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don't look back in anger celtic in the 90s
season 94-95: part 2

(relax, we win this time).

One of the first things Tommy Burns did after his appointment was to re-sign Pat Bonner. Rumour had it that when Macari had released the 'keeper Burns had made an immediate move to bring him to Rugby Park, but events seemed to overtake that deal.

The deal to bring Andy Walker back to Celtic had also been the subject of some speculation, given that Macari had been the driving force behind it, but Burns was apparently more than happy to have his old team mate back on the staff.

Pre-season at Hampden saw the Celts take on Brazilian side Flamengo in a 2:2 draw and then beat the team destined to be that season's English champions, Blackburn (who were parading their new star forward, a young Chris Sutton).

A new league directive had been introduced during the summer requiring that players wear their number on their jersey. Obviously this presented a problem for Celtic; traditionally our players only wore their number on their shorts. To get round the problem the team played with the numbers on the sleeves of the jersey, thereby leaving the back as unspoilt hoops (although given that this was the era of the hellish QPR style wide hoops you could argue that the strip was actually beyond further damage). The league bigwigs had scratched their collective chins and said they would have to think about whether or not to allow this.

Prior to the league kick off another remnant of the old board was removed when Tom Grant was informed that he had done the honourable thing and resigned. With that good news still fresh in our minds we kicked off our league campaign at the Mecca of football, Brockville.

The only new face in our line up was Andy Walker, while Falkirk were showing off the Scottish Baggio himself Steve Fulton. The first half was uneventful to the point of tediousness, but early in the second period Mark McNally blew away his early season cobwebs with a truly hellish clearance that allowed Ian McCall a clear run at our goal and we were a goal behind. Incredibly enough, straight from kick off, Willie Falconer ran down the right, crossed in and Walker met the ball perfectly with his head; 1:1. That was how it stayed.

The next day there was another resignation at Celtic Park. This time it was Jack McGinn that was informed that he had done the honourable thing and resigned. In place of Grant and McGinn came Eric Riley and Patrick Ferrell. Unlike previous executive appointments at Celtic the credentials on which these men were hired had been based on the CV rather than their family tree.

If anyone was still unsure about the wisdom of removing the old board then they only had to buy the Herald and take a wee read at the extracts from Dr. Michael Kelly's book. It was real Alice in Wonderland stuff; pride of place went to his belief that the bank had only been bluffing when it threatened to close down the whole show. One hour from the receiver and that was what the board were seriously thinking. Even now it's enough to make you shudder.

Our next fixture was the first in what was to be an ill-fated, and long remembered League Cup campaign. Somerset Park Ayr was the venue, and an early Peter Grant goal was enough to see us through, although the overall performance was alarmingly bad.

We followed that with our league bow at Hampden, entertaining our old Hampden sparring partners Dundee United. The memories of the '85 and '88 cup finals had stayed with most fans, primarily because there had been precious few winning moments since then; basically the comparison between those games and this one began and ended with the scoreline. It was poor fare. Celtic had taken the lead midway through the second half; Walker latched on to a Donnelly pass, turned his man and slotted the ball into the corner of the goal. It was a lead which we held on to for all of 4 minutes before United's new whippet fast forward Nixon turned Lee Martin and curled the ball past Marshall. But tradition being what it is we saved the winning goal for the last minute. A poor corner was completely missed by Alan Main, and Tony Mowbray nodded the ball in.

Although that victory was sweet it was sugar free sweeties compared to the next game - Them, at their midden. TB had taken Killie there the previous season and won, so we travelled to the Death Star in high spirits. Well most of us did. Pat McGinlay was rumoured to be less than pleased with his lot. Having had, all things considered, a decent enough first season (he was our top scorer) he now found himself being treated like a Panini football doubler. Tommy Burns was beginning to move and shake in the transfer market, and most of the deals being mooted involved cash plus Pat McGinaly. This despite him being a regular first team pick. There were plenty of rumours about how this state of affairs came about -the most colourful involved McGinaly launching a verbal tirade against Burns the previous season and Pat was indeed sent off at Rugby Park.

But our off -field shenanigans were small potatoes compared to our friends at Ibrox. During the summer old Walter had gone on a bit of spending spree. His main captures had been Brian Laudrup, younger brother of Barca genius Michael, and Basil Boli, one half of the Marseille defence that had won the European Cup in 1993. The other half of that partnership? Marcel Desailly. It didn't take long for people to suss out who had been the brains behind that partnership. Good in the tackle, sure first touch, dominant in the air - Boli lacked the lot. A point alluded to by Chic Young in an interview with Walter after they had crashed out of Europe to the mighty AEK Athens. Walter's face darkened, his language became foul, and Chic cowered in terror. Happily the cameras were rolling all the while, and the tape of this interview quickly did the rounds.

Our visit couldn't really have come at a more inconvenient time, right after said European defeat, although any crowing was kept to a minimum due to the fact that, unlike us, they had actually qualified for Europe in the first place. History was made after the league had come to a decision regarding the jersey numbering. To no one's surprise they rejected Celtic's idea of numbers on the sleeves and so for the first time in the club's domestic history we had numbers on the hoops (we'd had them on hoops for a number of years in European competition).

The game itself was a dream. McStay had one of his great days and Rangers didn't have anyone who came within a mile of him. Collins was also in top form while McGinaly played like a man with a point to prove. Even the defence didn't seem in the mood to do anything stupid. Unfortunately Goram was also having a top game. McStay, Collins and Walker all had shots that would easily have beaten any other keeper. It looked like we might go in level until Donnelly was fouled at the edge of the box in almost exactly the same spot as Collins had scored from during the lockout game the previous season. Collins and Galloway stood over the ball, apparently agreeing that Galloway would try and power the ball though. He stepped back for his run up as the Rangers fans braced themselves for the worst. Galloway began his run, but just as he was about to hit the ball Collins stepped in and curled an inch perfect shot round the wall and into the bottom corner of the net. The Broomlaon exploded while the rest of the stadium groaned.

There is a great picture of the Copland Stand as Collins hits the ball. A good 10 or 15 people are either looking through their fingers, or looking away altogether; they knew what was coming - they had seen it before. We'd only seen it on TV.

The game was over just minutes into the second half. Peter Grant linked with Simon Donnelly, who squared the ball to the Maestro. McStay hit a textbook daisy-cutter in off the post. The rest of the game saw a confident Celtic toy with a ragged looking Rangers. It should have been more than two, but after putting the ball twice through the legs of Rangers' 4m striker McStay hit the ball off the inside of the post again, except this time it bounced out. Regardless, it was a superb victory, and one which raised not only morale, but also the expectation level.

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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