The History Bhoys?
Today is The Twentyfifth of May. May 25th,a day when Celtic Legends are made. Two years ago today,I was lucky enough to join thousands of fellow Celtic supporters as we made a pilgrimage to Estadio Nacional to pay homage to the wonderful Lisbon Lions. It is a never to be forgotten day,celebrating that never to be forgotten day fifty years previously when Jock Stein led a bunch of lads to glory,lads who could really only have been considered journeymen in the game until Jock arrived and showed them their true worth.
Just like he and his team showed the world the true worth of playing pure,beautiful,inventive football.
The Glasgow Celtic Way!
The Lisbon Lions absolutely steamrollered the opposition that day. 42 shots on goal reflects that. But I’ll tell you what,I don’t know how they managed to keep up the workrate for so long-I was bloody knackered just having a stroll in the blistering heat,and I know I wasn’t alone.
The following day,some of the lads went to play golf,some of us sat outside our favourite bar. I don’t think I’ve ever drunk so much water as I did that day-though only inbetween gulps of lager! My estimation of The Lisbon Lions shot through the roof,just thinking about the amount of effort,of sheer willpower,to get themselves over the line.
Today’s Celtic team are highly unlikely to face such intimidating physical conditions,but then there are the other intimidating physical conditions to consider. One is the number of games that we will have played this year. I make it 62 competitive matches,which is simply ridiculous. The number of matches,allied to the leniency afforded to our opponents by the refereeing fraternity-a word I use advisedly!-has led to our serious injury problems this season,and has done so for quite some time now. So once again,the question of who is going to line up on the day becomes an impossible conundrum,a Gordian Knot.
Of course,it is the last game of the season,so there is a temptation to say that anyone who can last,say,sixty minutes should be considered. If they pull up,they have that short summer break to recover. And surely every player will want to play in this one!
But that is where players need to be protected from themselves,and not only for their own good. For the good of the team. Too many times this season we have seen players pull up or go down,and the manager has been forced to use up one of his substitutions. When that happens when we are pushing to get the result,it severely hampers his ability to rethink his tactics. And it HAS happened-in virtually all of our poor domestic results this season.
If Neil Lennon is thinking the same way,then he has a big problem. That would mean,at the very least,lining up without Mikael Lustig,Scott Brown,Kieran Tierney,Jonny Hayes,James Forrest and Odsonne Edouard. And as he only has three substitutes,he’s taking a huge risk by playing them if they aren’t 100% fit.
If he doesn’t play them,he’s taking a huge risk of weakening the team!
This is surely where his experience will come into play. He will have talked to the club doctors and to each of the players,and measured up the responses. I doubt that any of the players will have said that they don’t want to play on the day,but one or two might have said they will only last so long,or might be better to be available from the bench. The club doctors will probably have advised against even that in one or two cases. Neil will know how he wants the team to line up,and will have to juggle between sentiment and cold hard fact. He will have to disappoint one or two players,players who will run through a brick wall,but players whose heart is stronger than their legs. Or their hamstrings,groins,toes,etc.
I’d like to tell you who I think he will name in the team today,but do you remember how the old stadium announcer used to read to the starting eleven just before kick off?
Well,52 years ago,it would have been like this…
Simpson,Craig and Gemmell,
Murdoch,McNeill and Clark,
Charmers,Auld and Lennox.
Always with that wee pause between the groups-ah,nostalgia,you canny buy those days back!
Today,I got as far as…
Seriously. I have no idea who our full backs are gonna be. I’ll go for Ralston at right back,but neither KT nor JH are fully fit for left back,and Izzy seems to have left the building. But we will have to play one of them,take the risk.
Midfield,we either play Scott Brown or Olivier Ntcham alongside Callum McGregor. Do we play Euan Henderson,who was outstanding last week? Do we play Tom Rogic,who clearly wasn’t?
Up front,is Eddy fit enough? Can Michael Johnston bring his A-game with him to the stadium? Is Jamesy fit? Can Olly give it a last hurrah despite recent evidence? Which Scott Sinclair will turn up,and is Karamoko Dembele really ready yet?
Today is the day when Neil Lennon has to be pragmatic. He has to go for it,but he has to get it right. It’s a difficult task,as I hope I’ve illustrated,but I have every faith in his judgement.
I watched the corresponding game two years ago in a bar in Lisbon,down the waterfront. Me and my Dad and countless others. It was h-e-a-v-i-n-g with Celtic supporters. We stood on the verge of making history that day too,50 years after The Lisbon Lions had made their own. We had the chance to become the first team in Scotland to go through an entire domestic campaign without a defeat. We had a chance to become
We took that chance,and today we have the chance to become the first ever team in Scotland to win three domestic trebles in a row. That’s nine trophies in a row,and it has a ring to it. Celtic players through the ages have a habit of stepping up to the plate when there is history to be made,and I don’t expect today to be any different-despite the problems I’ve outlined above.
So just do it,lads. Make your own history. Do it for yourselves and for the club. Do it for the fans. But do it for Billy and Stevie. They’ll be watching from the best seats in the house-The Gods!!!
Above article by BMCUWP.
I’d like to use this forum to pass on my congratulations to my mate’s son Ross. First Class Masters in Chemical Engineering from Hairy Twat University. Well done,son.