A Celtic State of Mind’s Cult Hero XI – The Number 10

Today we select the cult player who will be given free reign to do as they please – the Tommy Rogic role.

Today’s selections highlight some free spirits and flawed geniuses, who could, and maybe should, have gone on to be Celtic legends.
Here is the line-up as it stands:

1. Artur Boruc
2. Enrico Annoni
3. Stéphane Mahé
4. Bobo Balde
5. Ramon Vega
6. Lubo Moravcik
7. Shunsuke Nakamura
8. John Collins
Finally, a Scotsman was added to the squad with John “Let me show you my six-pack” Collins taking the famous number 8 shorts. We’re into the final stretch now, so here we go with the ASCOM team’s picks for Celtic’s Cult Hero number 10.

Here, Colin Watt brings you the ACSOM team’s nominations for the number 10 maverick. Who have we missed out? Let us know!

Colin Watt’s Cult Hero – Paddy McCourt
Signed From – Derry City (£200k – 2008)
Appearances – 89 appearances – 10 goals
Cult Hero Status – A skilful wide-man and comfortable on the right and left flanks, McCourt is a former FAI Young Player of the Year who earned rave reviews for his performances with Derry City.

At the Brandywell, Pat was unquestionably one of Derry’s standout performers in the League of Ireland and had also caught the eye in the UEFA Cup with his displays against IFK Gothenburg and PSG.

Off the field issues, fitness problems and a poor attitude have all reportedly dogged McCourt over the years and, despite his undoubted talent, it looked like his potential would never be fulfilled. One of the problems was that he was lumped with the unenviable tag of ‘the new George Best’.

Fitness was never McCourt’s forte and he was often used as a typical ‘super-sub’ when being brought off the bench to exploit tired defences. All-too-often, however, he would disappear in games that he started.

In the Scottish Cup final against Hibs in the 2012/2013 campaign, Paddy was given a run-out at the tail-end of the match, and, as he came on, he was handed the captain’s armband by Joe Ledley and given a very warm welcome by the support. McCourt was captain of a Celtic side in a winning cup final, and it was a great gesture by his fellow players and the coaches.

Fans always promised there would be riot if McCourt was to be sold and the board, perhaps fearful of that, let his contract run out as he left in 2013.

Stephen Cameron’s Cult Hero – Johnny Doyle
Signed From – Ayr United (£90k – 1976)
Appearances – 166 appearances – 33 goals
Cult Hero Status – Johnny Doyle signed for Celtic on 15 March 1976 for a club record fee of £90,000 from Ayr Utd, just before the squad flew out to East Germany for a European tie against Sachsenring Zwickau.

Johnny was a dribbler with a thunderous temperament, and he will always be fondly remembered as a true Celt. He is perhaps most associated with his sending-off in May 1979 when Celtic were 0-1 down to Rangers in the league-deciding game, which the Celts roared back to win 4-2.

Tommy Burns used to tell a great story about the aftermath of that historic victory, when, with the players celebrating wildly, Doyle was sitting inconsolable crying, ‘Ah let yeez doon, ah let yeez doon’.

The arrival of Frank McGarvey from Liverpool and the appearance of a young Charlie Nicholas led to Doyle’s opportunities being limited from season 1980/81. He had to be satisfied with playing mainly in the reserves and, although unhappy at not featuring in the Celtic first-team, he refused moves to both Motherwell and Hearts; preferring to stay with his beloved Celtic.

Paul John Dykes’ Cult Hero – Andy Ritchie
Signed From – Youth Academy – 1974
Appearances – 10 appearances – 2 goals
Cult Hero Status – As lazy as he was gifted, Andy Ritchie was a superb footballer who sadly lacked the dedication to really do his talents justice at Celtic. Ritchie was one of the most gifted young players ever to play for Celtic and was seen as a potential replacement for Bobby Murdoch with his wonderful passing ability and his powerful shooting. It wasn’t to be.

When Sean Fallon took over from the hospitalised Jock Stein in the summer of 1975, he gave Andy his opportunity and he scored at Pittodrie in a 2-0 League Cup win. Three days later, he came on as a substitute for Bobby Lennox at Ibrox in a 2-1 defeat. On 11 February 1976, he provided a masterful display against Leeds United in a Parkhead friendly when he gave a young Celtic side the lead in a 3-1 defeat. An illustrious career looked likely at this point, but when Stein returned in June 1976, he had tired of Andy’s lacklustre attitude to football and life in general.

It was still something of a shock, though, when he departed as a 20-year-old for Cappielow and Morton in a swap deal for goalkeeper Roy Baines. A great career at Morton for ‘The Idle Idol’ turned Ritchie into one of their greatest ever players and he came back to haunt Celtic on a few occasions.

Declan McConville’s Cult Hero – Joe Miller
Signed From – Aberdeen (£650k – 1987)
Appearances – 200 appearances – 33 goals
Cult Hero Status – Though born and raised in Glasgow and having played for Celtic Boys Club, Joe Miller was missed by the club when he signed for Aberdeen as a youth. He made 60 appearances for Aberdeen, playing as a central striker and became one of the most lauded up-and-coming players in the country.

He was finally bought by Billy McNeill for £650,000 on 13 November 1987, and went straight into the team for the following day’s match against Dundee. McNeill’s view was that Miller could be turned into a winger and provide the much-needed crosses for Frank McAvennie, another new signing that season from West Ham.

Throughout his Celtic career, Miller was stranded out on the wing with few very chances to play in his preferred position – centre-forward.

Miller will forever be remembered for his Scottish Cup final-winning goal against Rangers in 1989 and now runs Celtic’s Former Players Association. A fantastic candidate for the Cult Hero XI!

The Cult Hero series is being brought to you by Colin Watt.

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