The Lost Ten-Part Seven
Season 84/85 arrived as expected. As usual,our money men had taken the summer off,and there were no new signings to make us sit up and salivate at the prospect of the season ahead. What DID give us some hope was that Aberdeen had lost two of their best players,with Mark McGhee heading for Hamburg and Gordon Strachan blazing a trail to Old Trafford. Aberdeen reacted to this by signing the outstanding Frank McDougall for a huge fee of £400,000 if I recall correctly.
That was a mark of intent,a throwing down of the gauntlet by their board and management. Our response to it was weak and insipid. And non-existent. Few of us,with this knowledge to hand,were optimistic going into the season,but few of us would have foreseen how badly we would fare as it got under way.
The first four weeks of the season saw us draw four out of five games and bomb in the League Cup against Dundee United. Aye,we kept going through the motions for the rest of the season,but Aberdeen were stretching away from us,despite losing two of their star men. We actually put together a decent run from then,winning six in a row-including victories over Aberdeen and Dundee United for a change. The sort of results that bring out the optimist in us. So a defeat at Cappielow was the last thing we needed-or expected! We took seventeen bloody goals off that mob in four matches,they were relegated with a total of only twelve points and they managed to beat us,with former Celts Dom Sullivan and Jim Duffy running the show. There’s yer reality check right there,lads.
On the back of that defeat came one of the best performances of the era as we overturned a first leg 3-1 deficit to beat Rapid Vienna 3-0 in The European Cup Winners Cup. A magnificent night,with everyone doing their bit,but surely no more than Tommy Burns on the night. Tommy was a delight to watch,but he turned in a masterclass that night.
I’ll say no more about it,but I reckon there may be a few comments on this subject!
December hove into view and once again it wasn’t a very festive time at Celtic Park,managing to drop five points in five games. This included highly damaging defeats against both Aberdeen and Dundee United and a bloody draw at home to the huns. New Year and five points behind Aberdeen. Which was actually worse than the previous season. Happy New Year,indeed.
For once,the board had seen fit to help the manager out by shelling out around half a million on Pierce O’Leary,brother of the excellent David,and some wee Maryhill toerag. But it wasn’t going to be enough,not this season. For whatever reason,we just never really clicked when it mattered,and certainly not with any semblance of consistency. It really was a case of turning up,see what Celtic team had turned up. A genuine Aw F..k season in the league,in Europe,the League Cup.
Those four draws at the start of the season had put us on the back foot,win them and we may have had a different scenario altogether. Losing stupid points was unforgivable,and we did it with unerring accuracy. Rangers took three points from us and even Dundee managed to beat us twice. Bloody hell,even Hibs managed a win and a draw against us! It was a dismal season,albeit it one with some great highlights. But highlights win you nothing,consistency is the key. And we couldn’t even manage consistency for ninety minutes,far less an entire campaign.
Yet we went into the last weekend of April with an outside chance of winning it,even against the odds! Win against Aberdeen,we would be three points behind with four to play. Could we do it,is there another fairytale? Well,big Roy did his bit. He blasted a penalty straight at Jim Leighton’s head. Bravely,the keeper stood up to it. And wished he hadn’t. But then we allowed the free-scoring(!) Willie Miller to equalise and it was Goodnight Vienna. (Sorry about that,folks.)
Another draw against the huns and a defeat to Dundee,ffs. Seven point gap at the end up. Dismal. I’ll save the tale of our Cup Final success against Dundee United for another day. Had the tickets,went inside the stadium and walked out the other side. Watched it in The International Bar. How people weren’t killed in the crush outside the north-east corner of the stadium is a bloody miracle.
They say tomorrow is another day,but by this time,we were fed up with Groundhog Day. In seven seasons since Jock left,we had won the title three times and thrown it away four times.
Surely this couldn’t continue?
Above by BMCUWP
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