Diary Entry: Sunday 15th April 2018.
Scottish Cup Semi-Final day. Celtic v Rangers at Hampden Park.
08:30: Work has got in the way of the game today unfortunately so into the car and off I trudge down the N4 and up the canal. At the desk for 09:15. More fear about the three emails in the inbox since I left on Friday evening than what is going to take place later this afternoon.
Prediction: 3-0 Celtic
10:00: Breakfast of tea, toast and a banana. Spend a few seconds contemplating the choice between Gordon and Bain in goal and Forrest and Paddy on the right side. Would go with Bain and Paddy myself but trust in Brendan and all that. Nearly spit tea out laughing at the rumour that Andy Halliday is going to start for Rangers.
Prediction: 3-0 Celtic
13:00: Work done for the day (shh!) and schedule cleared for game. Teams announced. Gordon and Forrest. CalMac and Rogic. Interesting. Weird feeling in the stomach. Either the banana or the toast. Not nerves. Definitely not nerves. Nothing to be nervous about. Halliday is starting for Christ’s sake. Will probably be a tighter game though.
Prediction: 3-0 Celtic
14:00: Study team selection. Contender for the strongest bench I have ever seen from Celtic. Goals, pace, creativity all to come in if the match is in the melting pot (it won’t be) Check out of office email is set up and make sure I am harder to find that Gigi Buffon would be at Michael Oliver’s birthday bash. All in order and the confidence is now rushing through me.
14:15: Three wins away from a historic double treble and 15 minutes away from kick off. Just realised that Boyata is in the team. I called him a bomb scare a few weeks ago. The bomb squad have not yet defused the situation. I watch the video of that kid telling Scott Brown the ‘knock knock’ joke. Confidence restored. One final moment of comedic genius provided by Kris Commons before kick off when he states that there is great pressure on Celtic to win a “treble treble”.
Still sticking with my initial 3-0 prediction.
14:29: Graham Murty has so many badges on his suit he looks like he works in TGI Fridays. There is about fifteen referee mascots. It’s like they are taking no chances in the wake of the Buffon incident in midweek so they have brought protection. Shitting it. The last 6 hours have been a lie. My mind has played more tricks on me than a kick around with Ronaldinho, Messi and the lads.
I can’t even count to three let alone predict a score.
14:30: Ok. We have made it. There are a number of balloons on the pitch. Is this revenge for the kids entertainer who did not paid by the old club? He has picked his moment spectacularly.
14:35: CHANCE! Dembele gets on the end of a sweet Ntcham cross and smacks the post. Surprised by Dembele as he normally likes to let them think they have a chance before crushing them. Positive start.
14:40: Long shot from Ntcham goes way over. Hard to stay mad at him though as he instantly initiates another move. Sustained period of pressure from Celtic. Second wave of balloon attack from Coco the Unpaid Clown. Jesus lads if you can’t pay him after 6 years, send me on his invoice and I’ll sort him.
14:50: GOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!! Tom Rogic. Tam. Big Tam. Feet. Composure. Mayhem. The control from Dembele, the pass from Forrest and the finish from Tam. HE’S IN AGAIN!!! Saved this time. It’s gonna be a cricket score. Celtic are so far ahead of Rangers that they are about to lap them.
14:55: Scott Brown runs Scottish Football.
15:00: I have to admit, I have never been the biggest fan of Dembele. The first half hour of this game though has been a bit of a highlight reel for him. He is impossible to handle. His movement, control and link-up play has been first rate. Yellow card for Lustig for a pull back after a poor touch. (I did not copy and paste that last sentence)
15:08: GOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!! Callum McGregor. Surely poor old Wes must be getting sick of trying to get after a CalMac Curler at this stage? Rangers forced into an early sub. IT’S HALLIDAY COMING OFF AND THE CELTIC FAN ARE CHANTING HIS NAME! Is this Larsson’s finish against Klos all over again? “That is sensational!!
15:15: Half time. 2-0 Celtic. Celtic are rampant. Imagine being two nil down to Celtic and looking at that bench. I remember playing in an under-14 GAA game where we were getting beat 10-20 to 0-01 at half time. Our manager told his that one of their players was bound to be overage so took us into the dressing room at half time and told us to get changed quickly and ushered us out the back door and into the minibus to go home. Does Hampden have a back door?
15:25: Scott Brown has been excellent in that first half. He is viewed as the hard-man, aggressive character and loves playing the part but that masks his ability at times. His anticipation, awareness, calmness and ability to maintain possession is superb. This will be a sweet moment for him. Two years ago he was written off by many in this venue against the same opponents. I have a feeling he will enjoy the next 45 minutes. “Who the fuck is Ross McCrorie” rings out across the ground but on closer inspection it is actually the Oasis belter “What’s the Story Morning Glory.”
15:35: More of the same please Bhoys.
15:40: GOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!! Goodnight and God Bless. Mind the gap. Know your place. Dembele continues his one man destruction of Ross McCrorie and is hauled down in the process. Red card. Penalty. Panenka from Dembele. 3-0. Euphoria. Murty responds by taking off his best player this season for a washed up Alves. Tells its own story. Gordon pulls off two excellent stops just to rub it in. Celtic fans are doing the huddle and Murty is in a muddle.
15:45: Oh hello. What’s this? A chance for Rangers. It’s a shame that it falls to Morelos as he is terrible at finishing. On a par with his miss at Ibrox a few weeks ago, he should be scoring it. But just to reiterate, he is shite.
15:50: Tom Rogic is perfect. He goes off to soak those twinkly toes in a foot-spa and is replaced by Scott Sinclair. Scott Brown yet again demonstrates his ownership of Scottish Football with a great piece of play to rob Dorrans of the ball as well as reminding Morelos about his complete lack of footballing ability. A well-earned booking for the skipper.
16:00: The ‘Ole’ chants are out and Paddy replaces Forrest. LOL. My day has been made however by the look that CalMac gives Scott Brown after he chased Windass 60 yards to win a throw in. One of those looks your dog gives you after he returns that tennis ball. “What next, my master?”
16:05: GOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!! Ntcham with the penalty into the side netting after CalMac and Paddy link up to draw in the foul in the box. Rod Stewart is dancing in the stands. Is there a cup draw we can get him to do tonight because he will be on it in a few hours. Griffiths replaces Dembele. The Rangers fans who came dressed as empty seats are in for a fantastic last 10 minutes.
16:15: Absolute procession for Celtic now with McGregor almost making it five. He has been sublime today. Doesn’t have the electricity of others but that boy has grown on me massively in the last 12 months. Along with Brown and Ntcham, they have absolutely bossed the game today.
16:22: Full time. 4-0 Celtic. Rangers are summed up by their players walking off fighting and arguing amongst themselves. The captain leads the team to the fans to accept the acclaim. Griffiths swings a scarf in front of the fans. Who keeps giving them to him? A mystery. That performance has been coming for a while though. Someone was going to get a pasting and as luck would have it, today was the day. Rangers players and fans wanting this was like turkeys voting for Christmas as the old cliché goes.
16:30: Christ. I forgot I am still supposed to be in work. From euphoria to mundane. From high to low. From sky high to rock bottom. From Celtic to Rangers.