Rare photographs capture Lisbon Lions on their date with destiny

Celtic FC Lisbon lions.
Photos of the Celtic party and European Cup Final match 1967  Est�dio Nacional, Lisbon, Celtic v Inter Milan. Photos by Scotsman reporter
For Scotsman Aidan Smith piece.
Celtic FC Lisbon lions. Photos of the Celtic party and European Cup Final match 1967 Est�dio Nacional, Lisbon, Celtic v Inter Milan. Photos by Scotsman reporter For Scotsman Aidan Smith piece.
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They are rare snapshots of a pivotal movement in Scottish sporting history, when 11 young men from the east end of Glasgow offered up a footballing lesson to the watching world.

Now, half a century after Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup, a clutch of rare photographs offers a unique insight into one of Scottish football’s finest hours.

Lisbon Lions lounging around prior to the club's historic evening against Inter Milan.

Lisbon Lions lounging around prior to the club's historic evening against Inter Milan.

The images, never before seen, capture members of the Lisbon Lions side relaxing in Portugal in the build-up to the final. The photographs were taken by Brian Rafferty, now one of the country’s most in-demand hairdressers. Back in 1967, he was an avid young Celtic fan with a camera.

Over the course of his trip, he was able to chronicle Celtic’s 2-1 victory over Inter Milan, but as well as taking pictures of the game and the joyous celebrations which followed, he was able to snap members of the Celtic’s team off-duty.

One image shows Tommy Gemmell, Stevie Chalmers, and Bobby Murdoch sitting on steps outside their hotel, while another sees him posing alongside Gemmell by a hotel pool.

Such scenes, Mr Rafferty believes, could never be recreated in today’s age, when footballers have become celebrities in their own right, and travel with vast entourages.

“Today’s legends would have been wearing headphones or pretending to talk on their mobiles and we wouldn’t have got close,” he said.

Mr Rafferty’s enjoyed extraordinary access to the team thanks to his late father, John, the acclaimed football correspondent for The Scotsman, who was staying at a hotel adjacent to the team’s bolthole.

His photographs also include a shot of John in conversation with Billy McNeill, the Celtic captain.

With commercial flight a luxury to all but the wealthiest Scots in the 1960s, many fans made their way to Lisbon by whichever way possible.

Mr Rafferty, who at the time was working as an under-manager at the Steiner salon in Glasgow’s Central Hotel, was no exception. As a 21st birthday present, his father paid £41 for his seat on a Celtic supporting businessmen’s flight to Estoril.

“There was a lot of excitement on the plane,” he said. “Don’t forget, not many people in 1967 went abroad.”

While the passengers on Mr Rafferty’s flight were suited and booted, other fans arrived in Portugal for the final wearing their work clothes.

“They had cement on their boots and they were carrying Agnes bags,” he added. “They looked like they were going to Brockville or someplace.”

While many of those who made the memorable trip to Portugal 50 years ago will be reminiscing this week, Mr Rafferty, 71, can reflect on some of his own special moments.

After the game, he joined Gemmell’s party to celebrate, ending up at the city’s Texas bar, already packed with Celtic fans toasting the victory.

“The Texas was like something out of a Humphrey Bogart movie,” Mr Rafferty explained. “Rough, full of old hookers, a guy at the piano, but brilliant.”