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  • Mike Jackson: I will miss my best friend, Billy

    Mike Jackson: I will miss my best friend, Billy

    By: Joe Sullivan on 24 Apr, 2019 16:52

  • THE most enduring of the friendships that Billy McNeill made in football was his bond with Mike Jackson. That friendship went on for over 60 years and went far beyond being just team-mates, and the former Celt was distraught at the plight and the passing of his best pal.

    Mike said: “I was up to see him every other day, but it was a blessing that God took him. As much as I’d love him to be here with me, it’s a relief for him.

    “He was such a lovely, big, principled man. I was the best man when he and Liz got married. I first met him in 1957 and we all trained together at night, three nights a week at Celtic Park.

    “Everything came from there and since 1957, we’ve been best pals. My kids and their children are like brothers and sisters – just one great big family. As friends we were in each other’s pockets all of the time and the friendship has continued right down to our children and I’ll miss him awfully – it was so sad.”

    Mike also revealed that Celtic’s greatest ever on-field motivator wasn’t just a captain on the pitch, but off-field as well.

    He said: “He was a born leader, even back in the early days arranging holidays. The first time a crowd of us went away on holiday, it was to the Channel Islands. There was the likes of John Divers and Jim Conway there at the time, and Billy organised all of that.

    “We were saying, ‘Where will we go?’ Billy said, ‘We’ve never been to the Channel Islands, let’s go there,’ and a year later he was saying, ‘We’ll go to Spain.’ Billy organised everything for those trips.

    “That’s why we called him Cesar, as he was the captain and he ran the ship, and made sure everybody was alright. We’d have been lost without him. In fact, we wouldn’t have gone anywhere.”

    He added: “I was honoured to be the best man at his wedding and that friendship had gone right down to our children, who, like us, have lived out of each other’s pockets.

    “I lost my wife 18 years ago and I was never out of the McNeill house as it was a second home to me. He was such a nice man and it was a pleasure and an honour to have known him.”

    The Celtic team line-up from the picture above:
    Back row: Dunky MacKay, Neilly Mochan, Frank Haffey, Eric Smith, Billy McNeill
    Front row: Matt McVittie, Jim Conway, Bertie Peacock, Mike Jackson, Sammy Wilson, Bertie Auld

    (Derry City v Celtic, May 17, 1958)

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