Ex Celtic hero Tommy Gemmell to be honoured with statue in Craigneuk

The Lisbon Lion will have the £40,000 sculpture constructed in his honour alongside the ‘Welcome to Craigneuk’ sign on Glasgow Road.

One of Craigneuk’s favourite sons will have a statue erected to honour his extraordinary achievements on the football field.

Tommy Gemmell, part of Celtic’s famous 1967 European Cup winning side, will have the £40,000 sculpture constructed in his honour alongside the “Welcome to Craigneuk” sign on Glasgow Road.

Tommy’s widow Mary Gemmell said: “Tommy was proud of his roots in Craigneuk, he worked at Ravenscraig and had to take the bus from here to Glasgow for training, quite often falling asleep and having to run the rest of the way because he missed his stop.

“It’s wonderful that people want to mark Tommy in this way and the site is fitting, overlooking the site of Ravenscraig and the community of Craigneuk.”

A campaign committee was established by local man Martin McCrum who wanted to see the former Lisbon Lion, who passed away in March 2017, honoured for his achievements.

Martin said: “Raising a statue to Tommy is in recognition of a remarkable achievement to a working-class hero who is seen as true inspiration to many.

“Tommy started from humble beginnings and is recognised globally – he was a true leader and is a true inspiration to our community.

“The statue represents achievement and the message is ‘if he can do it you can too’.

“Tommy was fiercely proud of his Craigneuk roots and nothing would please him more to know he inspired success in his own community and it’s through Tommy’s remarkable life that Lanarkshire can be inspired to great success in the future.

“Tommy’s statue is for everyone and we hope that it won’t be long until we see the next Lanarkshire hero emerge.”

Tommy, who was born in his grandmother’s house in Motherwell’s Cumbrae Drive, is one of only two British men to score in two European Cup finals.

The Celtic hero, who gained 18 caps for Scotland, was brought up in Craigneuk and began his flourishing football career at Coltness United before being picked up by Celtic in 1961.

During his time at Celtic Park, he won six league titles, three Scottish Cups and four League Cups as well as the European Cup.

Transferred to Nottingham Forest in 1971, Tommy returned north and captained Dundee to the 1973 League Cup final win against his old club before managing the Taysiders as well as Albion Rovers.

However, he still kept a keen interest in local football issues helping to save Newmains United back in 2015 when they were in danger of going out of business.

Craigneuk councillor Kenneth Duffy has been working with the council for some time to secure support for the initiative, with work due to begin shortly on an essay writing competition with local schools as a means of highlighting Tommy’ life, career and impact to a younger audience.

Councillor Duffy said, once funding is finalised, the statue would be in place in around a year’s time.

He added: “This statue would be a fitting tribute to one of Craigneuk’s finest exports – Tommy Gemmell is a sports legend.

“Martin McCrum and his committee have been inspirational in their pursuit of this and its extra special to have the Gemmell family fully behind these efforts.

“I look forward to working with both the committee and the Gemmell family to honour Tommy’s memory and acknowledge the outstanding impact he has had on so many generations of Craigneuk residents.”