Maurice Coyne, Daily Mail Sports Sub
GROWING up with the name Maurice was sometimes a blessing, occasionally a nuisance and, for a period of my life, often a nightmare.
As a child, I had only ever known of one other Maurice – but I called him Dad. So, when Maurice Johnston stepped through the doors of Parkhead in 1984, it felt as if the days of being mistakenly called Boris or Horace were long gone. In fact, everyone now called me Mo.
As a seven-year-old at a Catholic primary school in Glasgow, the blond striker helped boost my popularity as he banged in the goals in the green and white of Celtic.
He was a hero to every boy in my class and I enjoyed some of the adoration during playtime kickabouts each time I fired the ball in between the goalposts made up of Paul Magee and Tommy Love’s jackets. A chorus of “Mo, Mo Super Mo, Super Maurice Coyne” would follow as I ran to the imaginary Jungle.
However, good things never last and Johnston’s departure to Nantes in 1987 left a gaping hole in my heart – and of those who cheered from the Parkhead stands every Saturday afternoon.
Despite watching him on international duty with Scotland, it was never the same for me as it was seeing him destroy defences while donning the Hoops. But those days were long gone… or were they?
Rumours spread across the playground that Super Mo was on his way back to Celtic. I raced home from school to be told by Big Mo (dad) that my idol was ready to sign for Celtic again. There was even video proof, with Johnston on the news wearing the new Celtic kit alongside manager Billy McNeill.
A few days later, a joke circulated around school. Mo Johnston was signing for Rangers. I’d have laughed out loud if it wasn’t so absurd. But the joke was on me.
The sight of Johnston standing beside Graeme Souness at Ibrox filled me with disbelief and horror. Anakin had turned to the Dark Side. But it couldn’t be. Not Super Mo. Not for them.
The following day in school brought awkward silence from class-mates. My name was mud. It was if I had signed for Rangers; as if I had mislead the Celtic support. Playtime kickabouts were still punctuated by “Super Mo” chants, although ‘super’ had been replaced by a word not fit for 11-year-old ears.
And that was it. My life had changed forever. That day in July 1989 left me broken hearted. Johnston’s eventual escape from Glasgow to Everton couldn’t heal the pain.
Even now, it follows me around. Something as simple as switching teams in five-a-sides is an opportunity for a ribbing from team-mates.
However, at 34, I’m used to it now. I just tell them that this is the only five-a-side team I ever wanted to play for.