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Wednesday 22 February 2017

Feature: FOI release of Jock Stein file

A file about the late Celtic and Scotland football manager, Jock Stein, has been released by The Scottish Government under Freedom of Information (National Archives of Scotland ref. ED33/23).

Jock Stein is considered to be one of the greatest Scottish football managers, along with Bill Shankly, Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Stein was born in the small Lanarkshire mining village of Burnbank in 1922. During his time as manager of Celtic he won ten Scottish League Championships, eight Scottish Cups and six Scottish League Cups, but his greatest achievement was to guide Celtic to victory in the 1967 European Cup final in Lisbon. Celtic triumphed 2-1 over Italian champions Inter-Milan, winning admiration for their attacking style and earning the team the nick-name 'Lisbon Lions'. In winning this prestigious trophy, Stein became the first British club manager to achieve this.

Detail from a departmental minute putting Jock Stein forward for a knighthood. NAS ref. ED33/23 p29.

The released file concerns the period following the 1967 Cup win, when consideration was given by Scottish government officials to proposing Stein for an Honour after the club’s victory. The Scottish Office recommended that Stein should be granted a CBE, and later proposals were put forward for a knighthood for contributions to Scottish football (NAS ref. ED33/23 p29). The argument ran that other football managers such as Sir Alf Ramsay, the England manager, and later Sir Matt Busby of Manchester United, had received similar honours following their respective footballing successes. The recommendation included a supporting statement that

"Celtic is the first British club even to reach the final of the European Cup and it is widely acknowledged that Mr Stein's tactical ability has been decisive in this achievement."

A further revised handwritten amendment added that

"The attacking play of the club under his guidance has been as attractive as it has been successful and has had a salutory influence on the defensive style which had characterised the European competitions in recent years." (NAS ref. ED33/23 p10)

The recommendation was turned down at the time, though Stein was eventually awarded a CBE in 1970.

Jock Stein went on to manage the Scottish national football team, and led Scotland to the World Cup Finals in 1982. Tragically, he died from a heart attack on 10 September 1985 during a qualification match against Wales, as Scotland equalised to gain the point needed to qualify for the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico.

You can read the whole file which is contained in the following PDFs:

(NAS ref. ED33/23 pages 1-15 Acrobat PDF - 4.47MB, opens in new window)

(NAS ref. ED33/23 pages 16- 30 Acrobat PDF - 4.48MB, opens in new window)

(NAS ref. ED33/23 pages 31-45 Acrobat PDF - 5.02MB, opens in new window)

The file is also available electronically in our search rooms. You can search for files on many topics including football or other sports by using our online catalogue.

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