Bugle follows Herald example and offers apology

It has been brought to our attention that NTV may have caused offence to certain parties over the last 28 years as a result of articles that have appeared in our pull out supplement The Govan Bugle.

Our Bugle editor therefore offers the following sincere apology:

 

Press conference ends.

(Examples of offending articles can be found here but please don’t look as some may find them offensive).

Advertisements

Celtic 3 St. Johnstone 1

Another impressive performance to add to the recent collection.

The Saints, to be fair, may have been unsettled by murmurings of a colossal move for Michael O’Halloran from an unnamed club in an unnamed Galaxy. But then again, maybe not.

Mackay-Steven finally looks to be hitting full stride and was involved in everything positive throughout the game. He scored his first of the season before some dreadful defending allowed Saints an equaliser. Jozo, standing with an invisible pole up his backside, left McLean unmarked for a soft goal.

Armstrong restored the lead before half time with a nice volley.

When Mackay-Steven hit his second, it looked like game over but we were dreadful at set-pieces, Gordon flapping about in no man’s land with Ambrose and Simunovic admiring the delivery. And, more often than not, our offensive moves had more passes than a Sevconian on Mastermind, without much end product.

But it was a comfortable win in the end and hopefully the aforementioned former Dundee United duo can kick on and show why they’re the best two men to play those wide roles. High marks again for the whole team, though.

mr-st-johnstone-m-steven
Tommybhoy

NTV 239

On sale from Saturday January 23rd.

239 cover front

Where else are you going to read about French Art House cinema and Kirk Broadfoot roasting his own face while trying to microwave an egg in the same magazine?

Arthur Ellis and the Battle of Berne (or Who’s the Ego in the Black?)

If he ever published a memoir no doubt that Dogan Babacan would have had a chapter about the Celtic v Atletico Madrid semi-final in it. Gordon Thomson in his book The Man in Black looks at the ref who blazed a trail for self-important egomaniacs everywhere to start writing autobiographies.

By 1954 the referee was beginning to become as famous as the game itself, at least in his own mind. Arthur Ellis proved the dictum that a book should never be judged by its cover, unless it’s about art history, of course. The handful of out of print referee biographies that lie gathering dust, but mercifully not value, in London bookshops, paint an idyllic picture of the British referee in post-war international football, which is at once factual and gravely misleading. To suggest that by 1950 the referee was becoming a popular source of post-match conversation is certainly beyond doubt. Newspaper reports of matches and contemporary radio programmes confirm the growing interest in the behaviour of the man in black. But to imply that he was responsible for the spectacle of the match in the first place – which perhaps unwittingly is nevertheless what referee biographies often do – is stretching it a bit.

Ellis more or less started the trend for referee books in 1962. An avuncular man, he was nevertheless so consumed by his own worth that he compiled a football weltanschauung – The Final Whistle – as a bookend to his glorious international career. Ellis is best known for his part in the ‘Battle of Berne’, the infamous 1954 World Cup Quarter-Final between Brazil and Hungary.

In the course of the game Ellis controversially dismissed three players resulting in mini-riots in the tunnel and in the Hungarian dressing-room after the final whistle. The scene culminated in the podgy Hungarian hero Ferenc Puskas (who was injured and hadn’t even played in the game) bottling the Brazilian centre-half, Anheiro, with a glass soda siphon. Ah, the good old d

ays.

Ellis, you may recall, end

ed his ‘glorious career’ on another field of play, as Stuart Hall’s prancing sidekick on It’s a Knockout. It was Ellis, indeed, who coined the phrase ‘They’re playing their joker’.

