This last week of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Lisbon Lions, has been memorable to say the least.
The feat of the Bhoys who made history all those years ago, shouldn’t and will never be forgotten. It’s only as time goes by the magnitude of the result in the Portuguese capital on that sunny Thursday night, sinks in.
However, the Lions themselves won’t mind as today Brendan Rodgers’ players steal the limelight for a while. By winning 3-0 against Hearts last Sunday at Celtic Park on trophy day, the Hoops became ‘the InVIncibles’ by going through the full league campaign without defeat.
We finished the season a massive 30 points ahead of second placed Aberdeen and 39 points ahead of new club Sevco!
An amazing accomplishment. But that was only the league.
We’ve also gone through both domestic cup competitions without loss. In fact when we won the League Cup 3-0 against today’s opponents Aberdeen, we’d gone through the competition without losing a goal.
And in the Scottish Cup, it’s only St Mirren, who we beat 4-1, who’ve scored against our often criticised defence. (although I don’t know why?)
Maybe I’m a bit misty eyed when it comes to Celtic, but I tend to agree with big Billy when he says there’s something of a fairy tale about the club.
It’s also 50 years since Celtic beat Aberdeen in a Scottish Cup Final, 2-0 in 1967 with Willie Wallace grabbing a brace. In between we’ve played each other three times with the Dons, albeit with help from the officials, winning the trophy on each occasion.
Wouldn’t it be nice to make our own piece of history today….50 years on!
Celtic face nearest challengers Aberdeen at Hampden Park tomorrow in the final of the Scottish Cup. The Bhoys are unbeaten domestically this season, and have earned the right to be named the Invincibles.
Brendan Rodgers will send out the Hoops to finish of this wonderful season with the much coveted Treble in mind. If the game goes to form, Celtic, having already beaten Aberdeen five times this season, including the League Cup final, will emerge triumphant.
There is only one thing, or man, that can stop this remarkable achievement. Referee Bobby Madden.
Celtic dropped only eight points in our league campaign this season, two of them in the last derby match at Celtic Park, where Madden was referee. His performance was somewhat overshadowed by the euphoria of the media at our new club neighbours gaining a point.
But his handling of the game was shocking.
With only five minutes on the clock, Sevco should have been down to ten men, after Kenny Miller’s two footed lunge on Stuart Armstrong. Madden allowed the tackle to go unpunished and thus set the tone for the game.
Later on in the second half, he allowed Jason Holt away with another two footed tackle on Patrick Roberts, only minutes after being booked. And to round things off, he denied Leigh Griffiths a last minute penalty, when Clint Hill brought the Celtic hit man down as he was preparing to shoot.
For the record, Bobby Madden was a Rangers (IL) season ticket holder.
So where does Bobby Davidson come into this, I hear you ask? Well, for those of us of a certain age, Mr Davidson was a referee of some notoriety. He was well known as a Celtic hater and had a real dislike for Jock Stein.
When Celtic met Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final in 1970, the Hoops were sweeping everyone aside, home and in Europe. The final was played inbetween Celtic meeting Leeds Utd in the European Cup semi-final.
Aberdeen in those days, to be fair, were a decent side too. But not a match for the champions, who were going for another domestic Treble.
Or so we thought. Aberdeen ran out 3-1 winners on the day. Celtic, had the ball in the net THREE times, each one disallowed, and a stonewall penalty turned down into the bargain. In fact, the Dons were awarded a spot-kick, even though none of their players claimed, after the ball hit Bobby Murdoch on the chest!
Bobby Davidson didn’t care about his performance, as long as Celtic didn’t win. His cheating denied Aberdeen the chance of real glory, because they still don’t know if they were ever good enough to beat that wonderful Celtic team.
Before a ball is kicked tomorrow, think about the similarities of both clubs and both teams. And both referees…
*This week Craig Gordon spoke of not winning a Scottish Cup winners medal for 11 years, yet he’s played in two semi-finals with Celtic. Think for a minute about the officials part in those games.
When you win the European Cup or the Champions League as it’s now called, you earn the right to put a gold star on your team kit, in recognition of winning the Europe’s Premier tournament.
50 years ago today, in the Portuguese city of Lisbon, underdogs Celtic, defeated the might of Italy, two times winners Inter Milan, and their host of international stars.
Celtic’s brand of football under manager Jock Stein was described as pure, beautiful and inventive, a sharp contrast to the Catenaccio of the Nerazzurri, and a style of football that had not only the local neutrals cheering on the Hoops, but neutrals all over Europe as the minnows from Scotland destroyed the favourites.
By defeating Inter, Celtic became kings of Europe.
The iconic image of lone figure, captain Billy McNeill holding the ‘Big Cup’ aloft on the steps of the Estadio National is now a permanent fixture at the bottom of the Celtic Way, as a reminder of how significant our victory was.
Conquering Europe put the modern day Celtic we all know, on the map. For the seven years that followed, big Jock took his Bhoys to another European Cup final, in Milan, ironically, in 1970, and two more European Cup semi-finals.
