had been Celtic's poor league form during season 90-91 the Scottish
Cup was generally looked on by supporters as our passport to Europe.
But hopes that a corner had been turned following the back to
back victories against Rangers turned out to be false.
cup semi-final against Motherwell was another fixture moved for
live satellite transmission and the omens were not good. Motherwell
had caused Celtic problems all season. In the four Premier League
matches between the sides Celtic had won only one and had lost
two. Indeed Motherwell had come to Parkhead only the previous
week and won 2:1, Tom Boyd even managing a goal!
semi-final was a poor show with neither side creating much. Boyd
and McCart, both ex-Celtic Boys Club, had the Motherwell defence
well marshalled, while ex-Gers Cooper and Ferguson were a constant
threat. But it did seem for a while as if luck was on our side.
With the last kick of the ball Ferguson struck a fierce shot from
the edge of the box that flew past Bonner but came back off the
inside of the post. Hearts skipped a beat all round the stadium.
No sooner had the ball rebounded safely into play than the referee
blew for full-time.
conventional wisdom is that you only get one shot at the Old Firm
in a cup tie. The following Wednesday saw this myth well and truly
replay had started well enough with the Hoops taking an early
lead through Rogan, but an equaliser was conceded almost immediately
afterwards. Paul Elliott soon restored Celtic's advantage before
it all started to go horribly wrong. In midfield McStay was playing
out of his skin, but he was the only one who was playing. The
rest seemed to be labouring under the misapprehension that Motherwell
were simply going to capitulate meekly. They didn't.
equalised they began to dominate the match and with 15 minutes
to go took the lead through a spectacular shot from distance by
O'Neil. Things became frantic then, with McStay carving open the
Motherwell defence time and again only to see his forwards shoot
tamely wide or fail to control his passes. In a move motivated
by desperation Elliott joined the attack but it was to no avail.
In the dying minutes Ferguson hit an identical shot to the one
that had rattled the post in the first half. This one came in
that extra inch and the game was over.
years in a row Celtic had eliminated Rangers from the Scottish
Cup yet had failed to lift the trophy. On the face of it this
particular defeat was unthinkable, but the strength of this Motherwell
team can be gauged by the fact that Rangers went to Fir Park on
the second last day of the season needing a win to guarantee them
the championship. Motherwell soundly trounced them by 3:0.
make matters worse in the final weeks of what had already been
a dismal season it looked as if Celtic would fail to qualify for
Europe in consecutive seasons for the first time in the club's
history. On the last day of the season the team had to beat St.
Johnstone at McDiarmid Park, where they had lost the previous
December (2:3), and hope that Dundee United lost to Dunfermline.
was clear enough. Celtic just had to win. Death or glory stuff.
Surely the players would rise to the occasion.
did, to the extent that Celtic were a goal down after 20 seconds.
St. Johnstone kicked off, the ball was played down the wing then
promptly crossed for Roddy Grant to volley home. Coronation Street
on Wednesday nights here we come.
St. Johnstone had little to play for. They were out of the race
for a Euro spot and in no danger of relegation. Consequently they
relaxed enough to allow Celtic back into the game. Charlie Nicholas
equalised after 20 minutes to make the score 1:1 at half-time.
Hope was alive, even if sprits were low due to events unfolding
defeat at Motherwell had allowed Aberdeen to overtake Rangers
at the top of the table. The final league game of the season saw
Aberdeen visit Dante's 6th Circle. Many Celts became temporary
Dons for the day, some youngsters from the Royston area even daubing
"Come on you reds" in red paint on a wall running alongside
the M8. Due to injury Aberdeen were forced to field their inexperienced
reserve goalkeeper Michael Watt. Rangers decided to exploit this
situation such that Watt required smelling salts after five minutes
of the game as a result of some close attention from Hateley.
Rangers were soon on their way to a 2:0 victory and the Premier
back at McDiarmid Park the Celtic players were contriving to make
life difficult for themselves again as soon into the second half
they were 2:1 down and heading for the comfy chairs on Wednesday
was restored again courtesy of a thundering Mike Galloway shot
that nearly ripped the net out of its moorings. This was only
Galloway's fourth start of the season and while he hadn't exactly
been a star the previous season his wholehearted approach had
certainly been missed.
winner in this game made a little piece of history. It was a penalty,
Celtic's first since the shoot out in the previous season's Cup
Final. We were a mere 15 minutes away from going a whole season
without a spot kick. Confusion broke out when it was given. Nobody
could work out why the referee had suddenly blown his whistle
and pointed to the large white spot in the middle of the area
after Coyne had been brought down. We had all resigned ourselves
to the apparent new rule that fouling Celtic players anywhere
near the goal was perfectly legal. Somebody produced the Association
Foot ball rule book and the matter was cleared up. Penalty kick.
sent the goalie the wrong way to make it 3:2. All we needed now
was a Dunfermline goal. They were involved in a desperately bad
game at East End Park. It was injury time and the score was 0:0.
Dundee United, renowned for their defensive mettle, surely wouldn't
give anything away so close to the final whistle. The game was
so far into injury time that some Celtic fans actually heard the
winning goal on the radio while sitting in their supporters coaches
waiting to return home to Glasgow.
Moyes, an ex-Celt, had headed a last gasp goal for the Pars allowing
his old club to leapfrog United and grab a European place. On
the coaches the cry was "Driver... take this bus to Europe!"