But The Final Whistle

– ‘as told to Steve Richards’ – is no joke; it’s pure unashamed hagiography. On the cover Ellis, resplendent in stiff, starched white collars – half Errol Flynn, half Frankie Howerd – stands on the centre-spot smiling a knowing smile. The sun lights his large face and all around him two national captains and a balding linesman follow the flight of a flipped coin. Here, clearly, is a significant figure.

ref ellis book

His book confirms this. “The most famous international referee of all time has retired after thirty years with the whistle,” the sleeve notes gravely intone. “His career abounds in excitement, drama and danger,” they continue, “His full and exciting life makes a remarkable story… this book recaptures all the thrills.”

This, we are by now beginning to suspect, is an important book. And one festooned with insert pictures confirming the international repute of its protagonist: Ellis enjoying fun and games with a bushy-haired Bruce Forsyth; Ellis receiving a bunch of flowers from the captain of the Russian national team in 1954; Ellis chatting pitch-side to a young German man in a wheelchair; Ellis posing with a Central-American beauty queen; Ellis relaxing on Argentinian President Juan Peron’s yacht. In one picture the phantom-like Ellis appears on the shoulder of the king of Sweden as the monarch meets the German national team, his beaming face eerily recalling one of Stalin’s more bizarre revisionist exercises. Woody Allen’s Zelig and its pale imitator Forrest Gump were still decades away.

Britain’s post-war referees saw in the game’s rapidly expanding boundaries the opportunity to become stars in their own right – and they seized it with gusto. With financial rewards scant and regular televised football still a distant dream, the referee to the world stage in his quest for recognition. The referee became a personality, although he was seldom treated with the gravitas he felt his position merited.

Ellis was undeniably an extremely capable referee, who officiated in three consecutive World Cup finals between 1950 and 1958. He claims, however that the “wonderful” experience of being involved was continually dampened by FIFA’s blatant disregard for the referee in general, and his wallet in particular. “Financially the tournaments were a dead loss for the referee,” he says. “I’ll give you the figures. The daily allowance was £4 18s plus hotel and travelling expenses – it should have been £10 – and we were not paid a penny for handling a match, even if it was the final of the World Cup.” It nearly prompted Ellis to take drastic action: “If, like some of the referees, I had had wages stopped for time off back home… I might have been compelled to send my wife back out to work.” This was the 1950s.

Bitterness at not being given enough respect is clearly Ellis’s abiding memory of the World Cup. “The referee, who becomes the prominent figure of the match if he makes a vital… decision, is just an insignificant minnow, it seems, when FIFA get down to sharing the spoils. In the showpiece of world soccer, staged only every four years, he is surely entitled to a reasonable financial return for his services, even if he isn’t there to entertain.”

But entertain he did. If recognition was what Ellis craved then he certainly got a bundle of it in 1954 following his part in the ‘Battle of Berne’ fiasco. Mostly, it must be said, from Brazilians threatening to have him shot. In fact, the Brazilian team were largely to blame for the whole incident.

They took the field that day in a state of collective hysteria. Geraldo Jorge de Almeida, the best known commentator at the time, visited the team in their dressing-room before kick-off to call upon them to avenge the deaths of the many Brazilians killed in Italy during the war. Quite what this had to do with Hungary wasn’t clear.

The head of the Brazilian delegation then launched into a protracted speech about patriotism and miracles. Suffice to say the team – and its entourage – were being deliberately and successfully cranked up for action: they knew they were about to face the best team in the world. That the game was actually completed at all was down to Ellis. Although he sent off three players and was later accused of favouring the mighty Magyars, his severe actions were certainly warranted. One of several neutral commentators to praise him after the final whistle was an Italian who described his performance as “magisterial”, adding that Ellis’s slightly dictatorial refereeing had been “necessary and legitimate”.

The Brazilians, of course, fabricated a conspiracy theory to suit their needs. One of the country’s leading referees, Mario Vianna, approached Ellis at the end of the battle wielding a huge microphone he had snatched from a reporter and accused Ellis of being a Communist agent. Later the Brazilian delegation made a formal complaint to FIFA, insisting that Ellis had “refereed the game in the interests of international Communism against western civilisation and Christ.” This was a tad harsh, although Ellis’s name remains a profanity in Brazil even today.

