Another incredible Celtic year


What an amazing year, glorious and tragic in equal measures as we enter 2009 with 4-in-a-row in sight and our city rivals on the brink of more upheaval as we strengthen our domestic dominance.


Winning at Ibrox was the perfect way to end the year, a win that meant much much more than three points, welcome as they were.

Earlier this year we were way behind Rangers, back-to-back defeats at Ibrox and at home to ten man Motherwell seemed to be the end of the road and a long painful close season in the shadow of a Rangers treble win and a possible UEFA Cup triumph to eclipse the joys of Seville held dear by a generation of Celtic fans.

How could that happen?

Thankfully it never came to pass, Rangers drew away to Dundee United, the door opened a little, we hammered Motherwell at Fir Park, beat Rangers back to back and after the horrible death of Tommy Burns and his uplifting funeral we were partying from Tannadice to Paradice and beyond as an unlikely championship was warmly greeted.

Perhaps you need to stare despair in the face to fully appreciate triumph but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Again this season we’ve had our trials, watching Rangers win 4-2 at Celtic Park, a flattering scoreline on the day, was grim and scary as even Arthur Boruc lost his edge and a testing season loomed ahead whilst Rangers concentrated on the SPL as we faced the additional challenge of the Champions League.

The manager, the team and the squad have answered the challenge, 3-in-a-row hasn’t made them complacent, it’s made them hungry and the desire to avoid dark days is fresh enough to keep the team winning.

Twelve SPL wins on the bounce through autumn was a great achievement but there was still one question lurking over most of the present team… can they win at Ibrox?

Despite the title wins and Champions League qualifications there was still a cloud over the side cast by three straight defeats at Ibrox without even a goal scored.

Walter Smith’s derby day record had taken a jolt in April with back-to-back defeats at Celtic Park but that 4-2 win gave legitimate grounds for concern and questions to be asked of the current team.

Did they have it in them to win at Ibrox against Rangers?

Were Hartley, Brown, McDonald, Caldwell, Robson and Samaras capable of winning at Ibrox, especially when the side is depleted?

Without Aiden McGeady, Shunsuke Nakamura, Shaun Maloney and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink fit only for the bench Celtic emerged winners, deserved winners with the players reputations enhanced by the result.

It wasn’t pretty but the team held firm, limited Rangers chances and when the moment came Scott McDonald showed class in his finish to join that elite group of Celts to have scored the winner at Ibrox.

The new year promises much, a squad hopefully returning towards full strength homing in on the title and perhaps domestic silverware as well to cushion the blow of no European football.


Begins tragically with the death of Phil O’Donnell, never the greatest of Celtic players but a local boy that lived the dream, wore the hoops and refused to buckle despite the constant injuries that hampered his Celtic career. On 9 May 1998 Phil played his part on a great Celtic day as St Johnstone were beaten 2-0 to secure 1-in-a-row and end a near decade of misery. Barry Robson and Georgios Samaras join the club after the earlier signing of Andreas Hinkel from Seville.


Two impressive 5-1 away wins to begin the month away to Kilmarnock and Aberdeen with some special magic from Aiden McGeady the highlight at Pittodrie. Barcelona called and truth be told they wiped the floor with us, after six straight Champions League wins at home Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and the rest give us the runaround despite the 3-2 scoreline.


I’d rather forget. Out of the Champions League after a 0-1 in the Camp Nou is more acceptable than losing a Scottish Cup replay at home to Aberdeen after snatching a draw right at the death of the first match. A miserable month ends with a 1-0 defeat at Ibrox as the SPL slips almost out of sight.


More misery as Motherwell win 1-0 at Celtic Park but two wins over Rangers keep the SPL race alive although help is required from elsewhere… assuming that we’re capable of winning our remaining matches. Nakamura and big Jan score wonderful and contrasting goals in the 2-1 victory with McDonald and Robson the matchwinners in the 3-2 game.


Sadness and shock as Tommy Burns loses his fight with cancer just months after being part of the dug-out, an incredible turn out in Glasgow’s East End mourn the loss just two days before the league is won at Tannadice with Jan the man again as the celebrations kick-off. Tannadice was a great setting to win the league, the United supporters concerned only with football matters and perhaps a little appreciative of Celtic’s win after some rough decisions against Rangers in recent months.


Back for more but no big name signings, Shaun Maloney returns, Samaras’s loan becomes permanent but a 4-2 loss from Rangers wasn’t predicted whilst the Champions League draw pairs us with Manchester United, again, Villarreal, again and Aalborg.


The start of a recovery, a devastating first half at Motherwell with four goals scored, another convincing win away to Kilmarnock but just one point from six in the Champions League ahead of the double header with Manchester United.


Another clean sweep of SPL wins but nothing yet in the Champions League as we lose 3-0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford. Striking situation getting very concerning with McDonald left on his own at Old Trafford although Cillian Sheridan emerges from virtually nowhere to score in his first SPL start against Hibs.


Champions League, and European exit, after losing disastrously away to Aalborg after taking the lead. Six minutes from a home win over Manchester United thanks to a brilliant Scott McDonald goal but deep down most of us knew that we weren’t equipped for the Champions League, however a UEFA Cup run would have been a decent consolation. Another clean sweep of SPL wins.


Arthur has a wobbler at Hibs, Aiden and Gordon go bonkers against Hearts, Koki Mizuno scores on his debut at Falkirk and delight as Scott McDonald’s goal beats Rangers to spark a flurry of text and emails involving McDonald’s and 7up.

Hail Hail and here’s to 09

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