John Lynch is probably not the greatest fan that ever lived, and you’ve probably never heard of him, but like so many others, he is one of the most important.
You see John has a story to tell that may only contribute a small paragraph in the wonderful book of football, but it is a worthy contribution.
I’d never heard of John until a few weeks ago, when I got an e-mail from a lady that used to live in our street where we grew up.
Mary is a carer and wanted to know if I could visit a gentleman in his 90’s, housebound, blind and losing his hearing.
The man in question worked at Celtic for 25 years and as well as being a fan of the club, he was also a football fanatic. Mary’s wish was for John to have someone to talk to and share his memories with over a cup of tea.
A memory may be all John has left if his hearing eventually goes.
Sparing a moment was the very least I could do, and with the help of my trusty sidekick, I thought John might enjoy the company of a Scottish footballer of some distinction in Alan Rough.
Roughie, never one to say no to a free cup of tea and a biscuit, joined me at John’s home to listen to tales of footballing days gone by.
John made us very welcome and within minutes, both of us knew that, even at 93, he was as sharp as a tack. The body may be failing, but the mind was all there.
The images of the Lisbon Lions from the old newspapers appeared, programmes from days gone by and pictures from albums showing John in his Celtic blazer greeting guests as they arrived at the front door of Celtic park.
John wasn’t an ordinary fan, he worked his way up through various tasks at Celtic park. The honesty test of taking money at the turnstiles in his early years, all the way through to being the manager’s assistant in welcoming visiting managers into the office for tea and a chat.
We only scratched the surface of the many stories John has in his vault about the legends of the Scottish game that shared a post match chat with Jock Stein, Billy McNeill, Davie Hay and a few others over the years.
John’s favourite player was Jimmy McGrory, a fearsome centre-forward known as the ‘Human Torpedo’, McGrory is Britain’s leading goalscorer, boasting an astonishing 550 goals in 547 appearances in all competitions for Celtic and Clydebank between 1921 and 1937.
In box after box, John had great black and white memories of Charlie Tully, Neilly Mochan, Jock Stein, the list goes on and on.
Born in 1922, John has a data base in his head that could fill every wall around Celtic park. There’s a John Lynch supporting your favourite club on every corner, you just don’t know they are there.
We were lucky that for 90 minutes of our time, which seemed rather ironic, John chatted about football, his life and the love of his late wife and his family. He also revealed that he had a passion for poetry and as well as his knowledge of the classics, he also penned a few himself that he could recite to us word perfect, now that his sight was no longer there.
At the end of the visit, John assured us he would write a poem for Roughie and me. He thanked us for taking time out to visit him and share a few memories of footballing days gone by.
In truth, we should have thanked John more, because we were the lucky ones to have shared a moment in time with a real fan of the beautiful game.
True to his word, John did indeed write a poem to Peter and Roughie.
A Thank You by John Lynch
I have had many good friends in football
and I now have another two
Alan and Peter, two honest men,
as friends real, good and true.
It’s nice to know,
that wherever you go,
the strength of a friend will go with you.
It lightens the load,
on life’s long hard road
and warms the heart within you.
Many thanks to Alan and Peter
their kind gesture so warmly felt.
Appreciation and admiration
from me a grateful Celt.