the romance of the cup. The chance for some lucky pub team or
other to get many goals stuffed past them by a team of highly
paid professionals. So it was in 1996 with Celtic drawn to play
against Whitehill Welfare and Rangers drawn against Keith, which
is a team apparently and not just some random bloke who happened
to wind up in the third round draw all by himself (and win a chance
to play Bari in the UEFA Cup?).
to the spirit of the underdog's only chance being to get one of
the big boys in to one of those Junior stadiums with a tattie
field for a pitch (c. Brockville) both of the wee clubs in question
elected to move the games to Premier League stadiums; Keith chose
Pittodrie, Whitehill opted for Easter Road.
eventually went through 3:0, although the Whitehill goalie gave
a performance that defied belief. Indeed, it took the Hoops 39
minutes to open the scoring, after approximately 45 shots on target.
at Pittodrie Rangers had never had such a welcome. Some of the
Keith players had been cheerfully publicising the fact that they
were Rangers fans, but not that it showed on the day. Much. 10:1
was the final score. The 'home' side were 3 down after 5 minutes.
Some of the Keith team were almost joining in the celebrations
to the goals while tackling was a definite no no lest one of their
royal blue heroes got a sore shin. And of course after the game
was finished Chic Young couldn't stop banging on about how imperious
Laudrup had been. Against Keith.
in the Premier League things were about to take a turn for the
surreal with the arrival of Hibs at Celtic Park. Both previous
meetings had been a triumph of flowing football for Tommy Burns'
team, even though we'd only won one of these games. Hibs weren't
going to let that happen again. They decided to close the game
right down, no space would be conceded and they would play on
the break. This was working pretty well. Come the second half,
Celtic were a goal down and looking as though we could play for
a month and not score. Then came the turning point of the game;
Jim Leighton had to leave the pitch to receive treatment to a
cut above his right eye. In his place to temporarily wear the
gloves came forward Darren Jackson, possibly the most irksome
player in the league, a player whose arrogance on the pitch was
in inverse proportion to his actual talent, a man universally
despised by all except Hibs fans. He went and saved the first
fired at him. Help, this couldn't be happening, Leighton would
be back soon, this was an opportunity not to be missed.
a cross came in from the right and Jackson went up, but failed
to hold it. Andreas Thom shifted it back to Pierre and it was
all square. Then the real fun started. The ball was out for a
throw in to Celtic when Leighton reappeared. Jackson ran over
to the touchline and threw off his keeper's jersey and gloves
expecting his goalie to come straight on. But the stand side linesman
wasn't happy with the treatment and refused to let him on. So
now Hibs had no goalie, Jackson couldn't leave the field to get
the goalie kit, and given that he was wearing his outfield garb
he couldn't really expect to handle the ball in the box without
the ref taking action. Incredibly the ref ordered Celtic to take
the throw in, possibly not noticing that Leighton hadn't come
back on. The stadium went nuts. The throw was taken quickly, but
then the north stand linesman flagged drawing the attention of
the ref to the fact that Hibs were deficient in the goalkeeper
department to the tune of one. The ref stopped play. Now the stadium
went really nuts. McStay and Boyd confronted the north stand linesman,
the Hibs bench went berserk with the main stand linesman, and
Leighton got his proper treatment. The big question was; What
had the north stand linesman flagged for? There's nothing in the
rules that says a team has to have a goalie any more than a team
has to have a left winger.
everything had calmed down it turned out that we had the upper
hand. Hibs were well and truly knocked out of their stride. McStay
won the game with a superb shot that found the back of the net,
as opposed to a back close in Barrowfield.
future of the club certainly seemed bright the following Tuesday
when Celtic youth took on Rangers youth in the BP cup. 5:0 was
the score and - joy of joys -there were even cameras there. Pick
of goals was one from young Marc Anthony. He leapt to meet a corner
with his head only to see a defender clear it off the line. Happily
it came straight back to him. As he landed from his header he
threw himself into a bicycle kick and sent the ball tearing into
the net. Quite fantastic.
Not so fantastic was the following Saturday, a 0:0 draw at Brockville,
the high/low light of which was the performance from the stand
side linesman. Time and again he flagged for offsides that weren't
even marginal. The closest we got to a Celtic goal was another
pile driver from the Maestro that failed to come in that extra
inch and cannoned off the post. Just to rub it right in the ref
waved play on when Wieghorst was pulled down right in front of
him inside the box.
saw the departure of Andy Walker - again - who joined Howard Kendall
at Sheffield United. Safe to say his second spell in Paradise
wasn't really up to the standards of the first one and hadn't
really been what we'd all hoped for. Nevertheless, it seemed odd
to sell a player who, while not necessarily a first team pick,
had made a fair contribution to the season thus far, including
three goals in two visits to Tynecastle.