We were in among Europe’s best, year in year out. We belonged there.
Trying to emulate the Lisbon Lions achievement will be extremely hard if not impossible, the financial landscape has changed beyond recognition. No longer are you rewarded for your footballing prowess.
In the meantime, we can hold our heads high, in the knowledge that 16 guys from the west of Scotland took on the best Europe had in 1967 and won.
When we talk about the club, and Scottish football’s greatest ever achievement, Celtic winning the European Cup in Lisbon, 50 years ago tomorrow, we generally look at the record of becoming the first British team to win the cup.
Of course we were the first non-Latin side to win the trophy too, and we did it with Scottish players who all lived within 30 miles of Celtic Park.
However, there’s another record that barely gets a mention, and when you consider the level of opposition, it’s one we should be shouting from the rooftops.
During the ninety minutes of the game, in the searing heat of Lisbon, and against the proponents of the world famous defensive system, ‘catenaccio’ Internationale or Inter Milan, twice previous winners, Celtic had an amazing 42 shots on goal!
Of those 42 attempts, 24 were saved by the goalkeeper Sarti, who big Jock had thought before the game might be the Italians weak link. He went on to have the game of his life that night, keeping the score respectable, because 2-1 to Celtic doesn’t reflect a true picture of the game.
Nor does it do justice to the gargantuan effort of the men in the green and white hoops, who after the game were christened the Lisbon Lions.
This week has been one big celebration, not only of the 50th anniversary of the Lisbon Lions, but of the current squad, who became Invincibles on Sunday, after our 2-0 win over Hearts in the final league match.
I remember big Billy speaking after our centenary double win in 1988, saying there’s something of a fairytale about Celtic. Hard to argue with that…
It’s holed midships and the water (not holy) is pouring in, as the good ship Sevco lists badly.
The lifeboats and orange life jackets, (what other colour would they be?) are all in place, aye ready for anyone who wants to save their own skin.
As the water rises, first to jump is the, all dancing, all singing bigot John Gilligan.
Fresh from his spat with the rank and file supporters, in the aftermath of the new club’s 5-1 humiliation to champions Celtic, Gilligan has decided he’s had enough. It’s sink or swim time, and John is currently doing the breast stroke away from Ibrox.
But you have to feel sorry for the ‘Billy boy’. He was living the dream, when he, pot less Paul Murray and the Glib and Shameless liar, Dave King, were paraded in front of the drooling press, only two years ago. It was to be the start of some thing special we were told…alas, it wasn’t to be.
And like every job, there were good times, or highlights as you might call them.
For Gilligan, the two most memorable times have to be, one, when he joined in with the Gullibears at the Bigotdome, as they belted out the banned Billy Boys, in the top of the table clash with Hibs while they were in the Championship.
His condoning of the song was later questioned by journalist Graham Spiers, who inquired if it was fitting for a club director to be so vocal in his support of the ditty. (by joining in!)
His (and ours) other ‘highlight’ must be the penalty kicks win over Celtic at Hampden last April.
Rather than behave in a dignified manner, he chose to, lets say, rub our noses in it. Again, not the actions befitting of a club director. Only this time, the consequences were far more telling.
That day, Celtic’s largest shareholder Dermot Desmond, decided enough was enough. Change was happening anyway, but the Irishman upped the stakes, considerably.
Thanks to the inability of John Gilligan to behave like a decent human being, Celtic moved to appoint Brendan Rodgers.
The rest they say is history, just like Gilligan’s time on the Sevco board…
There are many, many factors to Celtic’s historic ‘Invincibles’, season but for me there were three ‘C’s’ that contributed to this wonderful year.
When Brendan Rodgers took over the managers job at the club, I doubt if anyone, including Brendan himself could have predicted what was to follow.
He had inherited a Championship winning squad that had just won the league for the fifth time in a row, but there was something missing. Ronny Deila had announced he was leaving, after we lost on penalties to Sevco in the Scottish Cup Semi-final.
The first thing he did was to restore some confidence to the squad. After that defeat the Bhoys looked a bit fragile. Their ability was never in doubt but a different mentality had to be instilled to get the best out of them.
And to help keep the confidence high, the management team put in meticulous preparation for every game, therefore the players were now finding a consistency that was previously missing.
Even during our so called ‘slump’ when we kept on winning, the Bhoys never look tired, fragile or vulnerable.
The final ‘C’ has to be character.
To go 46 domestic games without defeat shows a tremendous character. The pressure of playing for Celtic is immense to begin with, but to keep up the fantastic standards they set early in the season was just tremendous.
There will be pages and pages written about this historic achievement but for me, the three ‘C’s’ mentioned were key to this wonderful season.
It’s exactly one year to the day since it was announced Bhoyhood Celtic fan, Brendan Rodgers would be walking through the doors at Paradise to manage our club.. The reception he received from the Faithful on the Monday of his unveiling, was a sign of things to come, as 13,000 made our way to Celtic Park..
