Bertie Auld hailed as one of Celtic’s ‘greatest ambassadors’ at final farewell

Bertie Auld was described as “one of the greatest ambassadors that Celtic Football Club could ever have wished for” as thousands of people gathered to say a final farewell.

Auld’s funeral service took place at St Mary’s in Calton in the east end of Glasgow the church whose hall held the meeting that led to the establishment of the club in 1887.

Former managers Neil Lennon and Brendan Rodgers were among those who joined Auld’s family, including wife Liz and children Robert and Susan.

Former players included Dixie Deans, John Clark, George McCluskey, Frank McAvennie, Joe Miller and Tom Boyd.

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Current manager Ange Postecoglou was present along with his first-team squad to pay their respects following Auld’s death at the age of 83 following a battle with dementia.

Among those speaking was Auld’s fellow Lisbon Lion, Jim Craig, who recounted the story of his team-mate launching into song in the tunnel beside a bemused Inter Milan team ahead of Celtic’s European Cup final triumph in 1967.

Praising Auld’s perceptive powers, Craig said of their opponents: “I have to admit they looked great, by the way. Tanned and oiled, their cashmere strip a thing of beauty, their boots gleaming, they just looked the part.

“We, on the other hand, were, to use a Scottish expression, peely-wally by comparison, our three days in the Portuguese sun giving us red blotches on our cheeks and that was about it.

“It was a European Cup final, our biggest match of the season, and, like me, I suspect everyone was a bit on the apprehensive side.

“I have always thought Bertie noticed this and immediately raised his voice and launched into the Celtic Song. After a minute or two, we all joined in and it certainly helped us to cope with the big occasion.

“The Inter guys were less impressed. From the looks on their faces, I always thought that their reaction was: ‘What the blazes is this we are playing?’ They would soon know.”

Finishing his speech, Craig fought back tears and said: “Bertie Auld was a great Celt and, equally importantly, a very nice man. May he rest in peace.”

The former Celtic director, Lord Willie Haughey, described Auld’s friendship with his former team-mates.

“We became really close during the great Jimmy Johnstone’s illness,” Lord Haughey said.

“It was during this period that I realised what great friendship was. His love for Jinky was immeasurable. In the last 18 months of the wee man’s life, Bertie visited him every single day. The bond that they had was a joy to behold.

“I can say without fear of contradiction, Bertie Auld’s personality, his charisma, his charm, but especially his humour, kept the wee man with us at least an extra year.

“When Tommy Gemmell was taken ill and went into a nursing home, Bertie went to see him every single day. He had big Tam laughing and joking right to the very end.

“Bertie adored being a Lisbon Lion because he believed that kept him connected to the club forever. He was certainly right about that.

“Over the past 50 years, Tommy Burns and Bertie Auld are the two greatest ambassadors that Celtic Football Club could ever have wished for.

“Since Tommy’s passing, Bertie has carried the baton himself. He has worked tirelessly protecting and enhancing the proud reputation of our great club. He travelled far and wide to attend Celtic supporter events. He drove thousands of miles across the UK and Ireland. He never let anyone down.”

Auld’s nephew, Ian Cairns, explained there was no “filter” between his public persona and how he was with his family.

“My son was looking through the internet and he brought up an interview that my Uncle Bert had where he was talking about my grandad,” he added.

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“And on it he tells you the story of when he signed for Celtic and my Daddy Joe says: ‘Son, at this club, if you entertain these fans they will love you forever and you will never be forgotten.’ Well Bertie, you entertained us all.”

Thousands of supporters later gathered outside Celtic Park and sang the Celtic Song as Auld’s coffin was driven past. After his family thanked well-wishers and viewed tributes, a chorus of You’ll Never Walk Alone rang out as they got back in their cars.

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