Most Memorable Matches
“That’s what’s so special about them right there, Jim. Just right up there, that’s what’s so special about them. They’re there and they’re always there. And God bless every one of them”
So said Tommy Burns,in May 1988. After Celtic had completed our Centenary Season with a magical,legendary,Centenary Season double.
It was the eleventh time we had won the double,and it may have been the sweetest. The Souness spending revolution was two years old,and few really had given Celtic much chance of regaining the title they had so carelessly discarded the season before. But where there’s hope,there’s life,and…
Magical things can happen with Celtic!
Indeed they can,and we had run away with the league. A twelve point gap over Rangers-who could only finish third,two points behind Hearts-had left many of us bloody angry at the way the second half of the previous season had panned out. But these were largely different players,hungry for a glory that many of them could never previously have dreamt of. And it was exemplified in the semi-final against Hearts,coming from behind with only two minutes to play,to win 2-1.
As usual,the SFA did their best to ruin the occasion,this time by inviting Margaret Thatcher along. She was about as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit,and didn’t we let her know it! It seemed that every fan inside the ground had a little red card to hand as we took up the offer to Show Maggie The Red Card!
Sadly,our enthusiasm didn’t manifest itself on the pitch; indeed we could have been a goal down inside five minutes but for a goal-line headed clearance by Paul McStay,and at about the same stage of the second half,we were just that. A clearance up the pitch from our keeper-Alan McKnight deputising for the injured Bonner-was headed straight back towards him by,I think,Narey or Bannon. In a two-horse race for the ball between Roy Aitken and Kevin Gallacher,there are no prizes for guessing who got there first. There was still work to be done,but he just lashed it first time past the keeper.
A great goal,and no denying it. And it was just what the game needed,as once again we had been looking lethargic. And so it continued for the next twenty minutes,until Billy McNeill made a double substitution which changed the match.
Walker and Whyte off,McGhee and Stark on. And it only took the rejuvenated Celts five minutes to get the equaliser!
The outstanding Anton Rogan took a long crossfield pass in his stride,jinked past his opponent to put a peach of a cross right on the napper of Frank MacAvennie at the far post. Frank’s golden touch had recently deserted him-though he was still scoring with regularity in London!-but such was the quality of the cross that he couldn’t miss.
Our tails were up,and surely wee Jum McGlum was destined for a fifth cup final heartbreak in fourteen years? We had done them twice,in 74 and 85,and looked odds-on for the hat-trick. But this was a very good and very resilient United team,with the ever-excellent Hegarty and Narey-who should surely have been wearing our colours long before now!-defying everything we could throw at them. As the game entered the last minute,the United fans were probably wondering whether they had time for a quick run to the toilets before extra-time;my Uncle Jim probably just muttered “Plenty of time” to my kid sis.
That “Plenty of time” consisted of little more than a corner on our right. Joe Miller,who had improved as the game went on,took a disguised corner,firing it low and short. Billy Stark lost his marker to fire in a low shot towards goal;it ricocheted off a United defender and fell to Frankie. His right foot did the rest,and it was Party Time on the terraces,The Gallowgate,and everywhere that Celtic supporters worldwide had gathered to watch our heroes.
For that was what they were,and still are. I’m not sure if any team has ever won their domestic double in their Centenary Season,but if ever there was a club who can conjure the romantic,the miraculous,it is Celtic. These aren’t fairytales that we peddle in this series,these are real tales of derring-do,of triumph against the odds.
Sometimes I think Roald Dahl was a Celtic supporter too…
Above by majoc. If you have a similar tale to tell of a game you warmly remember,mail us at