(relax, we win this time).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.