Scott McDonald's miserable 2010


Skippy scores at Ibrox

“Scott McDonald omitted from the Socceroos World Cup squad” screamed from the headlines in Scotland.

“Kewell fighting for his place-McDonald misses out” countered the more sedate sportswriters columns here in Australia.

McDonald was you see, until recently, a favoured son of Celtic and all that entailed. Missing out on a World Cup place seems to be a more serious matter if you are British rather than Australian.

The Aussie press seemed to take a more relaxed view on this and heralded it in a similar fashion to someone missing a run of the mill league game through injury.

Should Darren Lockyer (Rugby League) find himself dropped from the Queensland State of Origin side for an upcoming rumble with New South Wales, there would be 4-6 pages devoted to his history, family and finally his services to the game.

Football (or Soccer over here) is different. Skippy and football is seen as a sideshow and worthy of mention only if the Australian cause is served. Celebrating the 2008 title

The cause was not served adequately enough to merit a place on Pim Verbeek’s plane to South Africa. One or two journalists saw fit to elicit some sympathy for him by implying the truth of the situation.

Verbeek has opted for a lone striker role as his main strategy. McDonald does not fit into this formation with any great success. Seventeen international games with no return is the cold hard fact of the matter.

Despite his good link up play he failed to find the net. He was deployed against former team mate Chris Killen’s New Zealand last week and again, as the lone striker, was bereft of service or assistance.

No chances and no goals. After the game, the squad was announced and he was gone.

The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald probed a little into his exclusion but ultimately agreed that if he is not successful in the coach’s grand scheme of things, he is surplus to requirements.

Many others would be scratching their heads at Verbeek’s reluctance to pair him with the towering Josh Kennedy.

Kennedy is a player I have had designs on for the Celtic team for quite some time but Verbeek has set his stall out and decided that no feeder man would be provided.

Apparently his World Cup aspirations will be better served without the little man from Melbourne.

This was not McDonald’s only shock recently. Halfway through the season just gone, Celtic released him and before his head had stopped spinning, he was standing in The Riverside Stadium wearing a Middlesbrough strip.

He must have felt like Dorothy for when he woke up, for he was surrounded by recognisable faces, but wearing different attire. He certainly wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

Strachan, Flood, McManus, Killen and Robson were still his team mates but gone were the famous hoops, 60,000 partisan fans and Paradise was lost. I’m sure that in the privacy of the dressing room he would have mused “There’s no place like home”.

Scott was not the only one surprised by his sudden and shock departure. Celtic fans across the land were stunned and from my Brisbane home, I spoke to some of my ex-pat peers to gauge a reaction.

“Scott McDonald’s departure? I think it was inevitable with the arrival of Tony Mowbray, he was wanting to stamp his footprint on his own team. I also think the Celtic board wanted to show support of the new manager and were looking for a financial gain to bring in fresh blood…

“However I reckon they massively underestimated the experience of Scott McDonald both on the park and the dressing room and as a result of letting him go they actually made his job harder and not easier as perhaps they thought they would!!”     Marty Gibbons of Brisbane

Lenny celebrates at Ibrox

“Skippy was a great goalscorer for us but I think cause his name was McDonald he felt he had to eat there! His weight was a problem and I think he knew this himself.

“Did I think he should have been ousted? Maybe at the end of the season but the timing was Celtic timing eh? Don’t think you’ll hear anything from him again down there”.   Colin Rogers from Brisbane

“Nobody should ever forget the goals that wee man scored for us-especially against THEM!  He done Milan, Man Utd, Moscow,  but his goals against the enemy were special. He hit them from everywhere and they hated him for it.

“I’ll always love him for that and you know what? He’s one of us and that makes it even better. I can’t believe he was allowed to go when we needed him most. They might still have won the league but he would have made them fight for it.”.  Erin Stanton from Melbourne

“Why did everyone go on about his weight? He banged them in regularly and that’s all that counts. I was shocked when I heard he was leaving, but to Middlesbrough? I couldn’t believe it.

“One minute he was scoring at Parkhead against AC Milan and the next he’s down there with a bunch of middle of the road nobodys. I think we need to have a right good look at ourselves and recognise the talent we have sometimes but hey, what do I know”.  Sean McAree from Sydney

“On reflection I think it was a bad move releasing him,he was a proven goalscorer, who would have scored more if only Georgios Samaras would pass the ball on to him when he (McDonald) was in a better position to score.

