Blether: Dundee move for Celtic legend Jinky Johnstone never really paid off

Jimmy Johnstone in a Dundee shirt.

Recently, I’ve been sharing some of the information unearthed when perusing through cuttings files.

Regarding one of Scotland’s most talented players, a cutting, dated September 12, 1977, read:

Jimmy Johnstone and Dundee have parted company just two months after the wee winger signed for the Dens Park club.

The announcement came yesterday afternoon from manager Tommy Gemmell.

He said: “Jimmy Johnstone has left the club by mutual consent.”

And the only reason he would give was: “He never really settled.”

It was clear from Dundee’s recent line-ups that something had gone wrong with an association that started off with such high hopes for both parties.

The former Scottish international played just one full game — the first league fixture at home to Airdrie.

He was substituted a week later at Tynecastle, and was himself a sub in the third league game against Stirling Albion.

Apart from that, ‘Jinky’ was in the reserves or injured, never reproducing the form that made him one of Scotland’s greatest just a few years ago.

It’s a sad and sudden end to a good idea. At 33 years of age, no-one expected Johnstone to show the form of his Celtic hey-day, but he might have been an inspiration to his team-mates.

The name alone was still magic to fans, home and away.

But it was not to be.

A quick and amicable break, before Johnstone had moved on to a permanent base in the city, was probably the sensible way to finish matters.

Tommy Gemmell has no regrets about going for his former Parkhead team-mate in the first place.

It was a move well worth trying — and, in football, you can’t win all the time.

After signing for Celtic as a youth in 1961, Johnstone was farmed out for a spell to junior club Blantyre Celtic.

He made his first-team debut in 1963 and was, of course, one of the famous Lisbon Lions which won the European Cup in 1967.

After 14 trophy-laden years at Celtic Park, he joined San Jose Earthquake in 1975 before returning to the UK to join Sheffield United.

From there, it was on to Dundee, before finishing his career with brief spells at Shelbourne and Elgin City.

He was capped 23 times for Scotland.

In 2002, Johnstone was voted by Parkhead supporters as the greatest-ever Celtic player.

He died in March 2006.

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