With his Celtic scarf draped around his neck, he took the microphone and spoke to the ‘support’ (in his own immutable style) about his dreams for the club he loves, and how we could all play our part.
His voice has been almost mesmeric at times as he puts across his plans for the team.
He mentioned filling the stadium, getting rid of the banners in the top tier of the Lisbon Lions stand and replacing them with fans, who were excited to watch a brand of football only Celtic can play.
Brendan also spoke fondly of conversations he had with his friend, the late great Tommy Burns, on what the responsibility of managing our wonderful club means. The cheers from the fans when he told that story was something Brendan would become used to, as from the every first match at Celtic Park, the place has been rocking.
Twelve months on, Celtic, champions again, are one win away from completing an undefeated league season, with a record equaling 103 points gained, and 104 goals scored.
Victory next week at Hampden in the Scottish Cup Final, will seal Brendan& the Bhoys’ place in Celtic folklore as not only the third team to win a Treble but the first in our history to become The Invincibles’.
These are special times, Bhoys and Ghirls, let’s enjoy them fully!
It must be something in the Scottish mentality that forces us to criticise success. Especially in public.
Celtic are on the verge of smashing yet another record this Sunday, by going through the whole domestic season unbeaten in the league, yet the SMSM manage to track down a bitter ex-Rangers (IL)* manager to tell us it’s an embarrassment.
What Celtic have achieved over the last 129 years has been through hard graft, and good management, on and off the park.
Our trophy haul is unsurpassed in terms of winning championships and cups, all won playing by the rules. Something Alex McLeish, EBT recipient, or tax cheat to put it bluntly, can’t say.
McLeish, just like his ‘Real Rangers Men’ cronies of McCoist, Smith and Co, he chose to cheat the tax man and the rest of the same Scottish Football he professes to love so much. They did more damage to our game than anyone else in the history of Scottish Football.
By spouting off his jealousy ridden spiel, Big Eck, as he’s known, epitomises EVERYTHING that’s wrong with our game, media and society.
He’s publicly admitted on the BBC, cheating to buy players, just to stay in touch with Celtic. That admission should have been enough for the media and the SFA, to question why it was allowed to happen.
But as you and I know, neither the SMSM or the SFA can question what happened, because they are both complicit. Sadly, we live in a society where honesty is looked upon as a fault. That’s why people like those mentioned above prosper.
Cheating, greedy, desperate men who couldn’t care less about anyone or anything. Selfish doesn’t even start to describe them
In reality, the only embarrassment here is YOU, Alex McLeish. I hope you’re as forthright with Hector when he comes a calling.
In every season, there is a game where the team, management and fans look back and say, ‘that was the game that…’
There’s one game, domestically, this season that sticks out for me, and I’m sure for many fans, and that’s our 4-3 win at Motherwell at the beginning of December.
The Bhoys hadn’t lost a goal for eight games only to find us behind to a Louis Moult volley after three minutes. For some reason, the Hoops just didn’t get out of first gear, and played a slow pedestrian game in front of the Motherwell defence.
To make matters worse Moult got his second just before half time to double the home side’s advantage. The player had just missed a gilt edged chance minute before!
So Celtic found themselves 2-0 at the interval, a situation Brendan Rodgers was yet to experience on Scottish soil.
But I remember saying to my pal at the game, we had a ‘feeling’ the Bhoys would get back into the game, and maybe nick a point. Call it intuition, or whatever you want, but there was just something there.
Brendan, who’d already subbed Emilio after half an hour, went for a back three in the second half, putting another body into the midfield, thus taking control of the game.
In one of the best 45 minutes of the season, the champions scored FOUR times, with Motherwell, nicking another, to run out 4-3 winners from a game that looked out of our reach at half-time.
Callum McGregor, Paddy Roberts, Stuart Armstrong and Tom Rogic all got their names on the score sheet, in what I believe to be the game that showed Celtic had the bottle to go all the way this season..
Having already seen off the pitiful challenge of Mark Warburton at Sevco, it’s looking increasingly likely Portuguese poster boy Pedro, will follow suit in the not too distant future.
While Brendan Rodgers is breaking records left, right and centre, goals, points, games undefeated, Pedro is on a record breaking spree of his own.
Unfortunately for him and the Gullibears, it’s not an enviable one..
In the last few weeks he’s witnessed his Sevco charges lose a thumping 5-1 to Celtic at Ibrox, in a game where the score could easily have been 7 or 8 to the champions. It was the first time the Bhoys had beaten any club there by a four goal margin since 1898.
And last night, after predicting Aberdeen had come to the ‘end of their cycle’, Mystic Ped could only look on as the Dons recorded their first win in Govan since 1991, courtesy of goals by Shinnie and on-loan Celtic player Ryan Christie.
The highlight of the night for poor Pedro must have been when one of the locals hightailed it out of the stadium with the match ball. Who can blame him?
So, as Celtic head to Firhill tonight, a win will not only move Brendan and the Bhoys a step closer to another record, but leave the new club a massive 37 points behind the champions.