Ellis clearly enjoyed the powers refereeing afforded him, even if on occasion they didn’t amount to much more than the ability to control violent conduct on the football pitch. In particular, Ellis did not like linesmen who questioned his supreme control of a game. “Some men” – we are left in no doubt as to which man in particular he is referring to – “are at their best when they are in full command, but they are unable to play second fiddle.”

Having thus exempted himself from their lowly rank, Ellis goes on to explain how to be a good little linesman. “The first duty of a linesman should be to ensure he arrives early. The referee will want to give his instructions and explain his methods of control.”

In Ellis’s case the ‘methods of control’ were probably inspired by the absolute monarchy of Louis XIV. “A good linesman will follow instructions carefully. Some don’t!… Linesmen should appreciate that the signals they give are indications to the referee of some incident they have observed, but they should also appreciate that they do not give overriding decisions. A linesman should be an assistant referee and not an insistent linesman.” Despite this queasy stab at wordplay, there is no suggestion whatsoever from Ellis that this might merely be a playful reminder of who’s boss, a verbal nudge and wink. Instead, the dressing down of football’s flag waving minnows continues apace with a stern lecture on etiquette. “A linesman should never carry his flag unfurled or raise it just halfway. As a signal, the flag should be raised high and waved smartly.”

Should there be any lingering doubts as to Mr. Ellis’s regard for his ‘assistants’, one of the chapters in his book is called simply ‘Linesmen I Don’t Like’.

Those Brazilians never stood a chance.

 

The Battle of Berne

For a better description of the match between Hungary and Brazil refereed by Ellis you’ll go far to better this one, penned by a contributor to Wiki. Where else will you find a goal described as “Julinho slalomed in to stroke a curling drive the ball knuckling into the top right corner of the net from the opposing side of the penalty box in one finest speculative efforts seen at the tournament”? What exactly was Csibor “foraging on the flanks” for? And what kind of stores did Brazil surge forward with at the end of the game?

The much fancied 1954 quarter-final between Brazil and Hungary was enthusiastically written about by the press covering the game as the “unofficial final”. For fans, organizers, and journalists alike the match’s ascent and buildout, had finally arrived. Hungary’s captaincy for the game with their talismanic captain Ferenc Puskás out injured was conferred upon József Bozsik, the era’s most gifted midfielder and the game’s nonpareil winger Zoltán Czibor spelled the injured captain Puskás at inside-left.

On June 27, 1954, even without their captain, the Magical Magyars summoned varsity capital effort and skill early on. After three minutes, Nándor Hidegkuti took receipt of the ball from the left side of the penalty box. In a scramble for it, half the Brazilian team funneled to the area with the quickest of speed where pandemonium reigned before Nandor Hidegkuti mightily plowed into the ball with violence through a wall of defenders to evoke high emotion in the 60,000 who had gathered.

Minutes later, Hidegkuti momentarily dwelled on the ball before lofting an arch from midfield, and inside-forward Sándor Kocsis outleapt the tight two-man marking to steer a long header into the net. 2-0 Hungary after 7 minutes.

The proud Seleção was ill at ease by the jarring pace of the immediate two scores put upon them by the Hungarians. Both teams strove in an attrition battle royal to stem the other’s advance and arrest developing plays through a policy that courted injury, unrelenting combative hard fouling that saw players clashing fiercely in contention for the ball. The game became erratic with continual interruptions after each free kick was awarded; an unheard of sum of 42 free kicks saw many piercing challenges lack respect and some were violently brutal. Of these, the tripping that felled forward Indio in the penalty area was converted from the penalty spot by Djalma Santos, 2-1.

By the 60th minute, the game was 3-1 and seemingly out of reach for Brazil, who did everything they could to keep within the match. Shortly afterwards, Julinho slalomed in to stroke a curling drive, the ball knuckling into the top right corner of the net from the opposing side of the penalty box in one finest speculative efforts seen at the tournament, 3-2. József Bozsik, a deputy member in the Hungarian parliament, taking umbrage and feeling that he was tackled unfairly, retaliated by punching Nilton Santos and soon both were in fisticuffs.

