First published in The Evening Times on 03/03/17 (in print and online – available here.)
It is normally full of cheering fans, but instead the ground around Celtic Park fell silent as supporters gathered to mourn one of the greatest.
As news began to filter through that Lisbon Lion Tommy Gemmell had died, fans gathered at Parkhead to pay their respects.
The Motherwell-born left-back, who scored in two European Cup finals, was one of a famous group of players all born within a 30-mile radius of Celtic Park who shocked Inter Milan and the football world in the Portuguese capital in 1967.
At Celtic Park on Thursday, scarves, jerseys and flowers were laid down at the statues of club founder, Brother Walfrid, Tommy’s Lisbon Lions’ team-mate Jimmy Johnstone and legendary boss Jock Stein.
Sean Murphy, 47, said: “I feel very sad this morning because obviously from such a high last night being up in Inverness and great team performance to sadness this morning. “To wake up to the news that Tommy had passed away, just you know what you see here at Celtic Park we wouldn’t have without the likes of Tommy Gemmell.
“He gave us one of our greatest days in history.
“I think this year with the 50th anniversary, it’s a mixture of sadness because of Tommy’s passing away but obviously we’ve got the memories that he gave us.
“It’s just a really sad day this morning and with Billy not being well, and we’ve already lost a few Lions but Brendan has certainly given us a great season this season so hopefully we can go on and with the lot and make that a fitting tribute to the Lisbon Lion.”
Jo McGuigan, 47, said:
“It’s quite sad.
“It feels like…it’s hard to explain it.
“The Lisbon Lions were a fantastic team and they’re part of us, you know?
“And we’re losing them one by one and it’s just sad.
“I would love to just say thanks to him and the rest of them who are still alive for what they mean to us and what they’ve done for this club.
“I think that it will probably never be surpassed.
“It’s just special and we’re going to celebrate that this year with the 50th anniversary, the whole club and everyone connected with it as a tribute to these guys.
“Look at guys like Bertie Auld today who are still actively in at Parkhead, every single day, just ambassadors for the club.
“It’s what they’ve done then, it’s what they do now.
“The term legends is used lightly today, well with these guys it’s not.
“They are, for 11 guys within a 30 miles radius of Glasgow to do what they done, it’s just phenomenal.
“It’s the legacy that they’ve left for us now.”
Archie MacDonald, 68, said:“I’m sorry to hear about Tommy passing away.
“He scored many a fantastic goal.
“One in particular I remember him scoring from near enough the half way line against St Mirren at Celtic Park.
“He was always a great club man.”
Alan MacMullen said: “Just gutted for him and his family.
“He was an absolute legend and made many a people in Glasgow happy.
“I’m sure the big fella upstairs will see him alright.
“See with the sad news about Billy as well, it’s just sad.
“I’m just gutted about it.”
Grant Reid, 35, said:
“I mean I knew he was unwell.
“I’m just pretty down beat about it all especially this year.
“I’ve got the stories that my dad and my grandad told me.
“It’s just another sad loss.”
Steven Rainey, 34 said:
“It’s sad especially after the times that we’ve had there, just after Billy McNeil getting that news.