“A lot of Celtic fans thought he was a lazy player but if he was in the right position to get goals then that was enough for me. In the old days he would have been called a ‘Moocher’, players like Malcolm McDonald, Jimmy Greaves who were never noted for their work ethic other than score goals”. Brian McAvoy (President) Sydney City Celtic Supporters Club

A few eyebrows were raised when Scott McDonald signed for Celtic in March 2007. A few more were raised when on the 1st of february this year, Middlesbrough paid Celtic a reported £3.5 million for his goalscoring services.

His departure was barely noticed in the euphoria of Robbie Keane’s arrival, who knows what damage the pair of them would have got upto together?

Only two years previous to Skippy pulling on the famous hoops, he had pulled a stunt that sent shockwaves throughout the game in Scotland and beyond.

As Celtic fans around the world were popping the champagne corks in anticipation of another league title, with only minutes to go, McDonald of Motherwell scored two sensational goals which effectively handed the flag to Rangers.

What we didn’t know at the time was that the scorer was a lifelong Celtic fan.

At the end of his tenure at Fir Park, McDonald had amassed 42 goals in 108 games – a more than decent return for a provincial club striker and bigger clubs stood up and took notice. Rangers were one of them.

They offered £400,000  pounds for him to come to Ibrox and bolster their ranks. Motherwell said no-he’s better than that. Celtic offered £700,000 – the deal was sealed and Scott McDonald made the journey of his life to Paradise, where he felt he belonged.

Scoring against AC Milan

A scoring spree during his early days with the Bhoys allowed thoughts of Larsson-esque glory to ripple around The Holy Ground and confidence was high.

Last minute winning goals in the same week against AC Milan and away to Gretna sent the faithful into raptures.

Important strikes against Manchester United and Rangers (regularly and spectacularly) kept the home fires burning and Skippy’s career was spiralling upwards in grand fashion.

Confidence however, is a striker’s main staple. When it goes, the goals for ratio quickly follows. Lean periods emerged from the diminutive antipodean and chances were squandered.

He seemed to struggle with his weight and his refuelling habits were questioned.

Of course the media were quick to pounce on this and sowed seeds of doubt into the supporters psyche. (I don’t remember the same level of criticism offered to Gerd Muller, Joe Harper or Dixie Deans as they slew opponents assunder!!)

As a result, howls of derision were cast his way whenever a good chance was passed up and his form suffered. He seemed to have a permanent scowl on his chops and team mates were berated whenever he missed his target. This, of course, was borne out of frustration.

Rangers were surging ahead in the championship race and calls for a head rolling session became audible from a despondent support. January came and when the window of opportunity was opened, the SPL trophy was duly tossed out of it.

Along with our two central defenders, Scott McDonald’s name was added to the list of the great unwanted. The fans didn’t quibble at the time when Gary Caldwell and Stephen McManus were offloaded.

Releasing our top scorer at a time when goals were essential to catch a nose-thumbing Rangers was however, tantamount to surrender.

New Bhoys were recruited but building a team in January is like trying to hold together a chocolate tower in searing heat. It’s bound to crumble and fall. It did and in spectacular fashion.

Rangers won the league at a canter although the gallant and inspirational Neil Lennon had them galloping for the finish line with a Lazerus style ressurection.

McDonald was a tryer, capable of cajoling and prompting his fellow professionals to act and play as such. He always turned up and even if he missed a few chances, was there to do so.

The last goal?

He was relegated to the bench latterly and found this a bitter pill to swallow.

Being sent down to the lowly reaches of The Championship was a poor postscript to a Celtic career which yielded 64 goals in only 117 starts.

I feel he deserved better. It’s all about opinions and as my fellow Celts from Down Under will testify, getting up in the middle of the night to watch the Bhoys in action can be trying – but often   exhilerating.

Watching Scott McDonald volley the back into the back of the Rangers net made it all worthwhile for me and countless others.

Nice one Skippy

Down, but not out. At the age of 26, I feel that we will see this snarling, scowling scoring machine re-ignite his career and who knows, maybe he’ll be back with his beloved Celtic one day, terrorising defences and bulging nets.

I for one am grateful for having had him in our side for 3 years and 64 wonderful goals. Hail Hail Skip.

Many thanks to Brisbane based Celt Eddie Murray for the article above, any other Celts out there with something to say or share with others get in touch at joemchughvid@gmail.com and see your work appear on Video Celts.

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  • shane morrissey says:

    Agree with all of Eddies comments and latest reports from over the weekend hint that Skip may return to the fold and I for one would welcome him back.

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