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Includes over 50 historic photographs

ISBN 1 901 746 32 1

by David Potter
Foreword by Billy McNeill


The rise of Bobby Murdoch from trainee to first team fixture at Celtic mirrored his club’s emergence from Rangers’ shadow and the liberating atmosphere of the Sixties. Following a promising performances in Celtic’s dysfunctional teams of the early 60s, Murdoch went on to become a powerhouse in the team that swept all before them in the latter part of the decade.

Aside from the Celts’ Annus Mirabilis of 1966-1967, when they won every tournament they entered, becoming the first British team to triumph in the European Cup in the process. Celtic, with Murdoch in midfield, became one of the most formidable teams in British football history - winning an unprecedented 9 Scottish titles in a row, 5 Scottish Cups and 5 Scottish League Cups between 1965 and 1973.

Murdoch played a big part in this success. The accuracy of his passing was his hallmark while his combative ability in the middle of the park was essential to the team’s ability to win possession and power forward. The turning point in Murdoch and Celtic’s career, came with the arrival of Jock Stein. Before ‘The Messiah’s’ influence Celtic always appeared to cow to Rangers’ physical approach and many Celtic supporters reckoned that their domination by their Old Firm rivals in the late 50s and early 60s came about more because of an inferiority complex rather than footballing ability. Stein changed all this and his decision to move Murdoch from inside-left to wing-half was of particular importance, utilising the youngster’s energetic approach in midfield.

Until the end of his Celtic career in 1973, Bobby became synonymous with the Celtic style of play and it came as a surprise to many when he was sold to Jack Charlton’s Middlesbrough at the age of just 29. In England he contributed to a resurgence on the Tees, helping Charlton’s team to a Second Division title in his first season and First Division responsibility thereafter.

Yet Bobby’s career was curtailed by a painful knee injury not helped by a particularly energetic style of play. Bobby became youth team coach unearthing the likes of Craig Johnston before being appointed manager at Ayresome Park in the summer of 1981. Unfortunately Bobby had joined a sinking ship and, with few funds available for players the club were duly relegated in his first and only season as a football manager. This season of management also proved to be the end of Murdoch’s meaningful football life. Yet throughout his enforced retirement from the game Bobby suffered for his playing career and his premature death in 2001, as an indirect consequence of it, was mourned by football supporters everywhere.

David W. Potter’s biography of one of Celtic’s greatest players, is a celebration of the era and the man. The 1960s represented the dawn of a new era for Britain in general and Glasgow in particular, while Potter’s prose sings with the delight of being around at the time. As the author says of the period, to borrow a line from Wordsworth’s celebration of the French Revolution of 1789;

‘Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!’

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