JOHN HUGHES OBITUARY: ‘Yogi’ needed to be generally known as a Celtic man… he was all that and extra
The cries have been as strong and muscular because the participant they have been searching for to encourage. This Jungle clamour of ‘Feed the Bear’ was frequently rewarded by John ‘Yogi’ Hughes indulging in one thing vibrant, highly effective and spectacular.
The Celtic participant, who has died aged 79, received seven league titles, 4 Scottish Cups and 5 League Cups in his spell at Parkhead however was all the time rueful of the 2 that obtained away.
He performed in 5 European Cup ties within the 1967 marketing campaign however declared himself injured earlier than the ultimate, changing into a bystander on Celtic’s biggest day. He performed within the European Cup ultimate of 1970 however missed an amazing probability in extra-time earlier than Feyenoord received 2-1.
‘Stein by no means forgave me for that,’ he advised me two years in the past on the fiftieth anniversary of that marketing campaign.
Hughes was bought to Crystal Palace a yr later, then moved to Sunderland earlier than a knee damage minimize brief his profession.
His antipathy in the direction of Stein endured however his disappointment over not taking part in in Lisbon was leavened by time and the response of the opposite Lisbon Lions, who all the time introduced him into the fold at official occasions. And by followers who appreciated his items, which have been mercurial, unpredictable however frequently devastating.
Born in Coatbridge in 1943, he was a gifted schoolboy who rapidly turned a star of St Augustine’s and earned a clout over the top from Jimmy Johnstone’s mum for his precocious abilities.
Celtic legend John ‘Yogi’ Hughes (left) has handed away aged 79 – dying on Monday evening
Hughes (proper) received a plethora of trophies at Celtic – together with the Scottish League Cup in 1965
‘She didn’t imagine I used to be beneath 12 and eligible for the first college workforce,’ says Hughes after his college had crushed Jinky’s St Columba’s of Uddingston. ‘She whacked me along with her brolly after the match.’
After a short spell with Shotts Bon Accord, Hughes signed for Celtic in 1959 and performed for the membership he beloved all through the sixties. He performed 416 matches for the membership, scoring a extremely creditable 189 targets.
However this statistic, nonetheless spectacular, doesn’t give a real gauge of his greatness. Standing 6ft 2in and robustly constructed, Hughes was greatest measured in moments and in excellent performances.
He was ok to make his debut as a 17-year-old in 1960 as Celtic endured a time of constant underachievement. Hughes was robust sufficient in thoughts and physique to outlive till the Stein period started in 1965. The medals then flowed even when the disappointments couldn’t be totally staunched.
Hughes was able to taking part in on both wing or as centre ahead. He was most frequently employed as an out of doors left the place he complemented his wonderful scoring document by offering probabilities for equivalent to Willie Wallace, Stevie Chalmers and Joe McBride.
He (centre) performed 416 matches for Celtic, scoring a extremely creditable 189 targets (together with this strike towards Leeds United within the European Cup semi-final second leg at Hampden Park)
The highlights of a profession strewn with honours may be picked out rapidly by those that noticed him in full circulation. He was calm sufficient to attain two penalties, aged 22, in a League Cup ultimate victory towards Rangers in 1965.
He was deft sufficient to attain 5 instances in an 8-0 victory towards Aberdeen on an ice-bound pitch in 1965 that will not move muster these days. It was stated that Hughes performed in coaching footwear.
‘It was a pair of sannies,’ he confided a lot later. ‘And so they belonged to Billy McNeill.’
He additionally scored an amazing purpose towards England at Hampden in 1968 however solely earned eight caps.
‘I used to be by no means too bothered about taking part in for Scotland,’ he stated. ‘Celtic gamers would play and be booed by our personal help. That is a reality. A lot of them needed a workforce stuffed with Rangers gamers.
‘I pulled out of squads frequently. I used to be not the one one in these days and it was not simply Celtic gamers, too.’
His biggest efficiency, nonetheless, was towards Leeds United within the second leg of the 1970 European Cup semi-final at Hampden Park.
Celtic had received the primary match at Elland Highway 1-0 however Billy Bremner had squared the tie in Glasgow with an exquisite shot.
Hughes, deployed at centre ahead, then turned the tide in Celtic’s favour. He outmuscled, out-thought and outplayed Jackie Charlton, the mainstay of the Leeds defence, and scored with a diving header. Celtic went on to win the match 2-1 (3-1 on mixture) and attain the ultimate towards Feyenoord.
Earlier than that strike towards Leeds, Hughes headed them in entrance with this diving effort within the tie
The irrepressible energy of the Hughes efficiency was not a shock, although his method of scoring was barely uncommon. ‘I ended up Celtic’s seventh biggest goalscorer,’ he stated. ‘But I doubt if I scored double figures with my head. I used to say Wee Jinky was higher along with his head than me.’
Hughes was all the time on the centre of Celtic pub arguments within the sixties and these debates might proceed on the terracing. Some seen him as inconsistent however his figures counsel that is unfair. His dimension and rampaging type made him conspicuous, so runs that resulted in failure have been apparent to the help.
Nevertheless, he frequently galvanised the massed ranks with extraordinary contributions. He was indubitably a Celtic nice for a number of causes.
First, his longevity at Celtic Park meant he performed with Willie Fernie and Kenny Dalglish. But he was bought aged solely 28. Second, his listing of honours brooks no argument. Third, and maybe most significantly, he was a participant who might raise a crowd, create a roar by merely mendacity in look forward to the ball.
‘Feed the Bear’ was chanted typically in hope and expectation but additionally in desperation as followers believed Yogi would ship them from perdition. Their religion was frequently and amply rewarded.
After retiring from taking part in, he managed Baillieston, Stranraer and the Scottish Junior workforce for brief spells earlier than immersing himself within the licensed commerce with an interlude as a medicine counsellor.
Hughes’ – who wrote an autobiography – manner might appear brooding, even forbidding, however he was a convivial character with a dry sense of humour and an enormous reservoir of generosity
His manner might appear brooding, even forbidding, however he was a convivial character with a dry sense of humour and an enormous reservoir of generosity. He gave of himself quietly however constantly.
In that interview in 2020, I advised him that, as a schoolboy, I had written to him requesting tickets for a European match. He had despatched me two, with a word saying no cost can be accepted.
He waved this off, saying that was merely what Celtic gamers ought to do. As I left his home in Shettleston, he slipped a replica of his autobiography into my palms with a considerate inscription.
There was an affecting softness within the Bear. I requested him then what his biggest reminiscence was as a Celtic participant.
He thought of this banal inquiry fastidiously earlier than saying: ‘I do not actually have one. I would not wish to be remembered for one purpose or sport, even that match towards Leeds. You understand what? I’d simply need it to be recognized that I used to be a Celtic man.’
He was all of that and extra.