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.