Celtic star

Born: October 3, 1944;

Died: May 26, 2019

HARRY Hood, who has died aged 74, was a star of Celtic who made 310 appearances for the club after joining them in 1969. The same year Beatle George Harrison started writing My Sweet Lord and the fans were quick to adapt the song as a tribute to their 25-year-old centre forward. Harrison’s lyrics were “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna Krishna, Krishna … Hare Hare” but hey soon became “Harry, Harry; Harry, Harry, Harry Hood.”

Hood won many great matches for Clyde, Sunderland, and Celtic but this week lost his battle against cancer. His death comes only weeks after those of Celtic legends Billy McNeil and Steve Chalmers - a sad and poignant time for the Celtic family.

Born Henry Anthony Hood in October 1944 in Stobhill Hospital with the Second World War still raging, Harry went on to become a fan favourite and one of soccer’s most successful businessmen after hanging up his boots.

He grew up in his Garthamlock home with parents Mary and Harry, alongside brothers George, Jack and Peter and sisters Irene and Patricia. He was educated at Saint Aloysius College, playing rugby until 15, only taking up football when he moved to Holyrood Secondary School.

Playing in a team alongside Celtic giants like Jimmy Johnstone, Kenny Dalglish, Danny McGrain, John Clark, Lou Macari, Billy McNeil and Dixie Deans, Hood finished as Scotland’s top scorer in 1971. His most stunning feat was a memorable hat-trick in the 1973 League Cup semi-final against Rangers.

After leaving Celtic he plied his trade in Texas playing for the San Antonio Thunder alongside England’s iconic captain Bobby Moore, and Scots exiles, Bobby Clark, Jim Forrest and former Celtic team-mate Tommy Callaghan. In 20 games in the scorching heat he found the net ten times.

His swansong years followed with spells at Motherwell and Queen of the South and short spells managing Albion Rovers and Queen of the South. The two colourful characters running the Rovers and Queens in those days were Willie Harkness and Tom Fagan, men who thought they were kings of wheeling and dealing, but they hadn’t met Harry Hood, one of the sharpest brains in football.

Deciding football chairmen had all the talent of Pinocchio when it came to keeping a football promise, Hood turned his energies to his fledgling leisure business.

With Harry at the helm and accompanied by his wife Kathleen, the Lisini Pub Company has grown into a multi-million pound business. The portfolio in the family-run business has expanded with top quality restaurants, hotels, function suites and bars. Throughout these years Lisini have been great supporters of a variety of charities raising big amounts for a range of good causes including the Beatson Cancer Charity.

The name Lisini comes from daughters Lisa and Siobhan and son Nicholas who have all played their part in the group along with Harry’s nephew Grant Hood. But Lisini’s greatest accolade has been the ever-expanding clientele, many of whom hoped to meet Harry who always found time to chat and recount football yarns with clients.

In 2018 Harry Hood was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by his old friend and leisure entrepreneur James Mortimer at a Scottish Entertainment and Hospitality ceremony. There were tears that night, some of pride, but many of the tears amongst those who knew the battle Harry was fighting.

Perhaps one story sums up the fun and laughter behind Harry Hood. In 2017 his Angels Hotel was reopened after a facelift. There to open the new “Harry’s Bar” was the then Celtic superstar Moussa Dembele. After 50 odd years Moussa had joined Harry as only the second Celtic player to score a hat-trick against Rangers in a cup game.

Harry said, “Moussa was such a nice lad, I didn’t have the heart to tell him I actually scored four goals in that game against Rangers. The linesman decided to call one offside. It was never offside.”

While his wife, children, six grand-children and immediate family mourn in private, remembering a warm hearted man who cared passionately about his family there will be a wider audience who will shed a tear or two.

Lisini has lost their team captain; football fans of a certain genre have lost one of the most flamboyant players of the sixties and seventies; Scotland’s leisure industry has lost a great champion and the thousands of people who came to know Henry Anthony Hood have lost a great friend.