Brazil energetically surged forward with their remaining stores, but Didi hit the crossbar in what would be their last chance to draw level. Soon after, Djalma Santos put aside all ideas of playing soccer to pursue Czibor about the field livid in a fit of rage. In the final minutes of the game, Czibor was seen foraging peripherally on the flanks, found his bearing and supplied Sándor Kocsis with an aerial cross who firmly headed home the final score, 4-2.

The last moments of the game was little more than a running sparing match between the two great teams. Brazil forward Humberto Tozzi kicked Hungary’s Gyula Lorant prior to the whistle and was genuflect on bended knees not to be sent off by referee, Arthur Ellis, who doled out the game’s third red card. Nilton Santos and József Bozsik walked off the field after their expulsion.

As the game concluded, the excesses and tensions on the field continued unabated off of it. Wild rumors broke and circulated that a spectating Ferenc Puskás allegedly struck Pinheiro with a bottle causing a three-inch cut, while most reports hold a spectator culprit and not the Hungarian captain. Hamstrung throughout the game, an incensed Brazil gave vent to frustration by having their fans, photographers, trainers, reserve players and coaches invade the pitch with the Swiss police powerless to impose rule on the tumult and disorder that followed. In the tunnel of the stadium, Brazilian players smashed the light bulbs leading to the Hungarians’ dressing room and ambushed the Magyars in their quarters where a melee in virtual darkness occurred, there broken bottles, fists and shoes were used as weapons. At least one Hungarian player was rendered unconscious and Hungary manager Gusztáv Sebes ended up requiring four stitches after being struck by a broken bottle.

Years later the game’s English referee Arthur Ellis commented, “I thought it was going to be the greatest game I ever saw. But it turned out to be a disgrace.”

 

 

Match 22: Celtic 8 Accies 1

A home fixture against the Accies on a Tuesday night in January isn’t the most appealing prospect for the average supporter, but 4-0 up after 22 minutes and all of a sudden you feel vindicated for turning up to see our best showing this season.

Celtic were fantastic tonight. If the United performance was one of a team trying to get over a dismal winter period then tonight this was the Hoops in top gear. Fast, fluid and clinical straight from the off.

Hamilton’s meagre resistance was blown away by goals from Lustig, Bitton and Rogic with barely 10 minutes played. By that time Accies goalie McGovern had already made some very smart stops.

Rogić was sublime for the 45 minutes that he played, so much so that I would propose him as a strong candidate for Man Of The Match. Really is a testament to how good he was. His passing, first-touch, quick feet and awareness were pivotal in providing the link between defence and attack.

Griffiths grabbed a couple before the break and completed his hat-trick after the interval. His record speaks for itself.

Forrest and McGregor rounded off what was a magnificent performance only slightly marred by a sloppy goal scored by Brophy.

Detractors will cite the horrendous display by Hamilton as the main reason for such a resounding win. But this was far and away the best footballing display at Celtic Park this season even if there were a few problems.

Ambrose’s performance fell somewhere on the spectrum between ‘Cafu’ and “F’k-Aff-You!”, and the goal we conceded was, once more, so weak on the part of the defence and midfield. On the other hand Mackay-Steven showed tonight why he’s the best man to play that right-wing position, running at the Accies defence to great effect for Griffiths’s first and playing a great ball to Forrest in the build-up to his goal. Outstanding tonight.

For me though, everyone was excellent and, with the exception of Ambrose in light of our new signing, this team should be starting every week. If this is the kind of footballing ethos Ronny’s trying to instil, I would happily give him time. More of the same would make for a positive end to the season and may start to win over some doubters.
Tommybhoy

Daffodils and that

My wee friend with the black beard was a Protestant clergyman, a refugee from the military regime in Argentina. He taught Greek and Hebrew to bible students at the University of Paris. He was telling us about the state of the modern French novel. “Tres, tres beau,” but penetrated with sadness. “When you are young, do your parents ever say you poetry?”

