THE Celtic game against Manchester United in May 1976 was remarkable for several reasons.

Firstly, it was Jock Stein’s first match back at the helm after a year on the sidelines.

Secondly, in this testimonial for Jimmy Johnstone and Bobby Lennox, Celtic enjoyed a convincing four-nil victory over the English side.

And thirdly, Billy Connolly came on as referee….

Glasgow Times:

Our picture from the archives captured the moment when the famous comedian made a brief foray on to the pitch at the instruction of Mr Stein – who had handed him a Rangers scarf, tracksuit and tammy in the dressing gown.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Billy said: “I said to him: ‘I can’t run out there with this on, they will eat me.’

“The Big Man laughed and said: ‘They will love it and it is only for ten minutes.’

“Out I ran from the tunnel to be met with deafening jeers. I kept running straight out and I went to the old Jungle and produced a red card sending them all off.

“To this day, I don’t know how the hell it happens, but the fans seem to all have been equipped with some sort of strange communication device that they all tune in to. It happens in every stadium.

“Anyway, I am standing there frantically waving the red card when, to a man, they suddenly start chanting: ‘You can stick your flaming wellies up your ****.’

“A memory that will live with me for ever.”

Glasgow Times: Billy as referee in 1976. Pic: Newsquest

Talking of the great Billy Connolly, here’s a fantastic shot of him outside the Pavilion Theatre in 1980, discussing, of all things, a Christmas panto, on a beautiful spring day in the city.

He had come up with an idea for a festive show called The Sleeping Dumpling.

“I love pantos,” Connolly said.

“I’ve seen them all, but I always liked the ones at the Citizens best. This is going to be like the Citizens’ panto, only rougher. Is it written yet? Don’t be daft - I’ve got better things to do with my time.

“But it’s going to be fun. We’re starting a company of part-timers for those who are appearing in other shows and want to be in mine.”

He added: “Bill McCue from Scottish Opera has always wanted to be a panto baddie, so some nights there are liable to be two baddies in the show.

“Mike Parkinson [the BBC chat-show host who had interviewed Connolly several times, helping propel him to stardom] will probably do a walk-on part if he’s free.”

After Billy’s first Parkinson appearance, his concerts began selling out in an instant and he started playing more shows in England, Wales and Ireland, as well as Scotland, and then Australia, Canada, America...

He said the panto would be ‘very much’ aimed at children.

“I love getting kids involved,” he added.

“Yes, there will be a special panto song, with the words coming down. We can’t leave that out.”

The theatre said it would spend more than £250,000 on the panto, which would run from December 4.

In the meantime, in June, it would stage a three-week season of Connolly plays - Red Runner. When Hair was Long and Time was Short, and An’ Me Wi’ A Bad Leg Tae.

Our sister newspaper The Herald didn’t have much time for the opening play, When Hair was Long, describing it as a ‘mediocre play followed by repetitive diatribes on stage by the author’.

In the event, the panto, for a variety of reasons, failed to materialise at the Pavilion that Christmas; instead, the theatre staged A Wish for Jamie, with Peter Morrison and Andy Cameron.

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Billy, who was named Greatest Glaswegian in our Glasgow Times poll of 2019, played a string of sold-out concerts at the city’s legendary Apollo Theatre in September 1975.

The following year he toured Australia for the first time.

His shows had previously been dogged by protests from Pastor Jack Glass and his followers; his Australian debut, in Brisbane, was disrupted by a ‘bunch of Scottish religious nuts’, he writes in his autobiography.

He wondered if his subsequent dates would follow a similar pattern, but the rest of the tour passed without incident.

Have you seen Billy Connolly on tour in Glasgow? Get in touch to share your stories and photos.