The Lost Ten – Part 3
The rollercoaster years of the eighties really kicked off with this one. I mentioned in Part One that we had lost five titles which we should have won,but somehow contrived to win others much against the odds. This was one of them. The previous season,we had looked all over the winners by New Year. Not so,as a few months would infuriatingly prove to be the case. This season,as also two years previously,we had looked out of the running at that stage-and won it. Fitba’,eh?
If you were a gambling man in those days,it sure paid to bet counter-intuitively when it came to Celtic.
The Celtic board learned from their lesson of not investing the previous close season and announced that they were paying £1m in ground improvements. Not that the fans noticed much-a bit of polyfilla in the barriers and some yellow lines painted on the steps in The Jungle. A total waste of money which would have been better invested in the team-I mean,who’s gonna park their motor in The Jungle? I think that we signed Willie Garner later in the year,and that was it. I won’t comment on him,btw. Not fair.
So,with the same team as the previous season,there were only two ways that we would start this one. Either we would burst out of the traps desperate to undo the failings of the end of the last one,or those failings would continue. Guess which one we got? 1980 was shaping up to be a miserable year for the Celtic support,and for the players too. Aside from the abuse they got for their performances,there weren’t very many win bonuses. I’m surprised there weren’t some house repossessions.
It started off okay,to be fair. A couple of middling wins against Morton and Killie and a 6-0 battering of some Hungarian mob. Then came the huns at Celtic Park. And we battered them,only hell and ref Eddie Pringle knows why we weren’t about five up at half-time. But we weren’t and it was only in the middle of the second half that a screamer from Murdo put us in front. A wee masonic distress signal from Pringle ensured that the linesman put his flag up against Frank McGarvey who was hardly interfering with play. It was such an utterly pish decision that the MSM laughed at us for weeks under the pretence of debating the issues. Salt was rubbed into the wounds when Alec Miller of all people managed to put the ball past Pat Bonnar via a deflection off the Sputnik satellite. I’d have sacked him on the spot,saved us having to listen to him eating soup these last few years.
It was two points dropped,but it wasn’t a four-pointer in those days against the huns. It only helped in their fight against relegation and ridicule. That would have to wait a few decades. They were grudged anyway,mind!
Again,it was Aberdeen that we knew we had to beat and we hadn’t done that in over a year despite five attempts.
A wee trip to Annfield to play Stirling Albion in the league cup should sort things,blow away a few cobwebs. Turned out well-they played like Liverpool and handed us our dinner. Sure,we put them out in the second leg but we got the same treatment from some Romanian students as Timosoara Poly ended our European ambitions for another season.
Six months earlier we had hammered Real Madrid 2-0,ffs. This is gonna be a long season and it’s only September…
Things improved in October with further progress in The League Cup and four straight league victories and we were pleased to see Charlie Nicholas bursting onto the scene too. And then November heralded in a Halloween Hangover…
We were cuffed in a League Cup semi replay by Dundee Utd. Hammered in the league by the huns and,worse,Aberdeen. Contrived to lose at home to St Mirren-a result,if I remember correctly,that cost Jim Clunie his job. Presumably their owner had an accumulator on. December saw us record three successive victories but a crushing 4-1 defeat to Aberdeen-yet again!-undid all that good work. At the New Year,we had 28 points from 20 games,the same total as we had the previous season from a game less-but back then Aberdeen were ten points behind. This time,they were well in front.
It was time for the afterburners. We needed them. The results from then on in were a turnaround of Lazarus proportions. Admittedly, Dundee United knocked us out of a second cup in a semi-final replay,but that aside,whoever we faced in those late winter and spring months of 1981 knew they were going home empty handed. Nine in a row-league wins,that is,were achieved against First Airdrie before Aberdeen-aye,them again!-put a stop to our quest for ten by drawing 1-1.
It mattered not a jot. We simply kicked on again,winning our next four league games-including a satisfying defeat of hunnery at Ibrox-before wrapping up the title at Tannadice. Aye,the same ground where our title ambitions had crashed and burned the year before. You get a warm glow from that kind of juxtaposition if I’m honest. Or GIRUY,to put it another way. Glum Jum had told us before the match that we wouldn’t be winning the title on his patch and reminded us via the MSM of certain recent results involving the two clubs. There’s a lot to admire about Jim McLean. There’s a lot not to.
And we got a bit of revenge too on St Mirren by humping them 7-0. Which I kinda enjoyed. I’m sure Jim Clunie did too.
Our stats for the January to May section of the season were an unbelievable W13,D2,L1 and of the four points dropped,three came in our last two matches when the players were already mentally on holiday. It was well deserved,and the fans weren’t too bothered. We were on holiday with them and once again it was a great time to be a Tim. The anger and despair of the previous year had evaporated and surely a bright new dawn beckoned. Seven points clear at the end of the season and happy daze were here again.
But still that niggling doubt remained amongst many of us. We still couldn’t seem to beat Aberdeen,at least on the day. It was a dragon that we knew we had to slay if we wanted our success to be anything but short lived. But sod it,we can worry about tomorrow’s problems when tomorrow comes. Right now,it’s party time! But that might have been just me-I turned 18 in the summer and every day was a party anyway. That’s how you live life at that age,every day is another day to enjoy and tomorrow never comes.
But it does. And tomorrow has Aberdeen written all over it. Or am I just worrying about nothing? Sure,they raise their game against us and we haven’t beaten them in nine attempts,but they were lucky last year and miles behind us this season.
Right? Well,Part Four will be on soon. Meantime,party time.
Above article by BMCUWP. Usual rules,if you want to be the proud owner of Article of the Day,mail it to Mahe
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