“No,” I said, but my father said me teams. ‘Shevlin, McNair and Willie McStay; Jimmy McStay, Cringan and McFarlane; McAtee and Patsy Gallagher, Cassidy, McLean and Paddy Connolly.’”
That my parents did not ‘say me poetry’ was no deprivation. I got soul from a load of Irish 78s and an old wind-up gramophone. There was one sad disc with ‘The Laddie From Cardenden’ on one side and ‘The Scottish League’ on the other.

My father crossed from Donegal to the Gorbals at the end of the First World War and Celtic’s first spring and was weaned on the sides of the Thirties. I suppose I must have slept through the record attendance final of 1937 in my cot in Rutherglen Road where Basil Spence’s abominable ‘Galleons Under Sail’ now stands and was probably down to bed in Stamperland by the time Celtic and Everton kicked off at Ibrox on June 10th 1938 to contest the destination of the Exhibition Cup.

The long winter began that summer’s night. The second spring was almost thirty years away.

The first game he ever took me to was Third Lanark A versus Celtic A at Cathkin Park on August 26th 1944. I still grieve for the demise of Thirds, my second team. Celtic were in green shirts, black shorts and hooped socks. Rolando Ugolini was in a grey jersey in goal and Bobby Evans and ‘Hooky’ McPhail played for Celtic in a 2:2 draw.

We were back at Cathkin just over a year later, October 14th, the big teams this time, Celtic winners by 2:0. Jackie Gallagher shot into an empty goal when Peter McBride and Matt Balunas got in a fankle, and there was a penalty, I’m sure, a few minutes later, that Delaney blasted into the roof of McBride’s net.

It may seem nugatory to record details like this but every Celtic win of the period was received as being at last the turn of the tide. In the same futile hope we had applauded McGrory’s appearance in the stand (did he ever sit on the touchline?) at the pre-season trials of August 1945 when he took over as manager for the next (long) twenty years. (“Today they are ringing their bells – tomorrow they will be wringing their hands.”)

Rangers were supreme at the time that I remember staring in disbelief at a headline in the Daily Record which read Clyde 4 Rangers 3, and when they went down in Germany 6:1 to a team from the British Army on the Rhine I just could not credit it possible.

“Why are Rangers such a good team Daddy?”

“They’re not a good team. It’s just that they’re better than any of the others.”

(At the Kelvin Hall circus every January there were two teams of performing dogs, blues versus greens, with a balloon for a ball and goals. I don’t think I was ever there when the greens won. Our luck was right out.)

I experienced my first sadness like a coal hammer to the heart when dear Jimmy Delaney moved to Manchester United in February 1946. The second was Willie Miller’s failure to get the nod over Frank Swift for the Great Britain side versus Europe at Hampden in 1947. The third was in a closemouth in 1948 when the news came down the street that Celtic were out 0:1 to Morton in the Scottish Cup semi-final. It wasn’t quite the same anguish when Collins and Fernie moved on in 1958. Close enough, but I was older then, if not wiser.

We were at Charlie Tully’s first appearance in the pre-season trial of 1948. My father was not impressed but was willing to make excuses for Charlie’s new boots worn especially for the occasion. He never did acquire a love for Tully. Charlie didn’t have Delaney’s modesty. “Jimmy Delaney would come out of Parkhead, pull down his hat over his eyes and away. But this Tully fella… Celtic should have let him go years ago when West Bromwich were after him.”

After a very good league win over Thistle, Colonel Shaughnessy promised us that Celtic would be back and the Evening Times in May 1947 predicted our troubles would be over if we could only get Parola, the Rest of Europe centre-half, a big Italian. Feelers even went out to Middlesborough for Wilf Mannion.

