Tommy Burns wasn't one for shirking a challenge. I've been lucky enough to meet a few Celtic players in my life and quite a few of them fought with Tommy. Guys like Billy McNeill, Mick McCarthy and Roy Aitken are not men to be messed with yet Tommy fought with them all. Peter Grant wasn't blessed with a huge amount of ability yet his committment was not in question. Except by Tommy. Fergus will tell you that in all his life he didn't argue with anyone more than he did Tommy. All of this was driven by one thing, the desire to make things better at Celtic. As a Celtic supporter, you want someone like that about the club.
Four years on from his passing I'm sure he looks down with great pride at what Neil Lennon has achieved at Celtic, another in the Tommy mould. It's hard to imagine that only two years ago Neil Lennon was dragged round the country, not having been given the job at this time, to Q&A sessions. Subjects relating to his appointment were skated around and a very awkward situation was finally put to bed when he was given the job. I'll be honest, I didn't want him to get the job, for one reason, experience. More so Rangers fans celebrated him getting the job.
What Neil Lennon has done in the last two years, more than winning the Scottish Cup, more than winning the League Championship, is that he has restored the pride back into Celtic at one of the hardest times in the clubs history. Think back to that Ross County game and the abuse the players took in the car park post match, when you watched that on You Tube, did you honestly disagree with most of it? The support was incredibly divided at that time. Now look.
It's important also to recognise the staff at Celtic. First there is John Park. Neil Lennon himself said at the football writers do on Sunday night that it was down to John Park that the likes of Wanyama, Izzaguire and Kayal are now plying their trade at Celtic Park. What's also became clear is that the youth set up that has been put in place, the brianchild of Park and Tommy Burns, is now bearing fruit.
Alan Thompson has played a huge part in the resurgence of Celtic. The manager's close confidant, he will be the buffer between Neil and the players and folk will tell you that that is not an easy job but it is one he has done very well in knitting together such a close squad. Garry Parker would also be close to Neil but be "one of the boys" at training and keep things light as possible.
Johan Mjallby is an interesting one. He and Neil were never big pals as players, yet he was the first guy Neil went to when he took over from Tony Mowbray. Why? he's not a yes man. Mjallby is a very analytical type of guy who won't just nod his head any time anyone says anything. It's an important dynamic that has helped shape our management team and more importantly our players know where they stand.
This is a big summer for Celtic, we are in a good place, we have a good squad at the club which does need trimmed but also needs three additions to makes us dominant in Scotland and able to compete in Europe. That's a credit to everyone at the club that we are able to be in that position, including Peter Lawwell and the board, but now their job really begins. In my whole life there has always been this "We are two or three players away from being a really good team" thing at Celtic. Peter Lawwell and co now have the opportunity to bridge that gap and this coluld be an exciting summer for Celtic.
First though, wherever you are today, spare a wee thought for Tommy.