If you have a sofa - hide behind it now, because here comes
season 93-94. The year of bucket seats in the Jungle, Lou Macari
and, of course, Wayne 'Bertie' Biggins. And if those three haven't
got you reaching for the pills then read on...
two barren seasons manager Brady finally put his finger on the
problem. It wasn't that he'd signed a bunch of expensive duds
(Cascarino, Gillespie, Slater et al), or that, tactically, even
wet paper bags proved hazardous. No, it was his backroom staff.
So he replaced the lot.
Lennox was retired peacefully - as was Benny Rooney - while Mick
Martin went off to do a bit of booze smuggling (allegedly). In
their places came Tom McAdam and Frank Connor. Installed as assistant
manager was the man AC Milan fans called La Squala - the shark
- Joe Jordan, fresh from a brief spell away from football as manager
the player front we were moving and shaking as well. The vast
bulk of Steve Fulton was sold off to Bolton, where Bruce Rioch
took one look at his new midfielder and was so impressed that
Fulton played the grand total of one game before being stuck on
the first train home.
Miller also left, back to Aberdeen. It was staggering to think
of how his career had stalled, and it certainly wasn't all his
fault. His signing had been one of major features of the Centenary
year; we'd fought off the likes Manchester United to sign him,
he was a major young talent, and his signing appeared to mark
a new era for the club. He was one of the few signings we'd made
that we didn't have to make through absolute necessity. But it
all went so wrong. For a start Big Billy insisted on playing him
on the wing. The logic appeared to be "he's small, of course
he's a winger". But he never played there for Aberdeen. He'd
always been played through the middle, but after Celtic he never
got to play there again. Even Aberdeen stuck him out on the wing
on his return. The ultimate low for him at Celtic was being brought
on as a sub by McNeill during a League Cup semi-final, and then
being promptly hauled off again. The high was obviously scoring
the only goal in the 1989 final against the huns.
put in the summer of 1993 was John Collins. He'd originally refused
to sign another contract, but, faced with a surprising lack of
other offers he stayed.
were two new arrivals. Pat McGinaly signed for £400,000 from Hibs.
The fee was decided by tribunal and Hibs were not amused by the
valuation. The other new signing was a little known player from
Ireland called Paul Byrne. The previous season he'd won all three
Player of the Year awards in the League of Ireland.
bizarre feature of the squad was the number of goalies we had,
which amounted to five in total. Bonner, Marshall, Stewart Kerr
(so far so familiar), Shay Given and Brad Friedel. Guess which
two we would release by the end of the season?
in the boardroom things continued much as they had ever done (consistent
was the one thing the board were). The group attempting to oust
the board - the so called 'Rebels' - had been gearing up during
the summer. Indeed Fergus McCann was so confident of taking over
he even asked the club for permission to visit Celtic Park with
an architect to get some measurements for the new stadium! His
request was refused, so they simply started measuring Janefield
response to the accusations McCann and friends levelled at the
club and the directors (Michael Kelly, for example, was accused
of being 'evasive' - who would have thought it?) Chairman Kevin
Kelly issued a memorable statement in which he slated the Rebels
for 'reheating this cold kale at a time that can only be disruptive
to the team.' No we didn't have a clue what kale was either, which
just added to the allround confusion.
and of course there was the small matter of an organised boycott.
Season ticker holders were urged not to renew their books (they
didn't), and pay at the gate fans were urged not to turn up (they
did, but probably regretted it).
raise spirits the board hired a mascot called 'Vince the Parrot',
veteran of the diabolical 'Jungle's Last Stand' fancy dress competition.
It was a typical board solution. The problem was that the team
and the stadium were seriously sub standard; the solution? Hire
a man in a parrot costume. Stands to reason really when you stop
and think about it doesn't it?.
the city the huns had been flashing some of the cash they had
raked in during their Champions League run. For the record breaking
sum of £2 million Duncan Ferguson had been prized away from Tannadice.
This would see Rangers disappear off into the sunset leaving the
rest of Scottish football eating dust - according to the papers
anyway. Gosh, that does sound familiar.
was a major sartorial change that close season, and those cheeky
pranksters in the Umbro design department had done it again. Out
went the tasteful, sponsorship- free hoops, and in came a tacky,
wide, QPR style horror show, with double glazing sponsorship splattered
all over it. Too awful for words.
A pre-season tour of Italy could barely have gone worse. Two games
and two stuffings; 3:0 to Atalanta and 3:1 to Napoli. Our home
pre-season 'glamour' tie was a 1:1 against Sheffield Wednesday
(I did warn you this was going to be painful reading).
the signs were there that this was going to be a real hummer of
a season, and, as it turned out the signs were not wrong.
kicked off for real at that home of total football Fir Park, although
when I say we kicked off it would be more realistic to say that
Motherwell kicked off at 3:00, and we kicked off at 3:40. With
30 minutes to go we were 2:0 down and not showing any signs of
recovery. Then we won a corner. Motherwell couldn't clear their
lines and a crisp shot from, of all people, Stuart Slater found
the corner of the net. Of all the Celtic players only Pat Bonner
would have had longer odds against him. We drew level quickly
at the start of the second half when McAvennie pounced after another
badly defended corner. But we couldn't grab the win.
than that, we also lost Gerry Creaney, our only regular forward
the young side of 30, with a hamstring injury. Now Celtic's forward
line consisted of McAvennie and Nicholas (aged 31 and 33), which
would have been quite a partnership in 1983, but in 1993 was never
likely to strike fear into any defence. So it proved, in all too
next two league fixtures were both at home, and both were draws.
The first was a dire 1:1 with Hibs, notable for two reasons; it
was the first league game played before the cheaply seated Jungle,
and for the reaction of the crowd to the Hibs equaliser; for the
first time fans began to chant for Brady's head.
next game was against the mighty Glasgow Huns FC, and their new
highly priced striker. It was a real shame actually; having cost
all that money the boy couldn't even - pardon the pun - buy a
goal. This game was another eyesore from start to finish. 0:0
flattered both teams. The highlight was young Duncan through one
-on -one with Bonner, slicing the ball wildly past with the huns
in complete frenzy at the thought of him breaking his duck in
had as mediocre a start as we could have imagined the team then
threw us one of those sugar coated pills that helped to sow irrational
seeds of optimism. We travelled to Arbroath and won 9:1 - Our
biggest win for 21 years. This was followed by our first league
win of the season, defeating Thistle 1:0 at Firhill. At the same
time Rangers were losing 2:1 at Ibrox to Kilmarnock (led by Tommy
Burns). The irrational seeds of optimism had sprouted shoots of
hope. These were quickly seen to, though, by the cruel scythe
of harsh reality.