The tale of one Jeremiah Reynolds– The Unknown Celtic Legend!

27 Nov

Good Evening.

Last Saturday Night I had the great pleasure of attending Paul Larkin’s Book launch in the Celtic Supporter’s Club in London Road.

I would have to say that I found myself in great company all night– sometimes with friends that I have known for a long time, at other times I was engrossed in conversation with those whom I had just been introduced to.

On another occasion I will perhaps write a line or two about Saturday and what was said, discussed, drank and heard!

For now, however,– having got my laptop back after a trip to the laptop doctors for 6 weeks— I thought I would post an old piece of writing.

I looked it out because on Saturday there was a fabulous speech and heartfelt plea by a chap from the Celtic Graves Society ( forgive me if I can’t remember your name sir, but the evening was getting late, drink had been taken, and I am absolutely shite with names at the best of times!).

The subject of this oration?

Jerry Reynolds— The unknown Celtic Legend!

This was written and posted somewhere over a year ago.

I hope others will recognise Jerry’s place in the Celtic Story.



Good Morning

It is amazing what a flat tyre can lead to. I found myself hanging about waiting for a replacement tyre the other day, just generally killing time. A walk took me into a shop where I happened on a copy of David Potter’s latest book – Celtic Cult Heroes.

It sat side by side with Paul Smith’s latest book, curiously entitled “Rangers Cult Heroes”, ever increasing proof that in some eyes where you get Celtic you also get Rangers. Why that should be I do not know.

A quick look at both books threw up fascinating differences. For example, if I define the modern era as including those players who I have seen play in my 50 and a bit years, then all but 4 of the Rangers cult heroes come from this –ahem-modern age! In contrast, 12 or arguably 13 Celtic choices are pre Lisbon Lions. Of course the choices are the respective Authors own personal preferences, but I was surprised by some of the omissions.. Especially from The Rangers side of things as I know that there have been a fair few players from distant days past that many Gers fans would cast as cult heroes.

Potter explains that his choices are not necessarily Celtic’s greatest heroes but that they are his choices out of those who reached the giddy height of being rewarded with undoubted “Cult” status. It was very interesting to have a look inside and see who was in and who was not. For example if I said that there was no Patsy Gallagher, Johnny Thompson, Jimmy Delaney or Lubo Moravcik…would you be surprised? Well that was the case!

I won’t spoil things by revealing who is in there but it sparks an interesting debate. Just who is or was a cult at Celtic Park?

Someone who is not afforded Cult status in the book is Jerry Reynolds. Who? I hear you ask- and to be fair it is a good question, but I believe it is an even better answer because Jerry Reynolds pioneered more than one Celtic tradition. It could even be argued that Celtic Football Club never had a greater servant than Jeremiah Reynolds!—- even to this day.

Jerry Reynolds was a Maryhill bhoy who was persuaded to join Celtic in the early years. He first played for Celtic in 1889 so he was in with the bricks. He played 99 times for Celtic before falling out with the then management committee and moving on to Burnley—- it has been said that he had a bit of a temper and that he might have told Celtic to stuff it at the end of his playing days!!

A tough left back, he was an early hero amongst the Celtic fans. He was brave, tough as old boots and was said to be able to head the heavy ball further than he could kick it. Somewhere I read the story that he was told that if he could have sown a boot on to his head he would have been the greatest player in the world! He also seems to have been popular among the ladies as one story tells of him arriving with the rest of the team at Gilmour Street Paisley to be met by groups of girls all shouting “ Jerrrrrrrry —Jerrrrrrry—– Jerrrrrry”.

However, he does not make it on to David Potter’s cult heroes list, which is perhaps not surprising given his length of service on the field. However by the early 20th Century — when former team mate Johnny Madden was making a name for himself as a manager in Europe—Jerry was back at Celtic park—this time in an off the field roll. In fact, it is suggested that he would serve Celtic in various non playing rolls for the next 40 years—- right up until his death in 1944!

At various times he seems to have been a real Jack of all trades around Celtic Park— a turnstyle steward, an odd job man —- and it is even reported that he repaired the roof of the stand at one stage of his non playing Celtic career.

However, Reynolds is recognised as Celtic’s first “Celeb” meeter and greeter!

He would meet the fans at the front of the ground, welcome them and give them that feeling of rubbing shoulders with an ex player. He was the Tom Boyd of his day—a fans man!!

He was also the press club steward and so he was in some respects the first face and voice of the club when mingling with journalists and fans. He was the forerunner of the ex players who mingle in and around the lounges today, or who are a regular source for a quote for journalists today. However it is said that his views on the playing abilities of others could be.. eh.. terse.. or frank— blunt and to the point. If a player was not Celtic class, Jerry would say so!

It was in this role that he was to start the tradition of ex players retaining contact with fans and press long after hanging up his boots.

If you think about it, in those early days, I suppose you were meant to just turn up and play. However, once your playing time had finished with the club then it was back to the shipyard, the mine or wherever.

Today, we are used to seeing ex players retain a connection with the club. Over the years some like Maley, McGrory, Stein, McNeill and Hay would go on to a prolonged Celtic career as manager. Others like Mochan, Fallon, Mjalby and Thomson would be part of the backroom staff.

Of course in terms of sheer years it could be that the longest serving Celtic servant is John Clark.

But it was Jerry Reynolds who pioneered the notion of ex players being employed by the club to do something other than play or coach. It would seem that Jerry got the Celtic bug.For Him Celtic were  a football team, an employer, an institution, a way of life— a Club to belong to for life if you could.

Nope- Jerry Reynolds does not feature in David Potter’s latest as he was not seen as enough of a cult hero. Yet I wonder if that was what was thought at the time? Here was a guy who had worn the hoops, who was available to the crowd and the press for a word and a chat and to spread the word of what Celtic was about. Here was a guy who worked at and with Celtic when there would have been little money in it, who would have done it because he believed in it, and who seems to have been employed by this football team for a very long time because of his sheer force of personality and passion for the club..

In short, Reynolds was a Lifelong Celtic man in just about any capacity that was available,who would turn his hand to anything—as long as it was for Celtic!

The Celtic Graves Society know where Jerry is buried and he is on their list of people to honour and commemorate.

Jerry Reynolds might not have been a “cult” player but for absolutely unique reasons he has a more than a reasonable claim to hold a cult status in Celtic’s history.



4 Responses to “The tale of one Jeremiah Reynolds– The Unknown Celtic Legend!”

  1. lwordsblog November 27, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    What a fantastic story and so worthy indeed. Glad you shared it with us in your own brilliant style.

  2. BMCUWP November 29, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    Well up to your usual standards,mate.


    The McIlvanney of the Internet Bampots….

  3. jbc August 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    Great stuff, added it to below link so more can see it (added link to here also)

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