Obituary: Jim Brogan, Celtic player who went on to a second succesful career in the licensed trade

Celtic's Jim Brogan in action
Celtic's Jim Brogan in action
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James Andrew Brogan, footballer and businessman. Born: 5 June 1944 in Glasgow. Died: 24 September 2018 in Glasgow, aged 74

Jim Brogan, who has died after a long battle against dementia, was an excellent example of a player who for all their recent flirtations with foreign mercenaries, has long been a staple of Celtic and Rangers’ teams – a fan, living the dream on the park.

He was from a family of Celtic supporters, following elder brother Frank from St Roch’s Juniors to Celtic park, where he arrived as an 18-year-old in 1962.

Frank was already in the first team at the club, indeed, he scored their 5000th league goal, and the Brogan brothers played twice together in the first team, after Jim made his debut, against Falkirk, in September, 1963.

Frank then departed for 
Ipswich, while Jim went back to learn his trade during a lengthy spell in the reserves. Bertie Auld, the Celtic jester, would later joke that Jim’s proudest moment with Celtic was when he helped carry the Lisbon Lions team hamper.

Few now remember that, while the Lions were carrying all before them in 1967, the Celtic reserve team, including Brogan, themselves won every competition they entered that season, so he was used to winning by the time, the following season, he took advantage of an injury to John Clark to settle into the first team alongside Billy McNeill, in central defence.

This was the start of a golden spell for Brogan, with a League Championship medal in that first season as a regular leading to many more.

In all, he won seven League Championship, four Scottish Cup and three League Cup winner’s medals during his 13-year, nearly 350-game Celtic career. His progress was such that, in 1969, he won the first of two Scottish League “caps”, both against the English League, but he had to wait until April 1971 before Bobby Brown made him Scotland internationalist number 835, when he made his debut against Portugal, Eusebio and all, at Hampden. By this time, he had been switched to left back to succeed Tommy Gemmell and it was in this position that he would win four straight Scotland caps, the Portugal game being followed by the home internationals.

He may have carried the hamper for the Lions, but, for Celtic’s second European Cup Final, in 1970, Brogan was in the team which lost to Feyenoord and, as the Seventies rolled on and time took its toll on the immortal Lisbon XI, Brogan became a fixture in the first team, helping Quality Street Kids such as Davie Hay, Danny McGrain, George Connelly and Kenny Dalglish integrate into the nine-in-a-row title winning squads.

Time, however, catches up with all sportsmen, and by 1975 Brogan was back in the reserves, now an elder statesman, as Andy Lynch assumed his left-back jersey.

Jock Stein, who had once said that Brogan’s was one of the first names on the team sheet, decided his time had come and he would leave the club at the end of the season. However, he granted him one last hurrah.

Billy McNeill bowed out, a Scottish Cup winner, on 3 May, 1975. A week later, however, Celtic were back at Hampden, to face Rangers in a rather special Glasgow Cup Final. The game was chosen to mark the city’s 800th anniversary and, in front of 70,000 fans, Captain Brogan led out Celtic.

The match ended in a 2-2 draw and Brogan left for Coventry City. He spent 18 months in the Midlands before returning to Scotland to play out his career with Ayr United, a short spell which included an emotional return to Celtic Park for one game.

He then hung up his boots and got on with the equally successful second part of his life – in the licensed trade. Many footballers have traded boots for booze, but few as successfully as Brogan, who built up a successful string of pubs in Glasgow and the Falkirk area.

However, in 2008 he was diagnosed with dementia and over the next decade he fought this aggressive and degenerative disease, before finally losing his battle at the weekend. He faced his illness with the same steely determination he had shown on the park, where the Celtic faithful in the “Jungle” at Celtic Park had dubbed him: “Crazy Horse”.

Jim Brogan is survived by wife Joy, daughters Colette and Caroline, sons Anthony and Mark, his three grand-children and one great-grandchild.

MATTHEW VALLANCE