CELTIC fans came together to wave off two of the club’s supporters ahead of a journey by car to Portugal to recognise the 50th anniversary of the Lisbon Lions’ European Cup win.
The Evening Times revealed earlier this week that Barry Sweeney and Martin Coyle are retracing the miles, our former journalist John Quinn covered in 1967 in a green-and-white Hillman Imp, when he led the ‘Celticade’ of 15,000 fans heading for Lisbon.
Yesterday, the ‘bhoys’ Barry and Martin, both 44, were joined by friends and family, as well as a few other familiar faces, including the daughter of Lisbon Lions legend Jimmy Johnstone, at Alexandra Parade in the East End.
Martin and Barry with journalist Jim McGuire
The car, nicknamed Jinky after Johnstone, was followed by a convoy of classic vehicles as the Bishopbriggs cousins began the same journey John started five decades before.
Jimmy Johnstone’s daughter Eileen, 49, who is from Uddingston, said: “I think it is amazing what they are doing - they are mad right enough. My dad would have loved to have been here to see this.
“Still to this day, I can’t go anywhere without someone speaking about what the Lisbon Lions achieved.”
The lifelong Celtic fans were also greeted by Daily Express journalist Jim McGuire, 75, who joined John on the journey all those years ago.
Jim, who is from Helensburgh, said: “We were just focused on getting there but the milestones for us as reporters was just incredible.
“We were sending back a story everyday, and our photographer George was filing pictures every other day.
“But 50 years ago there was no mobile phones. We had to go to a newsagents to buy jetons, coins, as they were called. Then you had to find a hotel with a phone. As you were filing your copy in Glasgow you were feeding this phone with jetons. If you did not have enough jetons you were going to get cut off. So it was dramatically, incredibly difficult for the poor journalists trying to get their copy back to the office.”
The memory of Celtic’s finest team lifting the European cup is still one Jim treasures.
He said: “Sitting beside me was John and this trip was his brainchild. We were just good Celtic supporters and we had just witnessed for us, a world shattering event.
“This great team from Glasgow beat Inter Milan 2-1, who were all tanned with beautiful teeth, and they were against 11 boys who stayed within a circle of 30 miles from Parkhead.”
Barry’s brother Eddie, 53, flew in from Australia to join the men on the journey as a supporter driver.
Eddie, who arrived from Sydney on Friday, said: “I think my brother is insane. The first miracle was winning the trophy in 1967, the second miracle will be getting us there.”
John’s widow Kathleen, 76, said: “I took what he did as normal because that is what John did. He had this idea to do what he did and it paid off because they won.
“John loved his job, he really did.”
Barry and Martin will follow John’s original route through France and across the Pyrenees into Spain before arriving in Lisbon’s Estadio Nacional next Thursday.
The duo is travelling with a film crew, led by Donald Mackinnon, for the documentary The Lions Road.
See today's newspaper for a special Lions magazine.