Scott Alcroft with A Celtic State of Mind – Dougie McGuire’s Ten-in-a-Row

Scott Alcroft’s Ten-in-a-Row series will be a regular feature on ACSOM this season. Here is one with Dougie McGuire from Scotty’s archive:

Dougie played for Celtic in the ‘80s and, although he only managed four competitive games for the club, he was a very highly regarded youngster at the time. Potentially one of the best youths to emerge from Barrowfield at that time, it just wasn’t to be for various reasons, which Dougie shares with us here.

How did the move to Celtic come about and was there a link with St Michael’s Academy in Kilwinning with Bobby Lennox and Lou Macari having also attended that school?
I don’t think so, Scott, no. There was a Scout from Eaglesham named Jim McGuire that got me to Parkhead. That was my father’s name, that’s how I remember that. I had Aberdeen, Liverpool, Man United and St Mirren all sniffing about me. I was going to go to Aberdeen for a week but then I had a week’s trial at Celtic at Barrowfield and, when they wanted to sign me, that was it; it was no-brainer after that, being a Celtic Supporter.
What can you remember about the day you signed?
I shouldn’t probably say this but people always say that the best day of your life is when you get married or when your kids are born, which of course was magnificent, but from a selfish point of view I’d have to say that the day that I signed for Celtic was the best day of my life. I was only 13 years old at the time. It was a dream come true, it really was. Me and my Dad with Big Billy McNeill in the manager’s office. It was like I’d genuinely died and gone to heaven.

Who were the players that came through the Boys Club and the reserves at that time who went on to have big careers?
A guy that stuck out like a sore thumb was Tony Shepherd. He was a magnificent player, he was the stand out. John Traynor was a good player and wee Jimmy Boyle as well who went on to have a good career with Airdrie. Derek Mills, Joe Miller and Stevie Kean. Big Derek Whyte. What an athlete he was. I could run, in fact I could probably run by anybody, but big Derek. He was some athlete.
You made your first-team debut as a Sub against Falkirk in November ‘86. We were 2-1 down when you came on and you changed the game completely, creating two in a 4-2 win. What do you remember about the day of the game and how did it feel when you knew you were going on?
Back in those days the crowds weren’t like anything you get these days. Probably 15,000 – 18,000 that day. The Jungle were singing my name and I couldn’t believe it. I remember just putting the ball low into the box and Mo Johnston just being clever and getting on the end of it. What a smashing feeling it was. There was a big fight after the game in the dressing room. Not fisticuffs or that, just Roy Aitken and Pat Bonner going at it. We’d conceded a late goal and they were arguing about whose fault it was. Davie Hay just came in and surveyed the scene. No punches were thrown but it was close.
You played against Borussia Dortmund in what was then West Germany. What was that experience like?
I came on as a late sub, a kinda last throw of the dice thing. A magnificent stadium. Apparently Ibrox was designed on that one at the time. Murdo MacLeod played for them that day. He came in to the dressing room after the game and wished all the boys the best. One thing happened during the game that made us all laugh. I was on the bench at the time and Roy Aitken kinda halved this guy. It must’ve been a German thing but the medics came on and put a blanket over the guy that was injured. We’d never seen that before, it was like Big Roy had killed the guy and they were putting a sheet over him.
You made four appearances for Celtic. Did you feel that your time at Celtic was up when Billy McNeill bought Joe Miller for a then huge sum of £650,000 in October 1987?
I thought long before that to be honest. Big Billy was a legend. I was a talented boy, just my mental strength probably wasn’t good enough if I’m being honest. I think if Davie Hay had stayed I’d have probably got a few more chances to play. Bobby Lennox liked me and Jimmy Johnstone did too. I’m not saying they picked the team ‘cause they never but their influence was there. They were wingers so knew I was a good wee player. I got a mention in both their books so that’s something I hold dear. Probably the best wingers the club have had so I’m happy with that.
You used to travel to training in the same car as Roy Aitken, Mark Reid and Bobby Lennox. What were those three guys like to travel with on a daily basis?
Back to what I said to you earlier, Scotty, it was like I’d died and gone to heaven. Big Roy Aitken, captain of Celtic; Bobby Lennox, a legend, and Reidy. The patter in the motor was second to none. We had John Traynor in the motor as well. I was kinda cheeky so they liked me, I’d give it back anyway and I think they liked that. It was an education for life you know travelling with these guys.

Who were the characters in the dressing room in your time at Celtic? Any funny stories?

In the reserves, there was a guy called John Halpin. He was a natural comic, so funny. We had Roy Aitken, Bobby Lennox, Tommy Burns, Graeme Sinclair and Davie Provan.

Neilly Mochan, though, being 16 you thought you were the cock of the walk at Celtic. Neilly, as you’ll know, was the kit man so you’d go to him for boots and that. If you were a good player you got the Copa Mundial’s and if you weren’t that good, you got mouldies or that. I went to see Neilly one day and said to him, “Can I get new boots please Neilly?” He says to me, “Do you think you’re going to be here that long son?” I remember, Scotty, I was nearly greeting. He then goes, “Son, I’ve been in Big Billy’s office, what’s your name again?” I goes, “Dougie, Dougie McGuire.” He says, “Aye Dougie, Dougie McGuire, they were talking about you, I don’t think you’re going to be here that long.” See going hame on the bus, I’m nearly greeting thinking Celtic are going to release me, but that was just Neilly.
Who was your biggest influence at the club and why?
Bobby Lennox. I seem to remember when he done a report in the programmes and that, he’d give me a good mention. He stuck by me. You don’t realise until you leave Celtic, the stuff he and Jinky, for example, said and done for me.

What do you think of the current Celtic side and the job Brendan Rodgers is doing?
Well I think Brendan Rodgers has brought pride back to Celtic. The way he speaks, he’s a very humble man. His persona is different class! I think we should play with two up front at Celtic. Griffiths and Dembele. I would like to see us being a bit more gung-ho. I can see how he’s trying to build something, though, with the way we’re playing with Europe in mind. I just think in Scotland we should play with the two. I love big Rogic, he’s my favourite. I’d have him in the team every week.

Scott Alcroft

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