Alan Thompson has detailed how Neil Lennon carried out Peter Lawwell’s command to sack his assistant manager in June 2012.
At Rugby Park in October 2011 Lennon was close to the axe with Celtic 3-0 down at half-time but a spirited second half showing earned Lennon’s side a point and slowly the season turned around.
When Celtic returned to Kilmarnock six months later they celebrated a title win and all seemed rosy in the garden even though Thompson admitted to some off-field problems.
After two seasons alongside his former team-mate in the dug-out Thompson thought that he was on solid ground but his career at Celtic was over almost before the title winning celebrations had died down.
As he enjoyed a few days at the races Lennon was preparing to make a trip to Newcastle to end their partnership, after 12 years as close colleagues Thompson wasn’t prepared for the news that Lennon had for him.
Serialising his book, A Geordie Celt, The Sun reports:
I’d been to the Derby at Epsom with my wife Jo, ex-player Steve Stone and his wife Judith who were close friends. I just remember getting on the train at Kings Cross to go back to Newcastle when I received a text from Lenny asking if I was still in Tyneside.
I thought that was a strange text so I said to Stoney I wouldn’t be long because I needed to give Lenny a ring. I called Lenny and he answered with, ‘Alright Hooch?’
Hooch was the nickname given to me by Bolton goalkeeper Aidan Davison and it was because of the dog from the 1989 film, Turner and Hooch.
Aidan used to say I wasn’t the best-looking lad so he named me that and it followed me around the clubs.
Lenny calls me ‘Hooch’ to this day. He asked where I was and, if I was in Newcastle, he was going to come down and see me.
I asked him why he would be needing to come down and see me but he wouldn’t tell me over the phone. He told me he needed to talk to me face to face. By now alarm bells were ringing.
I told Lenny, ‘Whatever you’ve got to tell me then you can do it right now’. He told me that Peter Lawwell and the rest of the board wanted me out of Celtic.
It didn’t surprise me when he told me this after the drink-driving, cocaine allegations and affair. I asked Lenny what his take was on it. He said, ‘I don’t have any say on the matter Hooch’.
I told him that we’re best mates and that he was the boss of a team we’d both just won the league with. Surely he was going to back me?
Surely he could have told Peter I was an important part of his staff, but there was just a silence coming from him.
I think Lenny must have known for a few weeks I was going to be axed and said nothing or didn’t warn me of what was to come.
He could have given me the nod so I could hand in my resignation to save me the embarrassment of what was to come. But he didn’t.
I told Lenny that although I wasn’t too happy with the news, I got that it was because of what had gone on in my personal life. I also told him not to come to Newcastle because I didn’t want to see him, and put the phone down.
From that minute on that train, I was an emotional wreck and it continued for many years after. Losing my job at Celtic took some getting over.
Back in 2012 it was obvious that Lawwell held massive control over his manager, within a month of each other both stepped down during Celtic’s disastrous attempt to make it 10-in-a-row.