the rest of my career here. All these things were going around in my mind so I went into Glasgow to meet my father who was a florist at Agnes Brogan Florist’s in Castle Street. He spoke to Jackie and he got on as well with him as I did and Jackie said, ‘I can see you’re in a quandary. I know what it’s like to love a club, Newcastle United were my great love.’ So he asked me to come down just to see the place. My father arranged for me to get a flight down to Heathrow and from there I went over to Liverpool Street to get the train up to Ipswich.
    What happened next?
    Jackie was there waiting for me with a local reporter and photographer to take me to the stadium. It was a lovely stadium with an absolutely magnificent pitch. It was so wide, I thought to myself. ‘I’m going to run amok here - they’ll never get near me.’ It was a beautiful playing surface with it being in the farming country of Suffolk and it was well known in England that only Wembley had a better pitch and, of course, Wembley was only used for a handful of games a year. The Ipswich Town pitch was immaculate so I hummed and hawed and Jackie did his best. I met the chairman and I thought, ‘I’m going to go for it.’ I came back here once to collect my boots and old trainer Jimmy Gribben had them for me. He was sorry to see me go and I was sorry to leave him. It was the same with Sean Fallon who also said he was sorry to see me go and I told him I had my regrets as well but I had signed now and that was me – so off I disappeared into the sunset.
    You then missed out on the Jock Stein years. Did you ever think ‘What if?’
    I’ve asked myself that question so many times but I met my wife down there and I’ve got my two beautiful daughters and my five grandchildren which I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t moved down there so it’s swings and roundabouts really. I had a great time at Ipswich with a good goal-scoring record. I was well thought of, I was well-respected and it was a nice quiet place to live so I can’t say I’ve any real regrets. On the football side of things, yes, but on the personal life side of things – no.
    Did you watch Jim’s career from afar?
    It was great to see Jim do so well as in a way it meant that I hadn’t really left as he was filling me in with what was happening when we talked on the phone. We did that about three or four times a week when I was telling him about Ipswich and he was telling about what was happening behind the scenes at Celtic Park.
    Why did you decide to donate the ball back to Celtic?
    I spoke to one of the guys from the higher echelons of the supporters’ clubs, Alan Horne from Grangemouth. I told him I would like to make a wee gesture to the club. I actually made up my mind the day that Celtic hammered Kilmarnock to lift the title and I thought to myself, ‘I’ve had this ball for 50 years so I’m going to give it back to the club.’ Well, not give it back, but give it to them because they never had it in the first place, it was Thistle’s ball as they were the home side. So I spoke to Alan and he fixed it up for me to come through and I was treated like absolute royalty. I couldn’t believe how well I was treated. I was with my grandsons and met Peter Lawwell who introduced me to the chairman, Ian Bankier, and the other directors. It was nice to see Big Billy in there and I met Bobby Lennox later on for a wee bit of patter. They asked me to make a speech at half-tine and I managed to get through that and then the chairman took me out on to the pitch for the presentation and I was really happy about the cheer from the crowd. It was a great day and it was the day after my 70th birthday and I was having my party on that Saturday night so, all in all, it turned out to be possibly the greatest weekend of my life
    Next up is a former Celtic striker from the early 1990s - Andy Payton

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