But Tommy had a plan, a cunning and subtle one. All would be revealed
by the end of the month.
win against Whitehill ensured progress into the next round of
the cup and those cheeky pranksters up at the SFA were surely
having a right laugh at us now. Raith Rovers again. They seemed
determined to find out if lightning would strike twice. It didn't.
We won comfortably 2:0, but the two real talking points of the
game were the pace at which work was coming on in the east stand
(the precast concrete the seats would be bolted onto had started
to be brought in) and the return to the first team of Brian O'Neil
after nearly 9 months recovering from a cruciate injury picked
up the day before the cup final the previous May. He strolled
through the game, calmly playing passes from even his own bye
sale of Walker had resulted in speculation that Celtic were about
to move into the transfer market for a forward. The rumour mill
of Glasgow was in full swing, the best of the bunch being that
Celtic had approached Real Madrid about getting Michael Laudrup
(A quality moment of reality check for the Rangers fans came from
Tommy Docherty on a radio phone-in, when asked if he thought the
Brian Laudrup was the best player in Europe. He laughed and said
'How can he be when he isn't even the best player in his own family?').
For all the rumours that were flowing no one guessed it. The Evening
Times thought it would be John Robertson of Hearts.
to a 4:0 gubbing of Thistle on the 24th of February Fergus McCann
appeared on the pitch and introduced our new striker Portuguese
international Jorge Cadete who we had signed until the end of
the season. On the face of it things were looking very, very good,
although there were a couple of clues about what was to happen
over the next 16 months. For a start we had only managed to get
Cadete because he was in conflict with his club. Hard to believe
I know. Secondly the deal was for four months without any first
option to buy. Thirdly, there was a man at the SFA who was quite
determined to put the mockers on this if he could. He was quite
well placed to put a spanner in the works too, what with him being
the Chief Executive of the Association at the time. Jim Farry
was about to try and tweak Fergus McCann's tail. He wouldn't live
to tell the story.
of all there was the small matter of who actually owned the players
registration. Then there was the fact that the club which had
the registration wasn't interested in any loan deals (which ours
would have constituted). It then turned out that the deal had
been put together by an agent without the consent of Cadete's
club, although they would happily talk about a permanent transfer,
with attendant large fee.
wasn't amused. He had been offered a player for a short time with
no outlay except wages, now he was being asked to fork out a transfer
fee and take the risk that the player would settle and not kindle
up another fuss. He said he would need time to think it over.
For the fans, and for the manager, of course it was simple; this
was a striker of some renown - chances like this don't come along
all that often and should be grabbed with both hands. Finally
Fergus agreed and Cadete was a Celtic player, although we would
still have to have his registration cleared by the SFA.
this took about three weeks and in the meantime we'd been very
busy in both competitions. Hearts had come to Celtic Park hoping
to repeat their success against Rangers only to leave on the end
of a thumping 4:0 loss. McStay, Van Hooijdonk and McLaughlin had
all scored within the first 25 minutes. Donnelly scored the fourth
with 20 minutes left and Jim Jeffries had the brass neck to claim
that Hearts dominated the later stages of the game. That's right
dominated at 4:0 down. It's the way he tells them. This win actually
marked our first clean sweep against Hearts for many years.
up was the cup escape to end all cup escapes. Dundee United had
been relegated the previous season, thanks in part to a 1:0 defeat
at Tannadice by Celtic on the last day of the season (truth be
told, results didn't go their way and they would have gone down
regardless). The boys in tangerine were out for a wee bit of revenge.
The game was rescheduled for a Sunday and shown live on BBC.
through the first half United were awarded a penalty. Marshall
saved it but couldn't prevent the rebound from going in. Normally
this wouldn't have presented a problem, but Celtic weren't playing
well and United were in the winning habit. They were running away
with the first division, there was no doubt they would be promoted
at the end of the season.
the second half and Celtic just couldn't get anywhere. Things
were looking grim. With only 90 seconds to go Celtic were awarded
a free kick on the right hand side of the box which was floated
in. The ‘keeper came but missed and Van Hooijdonk headed the ball
into the net. On the TV Jock Brown commented that Celtic would
face a tricky replay at Tannadice but would be quite happy about
it because we hadn't been at the races at all. As he was saying
all this the ball was knocked forward to Van Hooijdonk. United
still appeared stunned at the concession of the equaliser having
played so well and their concentration appeared to drop. Pierre
knocked the ball over the defence and into the path of Andreas
Thom. The defenders had no hope of catching him and with admirable
calm Thom slotted the ball past the goalie and set the seal on
a complete mugging. It almost felt as though our name was on the
trophy. And it set us up nicely for our next fixture; Ibrox.
no sign of Cadete though. There seemed to be some sort of red
tape issue going on up at the SFA.