Tonight, as I write this, I am aware that I’m a member of a select group amongst our support, perhaps even in a minority. I suspect that I am. Too young to watch Bertie Auld play, I was also one of the fans who never actually got to meet the man in person.
So many, many, many of our supporters did. Bertie gave all of himself, in the most literal sense, to our football club.
After Billy McNeill died the status of Greatest Living Celt passed easily to his shoulders and he bore that burden – and it must have been a burden at times – incredibly well.
He loved the Celtic fans. He would taunt those players who never got to play in front of them; he knew that it was special.
And we knew that he was special.
I grew up hearing about Bertie’s generosity towards our fan base.
He gave so much of his time and his affections to the ordinary supporters.
He epitomised what it was to be a Celtic legend. He had a story for every occasion; I know that because of the number of people I know who did have the pleasure of enjoying his company.
As a player and as a man, Bertie belonged to a long ago generation for folks my age and younger.
We never had the privilege of watching him during his career.
We know of Bertie’s legend from elsewhere, and it is a curious and awesome legend, the sort that maybe we’ll never see again.
The modern player is aloof and distant, too rich and too sealed in a bubble to truly be one of the fans … Bertie comes from a generation, perhaps the last generation, where that was not the case.
I get the impression that huge wealth wouldn’t have changed him any.
Bertie was one of those individuals who transcended the eras.
Even those of us who never watched him know what a player he was.
Even those of us who never met him knew what a man he was.
We all know the stories, we’ve all laughed with him on the radio or on TV, we’ve watched a million clips where he seduced interviewers, panellists and pundits alike with his quick wit and that cheeky twinkle in his eye.
We did not know him, but we knew him inside out.
Above all else, we knew that he wasn’t just like us, he was us.
That’s why this loss belongs to all, because Bertie Auld belonged to us all.
Tonight he is reunited with his departed brothers in the greatest ever Celtic side.
He leaves the world a lesser place for being gone.