Some People Talk About Their Love For Celtic. Tommy Burns Lived It.

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There’s a story about Julius Caesar travelling through a village in Iberia, and hearing one of his soldiers mock the place and all in it. Caesar’s response to him told you all you had to know about him and the way his mind worked.

“I would rather be the first man here than the second man in Rome,” he said. That’s who he was. He wanted to rule, not to serve, and so his civil war wasn’t just about his survival but about the survival of his ambition and his desire to be number one.

That story came back to me the other night when I was on the Endless Celts podcast talking about the European games of the 2007-08 season. I’ve put a link to the episode at the bottom, and I can’t say enough how much I enjoy being on the show with these guys. I remember that season well, for many reasons, but one that stands out is the tributes that were paid at the end of it to Tommy Burns, who we lost in the course of the campaign.

I was delighted when the guys wanted to talk about Tommy, because I’ve always had the utmost respect for the service he gave to this club and the love he had for it. I can think of few better servants to Celtic in the modern age.

I don’t think that love, that commitment, can be better summed up in that he was the absolute antithesis of Caesar. He didn’t want to go away and be the top dog somewhere else. He would have worked at Celtic in any capacity. He would have taken the lowliest job on the coaching team because it was the only place he wanted to be.

We have had players like that, but it’s rare. We are exceedingly fortunate that two of them happen to be in the squad right now – James Forrest and Callum McGregor. Although Callum has spent some time out on loan I consider him in most respects a one-club footballer, and my namesake wears that badge with honour in the official sense.

Nowadays football is filled with people who think they’ve left a legacy behind because they spend two years at a club before moving on for more money or whatever they tell themselves that they are seeking somewhere else. Callum and James have left money on the table to be here, just as Tommy must have left more than just his managerial ambitions on the shelf … to these guys it’s about the love of the club and the shirt, first and foremost.

At a time like this is it important, more important than ever maybe, to pay tribute to those who have given everything to this club and to the famous green and white shirt. That’s why I was so glad to spend even a brief time talking about Tommy and what he meant to all of us. His loyalty to this club was second to none, his passion for it fierce.

We need all the Tommy Burn’s we can get, and they are so very, very rare.

Endless Celts Podcast: European Football & Tommy Burns

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  • Paul MacAulay says:

    One of your finest James.

  • mcg123 says:

    By all accounts Tommy was a fantastic person and a great Celt. However, he was appointed manager through sentiment rather than ability.His one Scottish Cup win, considering the talent at his disposal, is testament to that.

    • Jim Duffy says:

      Not sure about that comment,I think Tommy was desperately unlucky to come up against a rangers side with so much talent in it ,ebts included and he was up against goram who was a fantastic keeper,hated him ,but I think Tommy’s team used to play attractive football ,playe the Huns off the park then caught out by sucker punches and biased refereeing.

      • Darren Kerr says:

        I totally agree Jim.

      • Michael Collins says:

        You refer to Andy Goram Jim, yes he was a fantastic goalkeeper, but unlike Alan Rough, Jim Leighton, Pat Bonner, Stefan Klaus, Pat Jennings, Graig Gordon, he was only at the top of his game for about 4 years. That is what Peter Shilton said, and who knows better than the likes of him, both he and Ray Clemence were at the top of their game for long enough.
        Goram does not even come close to these guys I have mentioned. How many caps does he have in comparison with Jim Leighton or Craig Gordon?

  • Adam Thomas says:

    Unfortunately with the signing policy and the buy now to sell for Huge profit we may never see the likes of a mcstay ,burns ,mcgregor and forest loyality again .

  • Jack says:

    I had the pleasure of being in the same class at St Mary’s as Tommy. Played football in the school yard and in some trial games down at the old grave yard red ash pitch next to St Mary’s church. Could not believe how much he stood out as a footballer among us mere mortals. A true Celtic legend who is sadly missed. God bless Tommy Burns.

  • Kevin Mcguigan says:

    A true celtic man a true gentleman

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