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...
day after the EGM Raith Rovers came to town, and - shock, horror,
disbelief - Celtic played some decent football, winning 2:0 with
John Collins scoring both. Had the corner been turned? Don't be
so silly; this was 1993, a time when Celtic took Newton's first
law (for every action, there's an opposite and equal reaction)
and converted it to, 'for every semi-decent victory there's a
horror show, nightmare defeat on the way'.
so on the Wednesday we were duly subjected to a game that was
so awful it simply defied description. Dundee United won 1:0 and
scored one of those giveaway goals so characteristic of the Sieve
in those days. We looked on in horror as Peter Grant played a
pass back... then promptly averted our eyes from the inevitable
following Saturday saw St Johnstone visit Celtic Park to witness
first hand the strange spectacle of 16,000 people sing 'Sack the
board' for an hour and a half. It was another pitiful game. Although
Celtic won by a goal to nil, we had to watch our defenders spending
the whole afternoon lugging the ball forward. McStay and Collins
spent the game watching the ball sail over their heads while most
of the crowd spent the second half thinking about going to the
pub. It rained.
The next day the Sunday Mail ran what was, even by their own dubious
standards, a strange story. Having noticed that we were a bit
lacking in the striker department Luigi had apparently shown an
interest in one Hossam Hassan, erstwhile Egyptian star of Neuchatel
Xamax. That's right, the bloke who scored four past Liam Brady's
team in 1991. The truly odd part of the story was that the club
wanted him to come for a trial first to see if he was any good!
This, apparently, from the manager who signed Wayne Biggins! Anyway,
nothing came of it, although it was a story that was never officially
following Friday the board held another high- powered moving and
shaking press conference. This one was to announce that in case
the Theatre of Dreams at Cambuslang should fail to become bricks
and concrete instead of Kevin Kelly wandering around a toxic field
waving large 'artists impressions' at the Celtic View photographer,
then plan B was to bolt down bucket seats onto the terraces at
either end of the ground. Celtic fans everywhere wept with delight.
following day was spent at Dens Park watching another Dundonian
feast of football. It was as appetising as the local culinary
speciality, 'Mince in a Roll'. It certainly wasn't all Dundee's
fault; Macari's style of play was the main culprit. Gerry Creaney
rescued a point, but this turned out to be a day when points were
dropped, given that at the same time Rangers had imploded at home
to United, 3:0 down before the home support had finished their
first chorus of the Sash. An opportunity lost.
following week the players produced their best performance of
the season (stop sniggering at the back there) when we beat Hibs
1:0. Paul McStay scored with a finely placed shot from the edge
of the box (rounding off a great performance from him), but man
of the match was Hibs' goalie Jim Leighton, who made great save
after great save. Certainly not man of the match was Biggins.
He started the game in preference to Charlie Nicholas (!!), and
gave one of the great 'I've never even seen a ball before' performances
of all time. Never mind doubts about Macari's style of play -
this called into doubt the manager's sanity.
Never one to miss a bandwagon - even one that had rolled on by
a few weeks before - The Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters
Clubs announced a boycott. Given that the number of people who
still supported the board could be counted using the Kelly family
Christmas card list, the statement issued by the chairman in response
to this latest boycott was a good contender for 'Most unintentionally
ironic statement of the century'. It said 'I don't think the vast
majority of fans will be dictated to by an unrepresentative minority.'
The Scottish football powers that were took it easy on us that
festive season. There weren't any fixtures. We were meant to play
at Fir Park between Christmas and New Year, but true to form there
was a light frost and the pitch was unplayable. So our next fixture
was the Huns on Ne'erday.
were quite confident about this one. The huns had been a bit shaky
of late. Their defeat by United at Ibrox had been a blow, and
a trip to Celtic Park wasn't exactly what they needed. We, on
the other hand, felt that despite the Neanderthal style of play,
Macari had at least shored up the defence. At Celtic Park we had
six clean sheets on the trot. But remember what I said about the
Celtic version of Newton's law? Thirty-odd seconds. That's how
long it took for Hateley to put them in the lead.
three minutes later it was 2:0. After 15 minutes it was three.
All hell broke loose. Some clown invaded the pitch with the express
intention of lamping the huns goalie, Maxwell. However when he
got close enough he discovered the following: 1- Maxwell was quite
a big guy 2- unlike himself, Maxwell wasn't half -jaked 3- Maxwell
wasn't afraid of him. He wound up on his arse looking a right
the directors wouldn't have given to have joined him on the pitch.
In their comfy seats with their twee tartan blankets on their
laps they were coming under a heavy barrage of confectionery.
Mars bars appeared to be the missile of choice, and more than
a few found their target. Now we don't know, but we suspect that
during this onslaught Michael Kelly may have been thinking, 'Excellent,
now they'll have to buy more chocolate from the snack bars if
they're still hungry... Cambuslang here we come!'
During half time Macari clearly read the riot act. Celtic came
out for the second half with a great deal more purpose and proceeded
to tear into them. Ten minutes in we got a free kick on the edge
of the box. Collins, and Wdowczyk, lined up next to the ball,
apparently ready to knock it to McStay. The Maestro raced toward
the ball, Wdowczyk tapped the ball to Collins, the Rangers wall
broke to charge the ball and just as McStay was about to leather
it Collins spun away with it. With the wall in tatters and the
goalie unsure of what was happening he crashed it into the net.
Not only was it a way back in to the game, but it was possibly
the cleverest set piece we've ever produced.
were right in on them now and Rangers were on the rack. Another
period of sustained pressure saw Charlie Nicholas attempt the
kind of shot that only he could even think of - a looping volley
from the edge of the box. it appeared to be dropping in, only
to hit the bar. This was it, we were going to get back into this
game. Rangers took the goal kick, the ball went into Celtic territory
for the first time in the second half, and from about 30 yards
Rangers' perma-injured Ukrainian Kuznetzov fired the ball into
the corner. The game was, officially, a bogey. We scored in the
last minute, (Nicholas with a header) but a more pathetic cheer
for a goal against Rangers you never did hear.