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don't look back in anger celtic in the 90s
season 91-92: part 2

Celtic's opening league fixture of the 1991-92 season was a cracker. In recent seasons the team have been expected to take points at Tannadice against Dundee United but in those days it had the same banana skin qualities as Rugby Park assumed when Tommy Burns was Celtic manager.

The game was one of those heart-stopping adrenaline monsters that come along once in a while. Celtic raced into a two goal lead after twelve minutes, Nicholas and Coyne both scoring with their first attempts. Incredible. But not as incredible as the refereeing decision that let United back into the game. A corner was swung in from the left which was challenged for by Whyte and Ferguson. The ref gave a penalty for a push by the Celtic defender. The whole of the previous season Celtic had the threat of Elliott in opposition penalty areas. defenders had adopted the novel tactic of not even looking at the ball but instead looking at Elliott and trying to impede his run. Some would even put their hands on his chest in the style of American football linebackers. Celtic didn't receive one single penalty throughout the season and here theye were, penalised for such a heinous offence that not one United player had claimed a foul. 2:1.

What happened next was startling, not only for the quality of it but also for the source. The previous season John Collins had been a busy but not exceptionally productive midfielder. Apparently Brady had approached him during pre-season and told him that one goal a season from a midfield player of his quality wasn't good enough. Collins was about to get good enough. He picked up a knock down from Creaney, took two steps forward and cracked the ball over the head of the goalie and into the net. Pandemonium at the Celtic end and a two goal cushion at half-time.

The second half was only three minutes old when Pat Bonner let a tame, half-hit shot dribble in at the near post and raise the tension somewhat. For the next ten minutes Celtic struggled and it was no surprise when United equalised through Ferguson. But they seemed to run out of puff after that and allowed Celtic to re-assert themselves. With a few minutes left Collins once again took his new manager's words to heart and let fly with another long-range effort to win a pulsating match.

The day after this opening fixture Celtic's media nemesis Gerry McNee, the modestly self-styled "Voice of Football", reported that a bust-up had occurred between Liam Brady and Terry Cassidy. The story finished with McNee revealing that Brady had threatened to resign if the board failed to take action against the Chief Executive. the story was vehemently denied by all concerned, but it would later emerge that McNee had the story just about spot on; there had been a problem between the two, Brady had approached the board with a threat to resign but the directors had called his bluff. Politically, Brady was now dead in the water. He had played all his trump cards at once and lost.

Another away win was recorded four days later at East End Park (3:1), Charlie Nicholas scoring two, including a vintage controlled volley which glided into the bottom corner.

Two days after that Brady went back into the transfer market market and came up with another prize catch to match that of Tony Cascarino. Gary Gillespie had been captain of Falkirk at the tender age of 17. He had reputedly been approached by Jock Stein in the 70s to come to Parkhead but chose instead to go south, where he won league honours with Liverpool despite never being able to escape from the shadow of Hansen. Described as an elegant player, he never quite gave the impression that he would be prepared to get stuck in when the occasion demanded it... and this, remember, was the guy who was supposed to replace Paul Elliott.

The other major concern was his fitness - or lack thereof. Gillespie turned out to be a role model for Phil O'Donnell, allegedly once attempting to be excused training on the grounds that he had a sore finger. But all this was forgotten as more than a million pounds was splashed out to bring him back to Scotland and a new player was once again being paraded at Paradise.

He made his debut in Celtic's first home league game - against former club Falkirk as it happened - and he certainly came back with a bang, rounding the 'keeper after five minutes to score the opening goal. Nicholas and Coyne added to the scoreline before half-time, but the first sign of trouble


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1990-91 pt 1
1990-91 pt 2
1990-91 pt 3
1990-91 pt 4
1991-92 pt 1
1991-92 pt 2
1991-92 pt 3
1991-92 pt 4
1991-92 pt 5
1991-92 pt 6
1992-93 pt 1
1992-93 pt 2
1992-93 pt 3
1993-94 pt 1
1993-94 pt 2
1993-94 pt 3
1993-94 pt 4
1993-94 pt 5
1993-94 pt 6
1993-94 pt 7
1993-94 pt 8