Bertie Auld with A Celtic State of Mind – Memories of Neilly Mochan

Bertie Auld was speaking to Paul John Dykes:

I was fortunate to sign for Jimmy McGrory in 1955. The reserve-team coach at that time was a guy called George Paterson, and either Willie or Jimmy McStay used to come up and help us with training. Don’t ask me which one it was because the two of them were always immaculately dressed with soft hats and lovely collars-and-ties and jackets. George Paterson would wear the dark Simpson sport jacket with the paper under his arm. None of them ever put on tracksuits and such like.

I was an apprentice joiner, but I went up to Celtic Park full-time when I got the sack. All of a sudden, Neilly Mochan took me under his wing. He told me to train with him. Although I knew the first-team, I had never been in their company. He was the one who made me feel part of it. He would tell me all about the history of the club. He knew his stuff because his family were all Celtic-daft.

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Remember the 1957 cup final?

Who did we beat 7-1?

It was at our training ground – Hampden Park – and we scored seven goals. I played in every round and then got dropped for the final. Do you know who took my place in the team? Neilly Mochan. I’ll tell you this much, he was a far superior player than I was.

I owe an awful lot to Neilly. I was fortunate to know someone like him during my career; I think he must have liked me…

I left the club in 1961, but I came back from Birmingham not that long before Jock Stein’s first game in charge against Airdrie. It was played on a Wednesday night and we finished our pre-match meal in Ferrari’s about 3 o’clock. We were meeting the rest of the team maybe about three hours later or something, so I asked Neilly what he was doing.

“I’m going over to watch the telly,” said Neilly.

I was staying with my mother-in-law at the time.

“I‘ll come with you,” came my reply.

The George Hotel in Buchanan Street had a colour television, so we decided to go there. This was in 1965, at a time when colour televisions were very seldom seen, but Neilly knew where to find one.

As you know, he was a gambler and he loved the dogs and horses. He would tell me everything about each individual dog and horse, but he never encouraged me to bet. He never tried to express how enjoyable it was for him. As we were watching the horse-racing from Ayr Racecourse, I noticed this horse called, ‘Kirriemuir’. My mother had a wee general store and I loved the Kirriemuir Gingerbread she sold in the shop. That’s what triggered me off.

“I’m going to put a pound on Kirriemuir,” I said to Neilly.

“Awh no, don’t do that son,” Neilly replied. “It’s a big price. If you have a wee interest in it then that’s fine, but don’t put that much on it.”

A pound in 1965 was a lot of money, so Neilly convinced me that we should put five shillings each on it. Kirriemuir won at 30/1.

That was the night of Jock’s first game as manager of Celtic Football Club. We beat Airdrie 6-0 and I scored five. Some of Neilly’s luck must have rubbed off on me that whole day.

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