A Celtic State of Mind – Will we ever see all the Lions, cast in bronze?

It is not solely on the slopes of Glasgow’s dear old Paradise, nor in the many supporters’ bars all over the world, that Celtic fans choose to celebrate their soi-disant ‘club like no other’.

The remarkable history of this football behemoth has for generations also been brought to life through the cultural outlets of literature, theatre, music, art and film.

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More recently, a chosen few of its greatest icons have been immortalised in bronze, sculpted from the images of old torn and faded-to-yellow photographs:

The Irish Marist Brother Walfrid, who had the vision to found the charitable institution 132 years ago this month; Jock Stein, who revolutionised Celtic and European football 80 years later; Jimmy Johnstone, who is widely regarded as the greatest ever Celt; and Billy McNeill, the finest leader in Scottish football history.

This quartet welcome visitors from all over the globe up The Celtic Way and into a theatre that possesses a mystical quality and unique magnetism. Venture further afield and effigies of Bertie Peacock and Henrik Larsson are poised in Coleraine and Helsingborg respectively. Two other bronze monuments closer to home pay homage to two of Celtic’s finest sons…

A second Jinky statue can be found in his home town of Viewpark. It is a permanent reminder to the locals of the genius that once walked among them – something for youngsters to aspire to and a sight that would warm the cockles of all who remembers Wee Jimmy’s mesmerising trickery.

Some 30 miles from Paradise, and with a fist to the heavens, also stands the eternally-smiling buzzbomb, Bobby Lennox. The Saltcoats monument is the most recent addition to the statuesque Celts, having been unveiled in November 2018, and the Fundraising Committee spoke to ACSOM of the long and winding road that finally lead to the stunning installation.

The next of Jock Stein’s European trailblazers to be cast in bronze has been announced as Tommy Gemmell – scorer of two European Cup final goals in the green and white hoops. Craignuik will be home to the latest sculptured Lion, and fundraising is soon to commence towards a £40,000 target.

The money will be raised through the blood, sweat and tears of the Tommy Gemmell fundraising committee. It will be a huge undertaking but the dedication of a few will inspire future generations within the Craignuik community.

It would be fitting if all the Lions had such a tribute in their home towns. Some may argue that the almost mythical lineup should grace The Celtic Way, frozen in time as the icons they have become, eternal reminders to each new generation of Celtic supporters of a time when their club were feared and respected throughout Europe.

But, for now, we will marvel at the breathtaking sights of Jinky, as he prepares to bamboozle some hapless opponent; of Cesar with the Big Cup; of Jock Stein at his untouchable best; of Buzzbomb celebrating one of his many hundred goals; and of a seated and robed Brother Walfrid, the man who made all this possible.

Paul John Dykes

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