My father had no time for Bob Kelly. To paraphrase Montaigne somewhere: run a mile from a man of principle. “McGrory’s just a yes man up there. The only team I’m interested in is Malky’s (Malcolm MacDonald was manager at Brentford before coming back to build the Kilmarnock side with which Willie Waddell won the league).

After modern day setbacks I look back and wonder how my father’s generation coped. Mine was born into dearth and defeat and took it for normal, but they had seen the happy times and burst with pride for the old Celtic. They knew what it had been like to win leagues and cups and now there was nothing.

Celtic in the 40s and 50s used to go to Ibrox with no strategy or tactics at all and play well if they held Rangers to a 4:0 defeat or even got a goal themselves. There were real stoics in those days! We expected to get thumped and Rangers expected to thump us. Yet what an incredible amount of talent was streaming in and out of the club!

Bob Kelly in his book ‘Celtic’ says that Parkhead never had a proper replacement for John Thomson until Ronnie Simpson. This was an insult to the memory of Joe Kennaway but above all to one of the greatest ‘keepers ever to pull on a Celtic shirt, Willie Miller, who between 1946 and 1950 performed heroics behind a defence that would have destroyed Thomson’s confidence as well. He played Rangers on his own at Hampden on May 30th 1946 and gained Celtic a 0:0 draw. He was a magnificent ‘keeper, brave agile and safe.

I was not privileged to watch Peter Wilson and I thought Bobby Murdoch could certainly pass a ball in his first game for Celtic, but the greatest midfielder ever in my experience was Bobby Evans, whose transformation into centre-half was equally stunning. Bobby was an all-action footballer whose only peer for energy and endeavour was Harry Mooney of Third Lanark. I stood in an Arnhem churchyard one sunny Sunday morning in 1958 and listened to a Dutchman who had seen Evans on TV in a Scotland team hammered 4:0 by England wax lyrical about the classiest defensive performance he had ever witnessed. This was before Evans played Uwe Seeler out of it against Germany at Hampden in 1959. Bobby Evans in his prime simply never turned in a bad game. He and Willie Miller were worth the turnstile money on their own. So were Tully, Fernie and Sammy Wilson alongside Billy McPhail.

Season after season the Kelly years began with dash and promise and wasted away before Ne’erday. Celtic went to Wembley to see the Hungarians tear England apart, crossed to Switzerland for the World Cup but never seemed capable of realising football ahead and the A Team without a plan was an anachronism. The only thing modern about that Celtic was the pre-match record selection from the Top Twenty.
Jock Stein enabled my father to rejoice in his old age, same as Maley (if not to the same extent) in his youth. He was at Celtic Park in the New Year of 1966 because Stein had given his beloved Bhoys back their pride and watched in delight a 0:1 half-time deficit turn into a 5:1 lacing of Rangers. I was with him in the stand for the League Cup match against Rangers on August 30th 1967 (the night The Fugitive was ending on TV) with Celtic 0:1 down and 12 minutes to go. We got three without reply and the whole stand resounded to the noise of stamping feet.

We walked on flowers from London Road to Argyle Street. “Changed days,” I said to him.

“Aye, changed days,” he said. Pure poetry.

We got a 39 bus in Midland Street but could have walked home to Pollok through the sweet night air.

It is a sobering thought, like contemplating the existence of God in the void of time, but where might Celtic be today without Jock Stein? My pensioner father would certainly not have been able to sport a button in his lapel with a big ‘9’ on it – surely an impossible feat for Celtic before Stein and without his like impossible again.

Stein brought leadership, he brought strategy, he brought tactics match per match. He prepared a one half team to play a whole 90 minutes and exploited the potential of the playing staff in hand (nobody of my acquaintance had much time for the side he took over in March 1965). He fed the hungry and he gave drink to the thirsty. He set the prisoners free. He must never be forgotten.

