The Lost Ten-Part Four
Our series of articles revealing how we had a chance to win Ten In a Row in the eighties-but probably didn’t realise it at the time-continues with Part Four. 1981-82.
This season started off appallingly. The League Cup was in sections back then. We had Hibs,recently promoted,St Johnstone,from Division One,and mid-table St Mirren in our section. And we still couldn’t qualify! Bloody rubbish,we’ll win eff all with this lot!!!
The league was a different story altogether though. We seemed to stroll through it,in the main,and Tommy Burns and Davie Provan in particular were really showing what they were made of. Up front,George McCluskey and Frank McGarvey were forming a great partnership as Charlie Nicholas’ form from the previous season evaporated. Well,he was still only 19yo and would also break his leg halfway through the season.
Out of the league cup,and also out of Europe after an unfortunate first round loss to Juventus,we would also only last two rounds in the cup,going out to Aberdeen-them again!-and so we could pretty much concentrate on the league. The team only played 46 games this year. Tell that to kids nowadays,etc…
We opened up with a comfortable flag day victory over Morton,but then faced a difficult trip to Aberdeen. Bloody hell,did we not go and beat them! Much rejoicing in our household that night,and down the pub later too. Same a fortnight later when we hammered the huns in their ain midden on our way to a Magnificent Seven successive wins.
A draw with Dundee United and a defeat to Hibs slowed the momentum,but we went into our annual winter freeze-it came early this year-with 25 points from 15 games,having beaten Aberdeen again into the bargain. We were clearly a bit ring-rusty after more than a month off-losing at Ibrox to the only goal,a penalty in an ugly match-but we recovered to give Aberdeen a third thrashing of the season two weeks later. A young lad made his debut that day and scored too. Paul McStay. I wonder what became of him…
Thankfully,February is a short month-because we were rubbish! Defeat to the Dons in the cup and only one win from four in the league had us looking over our shoulders. Memories were still raw from two years previously,when Aberdeen had motored up the inside and caught us on the line. And they were closer now than they were back then!
Three wins on the bounce saw normal service resumed,before the visit of Aberdeen at the end of March. We could effectively clinch the title against them,or we could hand them a lifeline like we had two years earlier. I don’t mind telling you,I had the heebie-jeebies going into this match and our performance justified that. We were red rotten on the day,couldn’t do anything right and we’re lucky to get nil. We would need to sort things out at the back and up front and get wur bliddy finger out. We had eleven games left,starting with an away trip to Dundee United,we cannot afford any more slip ups.
We beat them 2-0,and a draw at Cappielow was our only dropped point in nine games as we put a bit of daylight between ourselves and Aberdeen-who,to be fair,didn’t give up. Danny Crainie scored on his debut for us-within a minute against the huns-and Tommy Burns scored a peach with his RIGHT foot as we destroyed Hibs 6-0. This match meant we needed two points from three matches to clinch the title. Two home games against St Mirren sandwiching another visit to Tannadice.
The first one went well. Not. A goalless draw,but it’s difficult to criticise. We had lost Charlie Nicholas with a broken leg in January,and McGarvey and McCluskey were frequently missing through injury too. We had beaten the huns with all three missing,but we couldn’t do the same to St Mirren. Nor to Dundee United,as it goes. They beat us 3-0. But we went into the last game needing a point,and got more than that,winning 3-0. Just as well too. A win for St Mirren and a 5-0 to Aberdeen at Ibrox would gift the title to Aberdeen. We were still goalless at halftime as the hun crowd cheered their new heroes into a four goal lead at the same stage. But two goals from George McCluskey and one from Tom McAdam gave an injury-ravaged Celtic another title. It was richly deserved,but it had been nervy at times. We could look forward to the following season with some optimism,and surely the board would sign some players for a change? I think we had only signed Willie Garner in two seasons. We needed a freshen up but well,you know the board…
The season was notable,sadly,for the untimely death of Johnny Doyle. Enjoying possibly his best spell of football since he joined us,he was electrocuted in his new house in October 1981. A true Celt,and greatly missed by all.
Above article by BMCUWP. I’ll need to hide the razor blades before I write Part Five. If you have something to say that you would like to be Article of the Day,mail it to Mahe