25 years since Tommy Burns’ farewell to Celtic

Tommy Burns acknowledges the crowd as he bows out following his final appearance for Celtic. Picture: Brian Stewart
Tommy Burns acknowledges the crowd as he bows out following his final appearance for Celtic. Picture: Brian Stewart
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Hugh Keevins watches Parkhead salute a club legend

Celtic 1, Ajax 0

The Scotsman, 7 December, 1989

ON THE night that Celtic’s winning goal was scored by their disillusioned captain, Roy Aitken, and his second in command, Tommy Burns, bowed out in theatrical fashion, what was left to admire for the home crowd revolved around hitherto unusual names.

Dariusz Wdowczyk, two weeks after his debut for Celtic, has still to put a foot wrong and the other Polish import, Dariusz Dziekanowski, continues to enthral an audience in the market for new heroes.

The size of the gate, however, which was 15,000 below Celtic’s average for the season so far, contradicted the wisdom of the exercise overall, even if the end product was a satisfying one in terms of self esteem.

After their win over Aberdeen on Saturday, Celtic might, with the benefit of hindsight, have preferred to dwell on the comforting ramifications of that performance in a domestic context rather than take on the nightshift in a friendly against the Dutch.

For the opening 20 minutes of a game in which Ajax gave full vent to their adventuristic leanings, that would have been a viable theory.

Roy Aitken’s goal, though, offered proof of the spirited resistence that had marked Celtic’s play.

Grant’s tenacity had won him a throw-in which he took himself on the edge of the 18-yard line and Coyne’s pass across the face of goal found the Celtic captain a winning taker, even if the ball did take a fortuitous deflection on its way into the net.

The pity was that Aitken, who had earlier injured his groin, could take no further part in the game and had to be replaced by Paul McStay, though his appearance is never a hardship in the eyes of Celtic’s supporters.

After 28 minutes, however, their tear ducts were tested when the No 11 board was held up and Tommy Burns bade his farewell to the crowd at Celtic Park after 14 years in the first team. The veteran player, who will join Kilmarnock today, responded by throwing his boots into the “jungle”, the area which is populated by Celtic’s most fanatical followers and bid a lingering goodbye to the crowd before planting a symbolic kiss on the forehead of his teenage successor on the left-hand side of Celtic’s midfield, Steve Fulton.

Burns’ departure from Celtic Park was hastened by the arrival of the Pole, Dariusz Wdowczyk, but the next decade will come in with his compatriot, Jacki Dziekanowski, enshrined as the crowd’s favourite.

He replaced Andy Walker for the second half against a skilful but subdued Dutch side who froze whenever Pat Bonner’s goal beckoned. Dziekanowski almost set up a second goal for Celtic, in fact, when Galloway’s pass enabled him to run in on Storm’s goal. The final touch of the ball was, however, not as good as the forward’s pace.

It was the story of the game in general as two sides who were once renowned in Europe struggled to come to terms with their shortcomings in the present day.

Celtic: Bonner, Grant, Wdowczyk, Aitken, Elliot, Whyte, Hewitt,Galloway, Coyne, Walker, Burns

Ajax: Storm, Blind, Vink, Wouters, Verkuyl, Winter, Bergkamp, Petterson, Fischer, Vwyk, Roy

Attendence: 20,166