My father died in the close season of 1984 – one of Celtic’s more modern no-formula, no-use, no-win years – with nothing to cheer him from Celtic Park. He used to tell me I couldn’t call myself a Celtic supporter because I didn’t pay often enough to see them. I had lived in exile in London for 30 years. Concern is supposed to wane over the years, but I used to stand at the Arsenal (where a Celtic win against Rangers got as big a roar as a Gunners goal) like the shadow of the Valois – yawning – hanging on in nervous suspense for the Scottish Premier Division scores, worried sick if we were away at Tynecastle, Tannadice or Pittodrie and praying that Billy McNeill and Tommy Craig had got the game worked out or the defence were putting up a real stuffy performance.

No doubt about it, by the Centenary season the second spring had degenerated into lazy, hazy days. The worst Celtic result I heard that season was the 7:2 League Cup win over Hamilton in August. To lose two goals to toothless Accies! A few days later it was five to Rangers.

A wee African priest on a visit to Glasgow went to the big match. The crowd was enormous and he stood on the packed terracing waiting for the kick-off. Then the earth began to tremble through the soles of his shoes. Overhead the sky split. He was hearing his first Hampden Roar as the Champions of Europe appeared in the sunlight to play Spurs in a friendly. Every time I meet him he shakes his head in disbelief and lights up at the memory: “My God, the passion! The noise! Cel-tic! Cel-tic!”

Did your parents say you poetry? Yes indeed, we had the lot; lyric, epic, bathos, pathos, turgid doggerel and triumphant ode.

We are Celtic supporters. Thanks be to God.
DANNY PARK

The Celt (1989)

nostalgia spurs game

Match 21: Dundee United 1 Celtic 4

A significant improvement on the Thistle performance as Ronny tried to kick-start his annual mid-season turnaround at Tannadice, but this was far from a conclusive litmus test as we continue to show a bewildering lack of cohesion at the back.

The opening forays were pretty well matched as United went searching for their obligatory penalty and forced a couple of stops from Gordon in the process. But Celtic still looked the more imposing side on the offensive, thanks in no small part to the composure and quality of Rogic.

Armstrong also looked like a player gaining a bit of form back as he came close on a couple of occasions but it was Griffiths who got his 50th goal, pouncing on an Ambrose-esque flop from Gunning. Definitely a 10/10 for execution.

Simunovic nodded in from a Commons free-kick shortly after for his first Celtic goal, although this was a night that the aforementioned Nigerian, still reeling from his narrow defeat in the Ballon d’or, would make the Big Croatian Unit appear quite small.

In keeping with the charitable ethos of the club, Celtic duly handed United a route – a very direct one straight through the centre of the defence – into the match. A poor goal to concede but the kind of defensive flaw that is as much of a fixture this season as a Waghorn penalty. Simunovic certainly the main culprit here but Tierney by no means absolved.

Griffiths restored the cushion just after the break with a superb finish on the volley from a great Lustig delivery. Fantastic counter-attack off the back of another United penalty claim. This really killed off the game as a contest and flattened any ‘fizz’ in the Tangerine’s attack, which is fortunate because we were being left exposed far too often and a better team, even in the SPFL, may have made more of these instances.

Celtic dominated the remainder of the match and Commons added a spectacular volley made even more extraordinary by the graceful acrobatics displayed from Celtic’s answer to both Nadia Comeneci and Razor Ruddock. Real class from a player who has flattered to deceive at times this year. But he’s scored the big goals without question as he’s done throughout his tenure at Celtic Park.

Overall, a commanding display but one last gripe would have to be the manager’s substitutions, particularly his continued, blind persistence with particular players, namely James Forrest who was ineffective off the bench. A paltry ONE assist in almost a thousand minutes of league football this season is becoming sadly symbolic of his overall career in the Hoops so far.

It’s a crucial run of games coming up for Ronny but this was certainly a more positive performance going forward, even if we are still suspect at the back.
tommybhoy